Winter grilling. Do you love it? Does your grill cover go on at the first sign of snow, only to be removed when the leaves start coming back? Regardless of where you stand - cold weather is a reality in Canada - but it doesn’t have to get in the way of BBQing. We’ve got some tips to help light a fire under you this winter.
Smoking - Low & Slow
This one might sound a little counterintuitive. It’s cold out, shouldn’t I be cranking up the temp?
Smokers are designed to maintain lower temperatures over a long period, a great technique for difficult cuts like pork shoulder, ribs, and briskets. Smokers that run on wood and charcoal are usually able to hit their target temperatures in the cold weather but will burn through fuel faster. Pellet grills have the benefit of managing your temperature for you, so they’ll compensate automatically for colder ambient temps (which will also burn your fuel faster). Even without any extra effort, smokers are great for holding steady and will buffer temperature fluctuations more effectively than your typical gas grill.
Having a smoker also means you’ve got an extra cooking device for those big meals. Doing a big pot of chili or a batch of mac & cheese? Use your smoker to free up some stovetop space and get extra delicious, smoky flavour out of the final product.
If you’ve got a grill, you need a cover. Without even factoring in the elements, a cover is the easiest way to maintain your grill and keep it in perfect working order for years to come. In the winter, even a small amount of extra shielding from the cover makes igniting your grill much easier over time. Without a cover, snow will accumulate on your grill, requiring you to clean it off each time and making it way more likely that you’ll damage your unit. Pellet grills have another advantage on this front: Thermal Blankets. We have several VERY happy Green Mountain Grills lovers that purchased thermal blankets for their setup. The blanket helps with efficiency during your cook, preventing much of the heat loss that results in higher fuel consumption in cold temperatures.
Patience Makes Perfect
Those few minutes between when you’ve turned on the gas and the grill is heated up and ready to go: is there ANYTHING that feels longer?! The bad news: you’ll need to wait even longer in the winter. The good news: it’ll make your life SO much easier. Giving your grill enough time to heat up is key to winter grilling. You’re fighting an uphill battle with the elements and will benefit from every advantage you can give your grill in the dead of winter. The quicker you can start searing, the better!
Keep it CLOSED
This one probably doesn’t need an explanation. It’s cold out and you’re going to be losing heat much faster than usual. Precious heat escapes every time you crack open the lid of your grill and it takes time/energy for the system to get back to its target temperature. When it comes to smoking, the enemy of your cook time is fluctuations in the temperature that can easily be controlled. There’s a famous saying in the world of smoking: “If you’re lookin’, you’re not cookin’” - which is true in any weather, but even more so in the cold. Keeping your reputation as Grill Master is a year-round affair. A little bit of cold weather doesn’t need to get in the way of deliciously seared food, and these tips will give you an edge over winter so you can keep the flame alive!
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