My family has been known once or twice to stand outside at the barbeque with an umbrella to have our weekly summer grill-outs, but sometimes, even with the best umbrella and down coat, the weather can keep us indoors.
Indoor grilling is a little different from outdoors – you need to be prepared for the possibility of the smoke alarm going off—but it can be just as delicious. There are a few must-haves for indoor grilling; some you may already have, and some not. I am going to share some of my favourites, along with some tips for the best easy indoor barbeque without fuss or muss.
First and foremost is a grill pan, because caramelized stripes on meat or veg is much too iconic to give up. There are a few styles and materials to choose from, starting with single-burner vs. double-burner pans. The decision really depends on how many people you would serve on a regular basis. An eleven- or twelve-inch pan can comfortably fit three to four chicken cutlets or two, maybe three, rib steaks at a time, if they are small. A double burner can fit six to eight chicken cutlets or three to four rib steaks.
Round vs. square is just a style preference to me, but you want to look at how high the sides of the pan come up. For grilling fish or vegetables, you may not mind if the sides are not high, because there isn’t as much splatter, but for meat and chicken, you would probably like a pan with a little height (one to three inches) on the sides to minimize stove splatter. The one I use (and love) is All-Clad’s hard, anodized eleven-inch grill pan. Cuisinart, Le Crueset, and Staub all make great enameled cast-iron grill pans in each of the styles I mentioned. Which one you choose is just a matter of your price point and color choice. Each of these pans heats very evenly and does not have an issue with hot spots, which can be quite frustrating when you are cooking like this.
Cast iron is also a great material for indoor grilling. Usually from the American classic brand, Lodge, you can get pans that have a flat bottom or ribbed, in a variety of sizes and styles. Cast iron, if cared for properly, becomes naturally non-stick and creates a fantastic crust and sear on proteins, or a crunchy toast on breads.
To get the best grill marks in a pan, it needs to be sufficiently heated. Preheat the dry (no oil) pan on medium heat for a few minutes. You will know it is ready for oil and/or food when you sprinkle a drop of water and it sizzles and evaporates immediately. If it does not, wait a couple more minutes and try again. When you go to put food onto the pan, make sure any excess marinade is not clinging; if the food is too wet, it will steam, and the grill marks will not be there.
A good set of tongs is invaluable when you want to flip things, turn foods in a marinade without getting your hands in there, or put food on or take it off the heat. I like to use the stainless steel ones, and just take care that I do not rub it on my pan; but if you are using a pan with a regular non-stick coating, go for the silicone-edged ones.
The last of my cooking tools is a silicone brush. You can use this to baste foods, spread a marinade or sauce, or lightly oil the surface of your grill pan.
I try to keep my grilling no-fuss: fresh herbs, good spice blends, salt and pepper, and good quality protein and vegetables.
For fish, filleted or whole, look for a firmer flesh fish, like sea bass, salmon, tuna, cod, or haddock.
Vegetables are also fabulous on the grill. Summer squash, eggplant, peppers, or even tomatoes are some top choices in my house. Each of these you want to cut about ¼ to ½ an inch thick, so they keep their shape and cook through. Tomatoes do well sliced (same thickness as other veg) and de-seeded.
Pereg is one of my favourite spice companies that is widely available. I use a few of the spices to build on, and they make recommendations for proteins on the jar, which is helpful. I love their chicken blend and their seafood blend. You can also use your favourite schwarma blend or Herbes de Provence as seasoning.
There are a few seasoning techniques you can use. Sprinkle your seasoning from high up to get good coverage, and if you have some trouble rubbing in the seasoning, add a drizzle of olive oil for a little slip. You can mix your spices with some oil and then massage it in. You can also use a liquid marinade; Italian dressing is a personal favorite and is so easy.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for a grill-in for the whole family.