Topic: Barbecues & Grills

Date Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Extended grilling season

Extended grilling season

STEVE WARDEN | The Journal Gazette

So the leaves have been raked and removed and the lawn winterized. The windows, once opened wide to welcome summer’s warm evening breezes, will soon be shut tight and locked. Heavy coats have come forth from the back of the closet. Hats and gloves, too. And the snowblower, dormant since early March, starts on the second try.

Yes, winter is coming, which means it’s time to say goodbye to the sights and sounds and smells that began in the spring and extended into the recent balmy first week of November.

But do we really have to sacrifice our summer loves?

Just because the temperature might drop doesn’t necessarily call for complete hibernation or change of lifestyle. What you may have enjoyed in July, you can enjoy in January.

More specifically, we’re talking outdoor grilling. What’ll it be? Steaks, chops, burgers, a couple dogs? Where does it say you can enjoy a brat in August but not December?

According to a poll taken by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, nearly two-thirds of grill owners said they grill year round.

One such determined individual is Kreigh Roessler of Wabash.

“I guess I just don’t see the sense of stopping grilling when it gets a little cold outside,” says Roessler, 47. “I probably don’t grill as much as I do in the summer, but I suspect I’m out there once a week, at least.

“Now if it gets real cold, no, I’ll stay inside. Like if it’s below zero, I’m not gonna get out there and cook up some hamburgers. But if it’s 20 (degrees) or so, I’ll go out and put something on the grill.”

Paul Jamison of Jamison Meats says his three stores sell fewer items in the winter because of the reduction in outside grilling.

“Steaks and ribs, you definitely sell fewer of them when it’s winter,” Jamison says. “People will do them inside the house, but they’re traditionally a grilling item. You definitely make a transition from steaks and ribs to roasts and ground beef. That’s definitely a noticeable trend when the weather changes.”

Patrick Whetstone, an instructor in the culinary arts department at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, admits he doesn’t grill much in the winter. But he’ll make an exception, like when his Indianapolis catering business has a request.

“For our events, some are at monstrous mansions, with hard-lined gas grills that are outside,” Whetstone says. “We take all our ingredients and finish it on-site. With that said, it could be wintertime, and we’re out there grilling some bread for a flatbread station, or some Caribbean shrimp on the grill.”

For most, though, the standard grilling fare during the summer months is about the same in the winter: steaks, ribs, brats, burgers, chops.

It’s just a little tricker to grill when it’s cold outside.

“Make sure the grill is heated before adding your meat to it,” Whetstone says. “If the grill is cold, you’ll have more of a tendency for the protein itself to stick to the grates.”

Because the heat is constant, a gas grill is more convenient, particularly in the winter. Keeping a charcoal grill hot when the outside temp is freezing is more of a challenge.

“What you need to know about grilling in the winter is that it typically takes two to three times longer to cook food on the grill,” says Damon Holter of “Unless you own a double-walled ceramic grill, most metal grills wick heat away quickly from the food in cold weather. If grilling when the temperature is 90 degrees outdoors, your grill only has to work hard enough to perhaps increase another 200 degrees, but when the temps are only at 10 degrees, your fire has to be hot enough to increase another 280.”

Holter suggests using ceramic fire bricks purchased at any home improvement store, and line the bottom of the grill with them. They retain heat. In addition, shape an R-11 insulated hot water heater blanket over the grill’s cover.

And don’t forget to bundle yourself when it’s time to go outside.

“The majority of people aren’t standing out by the grill while it’s cooking,” says Jamison, who admits being a wintertime griller. “They’re running out, putting it on, running back in, waiting four or five minutes, then running back out and flipping it.”

One last thing: You’ll need a flashlight for winter grilling, since it’s darker at 6 p.m. in January than 6 p.m. in July.

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