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Expert tips and tricks for grilling in cold weather

If you're barbecuing on game day, leave more time to heat the grill

Published: January 30, 2014 01:00 PM

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Stephen Raichlen's grilled chicken wings

Tailgating isn’t allowed in the parking lot of the MetLife Stadium before the Super Bowl on Sunday, just another reason to be glad that you’ll be home watching the game. And while the weather will be cold in much of the country, that doesn’t stop some people from grilling. About a third of grill owners say they grill when the temperature is below freezing, according to a survey from Weber. And while that may sound nuts, the payoff is sizzling burgers and tender ribs.
And then there are chicken wings. Stephen Raichlen, author of the popular “Barbecue! Bible” says on his website that they’re the perfect Super Bowl food as they’re: “Infinitely customizable. Easily held in one hand. Spicy enough to take the chill off a winter’s day. Primal as well as beer-compatible. Relatively inexpensive, even for a crowd.” Sounds good to us. Raichlen has 10 tips for acing chicken wings on the grill, including how to get the skin nice and crispy. His Super Bowl menu (and recipes) on includes Calgary Hot wings, sage and garlic grilled tomatoes, and Filipino-style London broil. Now we’re talking.

Keeping the grill hot when it's cold outside
If you plan to grill in cold weather, be sure to dress warm but skip the scarf and other dangling fabrics. Shield the grill from wind and place it about 10 feet from combustible surfaces and materials. And to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, always grill in a well-ventilated area and never inside an enclosed patio or garage. Keep in mind that preheating your gas grill can take up to twice as long in below-freezing temperatures, and cooking may also take longer so use a meat thermometer to ensure meats and fish are safe to eat. For the grill to retain as much heat as possible, cook with the lid closed.

Winter may seem like an unlikely time to buy a grill but with a quick search, we found gas grills available at the usual home improvement and big box stores. Use our Ratings of dozens of gas grills to help find a grill with a cooking surface that matches how much you usually cook. We group grills based on our measurements of the main cooking area. Manufacturers might also include warming racks and searing burners in their claims.

And to round out your Super Bowl menu, check the results of our craft beer taste tests and 10 tasty slow cooker recipes.

—Kimberly Janeway

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