Monday, December 8, 2008

Grilling Indoors

Even though winter hasn't yet officially arrived, we've already had quite a few below-freezing nights here in the heart of Carolina. And no doubt it's already quite chilly up north and in the midwest. But you don't need to let the cold weather deprive you of enjoying grilled food. If you don't mind grilling in the cold and dark, you can do what Greg does and don a heavy coat, turn on the deck lights and continue grilling even in the dead of winter (just be careful not to light your coat on fire!). Or if you're less willing to brave the cold, you can grill indoors, provided you have the right type of grill and you take some precautions. Admittedly, you won't get that delicious charcoal-grilled flavors when cooking indoors (unless you have a fireplace that can safely fit your charcoal grill), but you can use a charcoal seasoning like Calhoun's Charcoal Grill Seasoning when using an indoor grill.

So what kind of grill is safe to use indoors? The ideal and safest way to grill indoors is to use a permanently-installed natural gas or electric grill. But if you don't have such a setup, you may be wondering if you can bring your outdoor grill into the house. The answer depends on what type of grill you have. NEVER, ever use a a propane grill indoors, or you risk carbon monoxide poisoning (yes, you can die and/or kill your pets). Also, NEVER use a charcoal grill indoors unless you have a large fireplace and can fit the grill towards the back, leaving the damper or flue open to vent the smoke and gases produced during grilling. You'll also have to leave the coals in the fireplace until they burn out (or cover the grill to put out the coals). NEVER try to move the hot coals out of the fireplace or you could end up starting a fire with falling ashes. Bottom line: Check the manufacturer's instructions for your grill to determine whether you can safely use it indoors, and be very careful.

Assuming you've cleared the first hurdle and have a grill that can safely be used inside your home, then the next step is to choose the right foods. Select foods that will require only a short cooking time, like fish and seafood, boneless skinless chicken breasts, etc. The reason is that you want to reduce the amount of smoke that will be produced. You can cheat on this by partially cooking the food in your microwave oven, and then finish cooking it on your indoor grill. This works especially well with vegetables.

Finally, the most important pointer for indoor grilling is ensuring adequate ventilation. Regardless of which indoor grilling method you choose, make sure your means of ventilation are strong enough to exhaust fumes outdoors. Depending on your setup, you may need to open your kitchen window(s) a crack and maybe even use a fan to help blow fumes out. Remember, if in doubt, leave the grilling outdoors.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Calhoun's Charcoal Grill Seasoning is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company online store!

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