It’s winter and it’s freakin’ freezing outside. What are you supposed to do when you’ve got a hankerin’ for some good BBQ, but just the thought of going outdoors sends you into a fit of shivers?
Full disclosure: I’m a spoiled BBQ brat, folks. I chose a life in Southern California to enjoy what I consider true therapy: year-round BBQ.
But I can empathize with what you’re feeling. I know the realities of a harsh winter. I know the struggles of trying to keep a grill/barbecue pit temperature maintained when the air is frigid. Therefore, I am here to help you — not to rub your noses in the fact that I’ve got hickory chips soaking in whiskey, ready to deliver some delicious smoke to spareribs in February. For those of you stuck in the cold, let’s move the BBQ indoors.
Option 1: Invest in a George Foreman electric grill
The George Foreman (or a comparable brand) electric grill presents an easy way to enjoy “grilled” food without needing to be outdoors.
For slender cuts of steak, chicken, pork, hamburgers, hotdogs and even hearty vegetables (which are incredibly enjoyable during the winter), the George Foreman grill is the way to go during winter months.
If you offer the grilling surface a little rubdown with olive oil before you begin cooking, you can even score some nice grill lines on the meat and vegetables — to better fake the BBQ experience. Food off the Foreman Grill is quite fantastic.
Option 2: Slow roast your meats
There is nothing quite like a Texas-style smoked brisket, which has been smoking near a low heat source for 12 to 20 hours. However, in the winter months, it’ll be more enjoyable to spend several hours indoors slow roasting a brisket. Here’s a great recipe, that will invoke some of those BBQ flavors you know and love.
Similarly, you’ll find great recipes for chicken and baby back ribs. You can brush them in BBQ sauce late in the slow cooking process to keep them from becoming slimy, but the meat should be tender, and ready to fall off the bone.
Option 3: Fake it with vegetable pairings
One of the easiest ways to “cheat” the BBQ experience during the winter months is by pairing your meats with vegetables that are known to come off the grill. Instead of throwing potatoes and corn into the slow roasting pot, consider baking the potatoes and boiling the corn. Veggies such as peppers, eggplant and portabella mushrooms can be grilled on an electric grill for good (and tasty) results.
After the corn is boiled, you can butter and spice it to your desired taste, then put it in the broiler for a few minutes to get that crispy, grilled corn texture. If you love a little spice in your faux-BBQ mix, rub the corn down with butter and then dust it with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Enjoy with slow-roasted ribs and cold beer.
Option 4: Make some vittles
No BBQ experience is complete without vittles. One of the easiest and most enjoyable snacks/appetizers that I’ve come across is stuffed jalapenos wrapped with bacon.
Slice a jalapeno in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Spread a dollop of cream cheese into the cavity. Wrap with a half piece of bacon and bind it all together with a toothpick. Set it on a baking sheet. You can put together an army of these for relatively little cost — or just a few, if it’s a dinner for one. Bake them at 350 degrees for a about five to seven minutes, then blast them with the broiler for an additional three or four minutes. You can figure out your cook times based on how well-done you like your bacon.
Don’t forget: Get a mini keg and invite over your friends
What makes a BBQ a great BBQ? The company. Call it what you want, it’s not really a BBQ unless there is smoke involved. However, if you’re passing around some of the aforementioned menu items, and you’ve got cold beer on tap, what else do you really need? In this case, a rose by another name really does smell almost as sweet.
Fire and smoke? Charcoal? You’ll live without it — for now.
You’ll enjoy the food, and so will your friends. Ultimately, you’ll have successfully taken back from winter what is rightfully yours: the ability to cook like a man.