Depending on how you measure it, humans began erecting permanent structures for shelter as far back as 50,000 years ago. The oldest inhabited cities on earth, which are still sited where they were began, date back roughly 10,000 years. Of course, climate control and modern kitchens date back far less.
An increasing number of those of us in Calgary use our their barbecues in the winter. Mirage Landscaping snow removal services make the experience even more enjoyable.
Favourite foods cooked over fire awaken something primal in all of us. With all of the physical work we do for our clients in the warm months, such as landscape construction, landscape maintenance, planting, and clean-up, we have hearty appetites for barbecue. Why would we not still have the same desire for slow cooked ribs, or a grilled cheeseburger after performing strenuous snow removal jobs for our residential and commercial clients? Indoor cooking has its comforts, but it cannot readily replicate the taste of grilling done outdoors.
While we are sure that the snow campers among us out there may not need winter outdoor cooking tips, to everyone else we offer the following pointers.
Dress For Success
Presuming you preferred outdoor cooking device is raring to go, it’s tempting to just “pop out” onto the patio or deck in cold weather and check on things while they cook. This is the wrong approach. Cooking outdoors in cold weather is different from the summer barbecue. You need to make a comfortable cook site, preferably out of the wind, with adequate artificial lighting, and somewhere to sit.
You then need to be dressed for the task of cooking outdoors. The cold makes grill warm up take longer. If using gas, strong gusts of wind may blow out your system. A grease flare up or fire doesn’t care that you need to go in and warm up.
The preheat time will be up to twice as long as you are used to. The cooking times will be longer than you anticipate. If you are dressed for the weather, you will not be so easily tempted to run in and out of the house, possibly missing problems as they arise. Time passes more normally when you aren’t freezing, and seconds won’t drag on as if they were minutes. You also will not be so inclined to lift the grill lid to see if your meal is “done yet” out of impatience, thereby letting precious heat escape the cooking surface.
Cook Like Your Ancestors, But Better
If you go back in time, all winter cooking was once done over a fire, and a lot of that would be taking place outside. However, even when outdoors, that cooking site would have been a prepared one. You need to prepare yours too.
If there is snow around your barbecue, you need to either shovel it away or pack it down. It just won’t do to slip and fall into your grill and either injure yourself or wipe out everyone’s dinner. As mentioned, you are going to want adequate lighting not only for the sake of physical safety, but also for your food safety too. It can take longer for meats to cook to proper internal temperatures in wintry conditions, so not only have a flashlight at the ready to check out your steak or chops on the dark grill, but also to be able to read the meat thermometer you should be using rather than the eyeball test.
The other essential cooking tip for winter barbecue is to trust your nose and timer. Unnecessarily lifting the lid on a winter barbecue is something to be avoided. All modern charcoal and gas grills are designed with tightly fitting lid systems that support convectional cooking alongside the indirect application of flame. The lid is integral to trapping and radiating back heat that would otherwise be wasted. Releasing the heat trapped by the lid not only ensures that your cook time will be longer, you may undercook your meal by creating a “cold spot” that is exacerbated by freezing weather.
Need Help? Contact Mirage Landscaping
If you can’t even get to your barbecue, contact us for a free quote on digging you out. Come spring, if you really found that winter barbecuing was a blast, why not get a free quote on having us build you a brick barbecue or fire pit? Whether you desire open flames or an enclosed gas grilling system, whatever you can dream up, we can build it for you.