Who likes to turn on their oven in the summer? Anybody? Anyone? Bueller?
Nobody does! It is so hard to push that preheat button knowing that you and your house will soon be suffering. But sometimes you don’t want to eat just salads and sandwiches in the summer.
Last Sunday, I made roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted squash and crispy cauliflower all on the grill.
I’ve been playing around using my grill like an oven for a while now and I’m ready to show you my setup and share some tips and tricks to using your grill like an oven in the summer.
I’m not here to explain how to grill a hot dog, or steak or shish kabobs. This is how to use your grill to roast, braise and bake. Stuff you’d normally do in your oven.
So here we go!
1. Your grill kinda matters. A lot. In order for this to work, you need to have a grill with a heavy lid. One that can hold heat. If you have a flimsy grill and lid, you probably won’t have as much success. I have a Weber with a cast iron lid. And that sucker is heavy. But it holds heat well.
2. This works best for things like roasting and braising. Items that can withstand a certain amount of fluctuation in temperature. Maintaining a specific temperature is not as easy on the grill as an oven. So baking a cake is probably not going to be successful (although I’m totally gonna try one day.)
3. Use a baking stone. A heavy duty baking stone helps moderate the temperature. The mass of the stone takes longer to heat up, but also maintains that heat and dissipates more slowly. This translates to more consistent temperature. It also protects from the intense heat that could come from the flame and reduces your chance of scorching.
My very most favorite baking stone came from King Arthur Flour. It is big and massive and rectangular and I LOVE IT. I’ve had LOTS of other stones. They have all broken. This one is so burly and ideal for using with sheet pans. It’s kinda pricey, but totally worth it, in my opinion.
Make sure you put the stone on the grill before the grill has been turned on. If you try to put it on a hot grill, it might break. (Not speaking from experience or anything.)
4. You need a thermometer. If you have a thermometer (that you can trust) on the front of the grill, great! If not, you can use a probe thermometer. I would set the probe above your food on the warming rack.
5. Become best friends with indirect heat. You want the heat to come from the surrounding air, not from directly under the food. Heating from below is just grilling.
Indirect heat means that you use the burners to the side of the food, not directly under the food. I have found that I can maintain a range between 250 and 350 using the far right burner depending on how high the knob is turned. This will vary depending on your grill and you’ll have to play with it a little to figure out the sweet spot for you.
See the flame on the far right and the lack of flame in the middle or left? That’s the idea.
If I need a little more heat, then I turn on the middle burner, but only to low. Again, I don’t want too much heat from the bottom to scorch the food. Turning it to low adds to the overall temperature and the baking stone keeps it from getting too hot in that spot. I can get up to 500 adding the middle burner. Make sure your pan is on the baking stone all the way, otherwise it will scorch whatever is hanging over!
6. Try to keep the lid closed. It’s the same with an oven. The more you open the oven door, the more the heat escapes. The only tricky thing is that your oven door has a window, the grill lid doesn’t. Open it when you need, but only as much as you need and for the shortest amount of time possible.
7. Stay nearby. This isn’t really something you can set and then go to church. Maintaining the temperature is more fussy than the oven that you can just set and forget it (like an informercial gadget.)
With these few tips, you too can cook on the grill and save your house from sweaty, grouchy occupants AND still have some of the comfort foods that you usually avoid in the summer!