2011 is turning out to be the year of crazy weather. Even those of us not recently in the path of a tornado have been dealing with unseasonably belch weather. And while the forecast for Memorial Day weekend shows sun, I've got my Plan B in case our grilling plans get rained out.
But what a drag to stay indoors and miss out on that grilled food, right? You were really looking forward to the grill marks and that smell. Well, with a few adjustments, you can capture a bit of that grilling flavor indoors -- even if you don't have a George Foreman grill!
Use your broiler
Your broiler is kind of like your grill turned upside-down. You may not have quite as much control, but you can get similar effects. Just be careful not to overheat! A conventional oven has one setting for the broiler: wicked hot. Most ovens come with a broiler pan, which is a combination of a grill with a pan underneath for drippings. (Mine usually sits unused in that drawer below the main oven compartment.)
For thick cuts and bone-in cuts: roast in a 350-degree oven, on the middle rack, basting with sauce, until the meat is nearly cooked through. Then finish cooking on the top rack under the broiler just for a couple minutes each side to sear the outside.
For fish, hot dogs, boneless chicken cutlets, and burgers: you can put these right under the broiler from the start. Just keep the light on and a close eye on your food. A couple minutes on each side should work, maybe a little longer for burgers.
Cast iron is your friend
With a cast iron pan, you can also get some of the effects of grilling but with a lot more control. This is how I cook hot dogs and hamburgers in the winter. You can get a nice sear without having to worry about sticking, and since most cost around $10, they're way cheaper than an electric indoor grill. Some cast iron pans even come with grill ridges, which are even better.
Cook hot dogs and other thick cuts on medium low heat. For thicker cuts, sear on high heat on each side first, then turn down to low, cover, and cook until done.
Those of you who use fancy charcoal briquettes are missing out on the smell, right? Well, there's always evergreen-scented incense, if you can find some. Otherwise, the rest of us can keep a bottle of lighter fluid open on the counter. Take a few whiffs every few minutes as you pass by. Ah, the aroma of summer!
Okay, I'm totally joking on that last one. Actually, as long as your meat and veggies are searing and you're using the same sauces, you'll still get that grilled meat aroma. And it's kind of nice to skip the lighter fluid smell for once, isn't it?
Image via Stevendepolo/Flickr