Calling for Rain? Bring the Cookout Indoors

Sometimes a rainy day can put a damper on your grilling or picnic plans. Don't cancel the party -- remember this tips for bringing your cookout indoors.
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We’ve had some nasty weather in the Northeast lately. The endless downpours have put a real damper on cookouts, but a rainy day doesn't need to ruin grilling plans. If you get stuck with a wet weekend, here are tips and recipes for creating a perfect indoor party.

Alternative Equipment

Just because the backyard is a washout doesn’t mean your picnic has to be. Of course, you can't lug the gas or charcoal grill indoors (not safe!) but stovetop grill pans can pinch hit. They come in just about every shape and size, and some can even be transferred to the oven or broiler. Grill pans will give you the same sear and grill marks as an outdoor gas grill. If you're a charcoal or mesquite chip lover, you will have to make due with this option -- and get your extra flavor boost from spices and condiments.

One major warning: I've learned the hard way that food cooked on a grill pan can smoke up your kitchen in minutes. Resist the temptation to jack up the heat (keep it on medium) and go easy on the sauces and marinades -- they’ll quickly burn and get super smoky.

More Tips to Remember

1. Plan your menu accordingly. If your grill pan is smaller than your outdoor grill (chances are that it is), you might have to take those huge steaks and racks of ribs off the menu. Grill burgers or chicken breast in batches and opt for shrimp and veggies that are quick cooking and easy to handle.

2. Food safety first. The safety rules still apply when grilling indoors; keep everybody healthy with by marinating, cooking and defrosting correctly. Brush up on these must-know grilling tips that we've covered before.

Sides & Desserts

Easy access to an indoor fridge and oven may actually give you more options when it comes to side dishes and sweet treats. Dig into your healthy recipe repertoire and offer a mix of finger foods and class picnic fare.

Another menu planning tip: think about what dishes you can make ahead of time in order to have ample stove, pantry and counter-space.

Beverages and Cocktails

Even if the festivities have stay in the house, don’t count out a cooler filled with ice, water, beer, wine and other drinks just outside your door. A quick reach to grab a cold one is easy for everyone and saves you lots of refrigerator space. Pitchers of freshly made iced tea and lemonade are more picnic classics that will never go out of style.

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