10 Winter grilling tips and ideas
When the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, get your grill cracking and enjoy winter cooking to its best! Grilling is not only for the summer hangouts. On a sunny crispy winter day or a starry frosty night, appreciate the aromas and smells of the barbecue, fresh air, charcoal, and smoke with these tips and recipes.
1. Use the right grill
If you want your steak to be cooked before spring, we recommend getting a BBQ with a quality hood to keep the heat in. If you have to drag it through the snow to find that ideal spot for cooking, then choose the grill that has good wheels (snow tires would be a bonus!). A built-in thermometer will save precious heat from escaping when you open the lid to check if everything is cooking okay. You may want to get a BBQ where you don’t need to carry the gas tank around separately: just imagine how hard it will be to connect the gas in the cold temperatures with your bare hands!
2. Grill placement and clearing
While your sausages may be cooking nicely, you will probably want to keep yourself as warm as possible when grilling outside. The ideal placement for your BBQ should give protection from the wind, but not cause other hazards. Make sure you clear a path in the snow for going back and forth without slipping or tripping. Also keep in mind that you don’t want to start a fire, so keep it away from anything flammable. Avoid barbecuing in confined spaces such as the garage, because the gases produced by the BBQ can be toxic!
3. Don’t peak, keep the heat
Rule number one in grilling, pre-heating the grill, applies more than ever in the winter. Allow extra time to pre-heat the grill in cool temperatures to at least 375 degrees. While summer grilling is all about keeping it open and staring at the food getting cooked, in the winter it’s best to keep the lid closed as much as possible to keep the heat in. Remember that every time you open up the lid to check on the food, the heat escapes, adding time to the cooking process. The only excuse to lift the lid is to see if there is enough charcoal (if you are using charcoal grill, that is!)
4. Preparation: marinades and rubs help add flavor so you can let the BBQ do the work (and you can stay toasty inside).
No matter how much you bundle up, try to minimize spending time outside when doing winter grilling. The key to being in and out of the house is in preparing all the ingredients in advance inside and having them ready for the barbecue. It is always a great idea to marinate the meats and vegetables for great flavor and to reduce the cooking time. Use vinegar, Italian or ranch dressings, or mayonnaise and olive oil for marinating meats and vegetables. Rub the roasts and other meats with paprika, crushed garlic, oregano, Italian spices, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard for flavors and crust. Allow the uncooked meats and vegetables to absorb the flavors for a few hours before going on the grill.
Fortunately, food safety is not as much a concern when the weather is cool as it is when the temperatures are hot outside. However, there are other hazards to the winter grilling, that we are not used to in the summer. Make sure the deck is cleared of ice to avoid slipping and dropping your food, and keep the scarf off and away from the open fire. If cooking in the evening, ensure that there is sufficient lighting. Always use the grill outside and away from the house, from the garage, the car, or any combustible materials – the risk of catching fire is not worth the steak!
6. Stock up on propane and charcoal
It is going to take longer to pre-heat the grill and cook meals in the winter, which means you are going to need more gas and charcoal, especially if your grill is covered in snow and ice. No one appreciates their steak brown on the outside and frozen in the middle, so make sure your propane and charcoal supplies are sufficient. The family will thank you for stocking up and planning ahead!
7. Dress warmly – but lose the scarf
While everyone else is inside and looking forward to eating grilled steaks and burgers, you will need to keep yourself as warm as possible outside – or otherwise you may end up eating chicken soup for a week with a nasty cold. Make sure to dress for the conditions before spending 20-30 minutes in weather that could cause frostbite! You are also working around an open flame, which means that anything dangling (big hint: scarf) could catch fire, so be very careful when it comes to choosing what you wear.
8. Winter grill favorites: Festive holiday chicken skewers
We love cooking these chicken skewers in the winter, because they can be easily assembled inside in advance before throwing them on the grill. The colorful vegetables bring festivity to the dinner table.
You will need:
- 4 chicken breasts cut into 2 cm cubes
- 2 green peppers cut into large squares
- 2 yellow peppers, cut into large squares
- 2 yellow onions sliced about 5 mm thick
- Cherry tomatoes
- For marinade, mix together:
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Marinate cut chicken breasts, peppers, and onions in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Assemble the skewers, by alternating chicken pieces, green and yellow peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes.
- Preheat the grill to 350 F. Place skewers on the grill and cover. Cook covered on medium heat, turning and checking periodically for readiness. Cooking time will depend on the type of the grill and the outside temperature.
9. Winter grill favorite: Grilled Prime rib
When the oven is busy with all the holiday dishes cooking at the same time, send the prime rib outside to the grill. It really is easier than you think! The secret to a perfect barbecued prime rib is in pre-heating the grill to at least 375 F, and roasting the meat on indirect heat. To keep the meat moist under the hood, fill the baking dish with water and place on the bottom of the grill, adding water periodically. Rub the roast with salt, pepper and spices, and place on the grill over the baking dish, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes per each pound of meat, until thermometer inserted inside reads 120 F. Remember to always let the meat rest before serving.
10. Clean the grill
Even if you can’t wait to run into the warm house and join the dinner crowd to eat your barbecued creations, take a minute or two to clean the grill after you are done with cooking. While the roast is resting, this is the perfect time to take the brush and scrub the grill to get it all clean and ready for the next outside winter cooking adventure!