Statistics reveal that many Canadians now use their grills year-round. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of this interest in winter grilling is that low-fat foods taste great when they’re cooked over a flame.
Although the basic principles of grilling apply in every season, there are a few safety considerations that are unique to winter grilling that are important to keep in mind.
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 BTU 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.
8. To ensure that foods cook evenly and that cooking times aren’t unreasonably lengthened in cold weather, make sure the lid of the barbecue is closed during cooking. Peeking too often will allow heat to escape and extends cooking time.
A final word for today’s entry: M is your mystery letter for the day.