Nothing is as relaxing and fun as enjoying a nice summer night outside grilling a steak, burger, or other delicious meal. Unfortunately, many people in the northeast and other parts of the country have to deal a lot of snow and freezing weather during the winter.
While part of the relaxing grilling experience may be lost when it is very cold or snowy outside, bad winter weather is not a reason to avoid using your grill.
By following a few different tips, you can continue to use your grill and enjoy a great meal no matter how cold, snowy, or windy it is outside.
When grilling in the winter, the first factor that needs to be reconsidered is the location of the grill.
While you may have a preferred spot on your deck or porch for grilling during the warmer months of the year, it may not be a practical spot in the winter.
When you are looking for a spot to place the grill, you should find one that is closer to your back door to minimize the time you need to spend walking in the cold or snow. You also need to carefully consider the direction of the wind to make sure your grill is fairly well blocked from the strong winter gusts. As normal, you should also make sure you are clear of any fire hazards.
When you are looking to grill outside in the winter months, preparing your food the right way is key.
If you are cooking meat on the grill, you will want to have it sit at room temperature for at least one hour before you put it on the grill. This is a little bit longer than what you would do during the summer months. The reason for this is that you will want the food to be a bit warmer to allow it to cook more thoroughly. Also, since grilling can be more of a challenge in the winter, it would be much easier to cook thinner pieces of beef, chicken, and fish. However, thicker food can still be grilled, but it will take a little bit longer.
Clean the Grill
To get the best experience and result out of your food, you will want to make sure that your grill is as clean as possible. Having leftover food and debris on your grill can make the food taste bad, cause a buildup of rust, and be a safety hazard in any climate. Since you likely grill less often in the winter, it is even more important to ensure that your grill is scrubbed and clean and that your grease basket is emptied before you start cooking.
The most important part of grilling in the winter is to prepare your grill.
Similar to when you cook outside in the summer, you will want to make sure your grill is properly warmed up when it is cold outside. This is even more important when there is snow or it is below freezing. To ensure that your grill is warm enough for the food, you will likely want to start heating it up further in advance than you would during the summer months.
Ideally, you should also gradually increase the temperature of the grill at a slower pace than you would normally. This will help to ensure the grill is safe and that you are able to achieve and control the desired temperature.
Beyond making sure you have the right temperature, you should also make sure that you have enough supplies to keep the grill going. This is particularly important for those that have propane or other gas grill. When it is well below freezing, you may find that you will go through twice as much gas as you would during normal warm grilling conditions.
Choose the Right Cookware
Grilling and cooking when it is snowing and freezing outside is a challenge and will require you to have different types of cookware and cutlery when you are preparing your meals. When you are transporting food from your grill and back into your home, you should always use ceramic plates that have appropriate covers.
Ceramic does a much better job of retaining and maintaining heat than paper or plastic plates, which may be more commonplace when it is nice outside.
If you are planning on taking food off of the grill in stages, another option would be to place a cast iron pan on the grill. Cast iron pans can help to keep your food warm while you are finishing up the last items that are left on the grill.
The most common mistake a novice outdoor cook can make when they are are the grill is opening up the lid too frequently.
Opening the hood of the grill will always release heat and can make your grill temperature less balanced. This is very problematic in the summer but can be disastrous in the winter. Ideally, you will only open the hood of the grill when it is time to either flip your meat or take it off of the grill entirely.
If you do have to open the hood of the grill, make sure you do so quickly to ensure as much of the heat is retained as possible. While you should have the hood of the grill closed, you should make sure that at least one of the vents is open to let the smoke come out properly.
Most importantly, when you are going to be grilling in the winter, you will need to stay warm. There is a good chance that you will be outside in the cold and snowy weather for up to 15 minutes at a time. Because of this, you should make sure that you wear the proper outdoor clothing such as a hat, gloves, coat, and scarf. Ideally, you should also have an outdoor space heater if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time.