Too Cold to Grill? I don’t THINK so!

3 Jan

Last night, winter, as we know it, finally arrived in Central Alabama. Although my Michigan and Minneapolis friends would think our winter temperatures “moderate” at worst, 22 degrees – last night’s low here – is still pretty chilly, especially coupled with brisk winds, resulting in a “wind chill” factor in the mid-teens. Moderate in Minnesota; cold in Alabama.

I hear rumors that there are people who, when the temperatures drop to our bleak mid-winter levels, actually roll their grills into their garages and storage sheds, cover them up and don’t see them again until spring. Wow. I can’t imagine that!

Out our house, the onset of winter means only that Winter Grilling Rules go into effect. Winter Grilling Rules involve either cooking with one of the downstairs grills sitting on the threshold of an open garage door, with me ensconced in a folding chair well back in the garage (and holding a beverage) or my donning one of my very interesting “winter gilling” outfits – usually sweatpants, sweatshirt, Carhart canvass duck coat and wool cap (BBQ G-Q!) and firing up one of the patio grills.

Now, which grill to fire up in the cold requires some thought. I have gas grills, charcoal grills, kettle grills, cast iron grills, ceramic grills, electric grills, smokers and just about everything in between. In response to the question of how many more grills I need, the answer always is the same: “one!”

However, not all grills work the same in cold weather. In particular, the Weber kettle grills don’t get quite as much use during the coldest months of winter – they cook just fine in the cold weather, but it does take a bit more charcoal to get them up to rip-roaring temps and the charcoal burns down faster.

I do tend to use the gas grills a bit more in winter, especially the Weber Q series grills that live in the downstairs garage. Their cast iron grates hold heat well and that minimizes the effects of the cold temperatures around the grill dome. Similarly, my Weber Genesis Silver B – a patio grill – has cast iron grates and has no problem running up to 500 degrees even during the coldest weather (well, unless the propane freezes).

However, the unquestioned Kings of cold weather cooking – be it grilling or smoking – are my ceramic cookers: the Big Green Eggs, the Kamado Joe and the Primo XL Oval. The ceramics in these grills get heated up and then retain the heat for hours upon hours. They are the “honeybadgers” of the grilling world – they just don’t give a $h*t about the weather!

That being the case, I generally will fire up one of the ceramics with a propane torch on cold nights, put on my BBQ GQ grilling outfit and let her rip!

Tonight  was a cold weather grilling night. I had a couple of really nice chuck-eye steaks from Publix. Chuck-eyes have replaced top sirloins as my “weeknight” steak. They generally are cut in 6 – 8 oz portions – just right for my new eating habits – have ample intramuscular fat to be flavorful and are just a tad more chewy than their cousin the rib-eye, which comes from the same muscle just a bit further back on the animal.

I donned my BBQ GQ outfit, rolled the Genesis Silver B near the back door of the den, fired it up and came back in the house to get a diet coke. By the time I went back outside with the chuck-eyes (which had been hanging out in a shallow bath of Dale’s marinade for about 20 minutes), the Genesis had hit 500 degrees and the cast iron grates – which I use “wide side up” to expose a larger section of meat to the grate for better searing. Two minutes, rotate, two minutes, flip, two minutes, rotate, burners under the meat off, four more minutes and the chuck eyes were at about 120 – 125. Off, rest, cut – perfect medium-rare. Tender, juicy, perfect.

And that BBQ GQ outfit? Well, I’ll have to save that photo for a later post – maybe “April Fool’s Day!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: