Wintertime smoking: Where there is a grill, there is a way

Wintertime Smoking: Where There is a Grill, There is a Way

Here in the northeast, we are pretty much in the throes of winter. Typically, a lot of our worst weather occurs between now and the first of March. Now, mind you, we don’t suffer the same snowfall totals as our friends out in the Midwest or those folks up Buffalo way, but we can get some nasty stuff here. 

Keep in mind though, where I am from here in Maryland, just a mention of the possibility of a snowstorm of 2-4 inches will send normally rationally thinking people scurrying to their nearest grocery store in a panic to scarf up all the milk, eggs, bread and toilet paper they can find. Admittedly, I have lived here for all of my years and I still to this day, have no idea what it is they do with the large amounts of the aforementioned products after they are purchased and during an impending storm. Perhaps they ran short of one of these stables during a snowstorm when they were younger, and now the items are purchased out of fear, I am not quite sure. 

For me, when the weatherman starts carping about the possibility of the white menace coming, I merely make sure I have enough charcoal or LP gas for the grill, plenty of beer, a pork butt or two, maybe a few steaks, and I am good for the duration of the storm or the apocalypse, whichever comes first. Oh, and I also double-check the supply of red wine, just in case we have guests. 

You see, here at the Hensler House, we grill or smoke outside several times a week, year-round. I have been known to shovel my deck clean just so I could get to the grill. I have also been known to stand with tongs in hand holding an umbrella during a snowstorm just to make sure I didn’t overcook the steaks. Gusts of 30-40 from the north with a wind-chill of near-zero, not a problem, just find a way to get the grill or smoker in behind a windbreak and let the cooking begin. 

I am thinking this desire to cook outside no matter the conditions goes back to my days in the Boy Scouts. Our troop operated with minimal adult supervision 99% of the time. In other words, the scouts ran the show. If the troop went camping and your patrol didn’t plan and shop for your provisions, you went hungry. If, as a group, you planned to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all weekend for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so be it. 

Somehow, I think if a troop that conducted itself like this were in existence today, they would need a team of attorneys on staff just to fend off the potential lawsuits. Not to mention dealing with the whining parents who would, after not lifting a finger to help, complain that a balanced and allergy/gluten-free menu wasn’t planned for and prepared for their precious child during their foray into the wild.

If it was windy, you figured out a way to shield the fire so you could cook. If it rained all weekend, you’d better know how to find dry firewood and start a fire, or you would get awfully hungry. In other words, we cooked regardless of the conditions. It was a tremendous learning experience and one I am sure I still carry with me to this day. 

Now, I am not here telling you that there hasn’t been the occasional time when I looked out at the sideways pelting rain and thought to myself those chicken breasts that I have swimming in my secret marinade could be cooked to 165 just as well in the oven or in a sauté pan as they would outside on the grill. If I was trying to tell you that, you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. I will tell you this, most times when a grilled or smoking operation is called for in the evening’s dinner plans, 99% of the time the show goes on, no matter the weather or conditions, that is a fact. 

Gone are the days when folks packed their grills away on Labor Day and didn’t break them out again until Memorial Day and I think that is a good thing. So, the next time the weather reader isn’t playing your favorite tune when giving you their forecast, instead of wimping out and canceling your plans to cook outside, get busy with a contingency plan on how to get your meats into the fire and to the table regardless of the condition. 

Besides, who can believe most weather people these days? Just keep these few words of wisdom stored somewhere within the deep reaches of your overloaded brainpan, where there is a grill, there is a way. With that thought in mind, you can’t go wrong! 

Contact: Do you have Smoke’n questions? You can ask George Hensler at

For a full line of supplies, equipment, or meats you might need for your next cook-out be it winter or summer, be sure to visit the Smoke’n Dudes Store located at 3720 Bristol Pike Bensalem, PA 19020. They have the best BBQ Smokers in Philadelphia!

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