How to Get That Outdoor Grilled Flavor (Without Having to Go Outdoors)

March  7, 2018

The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a smoky, charred dinner indoors. In our soon-to-launch book, Any Night Grilling, author Paula Disbrowe offers year-round alternatives so you can get your grill on from the comfort of your own kitchen—no charcoal required. All you’ll need is a good grill pan, a can-do attitude, and some all-weather recipes to get you going. You won't even wish for warm summer evenings out on the deck, hoppy beer in hand and steak sizzling away (though Paula's got that covered, too).

For Paula, a grill pan has a rightful place in the pantheon of fire-powered options.

When the weather isn’t cooperating or you’re in a pinch, you can use a grill pan on your stove top to create similar results, with everything from breakfast sausage to vegetables. Your best bet is a heavy, enamel-coated cast-iron model, which cooks evenly and maintains an even heat. The ridges on the bottom create sear marks and elevate food above drippings. Grill pans are particularly well suited for quick-cooking items like chicken breasts, lamb chops, firm cheeses, and vegetables. What you don’t get, of course, is the ambient heat and deeper flavors created by a live fire.

But don't let that stop you from going after that signature char. Just prep your pan right, and you're good to go.

If you’re using a grill pan, preheat it over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until very hot (a drop of water will sizzle and quickly evaporate). Oil the pan just before cooking; otherwise it will smoke and burn.

As for what you can make on your grill pan, the possibilities are endless. Below are a few ideas to get you started. And if a recipe calls for an outdoor grill, stick to the same cooking time on its cozier indoor cousin.

Make it meaty

How about some veg?

Don't forget about dessert

Tell us what you like to throw down on your grill pan! And for more ideas on what to fire up before shorts season officially hits, pre-order your signed copy of Any Night Grilling!

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Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

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Brinda is the Director of Content at Food52, where she oversees all site content across Food52 and Home52. She likes chewy Neapolitan pizza, stinky cheese of all sorts, and tahini-flavored anything. Brinda lives in Brooklyn with 18 plants and at least one foster pup (sometimes more). Find her at @brindayesterday on Twitter and Instagram.