The New Orleans weather is cooling down outside, which is welcome to many who are tired of the sweltering summer heat! While grilling outside can still be fun and enjoyable in the brisk weather, some Louisiana grilling purists see an outdoor barbecue minus the summer heat as pure blasphemy. For those who still want to have a great barbecue at home, but don’t want to have to do it indoors (or for apartment dwellers who don’t have easy access to a grill), there are still ways to get great barbecue flavor indoors!
Beyond it being a massive fire hazard and a health risk, its not necessary to have an outdoor taste to your indoor meal. While most people would scoff at even the notion of using an outdoor grill indoors, every year, roughly a dozen people die from attempting just that. Indoor grilling should be done using indoor tools.
There are two types of indoor grills you can use: the open grill and the folding contact grill.
The open grill is similar in look to an outdoor grill. These appliances are electric and have a heating element with a grill-like cooking surface. While you have to flip foods to cook them evenly, the experience of grilling is much more authentic and the flavor is closer to an outdoor grill than you may get with a folding contact grill.
A folding contact grill is a grill with a hinged top that can be closed over your food, almost like a panini press or waffle maker. This grill may be better for the more inexperienced cook, as this style of grill can cook on both sides simultaneously and requires less attention from the cook.
Simply marinate and spice them the way you would choose to on an outdoor grill, and lay them on either your open or folding contact grill. Certain spices will make your indoor meal taste a little more outdoorsy. Chipotle peppers and liquid smoke, for example, can add a little of the flavor you might find on an outdoor grill.
Especially risky items such as pork or chicken should be carefully monitored to ensure they are fully cooked before eating.
While using an indoor grill is infinitely less hazardous than trying to use an outdoor grill, it can still be dangerous. Cooking food and burning fat will create smoke, so make sure that your kitchen is well-ventilated and you have air flow.
To reduce the smoke generated by your indoor grill (and eat healthier in the process), trim excess fat from your meats. Less fat means less burning, smoke, and a healthier meal in the end.
An apartment BBQ has an advantage over a backyard BBQ in that flatware needn’t be relegated to the realm of paper and plastic. Pour wine for guests in stemmed glasses or, if you have enough time, wash and repurpose glass jam and jelly jars for use as glasses.
For the table, a freshly cut flower centerpiece will capture the air of summer in an indoor space. A centerpiece of fresh fruits, such as lemons, oranges, or mangoes, is a lovely alternative as well.
Single-use plates and utensils are fine, of course, but don’t be frugal. Purchase heavy-duty plates so there’s no chance of weighty or greasy foods falling through and onto your carpet. You’ll also want plenty of plastic wrap, or re-usable containers, for leftovers.
A main component of any barbecue party is food – namely, meat; but, as an apartment dweller, using a smoke-emitting apparatus for cooking isn’t really an option. There are countertop grills on the market made just for this type of occasion, but there are also ways to cook in a barbecue style without the use of any fancy equipment.
Certain classic BBQ dishes, such as pulled pork, can be made in advance and warmed for guests before they arrive. Other dishes, such as barbecued chicken, can be basted and marinated in advance and set in the oven during the party.
You’ll definitely want a few dishes that won’t require any preparation before serving. Pasta salads keep well in the refrigerator for a few days, as do lettuce-based salads as long as there is no dressing to wilt the leaves.
If you are so inclined, you can also cut corners with a few pre-made items. Here in southern Louisiana, there are a bevy of markets offering tasty, ready-made items such as roasts and rib racks. Your guests will be astounded and your kitchen will stay clean. (That’s truly ultimate barbeque!)
If you take the time to season your food as you would during your outdoor barbecue, you may be surprised at the similarity of cooking it inside! While nothing truly compares to an outdoor grilling experience, you shouldn’t have to miss out on it due to the weather!
Have fun with your recipes, try out a few things, and be creative! Who says grilling has to go out the window along with the summer heat?