I learned yesterday afternoon, with the temperature hovering somewhere in the 30's, that a good ribeye steak tastes just as good on a cold January evening as it tastes on a blistery hot June afternoon. I want you all to think about that when you decide that you're about ready to wrap up and cover up the ol' family grill and put it away for the winter.
Nu-uh!! Instead, go dig out your warm Saints starter jacket and head on out to the patio with your Ove-Glove, your set of barbecue tools, a well-pre-seasoned and marinated ribeye, and a cold brewskie (yep, contrary to public opinion guys who barbecue in winter can also imbibe in a cold brewskie in winter while the meat is flaring up)!
Just keep one undisputable fact in mind, though. . .because the outside temp in January will sometimes have a great effect on chilling down the old barbie, you'll need to plan to cook hotter in winter than you would in, say, June or July. You should also know that to get the meat cooking right away you'll want to allow it to come to room temp before you toss it atop the grate.
Technique-wise, put the steaks on and immediately close down the lid (for you guys with one of those old rusty charcoal dinosaurs, you're gonna need either some heavy duty aluminum foil to make a makeshift cover or. . .you can use one of those disposable aluminum baking pans you buy at the discount store--they come in all sizes-- to retain the heat radiating from the briquettes). Just the simple use of a "barbecue cover" can make the difference between a succulent, juicy, steakhouse-prepared steak and a shriveled, dried out, chewy cut of beef. BBQ grill covers are mandated in winterime outdoor cooking, y'all!
But wait! I keep saying "steak!" What about wintertime grilling of other stuff? Like chicken--yep, same procedure. Like pork chops--yep, same procedure. Like veggies--yep, same procedure. Like whatever you like--yep, same procedure. All I'm saying is that the grill you have, whether it be gas or charcoal, can (and should) be a proficient and popular piece of cooking gear regardless of the time of year. All you gotta do is make a few--a scant few at that!--adjustments to counteract the effects of Old Man Winter before you put on your chef's toque.
Of course, given the history of cold weather in wintertime in New Orleans and all across Southeast Louisiana, this bit of culinary instruction (because winter in New Orleans and all across Southeast Louisiana) might be moot for most of the days between December 15, say, and late February. I mean, oft times we natives here see no difference in the climate between winter and summer. But that's good! We like it that way! For the most part we here in the Deep South usually have all four seasons. . .but we have 'em all in the same week!
So right now, with this said and with the temperature holding the mercury in my back porch thermometer seemingly frozen at right around 28 degrees, my first thought is to oil and wrap some white potatoes in a sheet of foil, haul out one of those on-sale ribeyes or filets or porterhouses you splurged on a month or so ago, and get outside. . .and play with your BBQ grill. As soon as I finish this script that's where I'm going and what I'm going to do!
Dangit! I can smell the aromas already!
--Chef Frank Davis--