10 Great Tips for Winter Grilling
Why mothball your grill for winter when there are so many perks? Just think—there are no pesky bugs, and you don't need to worry about keeping food chilled!
Check Your Fuel
Fuel such as propane doesn’t burn so efficiently in cold temperatures, and food also takes longer to cook, so be prepared to use more fuel than you do when the temperature is higher. Be sure to check your propane level and keep a spare on stand-by (stored safely away from any heat source).
You’ll need more charcoal if you prefer solid fuel, so again, keep enough spare charcoal in a cool and dry place, ready for use when you need it.
Look for Warming Recipes
Winter grilling is all about keeping the chill at bay, so choose recipes that are warm and comforting. If you want to serve a winter favourite like chili, grill some chicken or beef first, cut it into hearty chunks and use that in the chili. If you’re a die-hard grilled foodie, consider using spicy marinades on your meat and side dishes that offer a tasty boost of heat. Serving soup on the side is also a welcome cupful of warmth when the temperature drops and you can keep a pot warm on the grill.
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Think Safety First
No one wants an accident at a winter barbecue, and the best way to avoid problems is to be well-prepared. Place your grill on a firm level surface—a wooden deck is not the best choice for obvious reasons! Keep your spare fuel away from the lit grill. Winter clothing like scarves can trail into the flames, so be sure you’re safely dressed when grilling.
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Ensure Adequate Lighting
If you’re grilling after dark, you’ll need to choose outdoor lighting, both for atmosphere and for practicality. For grilling, a good overhead light is best, but you can get excellent visibility with a powerful head light that leaves your hands free for cooking.
Invest in a Grill Thermometer and App
When Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, you want to spend as little time in the cold as possible. So rather than huddling over the burning coals, invest in a grilling thermometer and app that monitors the temperature of your food while you sit warm and toasty indoors. Insert the probe into your food, then wait for your smartphone app to alert you that it’s reached the correct temperature—no more prodding and turning to see if your burgers are cooked.
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Create a No-Slip Zone
A winter grilling party presents numerous underfoot hazards, especially if you’re cooking at night. Make sure you avoid these common mistakes when you’re removing the snow. Darkness increases the risk of trip and slip hazards. Be sure to clear extension cords and other possible tripping hazards such as garden statues and outdoor furniture that could be partially covered with snow.
Wear Grilling Gloves
Normal winter gloves might keep out the cold, but they won’t cut it for grilling. Specially designed grilling gloves are made to withstand extremely high temperatures, and have long cuffs to protect your hands and wrists against burns. Made from fire-resistant material such as silicone, they won’t wear into holes, and they often have special non-slip grip for safety when handling hot food and utensils. And best of all, they’re easy to clean—some are even dishwasher-safe.
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Planning is key: Locate your grill at least three metres (10 feet) away from fences, buildings or other flammable materials, and keep additional fuel in a safe place. Have a designated place for raw and cooked food and don’t mix the two—no one wants food poisoning to follow a great barbecue! Use separate utensils, too. (Here’s how to tell the difference between food poisoning and a stomach bug.)
Put as much as possible out for your guests to help themselves—condiments, napkins, plates, cups and glasses, etc. Avoid glass in case of accidents and remember children’s safety if you’re serving hot drinks or soup. Once you’re prepared, you’ll be able to relax with your guests when your winter grilling party gets going.
Smoke for Added Flavour
Winter is the perfect time to use a cold smoker to add superb flavour to your food before grilling. You can smoke fish, bacon and steak, which all taste delicious when grilled. You can also make your own pulled pork. Smoking food is a long and slow process, requiring a constant low heat, so investing in a thermal blanket to insulate against the cold helps reduce the amount of fuel you need. Once smoked, your fish and meat will be ready for grilling when your guests arrive, giving you a whole new range of delicious flavours to explore.
Round out your meal with one of these cozy winter dessert recipes.
Build a Permanent Grill Shelter
For confirmed winter grilling fanatics, the best solution is to construct a purpose-built shelter that houses your grill, and also has a wide range of customizable features like built-in cooler space, storage for barware and beverages, lighting and bench seating.
Now that you’ve got these winter grilling tips under your belt, find out 13 grilling mistakes that could make you sick.