No matter the season, you can always enjoy the experience of cooking on the grill! Our friend Mike, a grilling enthusiast, is back with the final installment of his three-part series about his love for cooking on an open flame! Since greenhouse grown vegetables are available year-round, there is never a shortage of flavorful ingredients to use when creating meals for family and friends.

What’s The Right Season To Grill?

Are you thinking that it is too cold out there to grill in the middle of winter? Too much rain or snow maybe? Some may say that winter is an off-season to grill, while others may say summer is too hot to be in front of the fire. At the end of the day, grilling is all about the experience and can be enjoyed any time of the year.

As the seasons change, the recipes might change too, but for me, the only thing that changes is how I dress to do what I love – and that’s cook on the grill for my family…and my dogs!

What’s In Season?

Not sure what to cook in the middle of winter because you want to buy vegetables that are in season? This is where greenhouse grown veggies make the grilling life that much easier – no matter the time of year. It seems that during the spring, summer, and fall there are plenty of garden vegetables available to cook. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find fresh in the middle of winter.

Since there are so many delicious varieties of greenhouse grown tomatoes and peppers that are available all year, I can enjoy grilled vegetables whenever I need them!  My garden simply cannot compete with greenhouse grown tomatoes since they are grown with the perfect amount of nutrients and light ensuring that their flavor is always consistent!

Vegetables are always present when I grill. Sometimes we eat them right away, but sometimes I make extra just because I want to have them on hand for future recipes! Yep, sometimes I grill my veggies before I even have a plan for them. They’re the base of our favorite salsas, like the Smoky Bell Pepper Sauce, but I may also want to tweak my Fresh Chimol Salsa recipe and make it from roasted tomatoes instead. Having grilled veggies on hand allows our family to be flexible when creating meals.

Grilling During the Coldest Days –

We all know that when we want to cook on the grill, it needs to reach certain temperatures. Sometimes this can be challenging during the winter months when it is very cold.

First, when grilling in the winter you need to consider what equipment you have available.  For example, if I’m cooking on my offset smoker, I know I will have to treat it differently than my Kamado or my Weber Kettle because the thickness of the materials is different. My Kettle will heat up quicker than my Kamado since the material is thinner, but my Kamado will manage the heat more steadily once it reaches the temperature I want.

When grilling, I feed the fire by opening or closing the vents, but during the winter months, the air intake will get cold air. Yes, this will feed the fire, but the cold air will also bring the temperatures down inside the grill which makes it a challenge to cook evenly. In this case, simply use more wood or charcoal to keep things at the desired temperature.

Grilling vs Smoking –

Am I grilling or smoking? You may remember my last blog “Life-Fire Cooking: Let’s Get Smoking!” where I mentioned these two things. I always say if you’re grilling, you’re certainly smoking too. People sometimes get confused between these two words so to clarify I always make this comparison: grilling = cooking on the stove and smoking = baking in the oven. The difference here is that when we are grilling, we are searing & cooking faster, but when smoking we are “baking” our food for longer periods of time. That said, if I’m grilling on a charcoal cooker or a wood fire, I’m always smoking! Even if I just use it for 5 minutes to quickly sear a steak, that piece of steak will be smoke-infused. In order to cook more efficiently during the winter months, I try to cook faster by searing quickly and I use whatever equipment will heat up faster.  If I know that I will be cooking for longer periods of time then I will bring the beefy Kamodo grill to the game.

From here what you need to keep in mind is what and how you are going to cook and whether you will need more or less heat and/or fire. For example, thin cuts of steaks will only need quick sears, whereas thick cuts will need to be grilled for longer. You can sear some crunchy Sweet Bell Peppers or maybe slowly roast some Tomatoes On-The-Vine to create a flavorful salsa.

Enjoy Winter Grilling –

So now, after all of what I said, what’s for dinner? Just grab your favorite protein & veggies, put on your jacket, a nice warm hat & gloves, and get grilling – it’s as easy as that!  Enjoy the experience and take in the fresh crisp air. Bundle everyone up and bring the family outside with you to play in the snow while things cook and have a wonderful time together! Always use what is in season – choosing always-available greenhouse grown vegetables is a game changer. Since they are consistent in flavor, you can always count on your recipes being a success! Don’t let the weather stop you from enjoying healthy, fresh recipes all year through!

~ Mike