Super Bowl XL

Premium seats are still available for the Super Bowl, that annual intersection of great food and championship football. And they’re yours for the taking—complete with birds-eye view of the action, instant replays, a ringside seat (your favorite chair) for half-time entertainment and potential wardrobe malfunctions. Free parking. Beer on demand. And the kind of food you’ve been craving since you made those ambitious New Year’s resolutions. Almost makes you feel sorry for the folks who have to spend February 5 at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Yes, Super Bowl XL is coming up fast, but you’ve got more than enough time to pull off a great party. And the best way to do that is—you guessed it— fire up your grill.

Piece of cake if you happen to live in Florida, like I do. But what if you reside in Detroit or some other place that doesn’t exactly boast ideal grilling conditions in January? You might do best to bring the barbecue indoors. Indeed, even if you live in the Sunbelt, you might consider doing some indoor grilling for your Super Bowl party. After all, you don’t want to be slaving over your outdoor grill when all the action takes place on the big screen indoors.

Fortunately, there are a lot of indoor grills and smokers to choose from. Each has its advantages—and more importantly, the foods it does best. Below is the cast of characters. For more detail and referenced recipes, I refer you to Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling (Workman Publishing, 2004).

The fireplace: To judge from fire pits in the mouths of prehistoric caves, the fireplace was the original grill—and if you love the flavor of flame and wood smoke (not to mention the primal pleasure of building and tending a fire), it’s still the best. Use your fireplace for grilling steaks and chops—all you need is a Tuscan Grill (a cast iron grate on legs), or bring in one of the grates from your outdoor grill and set it up on some bricks. You can also roast potatoes and onions on bricks positioned in front of the embers. See chipotle salsa recipe below.

Built-in grills: Pioneered by Jennaire, these stovetop grills are the indoor analog of gas grills and are great for grilling smaller party items, like sates, yakitori (page 31), and kebabs. Marinate and assemble the kebabs ahead of time and grill them right before the kick-off, or during half- time.

Grill pans: When it comes to laying on tack-sharp grill marks, there’s nothing like these heavy frying pans with their raised ridges in the bottom. Beyond the obvious steaks (fish as well as beef) and chops, grill pans do a terrific job with tofu (yes, there are a few football loving vegetarians out there), and cheeses, like Greek halloumi (page 29) and camembert (page 27).

Free-standing grills: Built like inverted broilers, free-standing grills generally lack the firepower of other indoor grills (the newer models are getting better), but they have one important advantage: you can plug them in and use them in front of the TV. Use for quick-cooking finger foods like quesadillas and grilled shrimp cocktails (page 46).

Contact grills: Epitomized by the George Foreman and perfected by the Villaware Panini Uno, these electric grills cook from both top and bottom. Great for making panini (page 300) and other grilled sandwiches. Choose the model with highest possible wattage. See grinder recipe below.

Countertop rotisseries: Well-suited to spit-roasting whole chickens and turkeys (page 206), of course—good items to carve for a crowd. Thanks to the basket attachment, you can also use them to cook ribs, and even potatoes.

Stovetop smokers: Too cold to fire up your smoker? This rectangular stainless steel box smokes a mean brisket, pulled pork shoulder, and even beer can chicken. Despite its modest dimensions, it will prepare enough food for a crowd—with all the smoke flavors you hunger for outdoors. (Bayou Wings, page 37, are perfect Super Bowl party food.)

Again, for lots more information on using each of these indoor grills, check out Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling (Workman Publishing, 2004).

Here are two of our favorite recipes from the book to get you started.



This fiery chipotle-laced salsa beats jarred supermarket brands hands down. Grill the vegetables in a fireplace, a grill pan, or built-in grill (see Tools and Fuels for information on Tuscan grills). Lacking those, you can even roast the vegetables in a hot dry (un-oiled) cast-iron skillet. Serve with your favorite chips.

Source: Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling by Steven Raichlen

Method: Grill pan (see other options above)
Serves: Makes about 3/4 cup (easily multiplied)

6 tomatillos (about 8 ounces total), husked and washed
5 plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces total)
4 cloves garlic, skewered on a wooden toothpick or small bamboo skewer
1 small onion, cut into quarters
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers with 2 teaspoons of their adobo sauce, or more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

1. Grill the tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, and onion, in batches if necessary, until darkly browned on all sides.

2. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a cutting board and let cool. Scrape any really burnt skin off the vegetables but leave most of it on; the dark spots will add color and character.

3. Cut the vegetables into 1-inch pieces and purée in a food processor, adding the chipotles with their adobo and the cilantro, lime juice, and sugar. Taste for seasoning, adding more adobo, and/or sugar and salt and pepper to taste. The salsa will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Here’s the grilled version of one of America’s most popular sandwich, the hoagie—and a great reason to fire up your contact grill.

