Do you feel that chill in the air? Winter is surely on its way to steal the green from the leaves and the warmth from the ground, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let the season put a chill on your outdoor grill.
Winter barbecues can be a ton of fun if you plan them right. If you’re a fan of grilled food all year ‘round, here are the seven most important tips you can use.
Reposition Your Grill
If possible, reposition your grill to a spot that is out of the wind and closer to the home. (Do not, however, put your grill under an overhang, on the back deck, on your porch, or anywhere else too close to your house or in an enclosed area.)
The idea is to find a spot that will protect you from the vagaries of the winter weather without endangering your property. A good rule is to keep heat sources at least 10 feet away from any sort of structure, including fences.
Invest in Some New Lighting
If you’ve always meant to add some more lighting around your home, now’s the time to do it. Grilling in the winter usually means you’re going to be grilling after dark since the sun goes down so early. You need plenty of light along the path you’re using and around the grill to operate it properly.
Don’t make the mistake of using lights that require an extension cord if that has to trail anywhere on the ground. You don’t want to trip over it when your hands are full. Invest in some quality outdoor lights and have them installed over your winter grill spot for the best visibility. Consider the use of solar-powered lights along the path so that you don’t have to worry about battery life or electricity.
Dress for the Weather
Go ahead and dig out your cold weather duds. You don’t want to freeze while you’re manning the grill. Just the same, be careful about what you choose to wear. Scarfs, fringed jackets, tassels and other loose bits of clothing should be avoided over any kind of heat source. For extra safety, add some no-slip shoes or boots to your winter barbecue garb.
The one article of winter clothing that you absolutely need to skip is the winter mittens or gloves. No matter how cold it is outside, winter gloves are no substitute for the fireproof gloves that you normally use when barbecuing.
Clear the Path You’re Using
You don’t want to trudge through the snow and ice with a heaping plate of burgers or steaks, so grab your shovel and clear a straight path between your door and your grill.
When you’ve cleared the ground, take the time to throw down some salt to prevent the pavement from icing up on you unexpectedly while you’re out there cooking. That’s the best way to prevent a nasty slip-and-fall accident that could definitely spoil your season.
Get the Proper Tools for the Job
Winter grilling requires a few different tools than grilling in other seasons. Typically, you want to use ceramic or cast iron to hold your food when you transport it back into the house during the winter. Those winter blasts can chill your food rapidly, but ceramic and cast iron retain heat and can help you avoid serving your guests cold food.
You also need to have a little extra fuel on hand than normal. Whether you’re a fan of charcoal or you like propane, the cold temperatures mean that you’ll burn through fuel faster and it will take a little longer to cook anything.
Adjust Your Cooking Time for the Weather
The colder it is, the more you need to adjust your planned cooking time. First, you need additional time to let the grill warm up (since every part of it may be frozen), so that you don’t accidentally damage it. Heating the grill slowly is also key to prevent food from sticking, so take the process slowly.
You also need additional time for your meat or vegetables to cook on the grill in cold weather. Give yourself at least double the cooking time that you’d normally allot in warmer weather so that you aren’t trying to rush your food to the table. A grilling thermometer can eliminate guesswork and make sure that your food hits the right temperature before you serve it.
Focus on the Right Food for the Season
Winter grilling should also motivate you to try new recipes that are easier to manage in the cold weather. Thin cuts of meat will cook faster, and you can add a little warming heat through the judicious use of peppers, dry rubs and spicy marinades.
Instead of serving cold sides, like mixed salads and fruit slices, this is your chance to serve warm sides that are more appropriate for the weather. A cup of chili or hot potato soup that’s been cooked in a crockpot can give a welcome touch of warmth that you and your guests will appreciate.
Whatever the weather, you can still create a wonderful barbecue that will remind you of summer and all the good times to come. (And, don’t think for a moment that your neighbors won’t be jealous when that wonderful barbecue smell drifts over the fence!)
We know that your home really is your castle. If your home isn’t living up to your dreams, it may be time to consider relocating to one that will.