By Kent Whitaker
Cooler months and winter cut down on the number of times you can fire up the backyard grill. That does not mean that the long winter months must be void of grilled tasty meats and seasoned vegetables! It just means that you may need to try your hand at grilling… inside!
Before I go any further let me state plainly that you should never use your outdoor charcoal and gas grills inside of your home. The type of indoor grilling I’m talking about can take place on three basic types of indoor grills. The first one is simple – but limited to many people as it requires kitchens with grills/griddles built in. So, that leaves two possibilities.
Over the Stove Grill
The most common form of indoor grilling may already be in your kitchen. Cast iron griddles with raised grates that mimic the grill marks from your outdoor set up. These come in a wide variety of designs from several manufactures and not only in cast iron.
Most are designed in the form of a deep skillet with handle. The deep design is for containing drippings and grease. But longer and flatter version are available as well which sometimes has a raised grated area and a flat side. Perfect for sausage and pancakes.
The other over the stove indoor grill style includes versions made with a bottom and a top. Generally, the bottom is a grease catcher where you can also add some fluid such as water or even juice for flavored steam. Then, a top griddle portion sits on top with an air space in between. Several versions of this type of over the stove grills are sold via TV “as seen on” type of commercials.
The advantages of this type of indoor grilling is that you are using your stove space, not taking up counter space and easy cleanup.
Stand Alone / Countertop Grills
The other main type of indoor grills are the countertop versions which plug in to an electric outlet. They break down into three categories. One, which has really fallen to the wayside the last several years, is the covered electric griddle/skillet. You know, just like your grandmother or mom had stuffed in the back of the kitchen pantry.
Secondly, there’s the upgraded sandwich maker grill. You know, like the classic version made popular by former boxer George Foreman! There are countless varieties of these types of folding indoor grills on the market. They range from simple folding drip-away grills/sandwich makers to larger versions with several options on settings and cooking selections. The main feature is the top is folded over to complete grilling on both sides at once.
The third version of a countertop grill is the open top grill with drip-pan… and yes, some have covers. These get the closest to outdoor grilling with an indoor grill for overall flavor. The fold over grills and drip-pan style grills come with an amazing number of features such as varied temperature controls, adjustable covers and even computerized grill settings for one touch perfectly grilled meats and vegetables.
The price points for these vary as well. They can range from $50 to over $100 and more depending on the brand and available options. Some of the higher end version can top the $300 point.
Final Note, And George Forman Again!
Short of having a restaurant style kitchen with wood fired grills, fire prevention systems and industrial ventilation systems there is no way to completely mimic the flavor that cooking over wood, charcoal and even gas brings. The good news is that you can get close with spices, marinades and grill marks using an indoor grill.
George Foreman, and a few other electric grill companies, now make models that have accessories… such as legs/stands, for standup grilling away from the countertop. Say, you want to set the grill up near the TV for that big game! Yes, tailgating can now be done inside your house, next to a big screen TV with a standup electric grill!
Citrus Kissed Barbecue Chicken Kabobs
This quick and easy dish is a nice combination of flavors for a tasty kabob that’s perfect over rice! Perfect for outdoor and indoor grilling!
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut in cubes
Raw vegetables of your choice kabob cut
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Dash of garlic powder
Cube the chicken and slice the vegetables and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. You can combine everything in a bowl, or zip close bag, and marinated for an hour or two. Or, go ahead and put the meat and veggies on your skewers if they are metal and baste the kabobs with the sauce. Leave the basted kabobs on a cookie sheet or baking dish, cover with foil, and chill before grilling. If you’re using wooden skewers, you’ll need to soak those first which is easily done with the meat and veggies sitting in a bowl in the fridge.
Grill over medium high heat turning as you grill. Serve hot!
Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker is the former winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network barbecue contest. He’s a culinary writer and cookbook author – his newest title is Great American Grilling. He also writes about College football, the NFL and NASCAR for several media outlets. Look for him online at thedeckchef.com .