One of the biggest trends this year is winter grilling in the garden. It is very difficult to beat a wood-fired grill to set the scene when it comes to barbecues in winter, but whichever way you typically do your outdoor grilling don’t rule it out since the temperatures are dropping.
Changing your mindset and trying something different for the festive season is the focus this year. Just wear an additional layer, provide some cozy throws, spark up an amazing BBQ and pile logs to the fire pit to take the edge off the chill. Your patio will be transformed from cold to cozy within a short time.
A different hack that you should consider trying is simply prepping all your food indoors and bringing it out once you are ready to cook, cutting down on the time that everybody is hanging around. You shouldn’t forget to keep a plentiful supply of cider drinks or mulled wine to keep the cold at bay.
Go for the fast and stress-free food items like burgers, sausages, and vegetables on skewers. Cook your jacket potatoes in the oven first before giving them a blast on the barbecue at the end. If all else fails, you can first cook outside and then head indoors to eat.
Here are the top winter barbecue tips:
- Warm Up Your Grill First
Lower temperatures are likely to affect your barbecue, which means that it will probably take longer to get going. Ensure that you factor in sufficient time to get the barbecue started. It is important for everybody to be especially patient when it is windy or temperatures are low.
Your barbecue will still get the job done, even though it might take slightly longer. So, plan on adding 5 to 10 minutes to the usual time it takes to preheat your grill and that should be enough to do all the grilling you want afterward.
- Have More Fuel on Standby
You should ensure that you are adequately prepared for grilling in the winter with an extra supply of fuel. You may have to extend cooking times, or the barbecue may require a bit of extra fuel to reach the required temperature, so add some briquettes if necessary, have a decent supply of charcoal, or have that extra bottle of gas handy according to what your specific barbecue needs to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Watch Out for the Wind
If you have the best gas BBQ, the wind will probably not be a major concern. Still, your best bet would be to cook as close to your house as possible so that you can enjoy that extra protection from the wind. Position the barbecue close to the back door, for instance, and don’t forget to consider the direction of the wind and make sure that you find the most sheltered spot.
If it is windy, angle your gas barbecue such that the wind is perpendicular to the flow of the gas through the burner tubes. If you have a charcoal barbecue, you will need to add charcoal more frequently to maintain a temperature that’s consistent. Don’t forget to always keep vents open and lift the lid slowly to ensure that ashes don’t blow on your food.
- Cook with the Lid Closed
It is always great to watch everything sizzle away on the grill in summer. In winter, however, it is a completely different story. Make sure that you keep the lid on your barbecue so that all the heat is trapped inside.
Barbecuing when the temperatures are lower means longer cooking time so the more the lid is opened, the longer the food will take. Cooking with the lid on creates an oven-like effect in the barbecue, retaining the heat inside so that everything is speeded up. However, you should not forget to check up on it every once in a while.
- Use the Proper Equipment
Use cookware that can trap heat when barbecuing in the winter. Ceramic cookware is great since it will keep the food warm and ready to eat, whether you are serving inside or outside. You can also put all the cooked food into a preheated cast iron pan.
It is always advisable to use a meat thermometer to ensure that your food is properly cooked. The iGrill by Weber is a digital app-connected thermometer that notifies you after cooked foods reach the desired temperature, which means that you can be monitoring your food as it cooks right from the comfort of your home.
Stock Up on Fuel: Your barbecue works harder when it is cold, so ensure that you have extra charcoal briquettes or propane on hand. Running out of fuel partway through a recipe will inevitably put a damper on your winter grilling.
Scrape Off the Snowflakes: A layer of ice or snow will have the effect of keeping the barbecue cool, thereby making it work even harder. Grab a snow scraper or brush and use it to remove any buildup on the lid and body of your grill before starting.
Check Inside Before Igniting: Little critters often love seeking winter shelter in a barbecue. Before you ever strike a match or click the starter, it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek, particularly under the grates to ensure that there aren’t any animals or nets hidden inside.
Get Organized Before You Head Out: The last thing you want to do when it is freezing outside is running back and forth for forgotten tools and ingredients. While much of the grilling prep is typically done indoors no matter the season, it is possible to minimize your time outside by first double-checking your recipe and assembling all the tools that you need before you put on your boots.
Preheat the Barbecue Sufficiently: In the summer, this step may take just a couple of minutes, but it may require a lot more time during winter. So, set aside an additional 5 to 10 minutes to allow the barbecue to shake off the chill and reach the desired cooking temperature. The colder and windier the conditions, the longer it is likely to take.
Cook with the Lid Closed: Cover the food snugly on the grill to ensure that it cooks through faster. Whenever you open the lid, your grilling time is increased, which is why you need to keep peeking to a minimum.
Shed Light on the Food: Winter means that sunsets are earlier, so grab a headlamp or clip-on light before heading out to the barbecue. Either option will help you check on the food without juggling a flashlight.
Avoid Wearing Loose Clothing: Bundling up against the cold might make grilling in winter more comfortable, but tassels and long scarves can pose a fire hazard around high heat and open flames. So, stick to wearing close-fitting clothes instead.
Use the Right Barbecuing Gloves: Padded oven mitts and mittens might be warm, but they are not safe for grilling. To ensure that your hands are protected, wear heatproof barbecue gloves.
Always Use a Thermometer: The best tool for checking whether the meat is cooked through to a safe internal temperature is a good-quality instant-read thermometer. Would you like to stay extra cozy indoors? Buy a barbecue thermometer with a remote readout or one that sends the data to your tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth.
Relocate the Barbecue: Cold air and strong winds can make it challenging to maintain the proper temperature, which means that grilling becomes slower and more difficult. A simple solution would be to move your barbecue to a more sheltered location in the yard, preferably at a 90-degree angle to the wind.
Keep Your Distance: Place the barbecue at least 3 meters away from the house to reduce fire risk and ensure proper ventilation. Stay clear of anything that’s made from combustible materials. Wooden fences, tree branches, and even overhanging porch roofs are still flammable even when covered with snow and ice.
Never Bring the Grill Inside: You might be tempted to bring the barbecue into your shed, garage, or another enclosed space, but this isn’t advisable. Charcoal gives off carbon monoxide as it burns, which may build up to deadly levers in an improperly ventilated space. Furthermore, any barbecue, whether charcoal or gas, produces a lot of heat, which may cause a fire. It is cold in winter, but you should always operate the grill outdoors.