Tips and techniques for grilling in an Australian winter

As we say goodbye to warm weather, pool parties, and queuing up for a sausage sizzle at summer BBQs, might we recommend thinking twice before packing away the grill for the winter.

Though we try to avoid the outdoors during the colder months, the best comfort foods often come with that cosy, smokey flavour you can only ever get from grilling. So as the temperature begins to drop, now is the time to invest in a pellet grill – it’s essentially cooking with wood but at the flick of a switch.

These handy tips and tricks for winter grilling may just get you reaching for your coat, alongside those much-loved warmer recipes you have filed away.

Prep your menu

Having a menu ready not only saves you time by preparing earlier, and having your ingredients ready to throw straight on the grill (less time in that cold air for you), but it also saves a lot of stress when it comes to cooking for a crowd.

My recommendation in these colder months is to stick to simple dishes and do them really well. Lamb shanks with potato bake, or a smokey mac and cheese with whiskey.

Make sure your grill is stocked full of pellets and ready to be turned on

If you’re new to the grilling world, you may be surprised to hear that grease and oil actually can go bad over time. If your BBQ got a workout over the summer, I recommend taking some time prior to clean down the grill and plates, re-grease them, and stock your barbeque full of pellets to prepare for your winter recipes. Traeger offers a range of high-quality 100% pure hardwood pellets for every BBQ dish – my favourite are the Hickory pellets, which produce that strong, smokey flavour we’re aiming for.

Maintain your grill

Now that your Traeger grill is clean, make an effort to maintain that level of care between each grilling session. Clean the grill after every use, excess grease can be a fire hazard, and if that’s not enough of a reason, did you know a build-up on your grill can breed carcinogens? Scrub the grates with a bristle brush or a cloth – if you’ve got a lemon handy this is a great cleaner. Even though this may feel like a ton of extra effort, your future self will thank you tenfold.

Invest in a thermometer

Every time you open the grill and peek at your dish, you lose heat and expose it to the cold (which we’re trying to avoid). In doing this, the smokey flavour you’re striving for will simply evaporate. Instead, use the grill top thermometer to check on your meat and keep all that flavour locked inside. Don’t open the lid until you’re pretty confident that your dish might be ready to plate up.

Set the mood

Finally, what’s a winter gathering without setting the mood? Even though the weather outside might be frightful, pair your cosy meal with warming drinks like hot cider or rum. Throw some fairy lights up around your grill area, and light a few candles to really set the ambience while entertaining.

There is no reason your grill should be forgotten this season, especially when it’s as easy as flicking on a switch and letting your pellet grill do the rest of the work. Gather up these trusted tips and your chosen recipe, and give winter grilling a red hot go.

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