So what if it’s winter … a true grill master wouldn’t let the snow slow them down! Even in a whiteout, you can host an epic BBQ and serve up a taste of summer by following a few simple safety, prep and time management rules.
Dress the part
A tank top and flip-flops aren’t going to cut it in winter, so you’ll need to bundle up to brave the cold weather.
Opt for an outfit made with quality materials that gives you the freedom to move around while staying warm (hint: long scarves near the grill are never a good idea). Be aware that nylon and polyester are flammable, and you can pick up gloves that are specially designed for winter grilling.
Secure your surroundings
Unless you’re related to Sidney Crosby, make sure there aren’t any patches of ice around. If you have some coarse salt to spare after marinating your skewers, sprinkle some on the ground to make sure you don’t slip.
Keep in mind that you might find more than the remnants of last summer’s grill session under the lid… small animals have been known to hide out in barbecues, too. Check there are no surprises before firing up. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous and are open to trying grilled squirrel (yes, it’s a thing), smallgame.ca has the recipe inspiration for you!
It may be common sense but it bears repeating: never, ever BBQ in an enclosed area. The same rule applies for your garage, even if it is heated and sparsely decorated. It’s time to bundle up, brave the cold and take your barbecuing skills outside.
Light your way
If you’re planning to barbecue beyond 7 pm, you might find yourself scrambling in the dark. If you don’t have enough outdoor lighting to lead the way, use a source of light that lets you keep your hands free, like a headlamp. Lighting is key not only to avoid accidents, but so that you can see your food. Black chicken breast on your black grill might be a good camouflage technique but it won’t go down so well at dinner.
Prepping for a BBQ when it’s 25 below
When it comes to winter grilling, you can’t rely on your improv skills. If the temperature reads minus 25, you’ll need to be prepared.
Shelter those veal chops
Make sure you set up your BBQ in a place that’s sheltered from the elements so your food doesn’t get ruined by the snow, wind or rain. Before you start drawing up plans for an underground barbecuing bunker, all you have to do is roll your grill under the overhang on your deck or set it up in the corner of the yard. Pick a spot where your perfectly seasoned chops won’t get carried away by a surprise gust of wind.
Plan your menu ahead of time
Simplicity is key when it comes to grilling. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can always try your hand at this half Cornish chicken recipe. But for more casual BBQ vibes, it’s best to avoid complex menus with multiple dishes and unpredictable ingredients.
Been awhile since you put your BBQ skills to the test? Food Network Canada has you covered. Try these grilled Caesar salad and fresh grilled trout with roasted peaches recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, and bursting with flavour to make every palate happy.
Prep your ingredients ahead of time so you can focus your energy on grilling. This will save you having to run back and forth to the kitchen (and save you money on your electric bill!). Don’t forget to bring a tray or dish outside with you that’s big enough to hold all your food.
There’s no smoke without … propane!
The golden rule of grilling? Never fire up before checking your tank … unless you’re planning to leave your hungry guests hanging till midnight.
Manage your time
Everything takes longer in winter. Just ask your neighbour Bill who has to bundle up three kids before leaving the house every morning. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to cook, and consider postponing that whole spit-roasted pig recipe till summer.
Check your cooking times
Your BBQ has been in hibernation mode for a while, so give it 10 to 20 minutes to preheat before you start cooking, depending on the temperature you’re going for.
When it comes to barbecuing, direct heat is always best. Remember, your griddles are always hotter than the internal temperature of the BBQ, so this may not be the best time to try cooking slow-roasted pork shoulder. Cooking in winter can take twice as long as in summer, so be patient and have your meat thermometer at the ready.
A watched pot never boils
Resist the temptation to keep checking the grill. Every time you open the lid, you interrupt the cooking … and delay the enjoyment! Just like in life, patience is a virtue when it comes to barbecue perfection.
The Bluetooth thermometer: a grill master’s secret weapon
This nifty little invention allows you to keep track of your salmon steaks from the comfort of your living room. The Bluetooth thermometer syncs to your smartphone, so you can keep an eye on your cooking temperatures without having to stay glued to the grill. It also makes for the perfect Father’s Day gift, in case you’re looking for ideas!
Now you’re ready to take on the winter BBQ challenge, no need to let the snow get in the way of you and your grill! And when summer rolls around, you might want to call the caterer, so you can spend less time sweating over the flames and more time chilling in the pool!