Whether you’ve been hit by a storm, suffered a random power outage or you’ve recently decided to live completely off the grid, one of your main concerns is how you’ll cook your meals until you’ve got power once more.
But even if you don’t have any burgers or dogs in the refrigerator, you can still make a square meal on your outdoor grill.
All ingredients are fair game
Many of us feel adventurous when we toss some corn or a slice of eggplant on the grill, but the reality is that the world is your oyster—or your brownies or rice—when you’ve got a grill.
“If you’re inventive, you can cook anything you want as long as it will fit inside the grill,” says my dad.
Just because you’re cooking your meal outside doesn’t mean you should abandon your food safety routines. Follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that you stay safe while eating from the grill:
- Keep hands, utensils and surfaces clean.
- Bring separate plates and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods so that juices from raw meat don’t contaminate meat that you plan to eat.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
- Don’t let food sit out for more than an hour in hot weather.
- Never use an outdoor grill inside your house or garage, because the carbon monoxide it produces could kill you.
Therefore, if you have no power, you can select any ingredients you want to cook and prep them for grilling. First, however, you must choose the best cookware that will most effectively prepare your meal for grilling.
“Any type of pot that’s oven-safe will work on the grill,” my dad says. “With most of your stovetop cookware, the plastic handles won’t take the heat and you can just melt the rivets right out of them. Therefore, oven-safe is key.”
If you have camping pots and pans, you should dig those out of the garage and bring them grill side. If not, get your cookie sheets, stoneware, cast iron pans, Dutch ovens, and other oven-safe pots and pans to make your meal.
Follow your recipes
You can typically make your meal according to your standard recipe when grilling, but the one thing that requires your close attention is the grill temperature.
Unlike when you’re barbecuing ribs, a grill will need to remain a very constant temperature if you’re cooking items like cupcakes or a roast beef on the grill. “This is where it gets tricky because many grills have a thermometer on the hood, but that doesn’t tend to be terribly accurate,” my pop says. “I’d recommend that you pick up an oven thermometer.
They are relatively cheap, and you can put yours right on the cooking grate and use that to gauge your temperature.”
What’s key when you’re reading your temperature gauge is to put the food where the gauge is.
“Your indoor oven works by convection and maintains a standard temperature from top to bottom,” s.
“But a grill could be 50 degrees different in the spot where the gauge is versus the other side of the grill, and that may be where you want to put your food. So put the gauge very close to where you’ll be cooking, particularly if you plan to do some baking.”
Try grilled soup?
Soup is another meal that cooks well on the grill, but how you prepare it will depend on whether you’re making soup from scratch or from a can.
“For soup inside a grill, I’d recommend a Dutch oven, cast iron pot, or something along those lines,” my dad advises. “If you’re making soup from scratch, I grill the ingredients I’m putting in my soup first, and then put those into the soup pot to give my soup the smoky flavor.
But if you’re just opening a can of soup and putting it on the grill, it will come out pretty much just like if you cooked it in a pot.”
Although this may not be everyone’s go-to during an emergency, you should definitely keep it in mind. When the power goes down, just chill—and use the grill!
Author John Miler
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