Source: Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling by Steven Raichlen

Method: Contact grill
Serves: 2 (can be multiplied as desired)

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
2 hoagie or submarine rolls, split
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces thinly sliced Provolone cheese (about 4 slices)
2 ounces thinly sliced capicola or baked ham (about 6 slices)
2 ounces thinly sliced Italian salami (about 6 slices)
2 tablespoons hot pepper relish (optional)
1/4 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded paper-thin with a chef’s knife or in a food processor
1 medium tomato, very thinly sliced
A few paper-thin slices sweet onion (optional)
1 to 4 pickled hot peppers, thinly sliced (optional; see Note)
2 ounces thinly sliced mortadella (about 6 slices)
Best of Barbecue Smoky Mustard Barbecue Sauce (optional)
Cooking oil spray

You’ll Also Need: 2 pieces parchment paper or aluminum foil (each 16 by 12 inches)

1. Preheat the contact grill; if your contact grill has a temperature control, preheat the grill to high. Place the drip pan under the front of the grill.

2. Lightly butter the outside of the rolls. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on the bottom half of each roll. Layer half of the Provolone, capicola, and salami on the bottom half of each roll in that order, making sure that they don’t stick out over the edges.

3. Spread 1 tablespoon of the hot pepper relish, if using, on the top of each roll and top each with half of the lettuce and tomato, the onion and hot peppers, if using, and the mortadella in that order, making sure that they don’t stick out over the edges. Leave the sandwich halves open.

4. Lightly brush the 2 pieces of parchment paper with butter. Place 1 piece, buttered side up, on a work surface with one of the long edges closest to you. Arrange the 2 halves of 1 sandwich on the left side of the piece of parchment paper, then fold the paper over them.
Repeat with the remaining sandwich halves and piece of parchment paper.

5. When ready to cook, lightly coat the grill surface with cooking oil spray. Arrange the paper-wrapped sandwiches on the hot grill at a diagonal to the ridges and close the lid. Grill the sandwiches until the bread is crusty and golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Leave the grill turned on.

6. Unwrap the sandwiches and assemble them, covering the bottom halves with the top. Place the sandwiches back on the grill and cook for 30 seconds, pressing on the grill to flatten them. Cut each sandwich in half crosswise and serve at once with Best of Barbecue Smoky Mustard Sauce, if desired.


The fireplace is the oldest indoor grill. The Romans called it a focus (hearth), and its central role in cooking, domestic well-being, and promoting general human happiness made it the literal and spiritual focal point of the home. Today, it is used sporadically, and almost never for cooking. And that is a shame. Because whether you’re charring bell peppers, sizzling a ribeye steak, or roasting leg of lamb on a spit, fireplace cooking, especially in the wintertime, is a soul-satisfying way to connect to simpler times.

Equipment for fireplace grilling can be as low-tech as a long-handled fork or a wire rack supported by bricks at opposite sides of the fire. But a cast iron Tuscan Grill will increase your cooking options exponentially. Plus, the “cool quotient” is higher. The one I designed for the Best of Barbecue line of equipment has removable legs so you can lay it on a conventional chrome-plated or porcelain-coated grate to get killer grill marks, or you can attach the legs and use it over a campfire or in your wood-burning fireplace.

To use the Tuscan Grill in the fireplace, light a log fire and let it burn down to glowing embers. Rake the embers into a pile about 1-inch deep. Position the Tuscan Grill over the hot coals and preheat for five minutes before grilling.

And to scoop out and discard the ashes, check out our galvanized metal Best of Barbecue Charcoal and Ash Scoop and Trash Can.
More complete instructions for fireplace grilling begin on page 10 of Raichlen’s Indoor! Grilling, and are followed by recipes for fine fireside suppers.


I receive hundreds of letters each year asking for grilling advice or recipes. We try to answer as many as time permits, but if your question is urgent, I recommend you post it on the Barbecue Board. Our moderators and members are extraordinarily capable grill masters, friendly as all get out, and eager to help.

From time to time, I like to post letters of general interest to our grilling community at large.

Willie M. of Bloomington, Indiana, writes:

“Steven, how can I break a friend’s habit of relying upon a timer when grilling…well…everything!?!?!? It’s gotten to be a nasty habit which I’d rather see him develop into his ‘touch’ for the grill. Any advice? Thanks.”

Encourage your friend to use the “poke” test to check for doneness:

  • Downright squishy: It’s still raw in the center.
  • Soft and yielding: It’s rare.
  • Gently yielding: It’s medium-rare.
  • Firmly yielding: It’s medium.
  • Firm and springy: It’s well done.

My staff and I hope your grilling year is off to a great start. And may your team win on Super Bowl Sunday.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

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