Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


Winter Grilling


As a people Canadians pride themselves on their ability to bundle up against the winter elements and head out into the wildest of weather to brave whatever Mother Nature throws our way. I can't recall ever cancelling plans or changing my agenda because it was too cold, or the snow was falling too hard to head out. Hockey in a winter storm: off I go. Shoveling in minus 40: sign me up. Sunday morning run in sleet and ice: giddy up. So you won't be surprised to hear that I grill year-round. It does require some planning and a few changes to the way you deal with food on the grill.

  1. PREPARE: Do as much prep ahead of time indoors where it's nice and warm. There's no glory in standing outside for the entire time your food is cooking. With winter grilling the goal is to keep yourself indoors for as much time as possible. So, do any of your cutting, separating, tossing, seasoning, etc. ahead of time indoors.
  2. SAFETY: Obviously, safety is the first concern here. Any time you are dealing with a hot cooking surface and sharp utensils, you need to make sure there is absolutely no chance of you slipping or losing your balance. Keep a clear path to your grill at all times and salt when needed much as you would on any walkway or driveway. You will not win any awards for sending a plate of BBQ chicken across the yard as you lose your feet from under you.
  3. HEAT: Grilling food is one of the more complex cooking techniques. There are just so many variables at work when you are grilling. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that some of your cooking comes from radiant heat (the gas or charcoal searing the food), but a large amount of your cooking comes from the air around the food heating it up as an oven does. This means you need to keep the number of times you open your lid during winter grilling to an absolute minimum! Keep that BBQ hot!
  4. CHOOSE WISELY: Look, you need to be realistic. If it's fairly mild out and you want to stand battling flare-ups and finicky foods, go for it. But when it's -40 out, you really don't want to be hanging around outside at the grill for 30 minutes. Choose foods that can cook at Medium or Low temperatures for extended periods of time. Low fat proteins will also help keep the babysitting to a minimum. 
  5. MAINTENANCE: Make sure you cover your grill when not in use. This will make it easier the next time you go out there to grill and will also help extend the lifetime of your grill.