Winter Grilling Tips

At our test kitchen we’re always working out of season. That means that we develop turkey recipes all summer for winter publications and then grill all through February for summer magazine articles. (In the picture above that’s recipe tester Rob Heidenreich and test kitchen manager Sabrina Falone’s arm cooking up summer recipes last week).

After years of shovelling snow off the patio to spend the day grilling, we’ve become savvy and safe cold-weather grillers. Here are our tips for cold-weather grilling success:

  1. Gas grills with higher BUT ratings heat up quickly even when it’s very cold so if you’re purchasing a gas grill and know that you want to use it in cold weather, opt for a unit with a BTU rating per square inch that is higher than 125.
  2. If you haven’t used the grill recently, check all gas lines, burners and jets for possible blockages. Insects such as spiders may pick these places to build cocoons for the winter and their homes will prevent fuel from flowing freely to the burners.
  3. Avoid wearing scarves or wide-sleeved jackets that may dangle into the flames and catch fire. Instead, opt for snugly fitted sleeves and a turtleneck sweater or a fleecy neck warmer.
  4. Although the garage may seem like a wind-sheltered, inviting spot to grill, the comfort is not worth the safety risk. Instead, set up the grill at least 10 feet away from the house to avoid the risk of a fire or an explosion that can result when grill flames and stray vapours from the gas furnace, water heater or the lawn mower’s fuel tank meet one another in an enclosed space.
  5. If necessary, brush off all snow on the grill to speed preheating and shovel the surrounding area to prevent a dangerously slippery skating rink from forming under and around your grill.
  6. Position your grill out of the wind to conserve heat.
  7. Many metals and almost all plastics get brittle in very cold weather so handle the knobs on the grill gently to avoid snapping them off.

Hamdog

The story made me think about other incongruous food combinations. Salads used to be simply lettuce with salad dressing. Over time, other raw vegetables made their way into salads. Now, people commonly put meat in their salad. Thus, we have tuna salad, chicken salad, fish salad, and we also have fruit salad. But “hamdog” seems to have crossed some line of respect. It is a presentation of two different critter meats. I say two, but who really knows what critter is in a hot dog?

Would you go to a fine restaurant and order “lambkin?” That would be lamb with chicken. How about “horsenpfeffer” (horse meat and rabbit stew)? They do eat horse meat in some countries. There is no reason why a meat-on-meat culinary creation cannot come to America from any country if the Australians can send us “hamdog.” In fact, the possibilities of what critter meat is in a hot dog expand greatly when you consider what Australian critter meats might be put in one of those.

My mom likes to eat fried chicken livers. Could “hamdog” inspire the combining of organ meats from different animals? If you are a vegan you may puke at the idea of that. Is vegan puke, combined with the puke of a meat-eater an enhancement of nausea? Maybe we had better take a stand. We should tell the Australians not to send “hamdog” to America, before we must learn to live with the “McHamdog.” If they don’t listen to us, we may have to retaliate. We could send them “gizzard-chitterlings,” which would be cooked bird stomach and hog intestines.

Rooftop Grill

If that describes what you’re looking for, you should consider the Cobb Premium Portable Grill. The Cobb does everything I’ve just described, and even more. It’s a great little grill that others have called a complete cooking system, and a “kitchen-in-a-bag.” I can give you some more information.

The Cobb is light, just under nine pounds, and very compact, fitting in an area just a little bigger than one square foot. Think about all the tiny corners you could store a grill like that in, and still leave enough room for all your other gear! When it comes time to get the Cobb out (or put it away!), there’s no lugging a heavy, cumbersome grill around. If a rooftop grill is what you need, the Cobb should be your grill of choice.

But what about what you buy a grill for in the first place… cooking? The Cobb Premium Portable Grill shines there, too. With just one or two of the Cobb’s available accessories, like the griddle, the roasting rack, and the frying dish/wok, you can use your Cobb for everything from roasting a whole prime rib or pork loin, to steaming some fresh beans or asparagus. Use the Cobb’s “secret” flavor well to add flavor and moisture to whatever you cook, and you’ll have your guests begging for more. They won’t believe you turned out their dinner on your rooftop grill!

They surely won’t believe that you did it all using just 8-10 charcoal briquettes, but that’s exactly what the Cobb uses. This little workhorse will burn for a full three hours on just that much charcoal. Where else can you find a grill that will do that? No more buying and lugging home those huge, heavy bags of briquettes. One small bag will last you weeks, or even months.

When it comes time to cleanup, the Cobb’s aluminum and stainless steel construction, and non-stick cooking surfaces, mean you can put the Cobb right in your dishwasher, letting you off the hook. The Cobb’ stainless steel mesh base stays cool-to-the-touch all throughout the cooking cycle, so you can cook on any surface safely and without fear, and even move your Cobb around during cooking. No other rooftop grill has all these features and benefits.

Roast Beef

Choose a cut that is perfect for roasting

The best joint for roasting is rib of beef. There should be plenty of fat on top of your cut, and preferably throughout as well. Even if you don’t like to eat the fat (which I find very strange but each to his own), it will greatly improve the taste and texture of the meat, making it juicy and rich.

Take the joint out of the fridge well in advance

Beef must be around room temperature before you stick it in the oven. Take your joint out of the fridge well in advance – at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour or two (depending on how big it is). You can spend this time admiring it and thinking how wonderful it will be once cooked!

Season well

Season your joint just before cooking – I use a simple mix of salt and pepper, just rubbed all over the meat. This complements the flavour of the meat.

Seal the meat

The first step to roasting beef is to “seal” the meat so that all juices are kept inside while cooking. Some people advise frying the joint, but I think searing it in the oven is better, as the heat gets to the whole of the surface at once.

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas Mark 9 – please note this can take a while, so for best results use an oven thermometer to measure the temperature inside. Once the oven is extremely hot, stick your joint in for 15 minutes – regardless of size.

While the meat is searing, delicious sizzling meat smell will start to emerge in the kitchen. Enjoy it!