Rockin' Ronnie

Barbecue Secrets

Celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking
Barbecue Secrets

Description

Celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking.

Episodes

Latin-Style Smoked Pork Shoulder with Salsa Verde

Jul 1, 2016

Description:

In recent years I've had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica and collaborate with chefs there as the country establishes itself on the international barbecue scene. Thanks to the hospitality of my new friends in Central America, I have truly fallen in love with Latin American cooking. Nary a week goes by without me making a batch of delicious empanadas, and I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate Latino flavours into my grilling/barbecue.

Case in point: for my birthday dinner last year, my lovely wife Kate Zimmerman made a super-delish Pork Shoulder with Salsa Verde, which she found on Epicurious.com. I have simply adapted the recipe for the smoker and slightly tweaked the ingredients list. If you don't have a smoker, this works great in the oven. However you cook it, it is amazingly delicious. Enjoy. 

TIP: Celery leaves are hard to come by because in our society we value the stems, so most of the leaves are trimmed away from most bunches of celery before the get to supermarkets. I go to my local organic grocery store and ask the produce person to save the trimmings for me. If you can't get enough celery leaves, the salsa is just fine with parsley alone, or you could substitute cilantro, spinach or arugula.

Serves six to eight

NOTE: You will probably have lots of leftover salsa verde, which is a great condiment for anything else, or, mixed with mayo, is a fantastic dip. 

Ingredients

For the Salsa Verde:

1 small tin of anchovy fillets

2 Tbsp coarsely chopped pickled capers (the small kind)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and coursely chopped

2 bunches of flat leaf Italian parsley, stems removed

1 cup or more (if you can find enough) coarsely chopped celery leaves

Finely grated peel of one or two fresh lemons

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup olive oil

A small squeeze (1 tsp) of Rogers Golden Syrup or corn syrup to balance the flavour (optional)

 

For the Pork Shoulder

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 Tbsp chopped fresh sage

4 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 Tbsp Kosher salt or Fleur de Sel (French sea salt)

2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 8-lb whole boneless or bone-in pork shoulder butt roast

 

In a blender or food processor, combine all the salsa ingredients and whiz until they are a smooth puree. Adjust the seasonings (add salt, pepper, lemon juice, pepper, or a bit of sweetness to make the salsa perfect.)

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200 - 220 F. (If you're using a gas grill, prepare the grill for low, indirect cooking, with the burners on one side of the grill on low-medium, and the other side turned off completely, with a water pan under the cooking grate.

In a nonreactive bowl, mix together the garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil, and rub the mixture all over the roast. When your smoker or grill is preheated, place the roast on the cooking grate and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 185F. On the smoker this will take at about 10 to 12 hours, and on your grill we're talking about six or seven hours. When the roast reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker/grill and let it rest, wrapped in foil, for at least 15 minutes but preferably an hour or more.

Slice the roast into half-inch chunks and serve, with the salsa verde on the side. 

 

BBQ Secrets Episode 23 - Canadian Jerk, Craziest Basting Brushes Ever, and Nudism, Rockin' Ronnie Style

Aug 28, 2015 27:30

Description:

SHOW NOTES

In this episode I talk about building an authentic Jamaican-style jerk pit for this year's Brewery and the Beast in Vancouver, where I joined my friends from Johnston's Pork to serve up 14 delicious jerked pork bellies.

A the same event, ninja chef Rob Belcham of Campagnolo restaurant outdid himself by spit roasting a whole 250-lb. farmed sturgeon using three whole octopi stuffed with chorizo as basting brushes.

At the end of the episode I talk about an experience my wife Kate and I had a Jamaican resort a few years ago. Spoiler alert: contains nudism and vodka.

Recipe of the Week - Beef Burger with Chili Butter Core

Aug 22, 2015

Description:

Beef Burger with Chile Butter Core, Dressed with Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo and Guacamole

Makes 4 large burgers

Disclaimers: This isn’t a simple recipe and it involves quite a bit of prep work. The chile butter and mayo need to be made in advance, so a little planning is necessary. Stuffing a disc of flavored butter into the burger patties takes a little practice, but the result will blow your guests away. Be sure not to turn the burgers until they’ve started to get firm, and keep an eye out for flare-ups. Also please note: Warn your guests that the burgers have a molten filling or they could be in for a shock! In any case, have plenty of napkins at the ready. These are very juicy burgers.

For the chile butter:

1/2 lb | 250 g butter

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder

1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below)

1/2 tsp | 2 mL salt

For the guacamole:

2 large, ripe, but still firm avocados

2 ripe tomatoes

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime or lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped cilantro

3 tinned green chiles, rinsed, seeded, and chopped

1 finely minced jalapeño or serrano chile (optional)

kosher salt

For the burgers:

11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg ground beef, 

(20 percent fat)

1/4 cup | 50 mL cold water

1/2 tsp | 2 mL garlic salt

1/2 tsp | 2 mL onion salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL prepared mustard

granulated garlic

Your favourite grilling rub

1/4 cup | 50 mL Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo (see recipe below)

4 slices Jack cheese (optional)

4 hamburger buns

To make the chile butter, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend them together until they’re smooth. Transfer the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a tube 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends of the tube to close it, and place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. (It’s a good idea to make the mayo at the same time as you make the chile butter, as both improve when you let the flavors marry.)

            The guacamole doesn’t keep well and should be made no more than an hour before you put the burgers on the grill. To make it, peel the avocados and remove the pits. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and avocados. (You can mash the avocados as much as you like, but I prefer
a chunky guacamole.) Blend in the lime or lemon juice, garlic, chopped cilantro, green chiles, and hot chiles, if desired. Season the guacamole to taste with salt. Cover it and set it aside in a cool place.

            Combine the ground beef, water, garlic salt, and onion salt in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix the ingredients lightly with your hands, being careful not to overwork the beef. Split it into 4 equal portions and roll it into balls. Take the chile butter out of the freezer and slice off four 1⁄4-inch | 0.5 cm discs. Poke your thumb in the middle of each ball to create a hole and insert the disc of chile butter. Encase the butter in the burger as you shape it into a classic burger shape about 3⁄4-inch | 1.2 cm thick, ensuring that there are no openings where molten butter could run out. Set the rest of the chile butter aside to soften.

            Coat the burger patties lightly with the mustard and sprinkle them with a light coating of granulated garlic, then a light coating of the rub.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Place the burgers on the grill, close the cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook them for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye out for flare-ups. Turn them carefully, and cook them for another 5–8 minutes, or until the patties become firm, but not hard, to the touch. If you want to add cheese, place a slice on top of each patty about 2 minutes before you plan to take them off the grill.

            Transfer the burgers from the grill to a serving plate. Tent the burgers with foil and let them rest for 2–3 minutes. In the meantime, coat the cut side of each half of the buns with some softened chile butter, sprinkle them with a little granulated garlic, and toast them for 30–60 seconds on the grill.

            Dress the buns with a generous slather of chipotle mayo. Place the burgers on the buns and top each burger with a big dollop of guacamole. Cover the patties with the top half of the buns and serve.        

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven, cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste. 

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything. 

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed

out of their skins

1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made

from toasted cumin seeds)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce

(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Whiz all of the above in a blender or food processor till smooth, then refrigerate. The flavour gets better after it's stored for even a few hours, but it's best if you make it the day before.

 

(Photo courtesy of the late, great Greg Athans)

Recipes of the week - Oysters, oysters, oysters!

Aug 15, 2015

Description:

With such a hot summer here in British Columbia, it's not surprising that there are concerns about eating raw oysters, which can cause illness when they've got high levels of a naturally occuring bacterium that thrives in warm waters. 

As a gesture of good will to BC's oyster farmers, and a celbration of the delicious bivalves they produce, here are a couple of my favourite ways to grill oysters. If you can't eat 'em raw, eat 'em like this and support your local growers!

Grilled Oysters with Orange-Walnut Vinaigrette

Makes 4 – 6 appetizer-sized portions

My friend Kosta the fishmonger suggested this flavor combination to me, and when I tried it out I was astonished at how well the light, refreshing vinaigrette complemented the robust flavor of the grilled oysters.

3 Tbsp | 45 mL French toasted walnut oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or champagne vinegar

1 tsp | 5 mL finely grated orange zest

1 tsp | 15 mL maple syrup

1 pint | 500 mL container of large, fresh, shucked oysters

(about a dozen oysters)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

neutral-flavored oil like canola or corn oil

1 orange, cut into wedges

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the walnut oil, vinegar, orange zest and maple syrup. Set the mixture aside.

Drain the oysters and pat them dry with paper towels. Put them on a baking sheet and set them aside.

Prepare your grill for direct high heat, making sure the cooking grate is thoroughly scraped. Season the oysters with salt and pepper and drizzle them with a light coating of oil. Just before you put the oysters on the hot grill, oil it using a paper towel dipped in some oil. Carefully place the oysters on the cooking grate, making sure they don’t fall through. Grill them for a couple of minutes per side or until the’re just cooked through and the outside edges are a bit charred. Transfer the oysters to serving plates, top with a drizzle of the vinaigrette and garnish with orange wedges.

Oysters Grilled in the Shell

Beach-grown West Coast oysters usually come pre-shucked in tubs, and they’re great smoked or grilled. If you can find them live, in their shells, it’s a huge treat. I’m lucky enough to have a friend, Eric Giesbrecht, who is chef/owner/oysterman of Meta4 Foods, a distributor of premium Canadian shellfish based in Calgary. I asked him to teach me the secrets of grilling oysters in the shell and I thank him for the following guide.

Use large West Coast beach oysters for the best results. Ask your fishmonger for Royal Miagis (Eric gets his from one of BC’s most famous oystermen, Brent Petkau, of Marina Island). Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. (“A sliver past medium on your BBQ gas dial,” says Eric.) Rinse the oysters of any extraneous material such as loose barnacles, rocks, sand, or any other hangers-on. Put the oysters, “cup side” up, on the cooking grate. This will help ensure that you don’t lose any of the precious liquor, in which the oysters will slowly poach as they heat up. Grill the oysters for 5 or 6 minutes. You can tell when they’re done when the top shell starts to lift and the nectar begins to spill out. “Be careful not to let the oysters dry out completely in the shell as they will quickly stick and burn,” says Eric. “Once you see the shells separate, take a look inside one of the pieces and see how much the oyster has shrunk by. The flesh of the oyster should be taut and shrunken in size by around half—err on the side of under-done if you are unsure.” Remove the oysters from the grill and shuck them.  If you just try to pull the shells apart, you’ll risk getting unappetizing broken bits of shell in the oysters. Eric recommends using an oyster shucking knife or paring knife to separate the top and bottom shells, cut the muscle attaching the oyster to the shell, and lift the flesh out. Some restaurants like to serve them, cooked and in the shell with a little sauce spooned in, leaving it to their guests to do the shucking. Sauce them and serve. Eric shared a few of his favorite sauces, which I now share with you:

Verde - Use a fist full of fresh herbs pounded to a pulpy paste with a mortar and pestle, adding some nice olive oil, a clove of garlic, a minced shallot, the zest and juice of one lime (or lemon), some coarse sea salt, and black peppercorns. “Any delicate leafy herb will do,” says Eric, “but my favourite combo of late has been tarragon and mint. Kick this one out of the known galaxy by adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese.”

Compound butter - Mix ½ lb | 250 g of softened butter with 1-2 Tbsp | 15-30 mL of smoked paprika, a pinch of chili flakes, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of liquid honey, one clove of crushed garlic, and some chopped parsley for color.

Gratin – Eric likes to transfer the grilled oysters onto an oiled sheet pan, plane off slices of Gruyere, Comté, or Appenzeller cheese on top of the oysters and place the sheet pan back onto the grill. “Close the lid until the cheese is melted and unbearably sexy,” he says. “Top with sliced chives or scallions for contrasting garnish.”

Other sauce ideas: Garlic butter, hollandaise or béarnaise sauce, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese, a simple squeeze of lemon and slop of olive oil,  vegetable puree (such as one made from celery root, cauliflower, or turnip). “You can go many places with these—the cooked oyster is very friendly with many, many varieties of accompaniment,” says Eric. “Go for it.”

 

Recipe of the week - Grilled Pink Salmon in Foil

Aug 8, 2015

Description:

 

Many sport fishermen consider pink salmon to be the least desirable amongst the five species of BC wild salmon, but I love it, and so do some of Vancouver’s leading chefs. Not only is pink salmon delicious and nutritious, it’s a sustainable fishery.

One of the interesting things about pink salmon: unlike the other species, which have a four-year cycle, there are only two populations of pink salmon, and on odd years like this one, they return in the millions to spawn in Pacific Northwest rivers and streams. (Along with two BC chefs I’ll be cooking a whole bunch of pink salmon at this year’s Pink Salmon Festival at Vancouver's Hadden Park on Kit's Point on August 30th from noon to 4.00 p.m. and hope to see you there!)

Pinks are smaller than their cousins, with an average size of about four pounds or two kilos, so they’re usually sold as whole fish. That means the best way to grill them is to wrap them in foil.

The following simple technique (which originally appeared in my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! as a way of preparing trout) gives the salmon a subtle and delicate flavor and texture, and the orange adds a lovely flavor and aroma. Get the freshest possible fish—pinks are best soon after they’re caught! 

Makes 4 servings

1 whole, cleaned 4 lb | 2 kg pink salmon

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 Tbsp | 45 mL butter, at room temperature

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh parsley

1/2 medium white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 oranges, one sliced into thin rounds, and the other sliced in half for squeezing

sprigs of parsley for garnish

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Tear off a strip of heavy-duty foil 21/2 times as long as the fish and double it. Spread 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of the butter evenly over the top surface of the foil. Distribute about a third of the onion slices on the foil, making a kind of bed for the salmon. Lightly season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper, and sprinkle it with chopped parsley. Place another third of the onion slices and half the orange slices inside the body cavity and the rest on top of the fish. Daub the remaining 2 Tbsp | 30 mL butter inside the fish and on top of the onion and orange slices. Squeeze half the remaining orange over everything and wrap the foil around the fish, sealing it tightly.

            Place the foil package on the cooking grate, cover the grill, and cook the salmon for 10–15 minutes, or until the fish is just done (about 140 to 150˚F | 60 to 66˚C). You can poke a meat thermometer through the foil in the last few minutes of cooking to check for doneness. To serve, open up the foil, carefully transfer the fish to a warmed platter, and pour the juices left in the foil over the fish. Garnish the salmon with orange wedges and parsley sprigs, and finish it with a final squeeze of fresh orange.

 

[Photo of trout in foil copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission.]

 

Recipe of the week - Ravenswood Ribs

Aug 1, 2015

Description:

Makes 4–6 servings

Zinfandel is one of the best wines you can drink with grilled or barbecued food and California winemaker Ravenswood makes some of the tastiest, most popular zins around. Ravenswood’s Executive Chef, Eric Lee, was kind enough to share this rib recipe. This versatile rub/mop combination also works well with other cuts of pork, as well as beef and lamb.

Note: I’ve used my Real Barbecued Ribs technique for this recipe, but you can also do them Cheater Ribs style. 

For the ribs:

2 racks of back ribs, trimmed by your butcher

1 medium onion, peeled and halved

1 tsp | 5 mL peppercorns

3 or 4 whole cloves

a couple of chunks of apple wood

 

 

For the rub:

1½ tsp | 12.5 mL dried oregano         

1½ tsp | 12.5 mL dried thyme

¾ tsp | 4 mL fennel seed, toasted and ground

½ tsp | 2 mL cumin seed, toasted and ground

½ tsp | 2 mL mustard seed, toasted and ground

1½ tsp | 12.5 mL onion powder          

2¼ tsp | 11 mL garlic powder 

1/8 tsp | 0.5 mL           ground ginger

¾ tsp | 4 mL ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1½ tsp | 12.5 mL paprika       

¾ tsp | 4 mL chili powder

1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne           

¼ tsp | 1 mL sugar

 

For the “mop”:

1/2 bottle | 375 mL Ravenswood Zinfandel wine

1 cup | 250 mL sparking apple cider  

1 Tbsp | 15 mL molasses

1/8 cup | 30 mL olive oil         

1/4 tsp | 1 mL ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp | 1 mL ground cloves

1/8 tsp | 0.5 mL ground cinnamon

1/2 Tbsp | 7.5 mL garlic powder

11/2 Tbsp | 22.5 mL kosher salt

1 bay leaf

1/8 cup | 30 mL dark Karo syrup

 

Combine the rub ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set the rub aside.

Combine the mop ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer them for 15 minutes on medium low heat, uncovered. 

Remove the membrane from the ribs if your butcher hasn’t already done it for you.

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C.

            Generously coat the ribs on both sides with the rub. Let the ribs sit for at least 15 minutes, or until the rub starts to draw moisture out of the meat and looks shiny.

            Place the ribs on the cooking grate, or place them on a rib rack. Place a chunk of apple wood on the coals. Cook them for 5 or 6 hours, depending on the size of the ribs, mopping them about every half hour and adding another chunk of apple wood about an hour before the ribs are done.

Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, test the ribs for doneness. If they pass the pull test (the ribs pull away from one another easily but they’re not falling off the bone) give them one more coat of sauce, wrap them in foil, and return them to the cooker for another half hour or so.

            Remove them from the cooker and let the wrapped ribs rest for 20–45 minutes. Unwrap them, cut them into single ribs, and serve them with your favorite accompaniments, including, of course, some Ravenswood Zinfandel!

 

 

Recipes of the week - Jamaican Jerk Pork

Jul 25, 2015

Description:

What is perfect jerk? Is it chicken or pork? Should the meat be marinated, or just rubbed? How hot should it be? Is it best smoked, grilled, or baked in an oven?

After many years of experimentation in my own kitchen I have come up with what I think is a pretty good approximation of the best jerk that my wife Kate and I tasted during the two times we visited the beautiful island of Jamaica. Usually I make jerk chicken, but lately I’ve been cooking jerk pork, and it’s super delish.

In the past I’ve made my own jerk marinade, but these days I just use a rub. Some might call it overkill, but I like to serve jerk with a rich, spicy gravy made with chicken broth and jarred jerk marinade.

I’m also including the perfect accompaniments to a jerk dinner, a spicy but refreshing slaw, and the classic Jamaican side dish, Rice and Beans (also known as Rice and Peas).

Jerk Pork 

This recipe also works well with chicken or fish.  

Serves 6

6 nice fatty pork loin chops or pork blade steaks
Jamaican-style Dry Jerk Seasoning
Vegetable oil

Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Sprinkle the chops with a generous coating of the rub and drizzle them with enough oil to make them shiny. When your grill is ready, place the pork on the cooking grate and cover the grill. Turn the chops every couple of minutes till they’re done (internal temp of 140F for medium). Let them rest, tented in foil, for at least five minutes. Serve the pork with slaw, rice and beans, and jerk gravy (see recipes below).

[Alternative method: cook the pork in a smoker using mesquite, or if you can get it, pimento wood, as a flavouring agent, and finish it on the grill. This technique works great with pork bellies, or you could even do a whole pork shoulder butt roast like this.]

Jamaican-style Dry Jerk Seasoning

This rub gives chicken, pork or snapper – or whatever else you’re grilling – a classic Jamaican flavor without any fuss.

     2 Tbsp|30 mL granulated onion
     2 Tbsp|30 mL dried onion flakes (get flakes that aren’t too big)
     1 Tbsp|15 mL ground dried thyme
     1 Tbsp|15 mL kosher salt
     2 tsp|10 mL ground allspice
     1/2 tsp|5 mL freshly grated nutmeg
     1/2 tsp|5 mL ground cinnamon
     1 Tbsp|15 mL sugar
     2 tsp|10 mL freshly ground black pepper
     2 tsp|10 mL ground dried habanero chilies (or cayenne or chipotle powder if you can’t find habanero)
     1 1/2 Tbsp|22.5 mL dried chives

Note: Double or quadruple this recipe so you have some on hand. It’s super easy to make a great jerk marinade simply by whizzing 1/2 cup|125 mL of this rub in a food processor with a splash of cooking oil, a chopped habanero, a chopped onion and some chopped scallions.

Jerk Gravy

4 cups |1 L chicken or beef broth
2 Tbsp|30 mL jarred jerk marinade or jerk seasoning paste (Walkerton of Jamaica makes one of the best, and if you’re in British Columbia there’s a local product called Auntie Bev’s that’s really good, too.)
1 Tbsp|15 mL soy sauce (or, if you can get it, 1 tsp of something called “browning,” which is a thick, black liquid made with water, caramelized sugar and salt)
2 tsp|10 mL corn starch
1/4 cup|60 mL cold water
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Place the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil. Reduce it by at least half. Add the jerk seasoning and soy sauce (or browning) and stir it into the broth.

Quickly mix the corn starch into the cold water and immediately pour it into the gravy, stirring constantly until it thickens and turns shiny.  Season it to your liking and serve in a gravy boat.

 

Jamaican Cole Slaw

This recipe, adapted slightly from the excellent Jerk From Jamaica cookbook by Helen Willinsky (I’ve added raisins and fresh pineapple), is a superb side. If you want to serve it with something other than jerk, substitute your favorite rub for the Dry Jerk Seasoning. 

4 cups|1 L shredded purple cabbage
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh pineapple
3/4 cup|185 mL grated carrots
1/4 lb|125 g golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios almonds or anything else you like)
1/2 cup|125 mL mayonnaise
1 Tbsp|15 mL cider vinegar
1 Tbsp|15 mL Jamaican-Style Dry Jerk Seasoning

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss. Cover and chill for at least an hour and toss again just before serving. 

Jamaican Rice and Beans

In Jamaica this dish is a staple. Jamaicans call it rice and peas, but it often features red kidney beans so I’ve renamed it to avoid confusion. The creamy, sweet richness of the coconut milk helps make this dish a perfect complement to jerk or any spicy grilled meat. 

     2 14-oz/398-mL cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (if you want to be perfectly authentic, substitute the kidney beans for canned gungo peas, also known as pidgeon peas)
     1 14-oz/398-mL can coconut milk
     2 thick slices double-smoked bacon, chopped
     1 green onion, chopped
     2 sprigs fresh thyme
     1 habanero chile (whole – do not chop)
     2 cups|500 mL long grain white rice
     2 cups boiling water
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a frying pan, sauté the chopped bacon until it’s starting to brown but is not yet crispy. Drain off the excess fat and set the bacon aside. 

In a large saucepan combine the beans, coconut milk, bacon, green onion, thyme and the habanero. Cook over medium-high heat just until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add the hot water and stir in the rice. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and cook without disturbing for about 25 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff before serving and don’t forget to remove the habanero so it doesn’t surprise anyone! 

Recipe of the week - Planked Salmon with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Jul 18, 2015

Description:

Rosemary and salmon are a classic combination. In this recipe, the honeyed balsamic vinaigrette and brown sugar intensify the flavor.

Makes 6 servings
 

For the vinaigrette:
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp | 5 mL granulated garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp | 45 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL liquid honey
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp | 5 mL grainy mustard
1 tsp | 4 mL chopped fresh rosemary

For the salmon:
1 plank (cedar is nice but alder or maple would also work well),
soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet with skin
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 green onion, finely chopped for garnish
balsamic reduction (optional; see recipe below)

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Coat the salmon fillet with the vinaigrette and set it aside.
            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
            Place the rosemary sprigs on the plank and lay the salmon fillet on top of the herbs, skin side down. Cook it for about 15 minutes, or until its internal temperature is 135°F | 57°C. During cooking, watch for flare-ups and put them out with a spray bottle of water.
            Take the plank off the grill and transfer it to a heatproof serving platter, tenting the salmon loosely with foil. To finish it, season it lightly with a little more salt and pepper, drizzle it with olive oil, and serve each portion with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of chopped green onion. For an extra-fancy touch, dot the plate with balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Reduction

This incredible, tangy, sweet, rich syrup has a multitude of uses. It supercharges any vinaigrette. It’s great in marinades (or as a simple marinade on its own), and you can even drizzle it on ice cream or fruit.
Pour a 10 oz | 300 mL bottle of cheap balsamic vinegar (you could use more or less as your need dictates; this is just a handy amount to prepare) in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook it at a gently rolling boil, watching it carefully, until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/3 its original volume (10–15 minutes). When it’s ready, it should be a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside to cool. Transfer it to a squeeze bottle and store it in a cool, dry place. It keeps indefinitely.



Recipes of the week: Grilled Prawns Three Ways

Jul 11, 2015

Description:

Rum and Honey Prawn Skewers

Makes 8 kebabs, enough for 2 lunch-sized portions or 8 hors d’oeuvres

The combination of rum, honey, and fresh mint is a revelation in this simple, delicious dish.

For the basting sauce:
2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh mint
1½ tsp | 7 mL lime juice
1 jigger Appleton Estate dark rum
1/3 cup | 75 mL liquid honey
1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard
2 tsp | 10 mL vegetable oil
kosher salt to taste

For the prawns:
eight 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
16 extra large prawns, peeled and deveined (with tails on)
kosher salt
lime wedges and chopped mint for garnish

Whisk together the basting sauce ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle about 1⁄3 of the sauce over the prawns, tossing them to coat them. Set aside the rest of the sauce.
            Assemble 8 skewers with 2 prawns on each.
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Place the kebabs on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and cook them for 3–5 minutes, turning and basting the kebabs regularly, until the prawns are firm to the touch. Season them with a sprinkle of salt and serve them with some of the remaining basting sauce drizzled over them. Garnish them with lime wedges and a sprinkle of chopped mint.

Super-easy Grilled Jumbo Prawns with Curry Paste

My pal Kosta the fishmonger shared this great, simple way to grill jumbo prawns. Butterfly them (split them in half lengthwise, which makes it easy to remove the vein) and coat them with a mixture of your favorite curry paste cut with a little neutral flavored oil (about 3 Tbsp | 45 mL curry paste mixed with 1 Tbsp |15 mL oil will coat a dozen prawns). Grill the prawns over high heat for about a minute or two per side, and finish them by tossing them in a pan with some melted butter. Serve them with lemon wedges for an outstanding appetizer.

Skewered Prawns Pistou

Makes 4 main course servings or 12 appetizer-sized servings

Pistou is the French equivalent of the Italian pesto sauce. In this version I’ve added toasted nuts, anchovies, and lemon zest for an extra kick. The pistou is great with prawns, and these jumbo skewers create a spectacular impression. This sauce also works well as a coating for roast lamb.

For the pistou:
1/4 cup | 50 mL lightly toasted pecans (almonds or pine nuts are also excellent)
2 cups | 500 mL loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup | 250 mL loosely packed flat-leaf Italian parsley
12 anchovy fillets, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup | 75 mL extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated or chopped

For the prawns:
twelve 6-inch | 15 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
12 jumbo prawns, in their shells
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 cherry or grape tomatoes
lemon wedges for garnish

Combine the pecans, basil, parsley, anchovies, and garlic in a food processor and process them until they’re smooth. Add the oil slowly in a thin stream while the processor is running. Transfer the pistou to a bowl, add the zest, and stir the pistou thoroughly. Transfer about 1⁄2 cup | 125 mL of the pistou to a serving bowl and reserve it for dipping.
            Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Toss them with the remaining pistou and refrigerate them for 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. When you’re ready to cook them, thread one prawn onto each skewer, with a cherry tomato threaded between the tail and the head.
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Place the prawns on the cooking grate, cover the grill, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Serve them with the extra pistou for dipping and garnish them with lemon wedges.



BBQ Secrets episode 22 - Greek style ribs

Jul 4, 2015 19:38

Description:

Here's a link to the recipe I talked about for Greek-Style ribs

Recipe of the Week: Greek-Style Ribs

Jul 4, 2015

Description:

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Die-hard barbecue people don’t even like to consider this technique, which I sometimes call "cheater ribs" because it goes against all the principles and values of barbecue culture. These ribs may not be smoky, and they may not be quite as flavorful as true barbecued ribs, but they’re wonderfully tender, they taste great, and they don’t take all day to cook.

The original recipe calls for a coating of mustard and barbecue rub and a Kansas City-style finishing glaze, but this Greek treatment is unusual and delicious.

2 racks side or back ribs, trimmed by your butcher
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
1 tsp | 5 mL peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

For the rub:
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary
1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Kosher or sea salt
1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp | 2 mL granulated garlic

1/2 tsp | 2 mL crushed chiles (optional)

1 jar mint jelly
Fresh mint for garnish

Remove the membrane from the ribs if your butcher hasn’t already done it for you. Fill a large pot with cold water and completely submerge the ribs in the water. Add the onion, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring the water just to a boil. With a spoon or ladle, quickly skim off the soapy scum that forms on the top of the water and reduce the heat to low. Gently simmer the ribs for about 11/4 hours, or until the bones start to poke out of the meat. Take the ribs out of the water and cool them on a cooking sheet until they are easy to handle.

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the rub and drizzle them with a light coating of olive oil.

Put the mint jelly in a saucepan and gently heat it until it is liquid. Set it aside and keep it warm. (You may want to add a splash of water to thin it down a bit, depending on how jelly-like it is.)

Grill the ribs for 3–4 minutes on each side, applying the melted mint jelly with a basting brush as you turn them. Remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. Cut them into single ribs, garnish them with some chopped mint, and serve them with classic accompaniments like Greek salad and roasted potatoes.





BBQ Secrets Episode 21 - Summery Steaks

Jun 28, 2015 16:12

Description:

Hey barbecue fans. I hope you enjoy this edition of the show. Here's a link to the recipes I talk about. Like Barbecue Secrets on Facebook and follow me on twitter. And if you haven't found me yet on iTunes, come here

Get grillin'!

Ronnie 

Recipes of the week: A couple of simple, delicious beef steaks

Jun 27, 2015

Description:

Steak, Italian-Style

Makes 4 servings

Sometimes the simplest treatments are the best ones when you’re grilling a steak.

     4 well-marbled T-bone steaks, at least 1 inch | 2.5 cm thick
     kosher or Maldon salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
     dried Greek oregano leaves
     best-quality extra virgin olive oil
     lemon wedges
     1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and dried

Bring the steaks to room temperature by leaving them out of the fridge for an hour. Season them generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

Drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Prepare your grill for direct medium heat.

Grill the steaks 4–6 minutes per side, or until they’re done the way you and your guests like them (I recommend taking the steak off the heat when the meat springs back slightly when poked, which is when it reaches an internal temperature of about 125˚F | 51˚C). Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest, tented in foil, 4–5 minutes.

Make a little bed of arugula on each plate and put the steaks on top. Crumble a little oregano on each steak, drizzle it with olive oil, and season it with a little more salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish it with lemon wedges. The juice and oil from the steak and the squeeze of lemon will create a fabulous natural dressing for the slightly bitter arugula.

Lemony Herbed Flank Steak

This dish uses a lemony vinaigrette to marinate the steak as well as to dress it. The clean, simple flavors make for a perfect summer meal. Serve it with some boiled nugget potatoes tossed with butter and fresh dill and some grilled asparagus.

Makes 4 servings

     1 large flank or skirt steak
     (about 11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg)
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade/dressing:
     1/2 cup | 125 mL lemon-infused olive oil
     1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely grated lemon zest
     3 Tbsp | 45 mL white balsamic vinegar
     1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard
     2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
     ½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, and parsley work well)
     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the garnish:
     sprigs of fresh herbs
     lemon wedges

Place the flank steak in a baking dish and season both sides with salt and pepper. Let it come up to room temperature for about half an hour.

Combine the marinade/dressing ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly whisk them together. Divide the mixture in half, and set aside one half for finishing the dish.

Coat the steak with the remaining half of the mixture. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and marinate it for 2 hours or overnight.

Prepare your grill for high direct heat. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry. Place the steak on the cooking grate and grill it on high for 30 seconds per side, just enough to get some nice grill marks on the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook it, turning it once or twice, for about 4–6 minutes per side, or until the thickest part of the steak has an internal temperature of 125°F | 52°C. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest, loosely tented in foil, for 5–10 minutes.

To serve the steak, carve it across the grain into thin slices and arrange the slices on plates. Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and spoon on some of the reserved dressing. Garnish with lemon wedges and herb sprigs.

How to  Feel When A  Steak is Done

Most barbecue cooks use meat thermometers to carefully monitor the internal temperature of big cuts of meat, but for most purposes, you can easily tell whether a steak or chicken breast is done simply by applying pressure to it with your forefinger. If the meat does not spring back, it’s still pretty raw. If it has a soft springiness, it’s medium rare and ready to take off the grill. If you press it and it feels firm and stiff, it’s overdone.

Here’s a great way to learn these hand readings. Hold your left hand in front of your chest, palm side down. Touch the meaty area between your thumb and forefinger. That’s what rare meat feels like. Now, extend your fingers so they are evenly spread out in the universal “stop right there” sign. Press the same place and you’ll find out what medium rare meat should feel like. Now make a fist and press again. That’s well done, and if your meat feels like this you should make use of the fist you just made and punch yourself in the forehead.


Barbecue Secrets Podcast Episode 20, and recipes of the week!

Jun 20, 2015 35:18

Description:

 

I'm back with a new podcast! For some reason unknown to me, in the last couple of weeks the number of Barbecue Secrets listeners has jumped from about 40 to over 600 a day. Not sure what's going on, but I figure if there's that much interest in the show I'd better start producing some new episodes. I hope you like this one, and I'm looking forward to making more.

For all you CKNW listeners, here are your recipes for this week. Enjoy!

Beach-Friendly Snacks

As soon as we get unpacked and set up at a picnic table, we like to put out an array of simple but delish appetizers. Obvious choices are a nice variety of stinky cheeses, cold cuts, pate and crackers, olives, fresh pita and hummus, sliced long English cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pickled herring and so on. 

Grilled Fresh Smelt

This works best with smelt that have just been caught, but you could thaw frozen smelt and do the same thing. If you’re squeamish you can gut and behead the fish before grilling but, in my opinion, why do all that fussing and make a mess when they taste great whole?

Makes a great beach picnic appetizer for 4

8 or more fresh raw whole smelt

Sea salt (Fleur de Sel or Malden Salt would work best, but Kosher Salt would also work fine) 

Pre-heat a portable grill for medium-direct cooking (I prefer The Cobb or a Weber Smoky Joe, but you can also use a hibachi or portable gas grill). Wipe the smelt with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Sprinkle them with the sea salt and immediately place them on the cooking grate (the fresh coating of salt should help prevent them from sticking to the grate, but if you’re worried about stickage lightly drizzle them with oil before you put them on the grill). If your cooker has a lid, leave it off.

Carefully tend the smelt, turning them regularly, until they are slightly charred and a have a light golden colour. Remove them from the grill and eat immediately while they still have a crisp crust. Eat them whole – I know it sounds gross, but the crunchy head is the best part when it’s fresh from the fire.

Grilled Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce and Fresh Mango and Jalapeno Salsa

Makes 4 servings

I like to make my own Teryaki sauce (see recipe below) but the bottled variety is also very good. To keep things very simple, and still delish, you can substitute teriyaki sauce with good quality Japanese soy sauce.

For the salmon:

4 8-10 oz | 250-300 g pieces of boneless wild salmon fillets, skin on

1 cup teriyaki sauce

For the salsa:

1 ripe fresh mango, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Prepare the salsa by combining all the ingredients.

Marinate the salmon pieces in the teriyaki sauce for no more than an hour. I like to bring a big Ziploc bag to the beach and marinate the salmon on the spot. If you soak them in the sauce too long they get too salty and it masks the delicious taste of the salmon.

Prepare your portable grill for medium direct cooking. Place the salmon pieces, skin-side down, on the cooking grate and cover the grill. When the salmon is done (internal temp of about 130F or springy to the touch), remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving with the mango salsa and the rice salad on the side. 

Rice, Asparagus, and Cucumber Salad

Makes 8 servings (so you’ll have enough for leftovers the next day)

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe from a 1994 Bon Appétit magazine. The salad tastes like summer itself and it’s one of our go-to beach picnic standards. You cannot make it once without making it again and again.

1 3/4 cups | 425 mL water

1 cup | 250 mL long-grain white rice

1 pound | 500 g asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch | 2.5 cm pieces

11/2 cups | 375 mL long English cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice

1/2 cup | 125 mL chopped chives

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL honey

1 Tbsp | 15 mL white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dry mustard

21/2 Tbsp | 40 mL vegetable oil

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh dill

1 tsp | 5 mL finely minced lemon zest

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

large, intact leaves of green leaf or butter lettuce

dill sprigs, for garnish

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and return the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook it for about 20 minutes. Place the rice in a bowl, fluff it with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.

            Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 1–2 minutes, just until it’s  bright green and still slightly crisp. Plunge the asparagus into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain it and pat it dry. Add the asparagus, cucumber, and chives to the rice.

            Combine the Dijon mustard, honey, vinegar, and dry mustard in a small bowl. Gradually mix in the oil and then mix in the dill and lemon zest. Mix the dressing with the salad mixture. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Line a large bowl with lettuce and mound the salad in the bowl. Garnish it with sprigs of dill. 

The Perfect Beach Picnic Dessert: Black and Blue Berries with Lime Zest Confit

Makes 6–8 servings

This one’s inspired by a dessert from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who had “Blueberries with Lime Sugar” on the menu at Les Halles restaurant in New York. It’s great with just blueberries, but Kate decided it would benefit from the addition of blackberries. The combination works beautifully and kids love it, too. Don’t forget to drink the juice!

For the lime zest confit:

2 limes

1 cup | 250 mL water

1/2 cup | 125 mL sugar

For the berries:

3 Tbsp | 45 mL sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime juice

3/4 pint | 375 g fresh blueberries

3/4 pint | 375 g fresh blackberries

1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh mint, finely chopped

mint sprigs for garnish

1/2 cup | 125 mL crème fraîche or sour cream or enough vanilla ice cream for 6–8 (optional)

To make the confit, remove the peel from the limes with a paring knife, being sure not to include the white pith. Slice the peel into thin pieces. (It’s much easier to zest the limes if you use a zester, which is a wonderful tool for all kinds of reasons.)

            Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the zest and reduce the heat so the mixture simmers. Loosely cover the pot and let the liquid cook until it has reduced by half. Remove it from the heat, cool it completely, and strain it (or not, if you aren’t averse to shreds of lime). You can store the confit in an airtight container and refrigerate it until you need it.

            To finish the dish, combine the sugar with the lime juice in a large, presentable bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the berries and toss them well, coating all the berries with the mixture. Add the fresh mint and the lime zest confit and toss the berries well again. The mixture is even better after the flavors have had time to marry, so refrigerate the berries for an hour or more. Garnish them with more fresh mint and serve them with crème fraîche, sour cream, or vanilla ice cream, if you like.

BONUS RECIPE: Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce

Makes about 8 cups | 2 L

This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.

11/2 cups | 375 mL sake

11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin

2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar

4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce

1 small onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 orange, chopped, skin on

1 small pear, chopped

1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.

 

Recipes of the week: A couple of fancy salads

Jun 5, 2015

Description:

Enoteca Smoked Duck Salad 

Makes 8 servings as an appetizer or 4 main course servings 

My wife, Kate, found this recipe many years ago in a 1990s collection of recipes from American bistros. Seattle’s Enoteca does not exist anymore, but as long as I barbecue, I will have this recipe in my repertoire. The original recipe calls for fresh papaya, which is excellent, but I like slightly tangier mango as the fruit component. 

For the dressing

1/2 cup | 125 mL soy sauce

2/3 cup | 150 mL red wine vinegar

1/2 cup | 125 mL sugar

4 Tbsp | 60 mL vegetable oil

4 Tbsp | 60 mL rice wine vinegar

4 Tbsp | 60 mL raspberry vinegar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lime juice 

For the salad

1 pound smoked duck or smoked chicken

2 whole fresh mangoes

2 bags fresh baby spinach,

washed and dried well

1/2 small purple onion, diced

freshly ground pepper

1 lime

1 cup | 250 mL toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

1 lime, quartered, for garnish

To prepare the dressing, bring the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and oil to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and let the dressing cool. This makes enough dressing for 4 salads, but it keeps for at least a few weeks in the refrigerator.

            Cut the smoked duck into bite-sized pieces. (If you are using duck that is frozen, thaw it first, heat it up in a 350˚F | 180˚C oven, then let it rest until it’s cool enough to handle.) Peel the mangoes and slice the flesh off the pits; reserve a few slices for garnish. Place the spinach, duck, mango, and onion in a salad bowl. Grind the pepper over the mixture and squeeze the juice of the lime over it. Add the nuts and just enough dressing to coat and toss. (Too much dressing drowns out the other salad fixings.) Garnish the salad with the lime quarters and the reserved mango slices.

 

Grilled Scallop and Cucumber Salad

Makes 6 servings

This recipe comes from Jenni Neidhart, a Calgary caterer I’ve had the pleasure of working with on occasion. It calls for Lebanese cucumbers (small, tender-skinned versions of long English cukes) as well as something called vanilla vinegar. What the heck is that, you ask? So did I. It’s champagne vinegar (which is available in gourmet food stores) infused with leftover vanilla pods for a month or more. So, when you cook any recipes from this book that call for vanilla beans, save the pods to make the vinegar in this recipe. Of course, the salad also tastes great with “plain old” champagne vinegar, or my favorite, Japanese rice vinegar. 

TIP: If you can’t find large scallops or if they’re too expensive, get smaller ones and use a grill topper or veggie basket so they won’t slip through your cooking grates.  

4 Lebanese cucumbers (or 1 small long English cucumber),

finely diced (leave the skin on)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 lime, zested and juiced

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced

olive oil

vanilla vinegar (or your favourite mild white vinegar)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh mint, finely chopped

12 large scallops

sesame sea salt (optional; make it by combining sea salt and toasted sesame seeds in a mortar with a pestle or in a food processor)

Combine the cucumber, bell peppers, and onion in a medium-sized bowl. Make a vinaigrette by mixing the juice and zest of all the citrus, the jalapeño, a tiny bit of the olive oil, the vinegar, and the salt and pepper. Toss the vinaigrette with the diced vegetables, and mix in the mint. Easy as that! Chill it until serving time.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Season the scallops with a little kosher salt, drizzle them with olive oil, and place them on the grill, keeping the heat on medium-high. Cover the grill and cook the scallops for 1 or 2 minutes, then turn them and cook them for another couple of minutes, until the scallops are springy to the touch.

            Serve the scallops hot over the chilled cucumber salad and finish the dish with a few drops of olive oil and a light sprinkle of sesame sea salt, if desired.

(Photo by the incomparable John Sinal. Copyright John Sinal Photography, used with permission.)

Recipes of the week: Planked Asparagus and Prosciuitto Bundles and Grilled Parmesan Tomatoes

May 30, 2015

Description:

Planked Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles 

Makes 6 servings

This classic combination of flavors takes well to the plank and works as an appetizer, a side, or on top of a salad. If you can’t find real imported fontina, use Parmigiano Reggiano shaved into slivers. You really don’t want a flavorless cheese here.

Note: if you want to do these on your grill without a plank, use medium-high indirect heat and lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on the cooking grate so you won’t lose any cheese while the bundles are cooking.

 

1 plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour

18 choice, thick asparagus spears

1/2 lb | 250 g Italian fontina cheese, cut into thin slices

6 large slices prosciutto

1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter

balsamic reduction (optional; see sidebar page xxx)

crusty bread as an accompaniment

Trim the asparagus and blanch it in salted water for just a minute or two, until it’s deep green and still firm. Stop the cooking by immersing the spears in cold water.

            Set aside 12 slices of cheese. (Use the rest of the cheese to place on top of the rolls as described below.) Spread open a slice of prosciutto and place 3 spears of asparagus on it. Place one slice of the cheese between the spears. Wrap the prosciutto around the spears and cheese. Proceed until you have 6 bundles.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place the bundles on the plank. Working quickly, place the remaining cheese slices over each bundle in a criss-cross pattern. Cook the bundles for 10–15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a little mottled. Remove them from the grill, drizzle them with a little olive oil or brush them with the butter, and let them sit for a few minutes. Plate them individually with a few drops of balsamic reduction around the edges, if desired. Serve the bundles with crusty bread.

 

Grilled Parmesan Tomatoes

These tomatoes are simple to make and are a great accompaniment to your favorite steak. 

Makes 8 portions

4 large ripe tomatoes

½ cup | 125 mL finely grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup | 60 mL finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp | 10 mL granulated onion

1 tsp | 10 mL granulated garlic

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 or 10 fresh basil leaves

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar 

Remove the stems of the tomatoes and slice them in half, cross-wise. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a tray or baking dish. Season the cut faces with salt and pepper and sprinkle them with granulated onion and garlic. Mix the grated Parmesan and chopped parsley in a bowl and crumble it over the tomatoes.

            Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Carefully place the tomatoes on the cooking grate and grill for 6–8 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to soften when you squeeze them and the Parmesan topping is golden brown.

            Transfer the tomatoes to a serving platter. Roll the basil leaves into a cigar shape and cut them into fine strips with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the shredded basil over the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve the tomatoes immediately.

 

Photo credit: Rob Baas, used with permission

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Asian BBQ Sauce and Slaw

May 23, 2015

Description:

Asian Barbecue Sauce

Makes about 21/2 cups | 625 mL

The cumin seeds in this sauce give its flavor a twist and an interesting texture. Leave them out if you want a slightly sweeter, smooth sauce. This is great as a marinade and a basting sauce for ribs and steaks but is also good with chicken and firm-fleshed fish. Be careful—its strong flavors can overwhelm what you’re cooking. If you’re going to use it as a marinade, marinate meat for a maximum of 4 hours and chicken or fish no more than an hour.

1 12-oz | 355 mL bottle hoisin sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL light soy sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL sherry vinegar

4 Tbsp | 45 mL orange juice

1/2 cup | 125 mL plum sauce

1/2 Tbsp | 7 mL five-spice powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL toasted sesame oil

2 Tbsp | 25 mL oyster sauce

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 shallots, finely minced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely minced fresh ginger

2 Tbsp | 25 mL honey

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped chives or green onion

1 tsp | 5 mL whole toasted cumin seeds

 

Mix all the ingredients together in a nonreactive bowl. Use the sauce soon after making it; it won’t keep more than a few days in the refrigerator.

 

Asian Slaw 

Makes 4–6 servings 

Asian-flavored meat demands an Asian-inspired slaw, and the peanuts add a nice crunch.

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL rice vinegar

1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil

11/2 tsp | 7 mL finely minced ginger

1 tsp | 5 mL Vietnamese chili sauce

1/4 cup | 50 mL creamy peanut butter

1 tsp | 5 mL sugar

1–2 tsp  | 5–10 mL water (if needed)

 

For the salad:

2 cups | 500 mL savoy or napa cabbage,

grated or shredded into fine slices

1 cup | 250 mL purple cabbage,

grated or shredded into fine slices

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 green onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, julienned

2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh chopped cilantro

1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh bean sprouts

1/4 cup | 50 mL dry-roasted peanuts,

coarsely chopped, for garnish

Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk them together, adding water a little at a time until the mixture is a smooth, fairly thick liquid. Toss it with the vegetables and serve the slaw immediately, garnished with the chopped peanuts.

 

A Toast to Spices and Nuts!

In India, the first step in almost every home-cooked dish is to toast some spices in a hot pan. The heat refreshes the spices, bringing to life the natural oils that carry their flavor. This technique works especially well with robust whole spices like cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds. All you have to do is preheat a dry sauté pan on a medium setting and toss in a handful of seeds. Shake the pan constantly, watching carefully. After about a minute, when the spices start to brown a little and give off a strong aroma, empty the pan into a cool bowl or plate to stop the toasting before they burn. In a few minutes the seeds will be ready to go into a spice mill, mortar, or coffee grinder. The difference between raw and toasted spices is like night and day.

 

This technique also works fabulously to toast pecans or other nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts. Toast up a handful of nuts and sprinkle some on a salad for sharp, crunchy bursts of nutty flavor!

Recipe of the week: Kid-friendly Turkey Burgers

May 16, 2015

Description:

Kid-friendly Turkey Burgers

 

Makes 6 burgers

 

These burgers taste so much like real fast-food chicken nuggets you’ll think you mechanically de-boned them yourself!

 

For the burger mix:

2 lb | 1 kg ground turkey thigh meat

1 cup | 250 mL fresh bread crumbs

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL onion salt

1/4 tsp | 1 mL freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground pepper

pinch cayenne

1 egg

 

To finish the burgers:

Your favourite grilling rub

vegetable cooking spray

6 hamburger buns

 

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Gently combine the burger ingredients, mixing them together with your hands, taking care not to overwork the mixture. Wet your hands with cold water and shape the mixture into 6 patties that are ½ inch | 1 cm thick.

 

 

            Sprinkle the burger patties lightly with rub and spray them with the cooking spray. At this point it helps to refrigerate them for about 1/2 hour to firm them up a little. Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Oil the grill and place the patties on it, rub side down. Sprinkle rub on the other side of the patties, close the grill, and cook them for 3–4 minutes per side, or until the burgers are cooked through and springy to the touch. Serve the burgers immediately on soft buns with your favorite condiments. 

Final recipe of the week, summer 2014 - Duck Kebabs with Pomegranate Molasses and Harissa Sauce

Aug 30, 2014

Description:

I had a bunch of duck meat leftover from a sausage-making project and wanted to use it as an appetizer at a big party, so I came up with these tasty kebabs. The pomegranate molasses adds some tang and brings out the flavour of the duck, and the harissa sauce gives it a nice spicy kick. If you can’t find duck or it’s too pricy, this treatment would also work well with boneless skinless chicken thighs, or even lamb.

Makes 8 to 12 skewers depending on portion size

For the kebabs:
2 lbs | 1 kg boneless, skinless duck or chicken thigh meat
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup | 50 mL pomegranate molasses (available in stores that carry middle-eastern foods or see recipe below)  
1 Tbsp | 15 mL extra virgin olive oil
short bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour or overnight
Another 1/4 cup | 50 mL pomegranate molasses for the finishing glaze
Apple wood chips (optional)

For the harissa sauce
½ cup harissa paste
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp water

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly whisk them together. Adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suite your taste. Set the sauce aside.

To prepare the kebabs, cut the duck or chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, molasses and olive oil and mix everything together to coat the meat. Marinate for at least half an hour (you can marinate them overnight in the fridge if you like). Thread the meat chunks onto skewers so they’re packed tightly together.

Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking and use apple wood or your favorite cooking wood as a flavouring agent. If you’re using a charcoal grill, just place a small handful of chips on the hot coals just before you’re ready to grill. For gas grills, place the chips in a cigar-like packet made of aluminum foil. Poke some holes in the foil. When your grill is almost preheated, place the package below the cooking grate, being careful not to burn yourself as you lift the grate with your tongs. When you see light wisps of blue smoke coming out of the grill, you’re ready to go.

Just before you start cooking, drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the kebabs. Place them on the cooking grate and cover the grill.  Cook, turning often, until the meat is springy to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. During the last minute of cooking time, baste the kebabs with pomegranate molasses to give them a shiny coating.

Remove the kebabs from the grill and let them rest just a few minutes. Finish them with a light sprinkling of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a gentle dab of the harissa sauce along the length of the top side the kebabs.  Serve immediately.


Pomegranate Molasses

Make this delicious syrup the same way you’d make balsamic reduction.

Makes about 1 1/4 cup | 300 mL

4 cups of pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture until it’s reduced to a thick syrup, about ¼ to 1/3 of the original volume. Cool and store in the fridge. It keeps for months.

Recipe of the Week: Curried Lamb Burgers with Fresh Peach Chutney and Minted Yoghurt Sauce

Aug 23, 2014

Description:

Curried Lamb Burgers with Fresh Peach Chutney and Minted Yoghurt Sauce

Makes four burgers

I love lamb burgers, and this one is a doozy. Here’s my adaptation of an incredibly delicious recipe by Canadian food icon Lucy Waverman. I’ve gilded the lily by adding a fresh peach chutney and minted yoghurt sauce. Serve it with a Greek Salad or some tabbouleh (see recipe below) on the side.
 
For the burgers:
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
1 tsp | 5 mL chopped garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL garam masala
1 Tbsp | 15 mL mango chutney
1 ½ pounds | 750g ground lamb
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp | 25 mL melted butter
4 smallish pitas (the kind that can be made into pockets - you can also use naan bread or flour tortillas)

For the spiced mint butter:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup chopped mint
1/2 tsp | 3 mL ground cumin
1/2 tsp | 3 mL ground coriander
1/2 tsp | 3 mL ground fennel
1/2 tsp | 3 mL cracked peppercorns
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

For the peach chutney (you can substitute bought mango chutney to simplify this dish):
1 Tbsp | 15 mL sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL rice vinegar
4 medium peaches, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch | 1 cm dice
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely grated fresh ginger

For the yogurt sauce:
11/2 tsp | 7 mL honey
11/2 tsp | 7 mL finely chopped fresh mint
pinch ground cumin
pinch turmeric
1 cup | 250 mL plain low-fat yogurt
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 
To make the peach chutney, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a nonreactive saucepan over moderately high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it for 1 minute. Stir in the peaches and ginger and return the chutney to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the chutney, stirring it frequently, until the fruit is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer it to a bowl.

To make the yoghurt sauce, combine the honey, mint, cumin, and turmeric in a medium bowl. Whisk in the yogurt until it’s blended and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the sauce.

To make spiced mint butter (about 1/2 cup), combine butter, mint, cumin, coriander, fennel and peppercorns. Spread over top of cooked lamb burgers and sprinkle a little Maldon salt over the butter. Serves 4.

Prepare your grill for high direct cooking. Combine all the burger ingredients except lamb in a food processor and whiz them till they’re smooth. Transfer to a bowl, add the lamb, season with salt and pepper, and gently mix everything together with your hands. Before you make the patties, take a teaspoon of the mixture and fry it in a sauté pan with a little oil and taste it. If needed, incorporate some more salt and pepper.

Divide the burger mix evenly into 4 portions and shape them into 1-inch-thick patties. Brush them with melted butter and grill for 4 to 5 minutes a side or until desired doneness.

To serve, slather some of the spiced mint butter onto the burger patties, cut the burgers in half, and stuff them into pita pockets, two per person. Let your guests dress them with the condiments to their taste.

Mimi’s Tabbouleh (Couscous Salad)

Makes 8 servings as a side

This recipe from my friend Michele Allaire uses instant couscous, which is moistened by all the juices that come out of the vegetables as they sit with the grain in the fridge. It is usually served as a side with lamb but can be an attractive alternative main course for a vegetarian guest. To “beef” it up, add blanched green beans, blanched carrots, and cooked chick peas.

1 package (about 10 oz | 300 g) instant couscous
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp | 15 mL red onion cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL long English cucumber cut into
1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1/2 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL fresh tomato cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
1/2 tsp | 10 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground cumin
4 Tbsp | 60 mL lemon juice
1 cup | 250 mL good-quality extra virgin olive oil

Pour the entire package of uncooked couscous into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, mix them together well, and let the tabbouleh sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove it from the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. Mix it again, taste it, and adjust the seasoning and oil to taste.



Recipes of the Week - Smoky Soups: Gazpacho with Planked Tomatoes and Smoked Onion Soup

Aug 16, 2014

Description:

 

Gazpacho with Plank-smoked Tomatoes 

  
Makes 6–8 servings with leftovers

I introduced smoked tomatoes to backyard cook Lawrence Davis at one of my cooking classes, and he developed this recipe to showcase them in a classic gazpacho, the refreshing cold Spanish summer soup. The recipe serves 8, but Lawrence says it can be doubled or tripled for a large crowd. For extra flavor and variety add corn, pitted Greek olives, or any seasonal vegetable, coarsely chopped. You can also serve some chopped hard-boiled egg or crumbled bacon on the side for guests to add at the table.

1 maple, hickory, oak, or mesquite plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour (you can use cedar, too, which makes for an unusual and delicious flavor, but a hardwood plank will impart classic barbecue taste and aroma)
4 large, ripe, firm tomatoes
1 long English cucumber
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 medium onions
2 stalks celery
6 cups | 1.5 L tomato juice
2/3 cup | 150 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup | 75 mL balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice
dried or chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, rosemary, thyme, and
basil, to taste (if you use dried, don’t use too much
or you’ll add a bitter taste to the soup)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana-style hot pepper sauce

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. (You may want to put a brick on the plank as it’s preheating. This will prevent warping so your tomatoes don’t roll off the plank.) Reduce the heat to low, place the whole, unpeeled tomatoes on the plank, cover, and cook the tomatoes for 15–30 minutes, depending how smoky and soft you want the tomatoes. The skins will split and take on a yellowish cast from the smoke.
            Remove the tomatoes from the plank, peel them, and coarsely chop them. Prepare and coarsely chop the remaining vegetables; combine them with the tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour in the tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Season the soup with herbs, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce to suit your taste.   
            Refrigerate the soup several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. (Taste it after several hours and add more seasoning, if needed.) Serve the gazpacho cold, in bowls or mugs taken straight from the freezer.  Have the Worcestershire and hot sauce on hand for those who want to spice it up!
            Alternative method: You can smoke tomatoes very easily in a water smoker or barbecue pit, although it’s most convenient if you’re about to barbecue something else. It’s hard to justify getting a smoker going for a half hour cooking job.


Smoked Onion Soup

Makes 6 servings

So you've just successfully smoked some ribs or a brisket. Take advantage of the fact that your smoker is chugging away to smoke some onions for later use. The flavor of this soup, which was perfected by my friend Gail Norton, depends on the length of time the onions are smoked and the type of wood used (hickory for a darker, richer flavor, fruitwood like apple or cherry for a lighter, sweeter taste). The cream tends to smooth the smoke flavor, but it can be omitted.

4 large onions
3 Tbsp | 45 mL butter
1/4 cup | 50 mL olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
2 tsp | 10 mL sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup | 250 mL red wine
1/4 cup | 60 mL all-purpose flour
6 cups | 1.5 L warm beef broth
1 cup | 250 mL whipping cream

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Peel and slice the onions and cut them into ¼- to 1/2-inch | 5 to 10 mm thick rounds. Smoke them using hickory or fruitwood as a flavoring agent, for about an hour, or until the onions have taken on a golden color. Remove them from the smoker and set them aside. (The onions can be smoked and frozen for several months.)
            Melt the butter in a large pot and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook them over medium-high heat, stirring them frequently. Brown them well (this might take up to half an hour), but be careful not to burn them. Once the onions are well caramelized, add the garlic, then turn down the heat and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes longer. Add the salt, sugar, and pepper.
            Add the red wine and reduce the mixture to a jam-like consistency. Add the flour, stir to incorporate it well, and begin adding the warmed beef broth, a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until you can no longer taste the flour. Add the cream and heat the soup thoroughly without boiling. Serve the soup hot.



Recipes of the Week: Grilled Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette and Smoked Devilled Eggs

Aug 9, 2014

Description:

Grilled Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette


Makes 24 individual portions or 4 to 6 skewers

This is great as a hot starter, or cooled and served as part of an appetizer platter. If you want to get fancy, alternate the mushrooms with chunks of veggies on skewers for a nice side dish.

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp | 45 mL white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed or finely minced
1 tsp | 5 mL dried crumbled tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 medium-sized white or brown button mushrooms


Optional for skewers:
chunks of mixed vegetables, including red onion, zucchini,
Japanese eggplant, red, green or yellow bell peppers,
cherry tomatoes, etc.)

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5 or 10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, garlic, tarragon, and lemon juice. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.


Toss the mushrooms or veggies in the vinaigrette. If you’re making kebabs, place the veggies on the skewers. Place them on the grill and leave the heat on medium-high. Cook the vegetables for 6–8 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until they are heated through and starting to brown around the edges.


Remove them from the heat and transfer them to a serving dish. Squeeze more lemon over the mushrooms or veggie kebabs and season them with more salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.


The Deviled Eggs Went Down to Georgia

Makes 2 dozen deviled eggs

You don’t see much of this old-school appetizer, but smoking the eggs makes it modern again.

12 eggs
1/2 cup | 50 mL Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Aïoli (see recipe below)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped cilantro
1 lemon
1 tsp | 5 mL paprika
sprigs cilantro, for garnish

Choose eggs that are at least a few days old (fresh eggs are harder to peel). Put them in a pot of lukewarm water with a bit of vinegar added.

Bring the water to a boil and at the moment the water starts boiling, remove the pot from the heat. Cover the post, and leave the eggs in the water for 15 minutes. Cool the eggs under cold running water and peel them. Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F |  95–100˚C.

Place the peeled eggs on the cooking grate and smoke them for about half an hour using hickory, maple, or oak as the flavoring agent. Sprinkle them lightly with dry rub if you want a little more flavor. The eggs will turn an amber color. Let them cool.

Slice them in half lengthwise and remove the yolks, setting the whites aside. In a nonreactive bowl, mash the yolks with a fork and add the aïoli, mustard, and cilantro, along with the juice of half the lemon. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly and spoon or pipe the mixture back into the egg whites. Sprinkle the deviled eggs with paprika and garnish them with cilantro sprigs and lemon slices.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed
out of their skins
1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made
from toasted cumin seeds)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
(add more chipotle if you like it hot)



Recipe of the Week -- Grilled Beef Tenderloin and some Championship BBBQ Secrets

Aug 2, 2014

Description:

 

 

Whole Beef Tenderloin on the Grill

I love beef tenderloin, especially when it’s done nice and rare. It as big flavour and a smooth, silky texture, almost like the meat equivalent of tuna sashimi. You can get a trimmed tenderloin from your local butcher but it’s cheaper to buy a whole untrimmed one and do it yourself. Here’s a YouTube video that shows you how.


Serves 8 to 12

1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed (about five to five and a half pounds)
2 Tbsp course salt (I like French Fleur de Sel)
1 tsp crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
½ cup coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges and fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Let the roast sit at room temperature for maybe an hour, not more than two, at room temperature before you grill it.

Generously coat it with course salt, and then sprinkle it evenly with the spices and rosemary, finishing with a thick coating of black pepper. Drizzle the roast with olive oil to help the coating stick.

Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Place the tenderloin on the cooking grate and cover the grill. I recommend using cherry wood as a flavouring agent but other hardwoods like apple, oak, hickory or mesquite also work well.  Grill the roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning often, until the core temperature reaches 120F. Don't overcook it!

Remove the roast from the grill and let it rest, loosely tented in foil, for maybe half an hour. It’s also great served at room temperature on a platter as part of an appetizer buffet, so you can cook it well ahead of time.

Cut the roast across the grain into thin round slices and fan them out on a serving platter.  Sprinkle a little more course salt over them along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with some fresh chopped Italian parsley and lemon wedges. Serve with your favourite condiments. I like to use a selection of horseradish, Dijon mustard and grainy mustard, and if you want to get fancier than that, make a doctored mayo with a little Dijon, some chopped fresh tarragon and a squeeze of lemon.

10 Secrets of Championship Barbecue

1. Keep it slow and low. The thing that sets real barbecue apart from grilling is the low temperature (about 200–220˚F | 95–105˚C) and the long cooking time (3 or 4 hours for chicken and as long as 18 to 24 hours for a big beef brisket). This technique allows the fibers in the meat to gently break down over time, creating the melt-in-your-mouth texture of real barbecue.


2. The judges eat with their eyes, and so do your guests. Care about presentation. Just as your car runs better after you’ve washed it, great barbecue tastes even greater when it looks so good you want to jump into the plate and wallow in it.


3. Mustard and rub. This simple, time-honored technique gives barbecue its fabulous crust, or “bark,” as the Southerners call it. The mustard provides a base for your rub to stick to, and gives the crust a nice tang when you bite into it. And the rub, with its combination of salty, savory, bitter, and sweet flavors, accentuates the flavor of the meat without overpowering it.


4. Two words: Granulated garlic. The addition of this seemingly modest flavor component makes a difference to that first taste. The judges don’t know why, but there’s something about it that tugs the old taste buds in the right direction.


5. The final temperature of your meat is more important than how long you cook it. Watch the internal temperature of your meat and you will produce great barbecue, time after time.


6. Let it rest. Resting your meat after you take it off the heat allows the juices to redistribute inside, within the protective crust. It also allows the protein to set, or gel, almost like custard. Resting lets the meat come to the perfect texture.


7. Sauce lightly, or don’t sauce at all. The tang of a barbecue sauce (called a finishing glaze in barbecue circles) helps to complete the perfect barbecue flavor. But it can also overpower the flavor of barbecue, so you don’t taste much else but the sauce. Go lightly, and then serve some “dipping sauce” on the side.


8. Use a combo of woods for complex flavor. Use hardwood as a flavoring agent, but learn what combination works for you. Just like a blended whisky provides the taster with different flavor notes—some sharp, some sweet—hardwood can be just as subtle. Use mesquite for astringent sharpness, fruitwood for rich sweetness, and hickory, maple, and oak for classic barbecue flavor.


9. Barbecue is about balance. Balance your flavors to create a single, complex but unified taste. Balance your temperature, length of cooking time and resting time to achieve the perfect texture. Balance the appearance of the barbecue on your guest’s plate or the judges’ tray, so your portion looks plentiful but not vulgar, and moist but not over-sauced, richly luxurious, but with some fresh green as a visual counterpoint.


10. Barbecue is life. Good food and drink, friendship, humor, healthy competition—that’s what both barbecue and life are all about. As an old boss of mine once said, “Ronnie, if you use people good, they’ll use you good.” Be gentle with your barbecue and with your friends, and you shall lead a wonderful life.




Recipes of the Week: Halibut and Tropical Fruit Kebabs and Grilled and Dilled Halibut

Jul 26, 2014

Description:

Grilled Halibut and Tropical Fruit Kebabs

Serves 2 for lunch, or 8 for hors d’oeuvres

Halibut’s firm, perfectly white flesh makes it spectacular in any recipe. I love these meaty skewers because they excite the eye and the palate with festive colors and tropical flavors.

For the marinade:
1 Tbsp | 15 mL lemon juice
2 Tbsp | 25 mL vegetable oil
2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried red chili flakes (or to taste)

For the kebabs:
1 lb | 500 g boneless, skinless halibut fillet, about 3/4 inch | 1.5 cm thick
twelve 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 12 bite-sized chunks
half a ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 12 bite-sized chunks
1 red onion, cut into 12 bite-sized chunks
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for drizzling/brushing
lime wedges and basil sprigs for garnish

Combine the marinade ingredients in a nonreactive bowl. Cut the halibut into 24 equal pieces (2 cuts lengthwise, 3 cuts across) and toss them with the marinade. Marinate the halibut for 20 minutes to 1 hour, but no longer.
            Assemble 12 skewers, alternating chunks of fish and vegetables with the mango and pineapple (mango-fish-pineapple-fish-onion-fish).
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Drizzle or brush the kebabs with a little oil and place them on the cooking grate. Grill them for 3–5 minutes, turning them once or twice, until the fish chunks are springy to the touch. Season them with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve them, 2 to a plate. Garnish the kebabs with lime wedges and basil sprigs.

Note: This dish also takes well to the plank, which promotes gentle cooking and prevents sticking. The downside is that a plank doesn’t fit more than about four or six skewers.

Dilled and Grilled Halibut

Makes 4 servings

Halibut is such a delicately flavored fish that you don’t want to do much to it. The key here is to use the very freshest ingredients. This dish is excellent with grilled veggies, roasted potatoes and your favorite salad.

4 6 oz | 175 g fresh halibut fillets, skin on
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh dill fronds (stems removed), chopped
2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges for garnish

Place the fish fillets in a nonreactive dish or baking pan. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper and coat them evenly with the dill. Squeeze lemon over the fish and then drizzle it generously with the olive oil, turning it to coat it.  Let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the grill for direct medium heat.
            Place the halibut pieces on the grill, skin side down. Cook the halibut for about 6 minutes, until it’s just cooked through, to an internal temperature of about 140–150˚F | 60–65˚C. Remove it from the grill (the skin will stick to the grill but should easily separate from the fish) and let it rest for a couple of minutes. To serve the halibut, season it with a little more salt and pepper, drizzle it with olive oil, and accompany it with lemon wedges.

Barbecue Secrets


One of the problems with grilling fish is the delicate flesh sticks to the cooking grate and the fish seems to fall apart before you can get it off the grill. But today’s covered gas or charcoal grills cook so evenly you don’t have to turn your fish, even when you’re cooking it over direct heat. For fillets, just cook the fish skin side down. The skin sticks to the grill, allowing the fish to come off cleanly and easily. If you’re cooking fish steaks that have no skin, be sure you oil the grill and spray the fish with cooking spray just before putting it on the grate.


Bonus tip: Don’t let that skin go to waste. Salmon skin in particular is excellent when crisped up on the grill. After you’ve taken your salmon fillet off, pry the skin off the grate and grill it for another few minutes. Remove it, sprinkle it with salt, and it’s a crispy and delicious cook’s treat!


Recipes of the Week: Spicy Alder-Planked Wild Salmon with Avocado Mayo, Coriander Buttered Grilled Corn and Curried Zucchini Planks

Jul 19, 2014

Description:

Spicy Alder-Planked Wild Salmon with Avocado Mayo

Here in beautiful British Columbia, it’s wild salmon season and one of the best ways to cook it is on a plank. I like alder because it’s the wood that’s been used for millennia by First Nations peoples, and it adds a super delish smoky flavour, but if you can’t find alder planks, good old cedar will do just fine.

Serves 4 to 6

1 alder or cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 2 hours
A spray bottle filled with water (in case of flare-ups)
1 whole, boned fillet of wild Pacific salmon, about 3 lb  | 1.5 kg, skin on

For the rub:
1 tsp | 5 mL ground coriander
1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Hungarian paprika
½ tsp | 3 mL ground turmeric
½ tsp | 3 mL granulated garlic
½ tsp | 3 mL granulated onion
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil like canola or corn oil

For the mayo:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup | 125 mL mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
1 tsp ground Ancho chile or your favorite chili powder blend
pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon or lime juice
Kosher salt to taste
Leaf lettuce, fresh cilantro sprgs and lemon wedges for garnish

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed and peel, and coarsely chop the flesh. Make the mayo by combining the avocado, mayo, chile powder, cayenne and citrus juice and blending them in a food processor until creamy smooth, adding salt to your taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate.
            Combine the rub ingredients. Season the skinless side of the salmon with a light coating of the rub. Let the salmon sit for 10–15 minutes at room temperature, until the rub is moistened.
            While the salmon is sitting, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.
            Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 8 - 12 minutes, or until the thickest part of the fish has a maximum internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C, lower if you like your salmon medium rare. Check it periodically to make sure the plank doesn’t catch fire, and spray the burning edges with water if it does, making sure to close the lid afterwards.
            When the salmon is done transfer it, plank and all, to a heatproof platter that you’ve artfully covered with lettuce leaves to make a kind of bed for the salmon and the plank. Garnish the salmon with lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs and bring it to the table for your guests to enjoy. I like to serve this dish with Coriander Buttered Corn and Grilled Curried Zucchini planks. (See recipes below.)

Coriander Buttered Corn on the Cob

This delicious compound butter is great on grilled corn but also excellent as a finishing touch to grilled fish or meat, or frozen and stuffed into a burger. Double or even quadruple the recipe, place the leftover butter on a sheet of wax paper or clear food wrap and roll it into a 2-inch wide log. Store the log in your freezer and cut off pats of butter when you need them.

Makes enough butter for at least four cobs of corn

4 to 6 cobs of fresh corn on the cob, husks removed

For the butter:
1/2 cup | 125 mL butter
¼ cup | 60 mL coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp | 3 mL ground coriander
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon zest (finely grated lemon peel)
pinch Kosher salt

Combine the butter, cilantro, coriander, cayenne, lemon zest and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare your grill for direct high heat cooking. Place the naked corn cobs on the cooking grate, cover, and cook, turning regularly, until the corn is bright yellow and has mouth-watering char marks. Remove from the grill and serve with the compound butter.

Grilled Curried Zucchini Planks

This simple recipe produces a tasty, brightly colored side dish that goes well with almost anything.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 firm, fresh medium-size zucchinis
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
curry powder
olive oil
fresh lemon

Trim the tops and bottoms from the zucchinis and, working carefully with a sharp knife, cut a thin slice off each side. Discard the thin slices or cut them up and put them in a salad. Slice the zuccinis into long ¼-inch planks. Sprinkle them on both sides with a light coating of salt, pepper and curry powder. Drizzle them with olive oil, turning to coat.

Prepare your grill for direct medium-high cooking. Place the zucchini planks on the grill and cook them for just half a minute per side, or until they are nicely charred but still firm. Remove from the grill, place them on a serving platter, drizzle with a little more oil, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on them and serve.

Recipes of the Week: Smoked Oysters and Grilled Octopus Salad

Jul 12, 2014

Description:

Smoked Oysters

Makes 4–8 appetizer-sized servings

The tinned smoked oysters you can buy at the supermarket taste like oily cardboard compared to these plump, delicious beauties. This is a great thing to do when you’ve got your smoker up and running for something else. When you’ve finished your main project, take advantage of the hot smoker and barbecue a few tubs of oysters for later consumption. Keep them in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze them for a month or two, but I’ll bet they won’t be around that long!

(Buy the way, this recipe works well on the grill. Just use low-medium heat and it's probably a good idea to grill the oysters using one of those perforated thingys that you put on top of your cooking grate to prevent stuff from falling through. If you use this method, reduce the cooking time to a few minutes per side.)

1-pint | 500 mL container shucked large fresh oysters (8–12 oysters)
olive oil
1/4 cup | 50 mL Championship Barbecue Rub (see recipe below)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
barbecue sauce

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Drain the oysters and pat them dry with a paper towel. Coat them lightly with oil and sprinkle both sides with rub. Let them sit for a few minutes, until the rub starts to glisten. Spray your cooking grate with vegetable cooking spray and place the oysters on the grate. Smoke them for 1 hour, using hickory as the flavoring agent, until the oysters are springy to the touch and have taken on a smoky golden hue. Remove them from the smoker, put them on a serving tray and pass them around. They’re best fresh out of the smoker, dipped in barbecue sauce.

Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first
introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawrey’s)
1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)
1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper
1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

Grilled Octopus Salad

Makes 4 servings

When I was a teenager traveling Europe, my friend Rich and I rented Vespas in Rome and cycled to Lido, the beach community just west of the city. We stopped at a restaurant and the garrulous proprietor talked us into eating a seafood salad that featured marinated octopus. I’ll never forget the chewy, tangy chunks of octopus in that salad. It was one of the most satisfying meals I had on that trip.

one 2 lb | 1 kg octopus arm
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed Greek oregano
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed chile peppers
1 Tbsp | 30 mL fresh squeezed lemon juice
a splash of red wine vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For garnish
1 Tbsp | 30 mL freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
lemon wedges

Put a wine cork in a pot of cold water. Place the octopus arm in the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the octopus for about an hour, or until it is tender when you poke it with a knife. Rinse it, dry it, and set it aside.
            Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Brush the octopus arm with a little of the olive oil and grill it just until it has some nice char marks on both sides. Slice it diagonally into bite-sized pieces and put it in a salad bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss the salad. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Toss and serve the salad the next day, garnished with chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.




Recipes of the week: Pork Loin Chops Three Ways

Jul 5, 2014

Description:

Pork Loin Chops Three Ways

I love pork loin chops, especially from locally-raised pork from Johnston’s here in the Lower Mainland of BC. (Wherever you are, support your local farmers and food producers!)

The best way to get pork loin chops is to buy a whole pork loin and then cut it into chops. I like to cut them about 1.5 to 2 inches thick. A whole pork loin is a lot of meat, so I cut it up into chops and marinate or rub them all. I use what I need for the day’s meal, and then package the rest of them up in freezer bags. Next time you want pork chops, just thaw them and they’re for you to toss on the grill.

To cook chops, preheat your grill for high direct cooking. Place the chops on the grill and immediately turn the heat down to medium, or even low. You’ll get nice grill marks but the pork will cook more gently, which makes for a more tender, juicy chop. Take the pork off the grill when the internal temperature at the thickest part reads 130F for medium rare and 140F for medium. If you want juicy chops don’t overcook them! Let them rest, loosely tented in foil for five or ten minutes before serving.

Try these great marinades for your next batch of pork chops, and let me know how you like to cook pork by posting something on my Barbecue Secrets Facebook page.

Happy Grilling!

Classic Vinaigrette Marinade

This simple marinade can be spruced up using flavoured oils and vinegars. It’s great with pork, lamb or chicken – or try it with big portabella mushrooms if you’re …one of those.

Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for 4 to 6 chops

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard (or Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce
2 Tbsp | 30 mL white wine vinegar, or your favourite infused gourmet vinegar
1 Tbsp | 15 mL coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub (see recipe below) or herbs de Provence
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pushed through a press
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed chile flakes (optional)           

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Marinate the chops for at least two hours, or overnight, in your refrigerator. Grill the chops according to the instructions above. These chops go well with grilled apple slices or apple sauce and your favourite grilled veggies.

Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb, a couple of chickens, or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary
1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.


Easiest, Tastiest Marinade

Makes about 11/2 cups  | 375 mL, enough for 4 to 6 chops, steaks or chicken breasts

One of my all-time favorites. I use this mainly as a quick and delicious marinade for steaks and chops, but it’s also great with chicken, as well as rich, meaty fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, and swordfish. I’ve provided precise measurements of the ingredients, but it’s really meant to be a marinade that you just throw together. A few glugs of soy sauce, a small glug of sesame oil, as much garlic and ginger as you like, and so on. Once you try this, it will become a standard in your kitchen.

1 cup | 250 mL dark soy sauce
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL lemon juice or 1/4 cup | 50 mL Mirin (optional)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL tapioca starch (cornstarch will also do)

Mix together the ingredients in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the chops, turn to coat them, and marinate for 10 minutes to 1⁄2 hour, turning it once or twice. Don’t marinate it overnight, as this is fairly salty. Grill the chops according to the instructions above.

Rockin’ Ronnie’s Grilling Rub

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

I like to use this combination of seasonings for everyday grilling (grilling rubs contain little or no sugar because the higher heat of grilling would make a sugary rub turn black). It perfectly balances the earthiness of the toasted cumin, the sharpness of ground pepper, the smokiness and heat of the ground chipotles, and the natural sweetness of the ancho chile, granulated onion, and garlic.

4 Tbsp | 60 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL ground pepper
2 Tbsp | 25 mL ground toasted cumin seeds
1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground oregano
2 Tbsp | 25 mL granulated onion
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic
2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder
1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles
(if you can’t find this, substitute cayenne)
1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.



Recipes of the Week: Prawn & Lychee Kebabs and Planked Caraway-Encrusted Monkfish

Jun 28, 2014

Description:

Prosciutto-Wrapped Prawn and Lychee Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings, or 12 appetizer-sized servings

This combo might sound strange, but the sweetness of the lychees and the prawns and the saltiness of the prosciutto complement one another very nicely, and the lychee liqueur gives the kebabs a superb aroma. This is ideal as a cocktail party appetizer, but also goes well with rice and a green salad as a main course. (Note: Wrapping prawns with thin slices of prosciutto is pretty fussy. If you’re in a hurry, this dish tastes great even without this embellishment.)

12 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
1 20 oz | 565 g can lychees in syrup
2 oz | 57 mL Soho lychee liqueur
(mainly used in fancy lychee martinis)
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup | 175 mL coconut milk
1/4 cup | 50 mL sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil
24 large fresh prawns (13 to 15 to the pound | .45 kg),
peeled and deveined, with the tails still on
12 thin slices Italian prosciutto, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp | 15 mL cornstarch
1/2 cup | 50 mL cold water
2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh mint, finely chopped
limes, for squeezing

Drain the canned lychees, setting aside 12 lychees and 3/4 cup | 175 mL of the syrup. Combine the lychees and syrup with the liqueur, dried chiles, shallot, ginger, coconut milk, and oil. Gently toss the prawns in the mixture in a medium bowl and marinate them for 1 hour at room temperature or 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the prawns and the fruit from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Wrap each prawn with half a slice of the prosciutto, as if you are putting a little belt around the middle of the prawn, taking care that about half of the prawn is still visible. Thread the prosciutto-wrapped prawns onto presoaked bamboo skewers, placing a lychee after every second prawn. (For cocktail party canapés, thread 1 lychee and two prawns on each skewer.)
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. While the grill is heating, pour the reserved marinade into a medium saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat. Mix the cornstarch with the water and pour it into the liquid. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is shiny and thick. Set it aside.
            Oil the cooking grate, place the skewers on the grill, cover them and cook them for no more than 1 or 2 minutes per side, or until the prawns are barely cooked through. Serve the kebabs drizzled with the sauce and garnished with chopped mint and a squeeze of lime.

Planked Caraway-crusted Monkfish with Tomato and Green Onion Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Monkfish is often referred to as the poor man’s lobster because it has very firm, rich, flavorful white flesh. The fillet looks kind of like a pork tenderloin, and it cooks up very nicely on a plank. The tomato and green onion sauce nicely offsets the strong flavor of the caraway-crusted fish.

For the fish:
1 1/2 Tbsp |  22.5 mL caraway seeds
1 lb | 500 g skinless monkfish fillet
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
pinch cayenne
granulated onion

For the sauce:
¼ cup | 60 mL mayonnaise
1 ripe fresh tomato, chopped into a ¼ inch | 6 mm dice
3 stalks fresh green onion, finely chopped, 1 Tbsp | 15 mL reserved for garnish
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
pinch cayenne
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt

Lightly toast the caraway seeds in a dry sauté pan, transfer the caraway to a plate to cool, and set it aside.
            Season the fillet with salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl and coat the fillet with the mixture. Sprinkle all but ½ Tbsp | 7.5 mL of the caraway seeds evenly over the fillet. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
            To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set the sauce aside.
            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium.
            Place the fish on the plank and cook it for 15–20 minutes, turning it halfway through the cooking time, until the fish is springy to the touch or has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C.
            Cut the fish into medallions and serve it with a dollop of the sauce, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Garnish it with the reserved seeds and the  green onions.


Photo copyright John Sinal Photography, used with permission. 

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Lamb Burger with Molten Goat Cheese Core and Mimi's Tabouleh

Jun 21, 2014

Description:

Lamb Burger with Molten Goat Cheese Core

Makes 4 burgers

We North Americans eat so much ground beef that we almost forget what beef tastes like. When you eat a lamb burger you actually taste the lamb and it makes for a deliciously different grilling experience. The goat cheese stuffing adds an orgiastic twist. Don’t forget to freeze the goat cheese!

For the tzatziki:
1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 cup | 250 mL plain Greek
full-fat yogurt
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 long English cucumber, finely grated

To finish the burgers:
Mediterranean Herbed Butter (see recipe below)
2 large fresh rounds of pita bread
fresh sliced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and
dried

For the patties:
11/2 lb | 750 g ground lamb
2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh mint
1 tsp | 5 mL dried oregano
1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 oz | 75 g soft goat cheese (chèvre),
frozen and sliced into 4 1/2-inch | 1 cm discs
2 Tbsp | 25 mL softened Mediterranean
Herbed Butter (see recipe below)
kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste

To make the tzatziki, dry-fry the ground cumin over medium heat for 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant and browns just slightly. Transfer the cumin from the hot pan into a bowl. Add the yogurt, mint, and cucumber, mix them together thoroughly, cover the tzatziki, and refrigerate it until it’s needed.
            Gently mix the lamb with the mint, oregano, salt, and a few grindings of pepper in a nonreactive bowl with your hands. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape them into balls. Make a hole in each patty with your thumb and insert a disc of frozen goat cheese. Carefully seal the hole and shape the ball into a patty 3/4 inch | 2 cm thick, making sure to cover the cheese with the meat. Season the outside of the patties with salt and pepper. Lightly brush them with olive oil and grill them over medium direct heat for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature is 160˚F | 71˚C.
            Take the burgers off the grill and spread a thin layer of the herbed butter on top of each one (if you don’t have any herbed butter, drizzle them with a little olive oil—just enough to make them glisten). Let them rest for 3–4 minutes. Just before you’re ready to serve them, toast the pitas on the grill for 10–15 seconds per side. Cut the pitas in half, open them up, and stuff the burgers inside. Dress them with the tomatoes, onion, arugula, and tzatziki.

Mediterranean Butter
4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,
basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,
tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)
1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter
kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.
            If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.

Mimi’s Tabbouleh (Couscous Salad)

Makes 8 servings as a side

This recipe from my friend Michele Allaire uses instant couscous, which is moistened by all the juices that come out of the vegetables as they sit with the grain in the fridge. It is usually served as a side with lamb but can be an attractive alternative main course for a vegetarian guest. To “beef” it up, add blanched green beans, blanched carrots, and cooked chick peas.

1 package (about 10 oz | 300 g) instant couscous
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp | 15 mL red onion cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL long English cucumber cut into
1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1/2 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL fresh tomato cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm dice
1 cup | 250 mL chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
1/2 tsp | 10 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground cumin
4 Tbsp | 60 mL lemon juice
1 cup | 250 mL good-quality extra virgin olive oil

Pour the entire package of uncooked couscous into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, mix them together well, and let the tabbouleh sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Remove it from the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. Mix it again, taste it, and adjust the seasoning and oil to taste.



Recipes of the week: Kate's Tasty Asian Chicken Thighs with Asian Noodle Salad

Jun 13, 2014

Description:

 

Kate’s Tasty Asian Chicken Thighs

Makes 4–6 servings

These tangy, flavorful chicken thighs, based on a recipe by Anya Von Bremzen and Jon Welchman in their Terrific Pacific Cookbook, go well with Asian Noodle Salad with Sesame Mayonnaise (see recipe below). This recipe calls for grilling, but you can also barbecue the chicken in a smoker for a truly unforgettable dish, and then finish it by crisping the skin on a hot grill. Because this is a relatively complicated recipe to make, Kate likes to do a double batch and freeze half for later enjoyment.

12 chicken thighs (31/2 lb | 1.75 kg), bone in, skin on
2 tsp | 10 mL ground coriander
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
11/2 Tbsp | 22 mL tamarind pulp (Thai is best)
1/3 cup | 75 mL chicken stock or tinned broth, boiling
6 Asian dried red chiles (2 to 3 inches | 5 to 8 cm)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp | 45 mL chopped shallots
2 tsp | 10 mL chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh lemongrass or
2 tsp | 10 mL grated lime zest
11/2 Tbsp | 22 mL vegetable oil
3 Tbsp | 45 mL dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp | 45 mL packed light brown sugar
11/2 Tbsp | 20 mL rice vinegar
11/2 Tbsp | 20 mL ketchup
1/2 cup | 125 mL finely chopped fresh basil

Rinse the chicken pieces well in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Prick the skin all over with the tines of a fork. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, pepper, and salt, and rub the mixture into the chicken pieces. Set the chicken aside.
            Add the tamarind pulp to the boiling stock, remove it from the heat, and soak it for 15 minutes. Stir the mixture and mash it with a fork to help the tamarind dissolve. Strain it through a fine strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all the liquid. Discard the tamarind that remains in the strainer and set aside the liquid.
            Stem the chiles and shake out and discard the seeds. Using scissors, cut the chiles into 1/4-inch | 5-mm pieces. Soak them in warm water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain them well. Combine the chiles, tamarind liquid, garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass or lime zest, oil, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and basil in a food processor and process them into a purée. Arrange the chicken in a large, shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
            Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pour the marinade into a saucepan. Heat it to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Taste it and adjust the seasonings. Remove it from the heat and transfer it to a bowl.
            Prepare your grill for indirect medium heat, with a pan underneath the unheated side of the grill to catch the drippings. Place the chicken on the grill and cook it for 20–25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F | 71˚C, basting it every 5 minutes with the marinade. At the last minute, move the chicken thighs to the hot side of the grill and toss them about to crisp the skins, taking care not to burn them. Place the chicken on a serving dish, spoon over the remaining basting sauce, and serve it immediately.

Barbecue Secret
Chicken thighs cooked with wood smoke will usually develop a smoke ring—turning the meat close to the outside a characteristic pink color. Inexperienced guests can sometimes mistake this for underdone fowl. Reassure them by making sure you monitor the internal temperature of the meat during cooking and remove the chicken only after it has reached the desired 160°F | 71°C at its thickest part.

Asian Noodle Salad with Sesame Mayonnaise

Makes 3–4 servings

This is a great summer salad that goes well with grilled chicken or any Asian-flavored grilled or barbecued meat. I like to use rice spaghetti noodles (as opposed to Asian rice vermicelli, which doesn’t have the same chewiness). You can find rice spaghetti noodles in health food stores, but plain old durum wheat spaghetti also works well.

For the sesame mayonnaise:
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp | 2 mL soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp | 5 mL Chinese chili sauce or
spicy Szechuan chili oil (or to taste)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL grated fresh lemon,
lime or orange rind

For the salad:
one 1 lb | 500 g package rice or wheat spaghetti noodles
2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped cilantro
1 to 2 Tbsp | 15 to 25 mL toasted
sesame seeds (to taste)
2 fresh limes, cut into wedges

Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl, cover it, and refrigerate the sesame mayonnaise for at least a few hours or overnight.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water for 8–10 minutes, or until they’re al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water. Drain them again thoroughly. Toss them with the sesame mayo, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Serve the salad garnished with lime wedges.



Photo credit: @Copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission.

 

Recipes of the Week: Yummy Chicken Satay Sticks, Grilled Curried Cauliflower and Curry Mayo

Jun 7, 2014

Description:

Yummy Chicken Satay Sticks

Makes 24 appetizer-sized portions

I love Indonesian food and satay is one of the great finger foods. The sauce and marinade can be made in advance, so the satay sticks take almost no time to prepare on the day of your party.

twenty-four 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 15–30 minutes

For the peanut sauce:

half of a 14 oz | 398 mL can unsweetened coconut milk (reserve the rest for the marinade)

1/3 cup | 75 mL chunky-style peanut butter

1 garlic clove, finely chopped or pushed through a garlic press

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

1 Tbsp | 15 mL light brown sugar

pinch cayenne pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL Thai fish sauce (optional)

For the chicken:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 11/4 lb | 625 g)

the other half of a 14 oz | 398 mL can unsweetened coconut milk

2 tsp | 10 mL fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tsp | 10 mL curry powder

1 tsp | 5 mL ground coriander

2 Tbsp | 25 mL light brown sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime juice

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Thai fish sauce (optional)

Kosher salt

For garnish:

Wedges of fresh lime

Make the peanut sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them until they’re thoroughly combined. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate it. This can be made several days in advance; the flavour will improve as it sits in your fridge.

If you’ve made the satay sauce in advance, take it out of your refrigerator an hour or two before serving it so it comes up to room temperature.

Split the chicken breasts horizontally into thin, flat slabs. Cut the slabs into 3-inch by 1-inch | 7.5 cm by 2.5 cm strips. Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, mixing them together well to dissolve the sugar.

Add the chicken to the marinade, stirring to coat it. Cover and refrigerate it for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers, one strip per skewer. Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Place the satay skewers on the grill, leaving a little room between each for circulation, and close the grill cover. Cook the satay for 3–5 minutes, turning the skewers once or twice. Transfer the satay sticks to a platter, sprinkle them with Kosher salt to taste, and serve them with the peanut sauce and lime wedges.

Grilled Curried Cauliflower

Serves 4 as a side dish or makes a tasty part of a grilled veggie platter

In these hipsterish times of kale and Brussels sprouts, poor old cauliflower gets ignored. It’s not fair; this delicious vegetable is incredibly versatile. I’ve recently discovered that if you coarsely grate it and steam it, it makes a low-carb substitute for rice or couscous in your favourite side dishes. This recipe is packed with flavour, and it’s great left over, tossed into a summer salad.

NOTE: This dish works best if you use one of those perforated grill toppers or BBQ woks designed to keep smaller pieces of food from falling through your cooking grates1 head of fresh cauliflower

2 Tbsp | 30 mL curry powder

1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne pepper (optional, depending on how much heat is in your curry powder)

¼ cup | 60 mL vegetable oil such as canola or corn oil

1 fresh lemon

Kosher salt

¼ cup | 60 mL chopped fresh cilantro or mint

Lemon wedges for garnish

Curried Mayo (optional, see recipe below)

Preheat your grill for medium direct cooking (if you’ve got one, use a perforated grill-topper or BBQ wok  and preheat it in the grill.

Separate the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and rinse them in cold water. Place the florets in a large bowl and sprinkle them evenly with the spices and a light sprinkling of salt. Pour in the oil and toss to coat. Grill the cauliflower, turning often, for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the florets are lightly charred and starting to soften.

Remove the florets from the grill and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or some aluminum foil and let the cauliflower rest for about 5 minutes to give them time to steam a bit and continue to cook.

Finish the florets by tossing them with a little more oil, a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt and the chopped cilantro or mint.  Serve with a dollop of Curry Mayo and garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Curry Mayo

This is perfect with veggies, as a sandwich spread or as a binder for curried egg salad.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups | 310 mL mayonnaise

2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped

4 tsp | 20 mL curry powder

1 Tbsp | 15 mL vegetable oil

1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise

1 tsp | 5 mL lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight to enrich the flavour.

 

Recipes of the Week: Beef Kebabs and Calgary-Style Ginger Beef on the Grill

May 31, 2014

Description:

Beef Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings or 8 appetizers

Most beef kebab recipes, including this one, call for leaner cuts like sirloin. Those work well, but they are quite chewy and can turn to rubber if overcooked. For truly decadent kebabs, try well-marbled rib roast or tender chunks of fillet. Whatever meat you choose, just remember to cook it gently and don’t overdo it!

8 long metal skewers or 12 presoaked bamboo skewers

To marinate the meat:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL dried mushrooms (any

kind will do, but some can be expensive)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground ancho chile

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cinnamon

1 tsp | 5 mL coarsely ground black

pepper

1 chipotle in adobo sauce,

seeds removed and finely chopped

1 tsp | 5 mL adobo sauce

1 Tbsp | 15 mL liquid honey

1/2 cup | 125 mL neutral-flavored

vegetable oil like canola or corn oil

2 lb | 1 kg top sirloin

 

To make the kebabs:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL vegetable oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lime juice

2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks

2 yellow bell peppers, cut into chunks

1 medium purple onion, cut into

quarters and separated into pieces

24 small button mushrooms

(or 12 big ones cut in half)

kosher salt and freshly ground black

pepper to taste

Grind the mushrooms to a powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Thoroughly mix the mushrooms, chile, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, chipotle, adobo sauce, honey, and oil in a non-reactive bowl. Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes and add it to the marinade, tossing it well to coat it. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and as long as overnight.

Make a basting liquid by combining the oil and lime juice. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Thread the beef cubes on 8 long metal skewers or 12 presoaked bamboo skewers, alternating them with chunks of bell pepper, onion, and mushroom. Grill the kebabs 3–4 minutes per side, basting them with the oil/lime juice mixture, until the beef is just done. Remove them from the grill, season them with salt and pepper, and serve.

Calgary-Style Ginger Beef on the Grill

Makes 6–8 servings

In Calgary, Alberta, most Chinese restaurants serve a special version of Ginger Beef that features strips of beef that are lightly battered, deep fried, and then candied with a sweet, sticky, tangy sauce that has lots of heat from crushed chiles and powdered ginger.  This crunchy, chewy dish has become so associated with Calgary that on some menus in other Canadian cities it shows up as Calgary-style Ginger Beef.  For me, it’s a true comfort food, and I was inspired by fond memories of the dish to create this tasty grilled tri-tip. Serve it with some steamed rice and stir-fried veggies with Teriyaki sauce (see recipe below).

NOTE: It can be hard to find tri-tip in Canada, although it’s a super-popular cut in the U.S., especially in California. If you can’t find it, substitute a top sirloin roast but be sure not to overcook it!

1 3 lb | 1.5 kg well-marbled tri-tip (bottom sirloin) roast

For the rub:

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL powdered ginger

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL paprika

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp | 2 mL Chinese five spice powder

½ tsp | 2 mL cayenne pepper

 

For the finishing glaze:

one 12 oz | 355 mL jar sweet orange marmalade

3 Tbsp | 45 mL frozen orange juice concentrate

¼ cup | 60 mL soy sauce

½ cup | 125 mL apple cider vinegar

1 clove finely minced garlic

2 tsp | 10 mL grated fresh ginger

1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes

Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and set the mixture aside.

Put the finishing glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring it occasionally. Set it aside to cool.

Generously sprinkle the tri-tip with the rub (you will have some left over). Let it sit for half an hour or so, until the roast starts to glisten.

Prepare the grill for medium indirect cooking. Grill the roast for 1 hour on the unheated side of the grill. Turn it once or twice. When the roast is nearly done (it starts to feel springy to the touch, or the temperature at the thickest part reaches about 130˚F | 54˚C for medium rare), move it to the hot side of the grill, turn up the heat to high, and paint it generously with the glaze, turning and coating it until the glaze is sticky and caramelized (be careful not to burn it).

Remove the roast from the grill, tent it in foil, and let it rest for at least half an hour. Slice it across the grain as thinly as you can and serve it with a drizzle of the remaining glaze.

Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce

Makes about 8 cups | 2 L

This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.

11/2 cups | 375 mL sake

11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin

2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar

4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce

1 small onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 orange, chopped, skin on

1 small pear, chopped

1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Recipes of the Week: Tenderloin Steak with Goronzola Butter, Grilled Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

May 24, 2014

Description:

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Gorgonzola Butter

Makes 6 servings

This is dead simple, and deadly delicious. Just make sure you don’t overcook it! Serve the tenderloin with your favorite steak accompaniments, like Grilled Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (see recipes below).

six 6 oz | 175 g tenderloin (filet mignon) steaks, about 2 inches | 5 cm thick
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
Gorgonzola Butter at room temperature (see recipe below)

Generously season the steaks with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Let them sit for an hour to bring them to room temperature.

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Drizzle the steaks with a little oil and place them on the cooking grate. Cook the steaks for 2–4 minutes per side (depending on how rare you like them). Take them off the grill, tent them in foil, and let them rest for a few minutes. Serve them with a pat of the Gorgonzola butter.

Gorgonzola Butter

3/4 cup | 175 mL Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 lb | 125 g unsalted butter at
room temperature
1 tsp | 5 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.

If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Makes 4–6 servings

If you’re calorie-conscious, you can substitute milk or chicken stock for the cream in this recipe, but the point of this dish is to celebrate decadence, so I suggest adding extra butter, cream, and truffle oil to taste. This dish goes well with almost any planked meat or fish.

2 lb | 1 kg yellow-fleshed potatoes
1 head roasted garlic
1/2 cup | 125 mL butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup | 125 mL heavy cream
1/4 tsp | 1 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped parsley
1 tsp | 5 mL truffle oil (optional)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a large pot and fill it with cold water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium for 15–20 minutes, or until a fork goes easily through a chunk of potato. Drain the potatoes, reserving a cup or so of the water, and return them to the pot. Add the roasted garlic, butter, cream, nutmeg, parsley, and truffle oil, if desired, and mash the potatoes by hand until they’re creamy. (Never mash potatoes in a food processor. It makes them gluey.) If the mixture seems too dry, moisten it with a little potato water. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Inhale.

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven, cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

Grilled Broccoli

This is a great side dish that even broccoli haters can love. The trick here is to use a metal grill pan or vegetable basket designed to keep smaller items from falling through your cooking grates.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 large heads broccoli, divided into bite-sized florets
1 tsp. crushed chili flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pushed through a garlic press
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 fresh lemon
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat your grill for medium direct cooking. Rinse the broccoli florets in cold water and drain them. (This leaves a little moisture clinging to them, which helps them survive the heat of the grill without burning.) Add the chili flakes, salt, black pepper, half of the olive oil, garlic and Worcestershire Sauce and toss to ensure the ingredients are distributed evenly. 

Place the broccoli on the grill pan or in the vegetable basket. Close the grill and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning regularly, until the broccoli is bright green and a bit charred around the edges. Remove from the grill and transfer to a serving dish. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan.

 

Recipes of the week: Jerusalem Chicken Sliders and Grilled Achiote Chicken Breasts

May 17, 2014

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! I'm delighted to be back for my fifth year of sharing outdoor cooking tips and recipes on The World Today with Jon McComb on Vancouver's CKNW radio. 

Today's topic: chicken. Specifically, delicious British Columbia chicken. For the past few weeks I've been working with the BC Chicken Farmers Association to support a fun and informative social media campaign, Chicken Squad: The Real Chicken Farmers of BC. If you haven't seen the video trailer, watch it and all the episodes of the web series here

The public awareness campaign is a lot of fun, but the message is serious: chicken raised in BC has been free of steroids and hormones for 50 years, despite the common perception that the long-banned substances are used today. If you eat BC chicken you know it's been fed well and humanely raised by farmers who care.

If you know me, you know I LOVE chicken. I developed a new recipe for the big Chicken Squad movie trailer premiere a couple of weeks ago, and I'm sharing it here, along with another of my favourite chicken recipes. Enjoy...and get out there and get grilling!

Jerusalem Sliders with Sour Cream and Sumac Sauce

This is my adaptation for the grill of a superb recipe from the superb cookbook Jerusalem, by famed restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. My thanks to blogger Marc Smith for documenting the Chicken Squad event and sharing his photo. 

For the burgers:

1 pound (300g) ground chicken
1 large zucchini, coarsley grated (scant 2 cups/200g)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ to 1 cup dry bread crumbs

Olive oil

Soft fresh slider buns

For the Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
Scant 1/2 cup (100g) sour cream
Scant 2/3 cup (150g) Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For garnish: thin slices of fresh tomato

Prepare the sour cream sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and store in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Place the grated zucchini in a clean dry dish towel and wrap it tightly, twisting the towel to squeeze as much of the moisture out of the zucchini as possible. Place the zucchini and rest of the slider ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix everything together until it’s the right consistency for making burgers. Add extra bread crumbs if it’s too wet to handle. 

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Starting with a portion about the size of a mandarin orange, form the slider patties, dipping your hands in a bowl of cold water to help keep the mixture from sticking. Place the patties onto the cookie sheet and transfer to your freezer for about an hour to firm up the meat.

Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Thoroughly scrape the cooking grate. Remove the burger patties from the freezer. Paint a light coating of olive oil on one side of the patties and place them, oiled side down, on the grill. Let the burgers cook on one side until they are firm and they release easily from the cooking grate, then turn them. (If you turn them too early, they’ll stick you’ll leave a lot of meat on the grill.)

Cook the burgers to an internal temperature of 160F.  Serve them immediately on slider buns with a generous dollop of the sauce, topped with tomato slices.

 

Grilled Achiote Chicken Breasts with Mixed Green Salad

Makes 4–6 servings

Achiote is a rust-colored paste made from annatto seeds that is a common ingredient in Mexican cooking. You can find it in Latin grocery stores and gourmet specialty food stores. It adds an unusual and distinctive flavour and wonderful color to grilled food, and is fantastic with chicken and shrimp.

six 5-oz | 150 g boneless skinless chicken breasts 

For the marinade:

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1.75 oz | 50 g achiote paste (half of a standard-sized brick of paste)

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL dried oregano leaves

½ tsp | 2 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL honey

½ cup | 125 mL freshly squeezed orange juice

 

For the greens:

3 Tbsp | 45 mL orange-infused olive oil (available at most supermarkets)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or champagne vinegar

1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard

1 shallot, finely minced

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 5 oz | 150 g bag of mixed salad greens

1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Sprinkle the salt on top of the chopped garlic and mash it into a fine paste with the back of a fork. Place the mashed garlic in a bowl and add the achiote paste, cumin, oregano, and granulated onion. Wet the ingredients with a splash of the orange juice and mash everything together, making a smooth paste. Add the rest of the orange juice and mix thoroughly. Place the chicken breasts in the bowl and toss them to coat them with the marinade. Marinate the chicken, covered, in the refrigerator, for 2 hours or overnight, turning it once or twice to keep it coated.

Make the vinaigrette by combining the oil, vinegar, mustard, and chopped shallots in a salad bowl and whisking the ingredients together. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper and set it aside.

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and grill them for about 4–5 minutes, turning them every couple of minutes, until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 160˚F | 71˚C  at the thickest part of the breast.  Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest, tented in foil, for five minutes.

While the chicken is resting, toss the mixed greens, avocado, and tomatoes with the vinaigrette and place a pile of the salad on each serving plate. Slice the chicken into bite-sized chunks and arrange the chicken on top of the greens. Garnish the dish with chopped cilantro and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

 

Tips and recipes for hosting a great holiday open house

Dec 27, 2013

Description:

Hey barbecue fans. Happy Holidays! I hope you had a great Christmas. For many of us, the festivities don't stop between now and 2014, whether you're entertaining relatives, hosting a festive open house or planning a New Year's Eve party. Here are a few tips and some tasty recipes to make your entertaining easy, fun and delicous.

How important is planning ahead?

Be prepared and you and your guests will have way more fun. 

Do as much food prep in advance as possible. If you're grilling, have everything ready to go before the party starts. Rearrange your furniture to make it easy for people to mingle and access the food. Be sure you have lots of ice. Greet your guests in holiday style by offering them a special cocktail when they arrive. (See drink recipes at the end of this post.)

What are the best kinds of food to serve?

The best food strategy is to make dishes that won't occupy a huge amount of your time at the party so you can visit with your guests. 

Go for bright colours and big, bold flavours to make it festive Have lots of protein to soak up the alcohol and be sure you've got some options for vegetarians and gluten-free organically grown hipsters Don't forget about the non-drinkers. Do something special for them like a non-alcoholic punch or some fancy soft drinks. Try to showcase local products at your party. It's a great way to spread the word about the wonderful foods that are produced in your area. 

What else can you do to make a holiday party a success?

Here are a few more stray tips for making your event a memorable one. 

Don't forget about music, it really helps create a festive atmosphere. Put together a long playlist ahead of time so you don't have to be always tending to the stereo. Accept offers from your foodie friends to bring something yummy to the party, and don't be afraid to suggest dishes that fit with whatever theme you've got going. It's fun for them, and it makes it easier for you.

Okay, enough free advice. Here are some recipes to make your holiday party super delish!

Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres

This classic stuffed mushroom recipe, adapted from an old Gourmet magazine, is wonderful on the grill. 

24 large button mushrooms (about 2 ½ lb | 1.25 kg)

12 oz | 375 g sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, reserving 4 Tbsp | 50 mL of the oil

1/3 cup | 75 mL finely chopped shallot

1 tsp | 5 mL finely chopped garlic

pinch crumbled dried thyme

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp | 45 mL heavy cream

¼ cup | 50 mL freshly grated Parmesan

Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and finely chop 1 cup of the stems, discarding the rest.  Mince the sun-dried tomatoes. Brush the mushroom caps with some of the reserved tomato oil and arrange them on a baking sheet, stemmed side up. Cook the shallot and garlic in the remaining tomato oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the reserved mushroom stems, minced tomatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5–10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick. Stir in the cream, divide the mixture among the mushroom caps, and sprinkle them with the Parmesan.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Quickly and carefully place the mushrooms on the grill. Reduce the heat to low and cook them, with the grill cover closed, for 10–15 minutes, or until the filling has heated through.

Bacon-wrapped Oysters

Makes 4–6 appetizer-sized portions

This simple, old-fashioned way to grill oysters makes a great party appetizer.

1 pint | 500 mL container of large, fresh, shucked oysters

(about a dozen oysters)

1/4 lb | 125 g thinly sliced bacon, each slice cut in half

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Louisiana-style hot sauce

Fry the bacon over medium heat in a heavy skillet until it’s cooked but not quite crispy. Place the cooked bacon strips on a paper towel and set them aside.

Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Drain the oysters and pat them dry with a paper towel. Wrap half a slice of cooked bacon around each oyster, skewering it with a wooden toothpick. Place the oysters on the cooking grate and grill them for 2 or 
3 minutes per side, or until the bacon crisps and the oysters are cooked through and just starting to char. Remove them from the heat, place them on a platter, season them with salt and pepper, and pass them around with a bottle of hot sauce.

Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Reduction

Makes 4 main course servings or 8 appetizer servings

This is a delicious way to grill lamb racks. The balsamic reduction has an incredible sweet tanginess that offsets the earthiness of the dried herbs and brings out the flavor of the meat. Serve the racks cut into chops as an appetizer, or as a main course with rice, grilled asparagus, and a nice green salad.

4 racks of lamb, Frenched by your butcher

(trimmed to bare the ribs and remove the silverskin – lots of lamb is pre-packaged this way)

kosher salt to taste

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, smashed or pushed through a garlic press

1 cup | 250 mL balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1/2 tsp | 2 mL cayenne

1/2 cup | 125 mL Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub (see recipe below)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive oil

sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

One to two hours before you are going to cook the lamb racks, lightly season the lamb with salt. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup | 50 mL oil, 2 Tbsp | 25 mL mustard, rosemary, pepper, and fresh garlic in a nonreactive baking dish or resealable plastic bag. Add the racks, turning them once or twice to ensure they are evenly exposed to the marinade.

While the lamb is marinating, pour the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook it, watching it carefully, until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/2 its 
original volume (10–15 minutes). It should be a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside to cool.

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Take the lamb out of the marinade, pat the racks dry with paper towels, and brush them with the remaining 2 Tbsp | 25 mL mustard. Combine the granulated garlic, onion, and cayenne in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture lightly over the lamb racks. Coat the racks generously with the herb rub, patting it on with your hands so it sticks to the meat. Drizzle the olive oil over the rubbed racks and pat it into the rub.

Using cherry wood as a flavoring agent (optional), grill the racks for 4—5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature at the thickest point is 135–140˚F | 57–60˚C. To serve, cut the racks into individual chops, arrange them on plates, and drizzle them with the balsamic reduction. Garnish the lamb with sprigs of fresh mint.

Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

These days, food lovers tend to shy away from dried herbs in favor of the fresh ones that are so readily available. We tend to associate unpleasantly stale, dirty flavors with dried herbs, but that’s probably because we use them so rarely that the ones in our pantry are too old. Dried herbs, when used within a few months of purchasing them, can add a wonderful earthiness and complexity to grilled foods. In fact, the high heat of grilling often destroys the delicate flavors of fresh herbs. In most cases fresh herbs, other than the very strong rosemary and sage, are best used after your meat is off the grill, as a finely chopped sprinkle to add color and aroma. Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt. 

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

Super-Simple and Incredibly Delicious Grilled Beef Tenderloin

This tasty and spectacular dish is excellent warm or at room temperature if you want to make it ahead of time.

For the condiment:

¼ cup grainy mustard

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp | 15 mL  prepared horseradish

1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the roast:

1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed

3 Tbsp | 50 mL course salt (like Malden Salt or French Fleur de Sel)

3 Tbsp | 50 mL  coarsely ground black pepper

3 Tbsp | 50 mL  dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion or onion powder

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion or garlic powder

½ tsp | 3 mL  cayenne pepper

Olive oil

Mixed lettuce greens

Hardwood chips for flavour (cherry, hickory, mesquite or apple)

Preheat your grill for medium direct cooking.

Mix the salt, black pepper, rosemary, onion and garlic powder and cayenne together and sprinkle the mixture evenly on a large chopping board or a baking sheet. Roll the tenderloin in the mixture to coat it evenly. Drizzle some olive oil on the seasoned roast to moisten the spices.  If you’re using hardwood chips as a flavouring agent, wrap them in foil, poke the package with a fork, put it under the cooking grate and wait until it starts throwing off some smoke.

When the grill is ready,  place the tenderloin on the cooking grate and cover the grill. Cook the roast for about 15 or 20 minutes, turning it often, until a meat thermometer reads 120F at the thickest part of the roast. Remove the roast from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board. Loosely wrap the meat in foil and let it rest for about half an hour.

To serve, carve the tenderloin into ½-inch rounds and present it on a bed of fresh greens on a platter or cutting board accompanied by the condiment.    

 

DRINKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

 

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup  and Ginger

Makes 1 drink

These sneaky little cocktails are innocuous enough, until you’ve had a couple and your face starts to feel as if it’s made of rubber.

11/2 | 45 mL oz Pimm’s No. 1 Cup liqueur

cold ginger ale

1 orange slice

1 cucumber slice (optional)

Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in the liqueur, top it with ginger ale, and garnish the drink with an a slice of orange and cucumber, if you like. 

 

Kir

Makes 1 drink 

Hand one of these to your guests as they arrive and suddenly it’s a special occasion.

1/2 oz | 15 mL crème de cassis

4 oz | 120 mL crisp dry white wine

(white Burgundy Aligoté is the classic)            

Pour the crème de cassis into a white wine glass. Gently pour the wine over top, taking care not to mix them too much. The drink should look like a clear version of a Tequila Sunrise, with the heavier cassis lurking at the bottom. (For an extra-special Kir Royale, subsitute chilled champagne for the white wine.)

Barbecue Secrets Episode 19: a season-ending feast of barbecue wisdom

Sep 1, 2013 01:42:54

Description:

Welcome to episode 19 of the Barbecue Secrets Podcast. It's the last episode of the season, and it's a doozie!

If you're viewing this on the podcast blog, click on the little "pod" icon to the left of the episode title above to listen to the show. Hope you like it!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE 19


Smilin' brianmisko2

It doesn't get much better than this, my friends. This show starts out with an interview with my friend Brian Misko of House of Q, a barbecue champion many times over and maker of a great line of barbecue sauces and rubs. Brian tells some great stories from the barbecue trail and shares some killer techniques.

MeatheadNext up is a return visit from Meathead, the man behind the amazing website www.amazingribs.com. Meathead, who knows the art and science of outdoor cooking like no one else, has some fun busting another barbecue myth.

Wes BerryFinally, I get to do a deep dive into the world of Kentucky Barbecue with Wes Berry, author of The Kentucky Barbecue Book. Wes is a university English prof who went on a journey of discovery through his great state. In the process he gained some insights into the history of barbecue in America and traced back the roots of a traditional Moore County dish, pork blade steak with a crazy "sop." He shares the recipe for that dish, along with another tasty sauce and something called cornbread salad. You can find the recipes in yesterday's blog post.  

I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Back in May, with the help of producer/editor Darcy Reynolds, I relaunched this podcast with a vision of creating an entertaining, informative show about outdoor cooking with professional-quality sound. I wanted to showcase longer interviews with fellow barbecue fanatics and give listeners a richness and depth about the smoky world of barbecue that's hard to find anywhere else on the internet. Kind of a cross between a radio show and an audio book. Something that you can listen to in the car, or while doing chores or working out, or while you're getting ready to cook up some barbecue. 

Did I succeed? I need your feedback to help me get ready for next season.

Write me at rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com, tweet me @rockinronnie, or post something on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page. Let me know what you liked best about this season, and what I can do to improve the show. Tell me if there's anyone you'd like me to interview. And, if you know any potential sponsors, please connect me with them -- I'd love to start next season with a couple of marquee sponsors. 

Thanks for listening! I'll try to post at least a couple of new shows over the winter. In the meantime, keep on making that beautiful blue smoke!

OTHER WAYS TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW

You can subscribe to the Barbecue Secrets Podcast for free on iTunes here

You can also get a handy Android app to hear the latest show and dive into the back catalogue for only $3.99. You can get the app by visiting this link on your Android phone to the Amazon Appstore. Once you're there, search for Barbecue Secrets, pay using your Amazon account, and you're good to go!

 

Recipe of the Week: A Taste of Kentucky Barbecue

Aug 31, 2013

Description:

One of my favourite cuts of meat is the pork blade steak – cut from the same part of the hog as the classic shoulder butt roast that we cook in competition. In certain parts of Kentucky, thinly sliced blade steaks are seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked over a low hardwood fire and “sopped” with a thin sauce made of vinegar, black and red (cayenne) pepper and lard and/or butter. Wes Berry, author of The Kentucky BBQ Book, says he loves the sauce so much he orders extra to put on his side dishes and mop it up with soft white bread. Give this adaptation of the Monroe County classic a try, with Cornbread Salad on the side.


Monroe County Style Pork Shoulder Steaks 

2013-08-30 18.32.04

Serves 4

For the steaks: 

Four pork blade steaks, the thinner the better (if they're really thin, like half an inch or less, budget for eight because your guests will easily eat two each)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hickory wood as a flavouring agent

2013-08-30 18.32.11For the sop/dip:

4 cups white vinegar

½ cup lard

½ cup butter

2 Tbsp finely ground black pepper

2 Tbsp cayenne

1 Tbsp Kosher salt

 

Melt the ingredients in a saucepan. Keep warm so the fat stays melted.

Pre-heat your grill for low-medium direct cooking. Season the blade steaks with salt and pepper and place them on the grill. Turn them regularly, brushing some of the sauce on them with every turn, until they’re well done – about 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on how low your heat is.  Use hickory chips or chunks to produce some flavourful smoke. If you’re cooking with charcoal, just place a chunk of hickory on the coals before you start cooking the steaks. For gas grills, place some wood chips in foil, poke holes in the foil and place the packet underneath the cooking grates.

Take the steaks off the grill and serve them immediately, with one last coating of the sop, and some on the side for those who want extra.

Cornbread Salad

This "salad," which is more of a savory trifle, is adapted from a recipe from The Kentucky Barbecue Book by Wes Berry. Wes got it from Trinca Barnette of Tony’s Bar-B-Que Barn in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and then came up with some suggestions for dressing it up. Enjoy!

For the salad:

1 batch leftover cornbread, roughly crumbled. (See recipe below.)

½ cup chopped green onion

1 whole large red tomato, chopped

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese 

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, dried dill, Kosher salt and black pepper

Optional additional ingredients:

1 can cooked black-eyed peas or pinto beans, drained

1 can sliced black olives, drained

Grilled corn cut off the cob

Crumbled cooked bacon

Chopped green bell pepper

Additional cheeses (like pepper jack)

Sliced pickled jalapeños

To make the salad, simply layer the ingredients in a large glass bowl. Start with half the cornbread, then layer the other ingredients and top with half the dressing. Repeat this layering one more time, with the other half of the dressing on top, and garnish with some chopped green onion. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to allow the flavours to marry. Serve as a side dish with just about anything!

Cornbread

Makes 6–8 servings

This recipe is adapted it from a recipe that my Texan friend Amy Walker shared with me.

2 or 3 tsp | 10 – 15 mL bacon drippings or vegetable oil

11/2 cups | 375 mL cornmeal

1 tsp | 5 mL baking powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 can (14 oz | 398 mL) cream-style corn

1 chopped jalapeño chile

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 cup | 250 mL buttermilk

¼ cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with bacon drippings or oil and heat it in the oven for five minutes. Meanwhile, mix the cornmeal, baking powder, eggs, creamed corn, jalapeños, salt, buttermilk, and melted butter together. Pour the cornbread batter into the hot skillet. Bake the cornbread for about half an hour or until golden brown. Cool it for at least 5 minutes before serving it.

Bonus Recipe: Owensboro-style Mutton Dip

Here’s another Kentucky classic, adapted from The Kentucky BBQ Book. Mop it on grilled or barbecued lamb (it goes great on pork, too, or anything else for that matter!) and be sure to have some available on the side.

1 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 cup water

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp finely ground black pepper

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup tomato paste

Put all the ingredients in a pot and cook until the paste dissolves. Use it to baste meat while grilling and as a dipping sauce on the side.

 

Recipes of the week: Hot-Smoked Salmon and Planked Salmon Pizza on the Grill

Aug 23, 2013

Description:

I hope you enjoy this week's recipes. If you want to enjoy some delicious wild BC pink salmon, come on down to Haddon Park on Sunday from noon till 5.00 p.m. -- find out more here.

Hot-smoked Salmon

Makes 6–8 servings

When good-quality salmon is barbecued over low heat using hickory, alder, or mesquite smoke as a flavoring agent, the end result is outrageously good. This is my favorite way to barbecue salmon. (NOTE: it's also a great way to treat grilled salmon -- just cook it, skin-side down, over indirect heat, and use wood chips in foil or hardwood chunks under the cooking grate to add smoky flavour.)

1 whole fillet wild salmon (also called a side),

about 11/2 to 2 lb | 750 to 1 kg

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted sesame oil

1 tsp | 5 mL dried red pepper flakes

1/4 cup | 50 mL brown sugar

2 lemons, halved

chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

 Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Put the salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet or cutting board. With a pair of needle-nose pliers, pluck the pin bones out of the fillet. Season it with salt and pepper and coat it with sesame oil. Sprinkle the pepper flakes evenly over the fillet and then sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the sugared salmon.

            Let the fish sit for 15 minutes or so, until the sugar is wet and glistening.

            Place the fillet on the cooking grate, put a chunk or two of hardwood on the coals, close the smoker, and barbecue the salmon for 11/2 to 21/2 hours, or until the internal temperature at its thickest part reaches about 140°F | 60°C. Use two wide spatulas to remove the salmon from the smoker. Transfer it to a warmed platter. Garnish it with chopped parsley and the remaining lemon, cut into wedges.

Planked Salmon Pizza

Makes 4 servings 

My pal Reza Mofakham shared this recipe with me. It’s a tasty way to deal with leftover planked salmon. If you don’t feel like making your own pizza dough, you can buy it frozen at most supermarkets.

For the pesto sauce:

2 cups | 500 mL fresh basil

1/4 cup | 50 mL freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup | 50 mL toasted pine nuts

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup | 50 mL olive oil

 

For the dough:

1 Tbsp | 15 mL sugar

11/2 cups | 375 mL lukewarm water or beer

2 tsp | 10 mL dry yeast

41/4 cups | 1.1 L all-purpose flour

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

2 Tbsp | 25 mL oil

 

For the toppings:

1/2 lb | 250 g leftover planked salmon, broken into bite-sized pieces

1 Tbsp | 15 mL capers

1/4 lb | 125 g goat cheese

2 Tbsp | 25 mL sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

 

Place the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend them together until they’re smooth, slowly adding the oil in a stream, until you have a smooth, light green sauce. Set the pesto aside.

            If you’re using a breadmaker, prepare the ingredients according to the instructions for making bread dough. If you don’t have a breadmaker, dissolve the sugar in 1⁄2 cup | 125 mL of the water or beer, sprinkle the yeast over top, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Place the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the yeast mixture and the oil, and turn on the machine. Pour the rest of the water or beer through the feed tube of the food processor while it’s running. Blend the mixture just until the dough forms a ball on the side of the bowl.

            Remove the dough and knead it on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl and lightly oil the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm, draft-free area for about 40 minutes, until it has doubled in size.

            Preheat the grill or oven to 375 to 400°F | 190 to 200°C. Press the dough evenly onto a lightly oiled pizza stone or pizza pan. Spread the pesto evenly on the dough and add the salmon, capers, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake the pizza for 15–20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

 

Pink Salmon Festival is this Sunday, Aug. 25!

Aug 18, 2013

Description:

Hope to see you there!

A FESTIVAL IN THE HEART OF VANCOUVER TO CELEBRATE PINK SALMON

One of B.C.’s most sustainable seafood choices!

 

Vancouver – The Pacific Salmon Foundation will host its biennial Pink Salmon Festival on Sunday, August 25 at Hadden Park on Kits Point. With 9 million “pinks” forecasted to flood the Fraser River in August, the Pink Salmon Festival will serve up delicious and healthy pink salmon samplings prepared by well-known chefs and sustainable food advocates Robert Clark, “Rockin’ Ronnie” Shewchuk and Garrett Schack. Wild pink salmon will be donated by the Canadian Fishing Company/Gold Seal. The festival is open to the public and pink salmon will be available by donation.

 “Pinks are the smallest and most abundant of Pacific salmon and at record high abundance in the North Pacific,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the foundation. “Due to their abundance, fishing for pinks is more sustainable compared to other Pacific salmon species. Some may also argue that pinks are the healthiest type of salmon to consume as their short lifespan and immediate migration to the ocean gives them less opportunity to accumulate toxins and pollutants from the water.”  (For more on why Pink Salmon is the best, see the attached FAQ).

 

Who:             Thousands of salmon lovers of all ages! Organized by the Pacific Salmon Foundation with sponsorship from Canadian Fishing Company/Gold Seal, CKNW, Newalta, Port Metro Vancouver, Rebel Communications and Rocky Mountaineer.

 

What:             Barbequed pink salmon samplings by donation, educational interactive displays, children’s activities, music and family fun to celebrate pink salmon. On-site raffles with proceeds benefitting salmon conservation and restoration projects across B.C. and a CKNW hosted VIP tent.

When:             Sunday, August 25, 2013, Noon to 5:00 p.m.


Where:            Vancouver’s Hadden Park at Kits-Point, 1905 Ogden Avenue (at Cypress, adjacent to Vancouver Maritime Museum)

 

Why:             There’s no better time to “Think Pink” with 9 million pink salmon forecasted to return to the Fraser River in August. The festival will be an opportunity for consumers to learn about the most sustainable, yet undervalued species of Pacific salmon. The fish return in large numbers allowing for harvesting for human consumption without damaging the overall health of the species and the plants and animals that depend on them for sustenance.

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Rob and Ron's Celebration of Pink Salmon

Aug 17, 2013

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! If you're in Vancouver next Sunday, August 25th, don't miss the Pink Salmon Festival -- Noon to 5.00 p.m. at Haddon Park. I'll be joining Chefs Rob Clark and Garrett Schack to cook up a few thousand pounds of fresh wild BC pink salmon for the public. Get a fantastic plate full of great, sustainable seafood, pay what you can by donation. Find out more here. Hope to see you there!

I'm celebrating salmon this week with two of my favourite recipes, one that I came up with and one from Rob Clark, adapted for the grill. I encourage you to try pink salmon, but any wild pacific salmon will do!


Cedar-planked Salmon with Whiskey-maple Glaze

Makes 6–8 servings

This has become one of my signature recipes. I’ve cooked it scores of times over the past few years, my team has won awards with it, and I often get the comment, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever eaten.” The sweet, woody flavor of the Jack Daniel’s and maple syrup complements the richness of the salmon and the aroma of the cedar in this West Coast dish. I like to present it on the plank and then serve it on a bed of field greens tossed with some French walnut oil, kosher salt, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour

1/2 cup | 125 mL Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

1 cup | 250 mL real maple syrup

1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes

1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter at room temperature

1 whole, boned fillet wild Pacific salmon

(about 3 lb  | 1.5 kg), skin on

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion (or onion powder

if you can’t find granules)

2 lemons, halved

parsley sprigs for garnish

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

Make the sauce by combining the whiskey and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil and reduce it by about half, until you have a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Add the chiles and butter and stir the sauce until it’s just combined. Set it aside and keep it warm on the stovetop.

            Season the skinless side of the salmon with salt, pepper, and granulated onion. Let the salmon sit for 10–15 minutes at room temperature, until the rub is moistened.

            While the salmon is sitting, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season the plank with kosher salt and place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.

            Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Check it periodically to make sure the plank doesn’t catch fire, and spray the burning edges with water if it does, making sure to close the lid afterwards.

            When the salmon is done, squeeze half a lemon along its length and carefully transfer it, plank and all, to a platter. Garnish it with parsley sprigs and the remaining lemon cut into slices. Drizzle a spoonful of the sauce over each portion as you serve it, and sprinkle it with a little chopped parsley.

Wild BC Salmon with Homemade Tartar Sauce and Tomato Salad

Makes 4 servings

Rob Clark is the best seafood chef in Vancouver, and that’s saying something. This is his recipe, adapted for the grill. It’s a sophisticated version of a salmon grilling technique I learned many years ago that’s as easy as pie and as delicious as it gets. The concept is to slather a side of salmon with mayo, put it on a hot grill, skin side down, and cook it until the salmon is done and the mayo has sort of set, like a savory pudding, on the fish. Pair this salmon with some BC Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

For the tartar sauce:
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
2 tsp | 10 mL dried dill
3 Tbsp | 45 mL finely chopped cornichons (gherkins)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped stuffed green olives
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped shallots 
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped capers
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard 15 mL

For the salmon:
four 6 oz | 175 g  boneless wild BC salmon fillets (skin on) (Rob prefers pink salmon but coho or sockeye also work well)
sea salt

For the tomato salad:
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp | 10 mL rice wine vinegar
1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely minced shallot
1/8 tsp | .5 mL cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 medium fresh heirloom tomatoes (yellow ones work nicely)

            Prepare the tartar sauce by combining the mayonnaise, dill, cornichons, olives, shallots, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and mustard until well blended. Set the mixture aside.
            Prepare the tomato salad by whisking together all the ingredients except the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch | 6 mm rounds. Gently toss the tomato slices in the vinaigrette and divide the salad between 4 serving plates.
            Season the salmon fillets with salt and let them sit for 10 minutes.
            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Place the salmon fillets, skin-side-down, on the cooking grate and slather each of them with 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of the tartar sauce. Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 5–7 minutes, until the fillets reach an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C.
            To serve the salmon, place the fillets on the plates beside the tomato salad and finish the dish with a dollop of the remaining tartar sauce.

Barbecue Secrets Episode 18 - a chat with the Godfather of Zin

Aug 10, 2013 50:27

Description:

Welcome to episode 18 of the Barbecue Secrets Podcast!

Click on the little "pod" icon to the left of the episode title above to listen to the show. You can subscribe to it for free on iTunes here. You can also get a handy Android app to hear the latest show and dive into the back catalogue for only $3.99. Find out how at the end of this post!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE 18

In this episode I sift through the ashes of my team's spotty performance at the Canadian National BBQ Championships in Whistler, B.C. At some point I guess I'm going to have to start referring to myself as a former barbecue champion.  Although they can't ever take all those cheap plastic trophies away from me. 

Friday Event_Trade Invite FINALAfter a bit of post-Whistler soul-searching interspersed with some audio snippets from the contest, it's time to share my conversation with the Godfather of Zin, Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood Winery and California wine legend. Joel and I have done a couple of wine/food events together and he is one of the best storytellers I've ever met. I'm delighted that he agreed to tell my favorite from his youth -- a hilarious wine-making near-disaster that never fails to generate side-splitting laughter.

Joel and I were written up in the local Whistler paper, The Pique. Check it out. 

For this week's recipe, I'm sharing our team's Championship Barbecue Chicken, which, with a few tweaks from chicken master Vince Gogolek, saved our dignity with a third place finish.

Tomahawk rib roastOh. One more thing. Here's a pic of the giant tomahawk rib roast I mentioned in the podcast. It placed fourth in the chef's choice category, but it was number one in my books as a piece of over-the-top barbecue theatre. 

I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Write me at rockinronnie at ronshewchuk.com, tweet me @rockinronnie, or post something on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page. Hey, if I get enough good questions, maybe I'll do a special Q&A edition of the show!

Get the Barbecue Secrets Android App!

You'll need the free Amazon Appstore app, which you can get by visiting this link on your Android phone. From the Amazon Appstore, search for Barbecue Secrets, pay using your Amazon account, and you're good to go!

 

Recipe of the Week: Championship Barbecue Chicken

Aug 10, 2013

Description:

This recipe was first developed by my old friend and fellow Butt Shredder, Ann Marie “Amo” Jackson and further refined by another Butt Shredder, Vince Gogolek. It has won us some trophies over the years. The sauces are based on recipes by Paul Kirk, the one and only Baron of Barbecue. The key with this recipe is to cook at a low heat and baste often to keep the skin moist and tender. You’ll have lots of barbecue sauce left over. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Makes 6–8 servings

For the chicken:

2 medium-sized chickens (4 to 5 lb | 1.8 to 2.2 kg), quartered and backbones removed

1 recipe Asian Poultry Brine (See recipe below)

For the barbecue sauce:

2 cups | 500 mL ketchup

1 cup | 250 mL white vinegar

1 cup | 250 mL dark brown sugar, tightly packed

1/2 cup | 125 mL pineapple juice

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne pepper or ground dried chipotles

For the chicken baste:

3/4 cup | 175 mL pineapple juice

2 Tbsp | 30 mL lime juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL butter, melted

2 Tbsp | 25 mL soy sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL clover honey

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh parsley

1 garlic clove, smashed or pushed through a garlic press

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

Marinate the chicken with the brine in a nonreactive pot in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, or even overnight.

            Make the barbecue sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer it for 15–20 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Cool it.

            Make the baste by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat it just enough to melt the butter. Keep it warm. It’s best freshly made, but it can be kept in a covered nonreactive container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

            Take the chicken pieces out of the brine and pat them dry. At this point, you can sprinkle them with a little barbecue rub, but it’s not necessary.

            Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Line the drip pan of your smoker with a double layer of foil and fill it with apple juice.

            Place the chicken pieces in the smoker. Cover it and cook the chicken for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, painting the chicken with the baste every 15 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thigh joint reaches 160°F | 71°C. Give the chicken a coat of the barbecue sauce and cook it another 5 minutes. Transfer it to a serving platter, tent it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 5–10 minutes. Serve it with some barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

[Alternate method for a gas grill: use low indirect cooking and some wood chips wrapped in foil placed above a burner to emulate a smoker.]

Asian Poultry Brine

Makes enough for 2 cut-up chickens or a dozen thighs

The high salt content makes this more of a brine than a marinade, and my barbecue team has used it very successfully in competition. It gives the poultry a nice saltiness and a rich, complex Asian flavor. I marinate duck overnight in this; for milder-tasting chicken, a couple of hours is all you need. Pat the excess moisture from the meat after you’ve taken it out of the marinade and then use a barbecue rub doctored with Asian flavors, like powdered ginger and five-spice powder. Don’t be tied to the recipe above; barbecue or grill as you like, and finish the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce.

11/2 cups | 375 mL water

1 cup | 250 mL soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL sherry or vermouth

1/2 cup | 125 mL apple or pineapple juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL brown sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL coarse salt

2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed

1 shallot, minced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL grated fresh ginger

1 tsp | 5 mL sesame oil

pinch ground cloves

pinch five-spice powder

Combine all the ingredients well, stirring thoroughly to dissolve the salt and sugar.

 


 

 

 

The Barbecue Secrets Podcast has an Android app!

Aug 9, 2013

Description:

Big news! You can now get the Barbecue Secrets Podcast app for your Android phone for just $3.99!

All you have to do is install the Amazon Appstore app (it's free) by visiting this link on your Android phone.

From the Amazon Appstore, search for Barbecue Secrets, pay using your Amazon account, and you're good to go.

Of course, you don't need the app to listen to the show. You can find every episode here on the show blog, and if you're an Apple fan you can subscribe to the show for free on iTunes here.

 

Barbecue Secrets Episode #17 - An Audience with Barbecue Queen Karen Adler

Aug 3, 2013 01:04:57

Description:

Welcome to episode 17 of the Barbecue Secrets Podcast!

Click on the icon to the left of the episode title above to listen to the show. You can subscribe to it for free on iTunes here.

You can also get a handy Android app to hear the latest show and dive into the back catalogue for only $3.99. You'll need the free Amazon Appstore app, which you can get by visiting this link on your Android phone. From the Amazon Appstore, search for Barbecue Secrets, pay using your Amazon account, and you're good to go!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE 17

GardenerandGrill cover shotThis show features a conversation with another barbecue icon, the wonderful, wise and funny Karen Adler, who has written some fabulous cookbooks, many of them in collaboration with her friend and fellow Barbecue Queen Judith Fertig. Their latest is The Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill. 


In the show I asked Karen to name some of her favorite cookbooks. She recommends:

Michael Chiarella's Live Fire America's Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Back Yards, by Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue, by Jeff Phillips, and Championship Barbecue Secrets for Real Smoked Food by Karen Putman and Judith Fertig. 

AmericasBestBBQHomestyleSM Championship BBQ SecretsSmoking MeatSMMChiarellaqLiveFireSM

You can get all these books online through the usual sources, but I recommend that you buy them directly from Karen's book distribution business, Pig Out Publications

I also asked Karen to share a couple of her favourite recipes for the grill, which I posted on the blog last week. I encourage you to give them a try!

I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Write me at rockinronnie at ronshewchuk.com, tweet me @rockinronnie, or post something on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page

 

Recipes of the week from the BBQ Queens: Rainbow Carrots and Grilled Chocolate Crostini

Aug 1, 2013

Description:

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of interviewing Barbecue Queen Karen Adler for Episode #17 of the Barbecue Secrets Podcast (coming soon!). Karen was kind enough to share a couple of her favourite recipes from her and co-author Judith Fertig's cookbooks, The Gardener and the Grill, and BBQ Bash.  Visit Pig Out Publications to buy their books and shop for many more!

GardenerandGrill cover shotRainbow Carrots with Cilantro Chile Drizzle

Carrots make great container garden plants or fern-like borders in the garden. And they grow in different shapes (round, thin and long, or cylindrical) and colors (pale yellow, orange, dark pink, and purple). For grilling, we like Rainbow Hybrid (lots of different colors) or the traditional Nantes cylindrical orange carrot. Just pick the carrots when they’re about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, scrub off the garden soil, and trim back the tops a bit.  Then, brush them with olive oil and grill. Cilantro Chile Drizzle highlights the sweet flavor of this garden favorite. Adapted from The Gardener and the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. 

Serves 4

For the Cilantro Chile Drizzle:

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 canned ancho chile in adobo sauce

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

Kosher or sea salt to taste

For the grilled carrots

2 bunches baby carrots (about 16), trimmed, with some of the green tops

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher or sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro to garnish

For the Cilantro Chile Drizzle, combine the cilantro, 1 ancho chile, garlic, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, honey and oil in a food processor and process until emulsified. Salt to taste. Transfer to a jar with a lid. The drizzle will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Prepare an indirect fire in your grill.

Place the carrots in a 9 x 13-inch disposable aluminum pan, drizzle with olive oil, and salt to taste.

Place the carrots on the indirect or no-heat side of the grill and close the lid. Grill the carrots for 15 to 20 minutes or until the carrots are crisp-tender when pierced with a knife in the thickest part.

To serve, drizzle the carrots with some of the Cilantro Chile Drizzle and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

 

Barbecue Bash coverGrilled Chocolate Crostini

Who says dessert has to be difficult? This one is chic, but oh so easy. The Gardener and the Grill co-author Karen Adler remembers a delicious breakfast in Belgium with chocolate sprinkled on homemade buttered bread. Similar to s'mores, but not quite as messy, this is a grownup version for the grill. Serve with a bowl of juicy ripe strawberries. Adapted from BBQ Bash by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.

Makes 16 crostini

One 10-inch baguette

6 to 8 ounces good-quality milk or bittersweet chocolate, in bar or block form

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Coarse kosher or sea salt for sprinkling

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill.

Slice off the ends of the bread and then slice the bread on the diagonal 1/2-inch thick, to get 16 slices. Break or cut the chocolate into 16 pieces. Place bread, chocolate, oil, and salt on a baking sheet and carry out to the grill.

Drizzle the bread with a little bit of olive oil and place over the fire to toast (1 to 2 minutes). Turn bread over and place on the indirect-heat side of the grill. Place a piece of chocolate on each slice of bread. Close the grill lid and let heat for a couple of minutes. Remove the crostini from the grill and set on a serving dish. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and devour while warm.

 

BBQ Secrets #Sweet 16 - Brisket Secrets, a Texas BBQ Adventure, and a talk with Chris Lilly!

Jul 27, 2013 01:11:11

Description:

Welcome to episode 16 of Barbecue Secrets! Click here to listen to the show, or subscribe to it on iTunes here.

SHOW NOTES

BrisketIn the first segment I talk about brisket. Here's a link to my brisket recipe (along with a bonus lamb dish).


The second segment of the show features highlights of my trip to Central Texas a few years ago that includes behind-the-scenes visits to Smitty's Market and Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que in Lockhart, Texas and Southside Market in nearby Elgin. I made a short YouTube video about my adventure that you can watch here

Chris Lilly portraitI saved the best for last. Legendary pitmaster Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Find Chris on Twitter @chrislillybbq, follow him on Facebook and buy his Big Bob Gibson BBQ Book. It's one of the best you'll ever see, full of great tips, stories and recipes. 

I'd love to hear from you -- write me at rockinronnie at ronshewchuk.com, tweet me @rockinronnie, or post something on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the icon next to the title of this blog post, but one of the easiest and best ways to listen to the show is to subscribe to it through the iTunes store. The latest show will automatically download to your Mac, PC or iPhone. It's convenient, and it's free. Find Barbecue Secrets on iTunes here

 

Recipes of the week: Chris Lilly's Airline Chicken Breast and Ronnie's Summer Potato Salad

Jul 26, 2013

Description:

Chris Lilly's Airline Chicken Breast with Basil Butter and Summer Potato Salad with Dill and Spring Onions

This recipe is from the award-winning cookbook, Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book. Award-winning author Chris Lilly was kind enough to share it with me as the Barbecue Secrets Podcast Recipe of the Week. (The podcast will be coming out tomorrow, Friday July 26, watch for it!) This is one of the most delicious chicken recipes, and with only five ingredients (plus a little smoke), it’s one of the simplest. It's written for a charcoal or wood-burning cooker, so I’ve adapted it slightly to include cooking on a gas grill.

Chris calls it airline chicken breast because it’s a skin-on breast with only the drumette of the wing attached. In his book he says, “back when commercial airlines still served real meals …. Leaving a portion of the wing attached to the small chicken breast made the serving look larger while still allowing it to fit nicely into an airline food tray.”

I think you’re going to find it will send your taste buds on a first-class flight! 

Serves 4

Cooking Method: Direct and Indirect Heat

Suggested Wood: Hickory, Pecan or Oak

Cooking time: 40 minutes

4 chicken breasts (skin-on breast with only the wing drumette attached)

Kosher salt

Black pepper

 

Basil Butter

12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter

½ cup chopped fresh basil

With a sharp knife, remove the bones and cartilage form the underside of each chicken breast. The only bone left in the breasts should be the drumette bone. Season the chicken breasts lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Prepare your grill for high indirect cooking. If it’s a charcoal grill, build a charcoal or wood fired on one side of the grill, leaving the other side void. If it’s a gas grill, preheat the grill on high and then turn half the burners off, so that one area of the cooker can be used for direct cooking and the other for indirect cooking. The heat inside the gas grill cooking chamber or above the hot coals should be very hot (approximately 450 – 500°F).

Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the basil and mix well. Please the chicken breasts directly over the coals or on the cooking grate that has the flame under it, and baste with half the basil butter. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Transfer the chicken to a shallow baking pan, skin side up, and place it over the void/flameless side of the grill. Baste with the remaining basil butter. Cover the grill and cook with indirect heat (approximately 400°F) for an additional 35 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 160°F. Slice the chicken breasts across the skin into small medallions to serve.

Summer Potato Salad with Dill and Spring Onions

This is a great dish to make when summer produce markets are at their peak, which is about now.

3 lbs small to medium-sized new potatoes (or Yukon Gold or red potatoes)

1/3 to 1/2 cup light olive oil

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup coarsely chopped spring onion bulbs, green stalks removed, or the same amount of a sweet white or purple onion

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Juice of half a lemon (or to your taste)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt or French sea salt (or to your taste)

Juice of half a lemon

Wash the potatoes and use a paring knife to trim off any black bits or blemishes. Place the potatoes in a big pot and fill with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they can be easily stabbed right through to the centre with a sharp knife. Be sure not to over-cook them! Remove the pot from the heat, drain the potatoes and then stop the cooking by re-filling the pot with cold water. Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool.

When the potatoes are cooled, cut them into bite-sized chunks and place them in a salad bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust the amounts of oil, salt and lemon juice to your taste. You want the salad to be nice and moist from the oil, and with enough salt to bring out all the fresh flavours of the potatoes, onion and dill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes of the Week: My Favourite Rubs

Jul 20, 2013

Description:

Here is a collection of some of my favourite rubs, from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! You can buy a hard copy online at Amazon or Indigo/Chapters, or an e-book on the iTunes Store or on kobobooks.com.

Rockin’ Ronnie’s Grilling Rub

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

I like to use this combination of seasonings for everyday grilling (grilling rubs contain little or no sugar because the higher heat of grilling would make a sugary rub turn black). It perfectly balances the earthiness of the toasted cumin, the sharpness of ground pepper, the smokiness and heat of the ground chipotles, and the natural sweetness of the ancho chile, granulated onion, and garlic. 

4 Tbsp | 60 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL ground pepper

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ground toasted cumin seeds

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground oregano

2 Tbsp | 25 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles

(if you can’t find this, substitute cayenne)

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

Texas-style Rub

Makes about 2 cups | 500 mL

Everyone has a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone in Texas with a great rub recipe. This one came to me through occasional Butt Shredder and barbecue enthusiast Ian “Big Daddy” Baird. The cayenne gives it a nice burn. Use it as an all-purpose rub, but it really makes brisket sing.

3/4 cup | 175 mL paprika

1/4 cup | 50 mL kosher salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL ground black pepper

1/4 cup | 50 mL chile powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL garlic powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL onion powder

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne, or to taste

 Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

These days, food lovers tend to shy away from dried herbs in favor of the fresh ones that are so readily available. We tend to associate unpleasantly stale, dirty flavors with dried herbs, but that’s probably because we use them so rarely that the ones in our pantry are too old. Dried herbs, when used within a few months of purchasing them, can add a wonderful earthiness and complexity to grilled foods. In fact, the high heat of grilling often destroys the delicate flavors of fresh herbs. In most cases fresh herbs, other than the very strong rosemary and sage, are best used after your meat is off the grill, as a finely chopped sprinkle to add color and aroma. Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

Jamaican-style Dry Jerk Seasoning

Classic jerk is made with a wet marinade and takes time to prep and more time to marinate your meat. This rub gives chicken, pork, or snapper—or whatever else you’re grilling—a classic Jamaican flavor without any fuss.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL granulated onion

2 Tbsp | 30 mL dried onion flakes (get flakes that aren’t too big)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground dried thyme

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

2 tsp | 10 mL ground allspice

1/2 tsp | 5 mL freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp | 5 mL ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp | 15 mL sugar

2 tsp | 10 mL freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp | 10 mL cayenne or chipotle powder

1 1/2 Tbsp | 22.5 mL dried chives

Note: Double or quadruple this recipe so you have some on hand. It’s super easy to make a great jerk marinade simply by whizzing 1/2 cup | 125 mL of this rub in a food processor with a splash of cooking oil, a chopped habanero  chile, a chopped onion, and some chopped scallions.

Cajun Rub

Makes about a half cup of rub.

This is a great all-around grilling or blackening rub that showcases the classic flavors of Cajun cooking.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sweet paprika

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL white pepper

1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried oregano leaves

1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried thyme leaves

Mix the rub ingredients together.

Barbecue Secret

The high sugar content of a barbecue rub works well at the low temperatures needed to cook classic barbecue, creating a rich, dark mahogany color. But for grilling, a sugary rub tends to make your meat char too quickly. When you’re cooking over direct high heat, use a rub that has little or no sugar.

Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawrey’s)

1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)

1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper

1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

 

BBQ Secrets #15: National BBQ Day!

Jul 14, 2013 01:26:33

Description:

Hey barbecue fans, welcome to edition #15 of the show! 

I'd love to hear from you -- write me at rockinronnie at ronshewchuk.com, tweet me @rockinronnie, or post something on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the icon next to the title of this blog post, but one of the easiest and best ways to listen to the show is to subscribe to it through the iTunes store. The latest show will automatically download to your Mac, PC or iPhone. It's convenient, and it's free. Find Barbecue Secrets on iTunes here

SHOW NOTES

Gary johnstone
IMG_0798This week's show features a call with Peter Kapler, Executive Director of Meal Exchange, to find out about Canada's National BBQ Day, plus interviews with two old friends, Gary Johnstone of Johnstone's Barbecues and Parts and Denzel Sandberg, my partner-in-sauce and owner of Denzel's Gourmet Foods



RECIPES OF THE WEEK - Planked Salmon Two Ways

MORE LINKS

Here's the official announcement of our new Canadian Maple flavour of Ronnie & Denzel's NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ Sauce.

My cookbook Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like chapters.ca and amazon.com. It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and kobobooks.com

For more about me, visit www.ronshewchuk.com.

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Planked Salmon Two Ways

Jul 13, 2013

Description:

To help celebrate National Barbecue Day tomorrow (July 13), I'm sharing a couple of great planked salmon recipes, including one from the father of barbecue in Canada, the late, great David Veljacic.

Cedar-planked Salmon with Canadian Maple BBQ Sauce

Makes 6–8 servings

This is about as Canadian as you can get, barbecue-wise. For this recipe we’ve recommended Ronnie & Denzel’s new BBQ sauce, Canadian Maple, but you can substitute your favourite barbecue sauce – the sweeter and tangier, the better. Note: Wild BC sockeye and spring salmon are in season right now. 

1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 2 hours

A spray bottle filled with water (in case of flare-ups)

1 whole, boned fillet of wild Pacific salmon, about 3 lb  | 1.5 kg, skin on

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion (or onion powder, if you can’t find granules)

½ cup Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS Canadian Maple BBQ Sauce (or your favourite sauce) 

A head of green leaf lettuce

Lemon wedges and parsley sprigs for garnish

            Season the skinless side of the salmon with salt, pepper, and granulated onion. Let the salmon sit for 10–15 minutes at room temperature, until the rub is moistened.

            While the salmon is sitting, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season the plank with kosher salt and place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.

            Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. When the salmon is nearly done, apply a light glaze of the barbecue sauce with a basting brush. Check it periodically to make sure the plank doesn’t catch fire, and spray the burning edges with water if it does, making sure to close the lid afterwards.

            When the salmon is done, apply one more light coating of barbecue sauce and transfer the fish, plank and all, to a heatproof platter that you’ve artfully covered with lettuce leaves to make a kind of bed for the salmon and the plank. Garnish the salmon with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges and bring it to the table for your guests to enjoy.

 

The Fire Chef’s BBQ Salmon on a Plank

Makes 4–6 servings

The late David Veljacic was the father of barbecue in Canada, founding the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in New Westminster back in 1988. David was a firefighter, hence his nickname, “The Fire Chef.” He was diagnosed with cancer several years before he succumbed to it in 2001, and while on medical leave he wrote cookbooks and taught barbecue and grilling to a generation of backyard cooks. This is his most famous recipe, adapted for the plank. 

For the marinade:

1/3 cup | 75 mL finely chopped parsley

3 Tbsp | 45 mL oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup | 75 mL extra virgin olive oil

For the salmon:

1 alder, cedar or hickory plank, soaked overnight

or at least 1 hour

one 21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet,

skin on

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below), cloves squeezed out of their skins

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the fillet in a nonreactive dish (a lasagna pan would do). Pour the marinade over the fillet. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

            Score the salmon with 2 long slits along the length of the fillet. Don’t cut all the way through the fish. Mash the salt together with the roasted garlic and spread the mixture over the fillet and into the slits. Re-coat the fillet with the marinade after you’ve spread the garlic paste over it.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Place the salmon on the plank and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook it for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Remove the plank and the salmon from the grill and serve it. 

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

 

 

 

It's time for a truly Canadian barbecue sauce!

Jul 13, 2013

Description:

News Release

July 12, 2013

It’s time for a truly Canadian barbecue sauce!

Introducing Canadian Maple: a new addition to an award-winning line of BBQ Sauces

ENDERBY, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Look out, Kansas City! Move over, Texas! Make room for a new regional barbecue sauce: Canadian Maple, the latest addition to the award-winning line of Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ Sauces.

“Although Canada doesn't have the rich tradition of the US when it comes to barbecue, we’re hoping to establish one with this distinctly flavoured sauce,” says Denzel Sandberg. “Ronnie and I are real proud of this one.”

Sandberg and barbecue evangelist Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk introduced Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ Sauces in 2009 as a tribute to four of their favourite regional barbecue styles – Kansas City Style, Southwestern Red, Honey Mustard (a Carolina-style sauce) and Island Heat (a cross between a traditional barbecue sauce and spicy Jamaican jerk).

The sauces have earned a strong following among folks who appreciate tasty, locally made products featuring natural ingredients, and they’ve won scads of awards. But for Ronnie and Denzel, something was missing. For over two years they experimented with new combinations of ingredients, striving for a truly Canadian taste.

“What could be more Canadian than maple syrup?” asks Ronnie. “We’re using Canada No. 1 grade Quebec maple syrup along with traditional barbecue sauce ingredients, and we think it’s a real winner."

“Canadian Maple goes great with all the usual suspects – beef, chicken and pork,” says Denzel. “But it’s also awesome on planked salmon, and wild meats like venison or moose. To be honest, I think it would even make another Canadian classic, roadkill, taste good!”

Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ products are available at many fine retailers in BC and Alberta, including Save On Foods, Whole Foods, The Gourmet Warehouse, Edible Canada and Well Seasoned: A Gourmet Food Store in BC, and Calgary’s Cookbook Co. Cooks.   

For more information, contact Ronnie or Denzel directly at the numbers and email addresses below, or visit the Natural Champions Real BBQ page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/natural.champions.bbq.

About Ronnie and Denzel

Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk has authored three bestselling BBQ cookbooks, including his latest, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! Ronnie was named one of “America’s greatest grillers” in Food & Wine magazine, and his competition barbecue team, the Butt Shredders, has a wall full of trophies. Ronnie is the host of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, available on iTunes and on the web. Find out more about Ronnie, including links to his Barbecue Secrets blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Denzel Sandberg’s sauces have won 25 international food awards, including the coveted Golden Chile at the 2005 Fiery Foods Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as several 1st place showings in the Scovie Awards held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Find out more about Denzel at www.denzelshotsauce.com.

Together, Ronnie and Denzel make award-winning Natural Champions BBQ sauces and Real BBQ products.

Contact info:

Ronnie Shewchuk, tel. 604-351-1999 or e-mail rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com.

Denzel Sandberg, tel. 250-838-0338 or e-mail denzel@denzelshotsauce.com

 

BBQ Secrets #14: Blues legend Amos Garrett and Kosta the Fishmonger, plus Ronnie's rotisserie tips

Jul 8, 2013 01:26:31

Description:

Hey barbecue fans, welcome to the latest edition of the podcast!

You can listen to this episode by clicking on the icon next to the title of this blog post, but one of the easiest and best ways to listen to the show is to subscribe to it through the iTunes store. The latest show will automatically download to your Mac, PC or iPhone. It's convenient, and it's free. Find Barbecue Secrets on iTunes here

SHOW NOTES

This week's show features talks with two legendary figures -- guitarist and blues icon Amos Garrett and fishmonger extraordinare Kosta Zogaris

Please write me at ron@ronshewchuk.com with any questions or comments. I'd love to here from you!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Kosta’s Grilled Halibut

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Make sure to scrape the grill before you put the halibut on. 

A nice piece of boneless, skinless halibut

Kosher salt or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Dried oregano leaves

Lemon

Season the halibut with salt and pepper and drizzle a little oil on each side.

Just before you’re ready to cook, put some oil on a scrunched up paper towel and oil the cooking grates (be careful not to burn yourself). Place the halibut on the grill. As you put it on, use your tongs to move it back and forth along the cooking grate for the first few seconds to help avoid sticking. Turn it after just one or two minutes and close the grill. The halibut is done when it’s firm to the touch, or it reads 130F at its thickest part.

Remove the halibut from the grill, let it rest for a couple of minutes and finish it with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of oregano and a drizzle of oil.  Serve it garnished with a lemon wedge with some rice and grilled veggies.

LINKS

You can find Amos Garrett's home page here, and there's a great listing on Wikipedia, too. For more about Kosta, including links to lots of great seafood recipes, go here

My cookbook Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like chapters.indigo.ca and amazon.ca in Canada, and Amazon.com. It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and kobobooks.com.

For more about me, visit www.ronshewchuk.com.

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Halibut Two Ways

Jul 6, 2013

Description:

My friend Kosta the Fishmonger is the owner/operator of The Salmon Shop at North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay. Kosta has been a regular on CKNW, and is one of the best cooks I know. On this week's podcast (coming out soon) I asked him to share one of his favourite seafood recipes. It’s about as simple, and as delicious, as it gets. 

Kosta’s Grilled Halibut

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Make sure to scrape the grill before you put the halibut on. 

A nice piece of boneless, skinless halibut

Kosher salt or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Dried oregano leaves

Lemon

Season the halibut with salt and pepper and drizzle a little oil on each side.

Just before you’re ready to cook, put some oil on a scrunched up paper towel and oil the cooking grates (be careful not to burn yourself). Place the halibut on the grill. As you put it on, use your tongs to move it back and forth along the cooking grate for the first few seconds to help avoid sticking. Turn it after just one or two minutes and close the grill. The halibut is done when it’s firm to the touch, or it reads 130F at its thickest part.

Remove the halibut from the grill, let it rest for a couple of minutes and finish it with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of oregano and a drizzle of oil.  Serve it garnished with a lemon wedge with some rice and grilled veggies.

Halibut and Morel Hobo Packs

Makes 4 individual portions

These hobo packs really pack a punch when it comes to flavour. The halibut and morel combination is a rich dish combining lots of complementary flavours and textures, and the aroma when you open up the pack on your plate is out of this world. Serve these with a simple green salad and some nice French bread to sop up all the rich juice.

You can, of course, adapt this recipe so you’re cooking all four pieces of halibut, or one bigger piece, at once, which is slightly less fussy (but still pretty fussy).

four 8 oz | 250 g halibut fillets

4 slices of double-smoked bacon

1 large white onion

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

1 lb | 500 g fresh morel mushrooms, trimmed, washed well, and patted dry (other kinds of mushrooms will do, but they won’t be as flavourful; if you use button mushrooms, thinly slice them)

¼ lb | 125 g butter

truffle oil

1 cup | 250 mL heavy cream

1/2 cup | 125 mL dry Riesling

½ cup chopped Italian parsley

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup | 60 mL chopped fresh chives

4 lemon wedges 

Cut the bacon slices in half and set them aside. Thinly slice the onion and the potatoes and set them aside. Slice the morels into 1/8 inch | 3 mm rounds and set them aside.

            Prepare 4 squares of doubled, wide aluminum foil (about 18 inches | 45 cm square). Lightly coat each square with butter, leaving about a 4 inch | 10 cm margin all the way around. Place two half slices of the bacon in the middle of each sheet of foil. Lay down a layer of onion slices on top of the bacon slices and give them a very light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Put a layer of potato slices over the onions and give them a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper and place them on top of the potatoes. Divide the morels into four equal portions and place them on top of the halibut. Sprinkle some chopped parsley over each pack.

            Gather the corners of the foil and shape them around each fillet so that when you pour the cream and wine in it won’t spill out. Pour a splash of the wine and ¼ cup of the cream into each pack. Drizzle a few drops of the truffle oil over each one and place a small daub of butter on top. Tightly seal each pack, taking care not to spill any of its precious contents. 

            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Place the hobo packs on the cooking grate and grill for 12–14 minutes. Remove one of the packs, open it, and test the potatoes for doneness. If they’re not quite tender yet, reseal the pack and put it back in the grill for another 3 or 4 minutes.

            Remove the packs from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes. Place them on serving plates and let your guests open them up and sprinkle the contents with chopped chives. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Listen to the Barbecue Secrets Podcast! New episodes every week. Easiest way to listen is to subscribe to the show (for free) on iTunes.


 

BBQ Secrets #13: The Joys of mezcal ... and Meathead tries to bust a BBQ myth

Jun 29, 2013 01:35:03

Description:

Before I get into this week's podcast, I want to make sure you know about one of the best ways to listen to the show. Subscribe to it through the iTunes store and it will automatically download to your Mac, PC or iPhone. It's convenient, and it's free. Find Barbecue Secrets on iTunes here

SHOW NOTES

This week's show is a doozy. I have a long, boozy, smoky talk with Eric Lorenz of Lorenz Agave Spirits, along with another busted barbecue myth from Meathead Goldwyn of amazingribs.com

Please write me at ron@ronshewchuk.com with any questions or comments. I'd love to here from you!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Oaxacan Daisy (Courtesy of Eric Lorenz)

1.5 oz Sombra Mezcal

1 oz. Cointreau

.75 oz. Meyer Lemon juice

Shake in iced cocktail shaker, then strain into coupe glass. Garnish with Meyer Lemon peel.

Super easy but surprisingly delicious!

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Mexican everyday book cover
This week I want to pay tribute to uberchef Rick Bayless for helping bring the flavours of Mexico to the North American home kitchen. Get his book, Mexican Everyday. Quick, easy recipes that make great-tasting meals -- many of which go well with mezcal!

LINKS

Eric Lorenze Portrait

More information about all the delicious mezcals Eric Lorenz and I tasted can be found on the products page of Lorenze Agave Spirits

MeatheadYou can find Meathead Goldwyn at amazingribs.com, on twitter @ribguy, and like him on Facebook.

My cookbook Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like chapters.indigo.ca and amazon.ca in Canada, and Amazon.com. It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and kobobooks.com.

For more about me, visit www.ronshewchuk.com.

 

 

Recipes of the Week: Delicious Summer Drinks

Jun 28, 2013

Description:

Generally I like to serve beer and wine to accompany grilled or barbecued food. Dry, hoppy beers go nicely with richer barbecue, as do fruity, spicy white wines like Gewürtztraminer and crisp, citrusy Sauvignon Blancs. And, of course, there’s nothing like a big chewy red like Ravenswood Zinfandel to go with steak or lamb. I recently discovered that the smoky, intense flavour of artisanal Mescal (a relative of Tequila) is insanely good with barbecue. More on that in my next podcast, coming soon!

The key to summer beverages is to maximize your eating and drinking pleasure, and one way to turn up the fun volume is to start off the party with a nice cocktail. Here are a few of my favorites.

 

Cuba Libre

Makes 1 drink

Have one of these and it’s summer … even if it’s 20 below zero.

11/2 oz | 45 mL best quality white rum (I like Appleton best)

1/4 fresh lime

cold Coca-Cola

1 lime slice

            Fill a highball glass with ice cubes, pour in the rum, squeeze in the lime juice, and top the glass up with Coke. Garnish the drink with the slice of lime.

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and Ginger

Makes 1 drink

These sneaky little cocktails are innocuous enough, until you’ve had a couple and your face starts to feel as if it’s made of rubber.

11/2 | 45 mL oz Pimm’s No. 1 Cup liqueur

cold ginger ale

1 orange slice

Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in the liqueur, top it with ginger ale, and garnish the drink with an orange slice.

Sangria

Makes one large pitcher full

Make this great Spanish-style cooler a day ahead to give all the flavors time to meld into the ultimate summer drink.

2 bottles of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, or Shiraz)

2 tsp | 10 mL Cointreau

2 oz | 60 mL Brandy

2 oz | 60 mL Curacao

4 Tbsp | 60 mL Sugar

2 navel oranges, cut into ½ inch | 1 cm slices

2 ripe peaches, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch | 1 cm slices

2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch | 1 cm slices

half a ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch | 1 cm slices

2 cups | 500 mL club soda

Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a pitcher. Mix them together, cover the sangria, and refrigerate it, overnight if possible but for at least a couple of hours before serving. Just before serving, stir in the club soda. Serve the sangria in tall glasses.

Dirty Banana

Makes 1 drink

This rum-based drink, from my friend Chris Brown, makes any time, or day, or location, a tropical celebration.

11/2 oz | 45 mL Appleton Estate VX

1/2 oz | 15 mL Sangster’s Jamaica Rum Cream

2 oz | 60 mL pineapple juice

2 oz | 60 mL orange juice

quarter of a banana

(half if you really like banana)

fresh fruit for garnish

Blend the ingredients until they’re smooth. Serve the drink in a hurricane glass. Garnish it with fresh fruit. 

Rocky Mountain Margaritas

Makes 2 blenders of margaritas, enough for 8 to 12 drinks

I call these Rocky Mountain Margaritas because the blue curaçao combined with the green limeade concentrate gives the drinks an emerald glow like a glacier-fed river or a high mountain lake.

2 fresh limes, cut into wedges

kosher salt

1 12 oz | 350 mL container limeade concentrate,

thawed

1 cup | 250 mL water

1 81/2 oz | 235 mL bottle lime juice from concentrate

10 oz tequila

6 oz blue Curaçao (or Triple Sec) 

Pour 2 Tbsp | 25 mL of coarse salt onto a small plate. Wet the rims of 4 large margarita glasses (or however many you’re serving) with a wedge of lime and dip the rims into the salt. Set the glasses aside. Combine the thawed limeade concentrate, water, lime juice, tequila, and blue Curaçao in a jug or a large measuring cup. Fill a blender with ice cubes. Pour in the mixture to cover the ice cubes and whiz it until it has the consistency of a Slurpee. Fill the glasses and go for it!

Ack-Ack-a-Daq!

One batch makes one blender of daquiris, enough for 4–6 drinks

This, my friends, is the ultimate summer blender drink. It should only be made when local peaches are at the peak of their ripeness, the sky is deep blue, and the ambient temperature is over 90˚F | 32˚C. This is the kind of drink that should be hand-delivered to your beautiful wife as she reads a trashy novel in a chaise longue wearing a cheap straw hat. One of these and she will love you forever. Two of them and she will love you as soon as she’s finished the drink.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL sugar

ice cubes

3 or 4 ripe fresh peaches, peeled,

pitted and cut into chunks

5 oz | 30 mL white rum

11/2 oz | 45 mL peach schnapps

chilled soda water

sugar to taste

fresh lime juice to taste

Rim four wide-mouthed glasses with the sugar and set them aside. Fill a blender about half full with ice cubes. Place the peach chunks on top of the ice. Pour the rum and schnapps into the blender, then top them up with soda water to cover the ice and peaches. Whiz the mixture in the blender until it’s smooth and frothy. Jack up the flavor with a little sugar and some fresh lime juice (that’s especially important if the peaches aren’t quite ripe). Pour the daquiris into the glasses and serve them immediately.

Oaxacan Daisy

(from my friend Eric Lorenz, a Vancouver-based importer of fine tequilas and mescals.

 Find him at http://www.agavespirits.com/)

1.5 oz Sombra Mezcal

1 oz. Cointreau

.75 oz. Meyer Lemon juice

Shake in iced cocktail shaker, then strain into coupe glass. Garnish with Meyer Lemon peel.

Super easy but surprisingly delicious!

 

 

 

BBQ Secrets #12: Checking in With Old Friends

Jun 22, 2013 01:12:11

Description:


When I launched this podcast back in 2006, I had some superb guests. I thought it would be fun to re-connect with some of them and find out how they've been up to.

It was great fun to get caught up with Jackie Weight, the first and only non-American, and the first woman, to win the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue, way back in 2004. Jackie recounts the story of the contest that changed her life and talks about the evolution of Southern-Style Barbecue in the UK. Jackie with Trophy

MeatheadI also touched based with Meathead Goldwyn, the founder of amazingribs.com. When I first talked with Meathead he had just launched the site, which has grown over the years to become the most popular barbecue destination on the internet. Meathead is a true barbecue geek. Maybe he's the king of all barbecue geeks. Obsessed with the science of outdoor cooking, he's assumed the role of a kind of barbecue iconoclast -- think of a cross between Alton Brown and Discovery Channel's Mythbusters. He's sharp, he's funny, and he's opinionated to say the least.

Meathead is going to be a regular guest on the show, busting a new myth with each appearance. In this episode he deconstructs one of the most famous grilling techniques, Beer Can Chicken.

LINKS

Recipes of the week: Southwestern Style Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich and Tuscan Grilled Game Hens.

Cookbook of the week: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee.

Jackie Weight is on twitter @MadCowsBBQ and you can find her company on the web at bbqconsultant.co.uk.

You can find Meathead at amazingribs.com, on twitter @ribguy, and like him on Facebook.

The recipes above are from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like chapters.indigo.ca and amazon.ca in Canada, and Amazon.com. It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and kobobooks.com.

For more about me, visit www.ronshewchuk.com.

 
Photo copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Recipes of the Week: SW Chicken Club and Tuscan Grilled Game Hens

Jun 21, 2013

Description:

Tuscan Grilled Game Hens

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 servings as part of a multi-course meal

This is a delicious way to enjoy Cornish game hens. Serve these with some grilled vegetables and your favorite risotto, polenta, or pasta with a creamy sauce. If time allows, season the hens and refrigerate them for several hours before cooking them.

2 Cornish game hens

1/4 medium onion

3 large cloves garlic

1/4 cup | 50 mL tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried basil

1/4 tsp | 1 mL dried oregano

1/4 tsp | 1 mL dried marjoram

4 slices (11/2 to 2 oz | 40 to 50 g) pancetta, chopped

5 Tbsp | 75 mL high-quality balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 to 1 cup | 125 to 250 mL dry white wine

1/2 cup | 125 mL olive oil

fresh parsley or thyme sprigs, for garnish

Wash the hens and pat them dry with paper towels. Mince the onion, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, and pancetta by hand or in a food processor. Blend 2 tsp | 10 mL of the vinegar with the 1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil and add it to the mixture. Season it with salt and pepper.

            Cut out the hens’ backbones and open them out flat, skin side up. With your palm, firmly press down on the breast area to flatten the hens. Stuff most of the herb mixture under the skins of the thighs, legs, and breasts. Rub the rest all over the hens.

            Prepare your grill for medium indirect cooking with a pan underneath the cooking grate to catch the drippings. Combine the wine and the 1/2 cup | 125 mL oil. When your grill is up to temperature, place the birds skin side up on the grate above the drip pan. Grill them for 20 minutes, baste them with the wine mixture, and turn them. Cook them for another 20 minutes, basting and turning them every 5 minutes or so, until the internal temperature at the base of each thigh is 160˚F | 71˚C. If the hens are not golden brown by this time, crisp them, skin side down, over direct heat for a few minutes, watching out for flare-ups, before taking them off the grill.

Let the hens rest for 5 minutes tented with foil. Drizzle them with oil, season them with salt and pepper, and garnish them with fresh parsley or thyme sprigs before serving them.

Southwestern Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

Makes 2–4 servings

You may never go back to Subway after eating this juicy, tender chicken club sandwich, a great post-golf Saturday lunch. Serve it with cold beer or a crisp, fruity white wine.

For the rub:

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground coriander seed

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground toasted cumin seed

1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

To make the sandwiches:

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fillet removed

extra virgin olive oil

4 soft white hoagie buns

softened butter

granulated garlic

1 lemon

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup | 250 mL Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Aïoli (see recipe below)

1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and dried

2 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 purple onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine the rub ingredients in a medium bowl and set the rub aside. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat.

            Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag (or between two sheets of plastic wrap), and pound them with a mallet or champagne bottle (they’re sturdier than regular wine bottles) until they are flattened to an even 1/2 inch | 1 cm thickness. Place the flattened breasts on a platter or cookie sheet and sprinkle each breast generously with the rub on both sides. Drizzle the breasts with olive oil to moisten the rub.

            Prepare the buns by slicing them in half, buttering them, and sprinkling the buttered sides with the granulated garlic. When the grill is hot, place the breasts, oiled side down, on the cooking grate, close the grill, and cook them for no more than 1–2 minutes per side. After you have turned the breasts, put the buns on the grill, buttered side down. When the breasts are just barely done and the buns are nicely toasted, transfer the breasts to one clean plate and the buns to another. Drizzle the breasts with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and season them with salt and pepper.

            Generously slather the toasted buns with the aïoli and make a bed of arugula on the bottom half of each bun. Place the chicken breasts on the arugula and top them with the tomato and onion slices, again seasoning the works with a little salt and pepper. Close the sandwiches, slice them in half and serve.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

Regular visitors will know I use this sauce in other recipes – it’s great on almost anything. Here’s the recipe again, for your convenience.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed

out of their skins (see recipe below)

1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made

from toasted cumin seeds)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce

(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

 Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

______________

The recipes above are from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like chapters.indigo.ca and amazon.ca in Canada, and Amazon.com. It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and kobobooks.com. For more about Ronnie, visit www.ronshewchuk.com.

 
Photo copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

BBQ Secrets #11: Richard Campbell's Paella on the Grill and a chat with Angie Quaale

Jun 15, 2013 01:39:20

Description:

I'm BAAAACK!

After a multi-year hiatus, the Barbecue Secrets Podast returns, better than ever. In this episode I connect with tech and barbecue geek Richard Campbell, who shares his recipe for Spanish-style Paella on the Grill and recounts his experience of regional barbecue in Romania, and I have an in-depth conversation with one of the leading lights in Canadian barbecue, Angie Quaale. 

Here's a link to more about Richard, and here's the recipe for Paella on the Grill. 

Here's more about Angie Quaale.

If you'd like to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, click here

You can buy my book, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, as an e-book or an old-school paper book in Canada at Indigo, and elsewhere on the net at places like amazon.com.

One last thing -- send me your questions, comments and suggestions to rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com, or post them on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page and I'll respond in future editions of this podcast. 

Hope you like it!

Ronnie

 

One more thin

Recipe of the week: Spanish-style Paella on the Grill

Jun 15, 2013

Description:

My friend Richard Campbell is one of the world’s leading podcasters, and he’s also a great outdoor cook. He taught me this great technique for cooking traditional Spanish style paella on the grill. I’ve tried it a few times now and it’s delicious and spectacular. The traditional way to cook paella is outdoors, over an open fire, in a specialized paella pan, which you can get at kitchenware shops or online at places like paellapans.com, amazon.ca, amazon.com, and creativecookware.com.

I have a Weber Summit grill that has a central burner called a “searing station” that helps concentrate heat on the paella pan but any regular-size gas grill would work here.

This is sized for an 18" paella pan.

Ingredients:

Two tablespoons of Spanish paprika (spicy or sweet, depending on taste)

One tablespoon of oregano

two pounds of boneless chicken thighs (skin on if you can get it)

a pound of fresh chorizo sausage (dried in a pinch, but fresh is better for this application)

A Spanish or other sweet onion

15-ounce can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano if you can get them)

Big bunch of flat leaf parsley

Four cloves of garlic

4 cups of short grained Spanish rice (Italian Arborio works well)

4 cups of chicken stock (low sodium of course)

1 cup of water

1 cup of dry white wine

1/4 cup of olive oil

Pinch of saffron

12-16 mussels

12-16 jumbo shrimp

Half a lobster tail per person (optional)

1/2 cup of frozen sweet peas

Lemon wedges

Good quality salt (Kosher or sea salt) and freshly ground black pepper

 Prep:

Mix up the paprika and oregano on a plate for dredging. Dredge the chicken thighs in the mixture, place in a zip lock bag to get tasty for a couple of hours before cooking.

Dice the onion, de-stem and chop the parsley (save a handful of leaves for garnish), coarse mince the garlic.

Drain and hand-crush the tomatoes, break 'em into fairly small pieces.

Put the saffron in a small bowl and soak in hot water to get that dye moving. (Be careful not to get anything on your clothes or wooden or marble countertops – it stains!)

Thick slice the chorizo.

Get your seafood ready by adding a bunch of ice and cold water to a big bowl, along with a handful of sea salt or Kosher salt.  Scrub and inspect all the mussels and drop them in the bowl. Peel and devein the shrimp and into the bowl. Drop the lobster tails in the bowl too (Richard normally gets frozen, which defrost nicely in the bowl.)

Cooking gear:

18-inch paella pan (or a similar large and shallow frying pan)

Tongs

Holding dishes for meat after cooking

Cook:

Preheat your grill on medium-high. Place the paella pan directly on the cooking grates in the centre of the grill. Add the olive oil and when it starts to shimmer, put in your chorizo. Turn the chorizo frequently – as you’re browning the sausage you’re flavoring the oil. When the chorizo is browned, transfer it to a holding dish and immediately add the chicken thighs.  Sear both sides, don't worry about cooking through, it'll get done when it goes back in. Remove chicken to holding pan. Salt and pepper the chicken as it comes out.

Lower the heat under the pan to medium. Make a sofrito by adding onion, garlic and parsley. Cook until the onions start to soften, then add the tomatoes. Wait till everything breaks down a bit and the excess liquid from the tomatoes is about gone and just starting to caramelize.

Add rice and stir it thoroughly into the sofrito to coat the rice. This is about the last time you'll get to stir the dish, so take your time and get everything even in the pan. You want to coat and lightly toast the rice.

Add the chicken stock, water, wine and saffron. Make sure the pan is more or less even - this is when you find out how level your grill is. Try not to stir the rice, rather turn and shake the pan a bit. If you stir, you'll make risotto.

After ten minutes, add the chicken and chorizo back in by pushing them into the rice. When it's all in, add in the mussels and shrimp, making sure they end up under the rice also (asbestos fingers help). You will struggle to get everything in the pan.

Let cook for at least 15 minutes, with the grill open (yes, you don’t need to close the grill – the Spanish have been cooking this in the open air for centuries). Make sure the pan is evenly heated, you might need to rotate it. You're not looking for a hard boil, but rather a steady bubble all around the pan.

While this is going on, split the lobster tails in half. They should be defrosted and plumped up from sitting in the sea water you made.

In the last five minutes of cooking, which is typically around the point that Richard says he’s panicking that the rice will overflow the pan, arrange the lobster tails on top in a nice pattern. The steam coming off the rice is enough to cook them, just wait until the shells change color.

Ultimately you're trying to cook down all of the moisture in the pan, so times are going to vary with heat. Richard says to just watch the pan. As soon as you smell a nutty smell of the rice starting to toast, you're done. If the lobster gets cooked first, turn up the heat a bit to hurry the process along.

Once you smell toasted rice, get the pan off the heat and let it rest at least five minutes.

While you're waiting, heat up the frozen sweet peas in the microwave and make some lemon wedges.

Garnish the paella with the peas, lemon wedges between the lobster tails and the parsley leaves you reserved.

All of the meat is optional - you can use whatever you want. Richard likes chorizo, but you can leave it out if you don't want spicy sausage. You can skip the lobster too if it’s just too dearly priced. You can also use clams instead of mussels, and go with different sizes of shrimp. Richard calls it a “refrigerator velcro kind of dish - I've offered to make vegetarian versions, but everyone wants the seafood.”

Serve the paella by presenting it on a heatproof mat or wooden cutting board, in the middle of your table, and let your guests have at it!

 

 

Recipe of the Week: Mediterranean Roast Chicken on the Grill

Jun 8, 2013

Description:

Makes 4 servings

This is a great way to roast chicken using indirect heat. If you’re using a gas grill, you can throw a chunk of hardwood over the burners to add some great barbecue flavour. Serve the chicken with your favorite roasted vegetables and Dilled Lemony Rice (see recipe below).

1 5-lb. | 2.2 kg chicken

kosher salt to taste

1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub (see recipe below)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion

1/2 tsp | 2 mL cayenne

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp | 5 mL lemon juice

Prepare your grill for indirect medium heat, with a drip pan underneath the unheated portion of the grill to catch the drippings. (Alternative method: prepare the grill for rotisserie cooking, with a drip pan underneath the roast.) Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Generously season it with salt and coat it with mustard. Combine the herbed rub, rosemary, pepper, garlic, onion, and cayenne in a small bowl. Coat the chicken with the mixture, patting it on with your hands to ensure it sticks. Drizzle the rubbed chicken with 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of the olive oil. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the unheated side of the cooking grate.

            In a small bowl, combine the rest of the oil with the lemon juice.

            Cook the chicken, using a small amount of fruitwood like apple or cherry as a flavoring agent, for about an hour, basting it every 20 minutes or so with the oil/lemon juice mixture, until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160˚F | 71˚C. Remove it from the grill, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 10–15 minutes. Carve it and serve it.

Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb, a couple of chickens, or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

 

Dilled Lemony Rice

 

Makes 8 servings

This sticky, fragrant rice is a great accompaniment to just about anything.

2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

4 cups | 1 L homemade or canned low-salt chicken stock

2 cups | 500 mL short-grain rice (sushi rice or Arborio rice would work well)

zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh baby dill

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1/4 tsp | 1 mL black or white pepper

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice

fresh dill fronds and lemon wedges, for garnish

Heat half the butter in a sauté pan over low-medium heat. Add the shallot and cook it until it’s soft, stirring it frequently, about 2 minutes. Set it aside. Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and return the stock to a boil. Just as the stock begins to boil, reduce the heat to low. Add the sautéed shallot, lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper and the remaining butter. Gently stir the rice to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Cover the saucepan and cook the rice for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, gently fluff the rice with a fork, transfer it to a serving bowl, garnish it with dill and lemon, and serve.

 

 

Recipe of the week: Beef Burger with Chile Butter Core, Dressed with Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo and Guacamole

Jun 1, 2013

Description:

Makes 4 large burgers

Disclaimer: This isn’t a simple recipe and it involves quite a bit of prep work. The chile butter and mayo need to be made in advance, so a little planning is necessary. Stuffing a disc of flavored butter into the burger patties takes a little practice, but the result will blow your guests away. Be sure not to turn the burgers until they’ve started to get firm, and keep an eye out for flare-ups.

Note: Warn your guests that the burgers have a molten filling or they could be in for a shock! In any case, have plenty of napkins at the ready. These are very juicy burgers.

 

For the chile butter:

1/2 lb | 250 g butter

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder

1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below)

1/2 tsp | 2 mL salt

 

For the guacamole:

2 large, ripe, but still firm avocados

2 ripe tomatoes

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime or lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped cilantro

3 tinned green chiles, rinsed, seeded, and chopped

1 finely minced jalapeño or serrano chile (optional)

kosher salt

 

For the burgers:

11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg ground beef, 

(20 percent fat)

1/4 cup | 50 mL cold water

1/2 tsp | 2 mL garlic salt

1/2 tsp | 2 mL onion salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL prepared mustard

granulated garlic

Your favorite grilling rub

1/4 cup | 50 mL Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo (see recipe below)

4 slices Jack cheese (optional)

4 hamburger buns

To make the chile butter, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend them together until they’re smooth. Transfer the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a tube 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends of the tube to close it, and place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. (It’s a good idea to make the mayo at the same time as you make the chile butter, as both improve when you let the flavors marry.)

            The guacamole doesn’t keep well and should be made no more than an hour before you put the burgers on the grill. To make it, peel the avocados and remove the pits. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and avocados. (You can mash the avocados as much as you like, but I prefer
a chunky guacamole.) Blend in the lime or lemon juice, garlic, chopped cilantro, green chiles, and hot chiles, if desired. Season the guacamole to taste with salt. Cover it and set it aside in a cool place.

            Combine the ground beef, water, garlic salt, and onion salt in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix the ingredients lightly with your hands, being careful not to overwork the beef. Split it into 4 equal portions and roll it into balls. Take the chile butter out of the freezer and slice off four 1⁄4-inch | 0.5 cm discs. Poke your thumb in the middle of each ball to create a hole and insert the disc of chile butter. Encase the butter in the burger as you shape it into a classic burger shape about 3⁄4-inch | 1.2 cm thick, ensuring that there are no openings where molten butter could run out. Set the rest of the chile butter aside to soften.

            Coat the burger patties lightly with the mustard and sprinkle them with a light coating of granulated garlic, then a light coating of the rub.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Place the burgers on the grill, close the cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook them for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye out for flare-ups. Turn them carefully, and cook them for another 5–8 minutes, or until the patties become firm, but not hard, to the touch. If you want to add cheese, place a slice on top of each patty about 2 minutes before you plan to take them off the grill.

            Transfer the burgers from the grill to a serving plate. Tent the burgers with foil and let them rest for 2–3 minutes. In the meantime, coat the cut side of each half of the buns with some softened chile butter, sprinkle them with a little granulated garlic, and toast them for 30–60 seconds on the grill.

            Dress the buns with a generous slather of chipotle mayo. Place the burgers on the buns and top each burger with a big dollop of guacamole. Cover the patties with the top half of the buns and serve.

 

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

 

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

 

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything.

 

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed

out of their skins

1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made

from toasted cumin seeds)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce

(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Whiz everything together in a food processor or blender and it's ready to eat. Store it in the fridge in a covered container. It gets better after a day or two.

 

 

 

Recipe of the Week: Big Daddy's Thai Chicken Thighs

May 25, 2013

Description:

 

Makes 4 servings

Ian “Big Daddy” Baird is a sometime member of The Butt Shredders barbecue team who has traveled in Asia. He tells me that one of the best pieces of meat he’s ever eaten was a whole chicken thigh and drumstick he purchased from a street vendor out the window of a train as he waited to cross the Thai/Malaysian border. He tried numerous times to re-create it himself, but it wasn’t until he married this recipe with real barbeque technique that he came close. Serve this chicken with some steamed rice, grilled veggies and cold beer.

For the chicken:

10 to 12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

6 Tbsp | 90 mL fresh lime juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL fresh orange juice

1/4 cup | 50 mL Thai fish sauce

1/4 cup | 50 mL peanut or canola oil

1/4 cup | 50 mL raw sugar or

lightly packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL Asian chili sauce

2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely minced ginger

5 to 10 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup | 50 mL minced fresh basil

1/4 cup | 50 mL green onions

1/4 cup | 50 mL cilantro

For the basting mixture:

1/2 cup | 125 mL peanut oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lime juice

Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat. Mix all the remaining ingredients together and put them in a resealable plastic bag. Place the chicken in the bag, remove the air, and seal it. Marinate the chicken at least
2 hours, and up to a maximum of 8 hours, in the fridge.

            If you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, prepare it for low to medium indirect cooking. (That’s where you turn off one or two burners completely and put whatever you’re cooking on that part of the grill, so your kind of baking rather than grilling. If you’re using a smoker, bring the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Make the basting mixture by combining the oil and lime juice in a bowl.

            Discard the marinade and cook the chicken on a covered grill for about an hour, turning it every 15 minute or so, or in the smoker for 21/2 hours, turning and basting it every hour. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat – it’s done when it reaches 160F at the thickest part next to the bone. If you wish, give the skin side a quick 30 seconds on a hot grill to really crisp the skin before you take it off the heat. Let it rest, tented with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

Recipe of the Week: Tasty Pork Tenderloin Treatments

May 18, 2013

Description:

These little cylinders of tender, juicy pork are a staple of Chinese cooking and are wonderful on the grill, and they’re also ideally suited to planking. They have just the right amount of surface area to cook quickly without losing moisture. They go with all flavors of smoke, from cedar to mesquite. And they take to marinades and rubs extremely well. Here are some basic techniques and a little collection of ideas for how to flavor pork tenderloin, but use your imagination and experiment with your favorite rubs, marinades, and basting sauces.

Technique

Marinate and/or rub the tenderloin and have it ready to go before you start the grill. (Three small tenderloins are usually enough for 4 servings.) I like to drizzle a little olive oil or vegetable oil on them just before putting them on the grill.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C.

Grilling

If you’re cooking the tenderloins on a gas or charcoal grill, it couldn’t be more simple. Make sure your cooking grate is clean (use a wire brush; I prefer to scrape the grate after the grill has been preheated), When your grill is preheated, just place the meat over direct heat and cover the grill. Use a pair of tongs to turn the tenderloins every few minutes, and cook until the temperature in the thickest part is 140F. (This will give you juicy pork cooked to a medium doneness. The internal temperature will come up slightly when you let the meat rest.) Take the meat off the grill and let it rest, tented loosely in foil, for about five minutes.

Plank Cooking

If you’re cooking the tenderloins on a plank, be sure to soak the plank in cold water for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Preheat the grill as described above. Place the soaked plank on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium and place the tenderloins on the plank (you can fit three or four on a plank, depending on the size of the tenderloins and the plank. Cook for 10 minutes, turn the meat, and cook for another 5–10 minutes, basting if you like, until the pork is springy to the touch or reaches an internal temperature of 140°F | 60°C. If you like, just before the tenderloins are ready, you can move the tenderloin from the plank onto the cooking grate and char the outside, or caramelize it if it’s coated with barbecue sauce

Finishing the Tenderloins

When they’re ready, take the tenderloins out of the grill, tent it in foil, and let it rest for a few minutes before serving it. Carve the tenderloin into 1⁄2- to 1-inch | 1 to 2.5 cm medallions and apply whatever sauce or garnish is called for.

Here are some wonderful ways to treat pork tenderloin, one of the most versatile and delicious meats:

Classic Barbecue: Coat the pork with ballpark mustard, then sprinkle it with your favorite barbecue rub. Cook it on a hickory or fruitwood plank till it’s nearly done and finish it with a light glaze of barbecue sauce. Serve more sauce on the side.

Easy Asian: Marinate the pork with soy or teryaki sauce and finish it with a coating of hoi sin sauce, plum sauce or an Asian-flavoured barbecue sauce.

Spice-Crusted: Season the pork with salt and pepper, drizzle it with oil, and coat it with minced garlic, toasted fennel and cumin seeds, and a little cinnamon. Serve it with chopped cilantro and your favorite chutney.

Balsamic: Coat the pork with balsamic reduction and, if you plan ahead, marinate it overnight. Before cooking, sprinkle on some chopped fresh rosemary and granulated garlic. Serve the pork with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a further drizzle of the balsamic reduction and some chopped fresh mint.

Harvest Time: Season the pork with salt and pepper and coat it with a rub made with light brown sugar, powdered ginger, a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of clove, and a little cayenne pepper. Baste it with melted apple jelly and serve it with baked apples or apple slices that have been fried in butter with a sprinkle of brown sugar added at the last minute.

Southwestern: Flavor the pork with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and granulated onion and serve it with wedges of lime, some salsa and cornbread or corn tortillas.

Recipes of the season, Christmas 2012 - Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Oysters and Leftover Turkey Quesadillas

Dec 25, 2012

Description:

Happy Holidays, everyone! Here are a couple of my favorite festive season recipes. Enjoy!


Bacon-Wrapped Oysters

Makes 4–6 appetizer-sized portions

This simple, old-fashioned way to grill oysters makes a great party appetizer.

1 pint | 500 mL container of large, fresh, shucked oysters
(about a dozen oysters)
1/4 lb | 125 g thinly sliced bacon, each slice cut in half
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Barbecue sauce or Louisiana-style hot sauce
           
Fry the bacon over medium heat in a heavy skillet until it’s cooked but not quite crispy. Place the cooked bacon strips on a paper towel and set them aside.
Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Drain the oysters and pat them dry with a paper towel. Wrap half a slice of cooked bacon around each oyster, skewering it with a wooden toothpick. Place the oysters on the cooking grate and grill them for 2 or
3 minutes per side, or until the bacon crisps and the oysters are cooked through and just starting to char. Remove them from the heat, place them on a platter, season them with salt and pepper, and pass them around with a bottle of hot sauce or some barbecue sauce in a little bowl for dipping.


Leftover Turkey Quesadillas

This is a superb, easy way to continue enjoying Christmas flavours and and excuse to fire up your grill over the holidays.

Ingredients:

Large wheat flour tortillas
Leftover turkey, shredded or chopped
Cranberry sauce
Monterey jack cheese, grated (mozzarella would also do)
Gouda cheese, grated (cheddar or any other flavourful, salty cheese would work great)
Thinly sliced jalapeño chile (or some of your favorite hot sauce)
Chopped parsley (optional)
Anything else that’s leftover from Christmas dinner, chopped up (Brussels sprouts, mashed potato, stuffing)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place a large flour tortilla on a cutting board or cookie sheet and cover half of it with a 1/4-inch | 5 mm layer of cheese – a mix of the jack and Gouda.

Layer on the toppings, taking care to distribute them evenly. Sprinkle the toppings with salt, pepper, and a little hot sauce or some slice jalapeños to taste. Coat the toppings with another thin layer of the grated cheeses. Fold over the tortilla and it’s ready to hit the grill.

To cook, preheat your charcoal or gas grill to a medium-high heat. Place the quesadilla directly on the grill and cook it for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the tortilla is toasted and slightly charred. Flip it with a big spatula and cook the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes. Take it off the grill, place it on a cutting board, and let it rest for a minute or two. Cut it into pizza-like slices with a big sharp knife.
 
Accompany the quesadillas with fresh salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for dipping. Quesadillas can also easily be made on a stovetop or on the propane burner on the side of your grill in a large, lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. You can prepare the quesadillas in advance and keep them covered and refrigerated for an hour or two before grilling (if you try to keep them overnight, however, the tortillas will get soggy).

 

Recipes of the week: Summer Salsas and Blackened Snapper on the Grill

Sep 8, 2012

Description:

This is the time when all the freshest ingredients are available locally. Visit your favorite farmer's market and find some ingredients to make a salsa, the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.

These recipes, and many more, are available in my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, available in bookstores and as an e-book from the Apple Store.


Black Bean and Grilled Corn Salsa

This salsa is great on grilled fish, but it also stands up on its own as a dip.

1 14 oz | 398 mL can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 whole fresh cobs of corn, shucked
1 tsp | 5 mL minced fresh jalapeño pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup | 80 mL chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup | 60 mL red onion, diced
1/4 cup | 60 mL fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, squeezed)
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
1 avocado
tortilla chips for dipping

Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Grill the corn until the kernels turn a bright yellow and there’s some nice charring. Remove the cobs from the grill and let them cool long enough so you can handle them. Cut the corn from the cobs with a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline.

Combine all the ingredients, except the avocado and chips, in a bowl. Cover and chill the mixture for at least two hours. Dice the avocado and add it just before serving the salsa with the chips.


Chimichurri

Makes about three cups | 750 mL

This is the classic Argentine condiment. It takes various forms, some finer, like a pesto, and some, like this one, chunkier, like a salsa. Chimichurri goes well with almost anything grilled, planked, or barbecued, but I like it best on lamb. Make it at least a day before you’re going to use it to let the flavors come alive.

1 small bunch flat leaf-parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup | 125 mL)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh chopped oregano (or 1 Tbsp | 15 ml dried oregano leaves)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL paprika
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp | 10 mL crushed dried red chile flakes
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup | 50 mL sherry vinegar
1/4 cup | 50 mL water

            Combine all the ingredients except the oil, vinegar, and water in a large bowl and toss them well to make sure the salt is spread evenly throughout. Allow the sauce to rest for 30 minutes to allow the salt to dissolve and the flavors to blend.
            Add the oil, vinegar, and water and mix the sauce well. Make sure that the chimichurri looks nice and wet, like a very thick gazpacho. If not, add equal parts oil, water, and vinegar until the mixture is covered by at least a quarter inch of liquid.
            Transfer the sauce to a non-reactive storage container. Cover it and refrigerate it to allow the flavors to blend overnight. It’s even better after two or three days in the refrigerator.

Peach and Blackberry Salsa

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

This salsa, invented by my wife, Kate, is something you should try only when these fruits are at their peak, which on the West Coast of Canada is in August. Paired with planked chicken, it’s a mind-blower.

4 peaches, peeled and diced, not too small
1 cup | 250 mL fresh blackberries,
washed and picked over
1/4 cup | 50 mL red onion, diced
1/2 fresh green jalapeño or other hot pepper,
seeded and minced
4 tsp | 20 mL fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let the salsa stand, covered, in the fridge for about an hour.


Blackened Snapper on the Grill

Makes 4 servings

If you’ve ever tried to cook this delicious, spectacular dish indoors, you’ll know it’s a bit of a nightmare. It was invented by the great New Orleans chef, Paul Prudhomme, and was designed to be cooked in a restaurant kitchen where there is industrial-strength ventilation. The combination of butter and an extremely hot pan creates so much white smoke that you may not be able to see your fellow diners by the time the dish is ready to serve. I actually had to crawl from the kitchen into the dining room one time just so I could see where I was going. Cooking this dish takes a special technique that uses a gas grill to preheat cast iron pans to create the same effect as chef Paul’s restaurant kitchen. Don’t cook this dish if you’re worried about smoking out your neighbors!

Note: You need two 9 inch | 23 cm heavy cast iron skillets to pull off this recipe.

SAFETY WARNING: It’s extremely easy to severely burn your hand if you absent-mindedly grab the handle of the insanely hot pan when you take the fish off the grill. Please be careful!

4 8-10 oz | 250-300 g snapper fillets
¾ lb | 12 oz. butter
1 batch Cajun Rub (see recipe below)

Warm four serving plates and four small ramekins in a low oven.
            Prepare your gas grill (sorry, charcoal grills just don’t generate enough heat for this recipe) for direct high heat. Place two cast iron skillets on the cooking grate with their handles pointed away from you. Let the pans heat up in the grill for at least 10 minutes, until they are extremely hot.
            While the pans are heating, melt the butter in a sauté pan until it is just melted. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stovetop to keep warm.
            Dip the snapper fillets in the melted butter and sprinkle them generously on both sides with the rub mixture. Drizzle a little of the remaining butter over the rubbed fillets.
            Open the grill and quickly place the fillets in the pans. This will cause a lot of white smoke and the butter may flame up, so be careful. Cover the grill and cook the fish for just a couple of minutes. Carefully and quickly turn the fillets over with a long spatula and cook them for another minute or two, until the outside of the fish is nicely blackened.
            Put on some oven mitts, just in case you grab a pan handle by mistake. With your spatula, remove the fillets from the pans and place them on the serving dishes. Transfer the remaining butter into the warmed ramekins. Serve the snapper immediately, with the ramekins of butter for dipping. 

Cajun Rub

Makes about a half cup of rub.

I’ve featured this rub in the recipe for Blackened Snapper on the Grill (see page xxx), but it’s a great all-around grilling or blackening rub that showcases the classic flavors of Cajun cooking.

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sweet paprika
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion
1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp | 15 mL white pepper
1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried oregano leaves
1 ½ tsp | 7.5 mL dried thyme leaves

Mix the rub ingredients together.


Recipes of the week: Really Easy Chicken and Planked Pork Loin with Whiskey Apricot Glaze

Sep 1, 2012

Description:

With Labour Day coming up, this is a tribute to the working man, which means lots of meat, inexpensive but delicious cuts, and, for the first recipe at least, ease of cooking to give more time for getting stuff done.

Really Easy Chicken

Makes 6–8 servings

One of the biggest challenges of championship barbecue is finding a way to cook chicken so the skin doesn’t turn out rubbery. This recipe is based on a technique some barbecue competitors use to get chicken skin that melts in the judges’ mouths. The secret is the acid in the dressing, which softens the skin while the chicken is marinating.

2 chickens, cut into pieces, or 12 chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bottle store-bought zesty Italian salad dressing

Reserve ½ cup |125 mL of the Italian dressing. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in an extra large freezer bag. Add the rest of the dressing, making sure all the pieces are coated, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
            Prepare your grill for medium indirect cooking. For propane grills, this means preheating the grill on high, turning off the burner underneath where you’re going to place your meat, and then turning the other burner or burners to medium.
            Place the chicken pieces on the cooking grate, skin side up, leaving at least a little space between them to ensure good air circulation. Cook the chicken, basting it periodically with the reserved salad dressing, for 25–35 minutes, or until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast reads 160°F | 71°C. Transfer the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and tent it with foil to rest for about 5–10 minutes. Serve it with your favorite accompaniments.                       


Planked PorkPlanked Pork Loin Roast with Whiskey Apricot Glaze

Makes 4–6 servings

In this recipe, the aromatic, spicy, mildly astringent flavor of the cedar smoke nicely complements the pork’s sweetness and richness. The trick to plank-cooking a roast this big is to get the plank smoldering on high or medium-high heat and then turn it down to medium as soon as you get the meat on. Serve slices of the pork with grill-roasted vegetables and boiled new potatoes tossed with butter and chopped fresh dill.

1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
one 14 oz | 398 mL can apricot halves in light syrup
1/4 cup | 50 mL Dijon mustard
1/4 cup | 50 mL Jack Daniel’s whiskey
1/4 cup | 50 mL brown sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL apricot jam
pinch cayenne pepper
one 3 lb | 1.5 kg pork loin roast with a 1/8-inch | 3 mm fat cap
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme for garnish

Open the can of apricots and drain the syrup into a medium-sized saucepan, reserving the fruit. Add the mustard, Jack Daniel’s, brown sugar, apricot jam, and cayenne to the syrup. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring to melt the sugar and the jam. When it looks like a smooth, fairly thick sauce (which takes about 5 minutes), take it off the heat and set the pan in a bowl of ice cubes to cool.
            Lightly score the fat cap of the pork loin in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Season it with salt and pepper, and set the meat on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spoon half of the mustard-whiskey mixture over the loin and pat it all over to coat it. Wrap the foil around the meat, sealing it as best you can. Place the wrapped loin in the meat drawer of your fridge. Let it sit for a couple of hours at least, overnight if possible.
            Combine the remaining half of the sauce with the reserved apricot halves, cover it, and refrigerate it.
            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
            Place the marinated pork loin on the plank, fat side up. Cover the grill and cook the meat for 1 hour, checking periodically for flare-ups.
            At the one-hour mark, take the reserved apricots out of the sauce mixture and place them on the plank next to the roast. Baste the roast with some of the sauce and cook it for another 10–20 minutes, until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 140°F | 60°C. Take the roast off the heat and lightly tent it in foil.
            Transfer the apricot halves to a cutting board and coarsely chop them. Warm the remaining sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave and add the chopped apricots. Let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes (while it’s resting, roast some vegetables on the grill). Carve the roast into 1⁄2-inch | 1 cm slices and serve them on warmed plates with a spoonful of the apricots and sauce. Garnish the pork with sprigs of parsley and thyme.

__________________


These recipes are from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which is now available as an iBook from the iTunes Store.

I have seen the future, and it will be carbonized: a charcoal primer

Aug 31, 2012

Description:

Kingsford bagsIt’s time for us to start weaning ourselves from the convenience of gas grilling and rekindle our relationship with charcoal.


All it takes is one whiff of smoke from some charcoal briquettes, mixed with an aromatic hint of lighter fluid. That distinctive aroma activates an area at the base of our skull that I like to call the Kingsford Olfactory Cortex. The smell of charcoal instantly transports us back to the campfires and cottage weekends of our youth: Dad’s in an apron, burgers are sizzling, hot dogs are plumping up, corn cobs are roasting, and Mom comes out the screen door with a pitcher full of cherry Kool-Aid, ice jingling and sparkling in the summer sun. I think I want to cry.

Those memories never leave us, but few new ones are being made now for our own kids. Sadly, Canadians don’t grill much over charcoal any more. According to Weber’s Grillwatch survey, only about one in 10 Canuck backyard cooks owns a charcoal grill compared to almost half of our counterparts south of the border. 

I know, it’s a lot colder up here, and running outside to push a button on a gas grill is a damn sight easier than going to the trouble and mess of ripping open a bag of charcoal, dumping it into the grill and getting it going, not to mention having to clean up the ashes left behind.

But that convenience comes at a cost. Charcoal imparts such great flavour that there’s almost no comparison between a steak seared on a gas grill and one that’s kissed by smoke. I would argue that pretty much anything tastes better when cooked on a charcoal grill, from your lowly skinless chicken breast to a roast duck. 

Even sweets are lifted to a new level when they’re cooked over charcoal. I’ll never forget an evening at the beach a few years back when, after grilling some brats in my Smoky Joe portable grill, I used the leftover coals to reheat a pear crisp. The vapours from the fire turned a great dessert into a mind-blowing revelation.

A little history

Charcoal has, of course, been around for a long time. Back in the olden days, tradesmen called colliers would stack wood in a giant cone-shaped pile and then cover it with soil or clay, with a hole in the bottom for air and one at the top to serve as a flue. They’d light a smouldering fire and, several days of careful tending later, the wood would be transformed into brittle, clean-burning dark grey charcoal to be used for cooking and heating.
The process of making charcoal, called carbonization, is simple: you heat wood slowly, with little or no oxygen to feed the fire, and instead of burning, the wood shrinks as its organic matter vaporizes. What’s left are porous chunks of charcoal, consisting mostly of carbon, that burn cleaner and hotter than wood.

Charcoal briquettes have also been around for a long time, but the Kingsford briquettes that we know and love were developed in the early 1920s by Henry Ford and one of his relatives, a fellow named E.G. Kingsford. Ford’s early autos had wooden parts and his factories produced lots of wood scrap. A factory was built to turn the scrap into charcoal briquettes. For years, American backyard cooks got their Kingsford charcoal at their local Ford dealership, and today Kingsford converts about a million tons of wood scraps a year into briquettes and owns about 80 per cent of the market.

Rib steaks on the EggeBriquettes vs. lump charcoal: which is best?

Over the last couple of decades, the dominance of briquettes has been challenged by makers of lump charcoal, which is preferred by some cooks because it burns longer and hotter. It’s also purer. Lump charcoal is basically an organic product – pure carbonized hardwood – whereas Kingsford and other briquettes are made from charred woods that are mixed with mined coal, limestone, starch, sodium nitrate and borax (or sodium borate).

The modern, all-natural foodie ethic clashes with the idea of food cooked over this chemical package. But man, those additives are what make Kingsford start easily, burn evenly, and provide its distinctive aroma and flavour. The bottom line: meat cooked with Kingsford tastes great.

My barbecue team, Rockin’ Ronnie’s Butt Shredders, has been competing for almost 20 years now, and we’ve always used good old Kingsford briquettes, with a few chunks of hardwood like hickory, mesquite and cherry wood added for extra flavour. My view is that if you want to win the hearts, minds and taste buds of the barbecue judges, you’ve got to hit that Kingsford nerve hard, and we’ve got plenty of cheap plastic trophies to show our strategy works. As for the unnatural additives, last time I looked, life causes death. I like to think that most of us can handle a little borax in our lives without getting into a big panic. In fact, panic is known to cause more deaths than borax.

Despite my love of briquettes, I swing both ways when it comes to charcoal. While I’m loyal to Kingsford for cooking Southern-style barbecue, I often use pure hardwood lump charcoal when I’m grilling. It generates excellent heat for searing and charring, and if you want to add extra flavour, all you need to do is toss some wood chips or chunks on top of the hot coals just before you’re ready to grill. Close the lid of your grill and you’ve got a perfect hot, smoky chamber that will make whatever you’re grilling sing. Another advantage of lump charcoal is that it produces much less ash, which makes it great for kamado-style cookers, which quickly clog up and lose their air flow when you try to cook on them using briquettes.

What kind of charcoal cooker to buy

Speaking of the urn-shaped kamado, it’s one of the hottest pieces of cooking equipment out there right now. The classic Big Green Egg has long been the Cadillac of charcoal cookers, but in recent years many knock-offs have come onto the market, including the Primo, the Big Steel Keg and the Kamado Joe. Even the cheapest models will set you back $600, and the high-end brands can cost a lot more than that. This ceramic cooker is based on an ancient Asian design, and it’s extremely versatile, allowing you to smoke a pork shoulder at 200 degrees or sear a steak at 700F or even higher.

If you don’t want to shell out for an Egg, there are lots of extremely cheap charcoal grills on the market that are great to take to the beach or on a camping trip, but they don’t last long and they don’t work all that well. You can’t go wrong with a good old Weber kettle-style covered charcoal grill, which is a solid, versatile cooker that will set you back a couple of hundred bucks.

For picnics, camping and boating, nothing beats the Cobb, a portable charcoal grill that’s among the most versatile and convenient cooking tools I’ve ever used. Every outdoor cook should have a Cobb in his or her arsenal.

If you want to graduate to the world of Southern-style barbecue, the perfect entry-level device is Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker, nicknamed the Bullet. It’s a specialized device that will introduce you to a big new world of flavour, but it’s not for the dabbler.

How to start your coals

Barbecue purists don’t approve of chemical fire starters like the smelly white cubes or the kerosene-like liquid starter you get at the supermarket. Aficionados like to start their coals using a charcoal chimney, which isn’t much more than a metal cylinder with a handle on it. You put your charcoal in it, and there’s a little chamber at the bottom where you place a couple of balled-up pieces of newspaper. Light the newspaper, wait for about 15 minutes, and you’ve got a chimney full of hot coals – just enough to grill a few pork chops. You can also use it as a seed fire for a bigger quantity of charcoal that you can use for longer cooking projects and bigger cuts of meat.

My preferred method is to light up a tiger torch – a propane torch usually used by roofers to melt tar – and point its roaring flame at the coals you’ve loaded in your grill or smoker for a minute or two. That’s kind-of hardcore, however -- I do it not only for convenience but also to intimidate my opponents at barbecue contests. 

Let’s start a fire together

As a self-proclaimed barbecue evangelist, I encourage you to welcome charcoal into your life. It will free your taste buds from the humdrum world of propane and bring back a bit of old-fashioned ritual to your grilling. Here are a few of my favourite recipes for dishes that taste best when cooked over coals, from my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!


Spice-Crusted Pork Blade Steaks

Makes 6 servings

I love pork blade steaks because they’re inexpensive, extremely tasty, and very hard to ruin. The cumin seeds add an earthy tang and an interesting texture to these rich, chewy steaks. Serve them with your favorite summer sides (I like grilled asparagus and cherry tomatoes).

For the rub:
2 Tbsp | 25 mL powdered ancho chiles
(if you can’t find ground anchos, any chili powder will do)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles (substitute cayenne pepper if you can’t find ground chipotles)
1 tsp | 5 mL dried oregano
1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

For the steaks:
1 Tbsp | 15 mL cumin seeds
6 pork blade steaks (8 to 10 oz | 225 to 300 g each)
kosher salt
2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard (regular prepared mustard will also do)
extra virgin olive oil

Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and set the rub aside.
            Toast the cumin seeds in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until they’re fragrant and just starting to turn light brown. Remove the cumin from the pan and set it aside.
            Generously season the blade steaks with salt. Using the back of a spoon or a basting brush, coat the steaks with a thin layer of mustard. Sprinkle the cumin seeds on both sides of the steaks and pat them in so they stick to the mustard. Sprinkle a generous coating of rub on the steaks and drizzle them with a little olive oil. (You’ll have rub left over, which is great for grilling just about anything.)
            Prepare your grill for high direct heat. Place the steaks on the cooking grate, close the grill, and immediately reduce the heat to medium. I like to throw a chunk of hickory or mesquite among the coals just before I start cooking to add an extra dimension of flavour.
            Cook the steaks for 8–10 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until they are springy to the touch. Remove the steaks from the grill, tent them with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and serve.

Seared Calamari with Fresh Tomato Basil Salsa

Makes 4 servings

The secret to great grilled squid is to use the freshest and smallest you can find, and to cook it over high heat for no more than a minute per side. Any longer and it turns rubbery. In this recipe, the tomato salsa provides a cool, tangy, herbal complement to the hot, garlicky calamari.

1 lb | 500 g cleaned squid, equal parts bodies and tentacles
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp | 2 mL red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups | 500 mL small, ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat the squid in the salt, then rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Slit the bodies and score the inside surfaces with diagonal cuts. Cut each squid into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup | 50mL of the olive oil, the red pepper flakes, and the garlic. Toss them to coat them and marinate them in the refrigerator for about an hour.
            Preheat your charcoal grill on high and in this case keep the lid off for maximum combustion. Using hardwood charcoal in a kettle-style grill works best. Try to time it so you put the squid on the grill when the coals are at their hottest, which is right after they’re all ignited. You can tell coals are ready when they’ve got a light coating of white ash. While the grill is heating, coarsely chop the tomatoes (halves or quarters are fine), slice the basil leaves into fine shreds, and toss them together in a bowl with the vinegar and the remainder of the olive oil. Distribute the salsa between four plates.
When the grill is hot, gently place the calamari on the cooking grate, taking care not to let the pieces slip through the cracks (you may even want to use a grill-topper with small holes designed for this kind of task). Don’t walk away! Stand at the open grill and tend the squid with a set of good tongs, turning the pieces often so they cook quickly and evenly, no more than a minute per side. Remove the squid from the grill and transfer it to the plates.
Sprinkle each serving with just a pinch of kosher salt and a light grinding of pepper. Drizzle the calamari with a little more olive oil and serve it immediately with a crisp, fruity white wine.

This article originally appeared in Calgary's City Palate magazine.

 

Recipes of the week: Grill-Seared Scallops and Grilled Pacific Snapper with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

Aug 25, 2012

Description:

These recipes celebrate the bounty of fresh seafood from Pacific waters available in BC right now.  Visit your favorite fishmonger today and grill some over the weekend!


Grill-Seared Scallops with Sea Asparagus

There’s not much that can beat the glorious flavour and meaty texture of scallops, except scallops that are seared on a hot grill. The key to great scallops is to let them speak for themselves, so this is a very simple recipe. I’ve added sea asparagus, which is a great complement if you can find it, but otherwise you can serve them straight up.

Serves two or three as an appetizer
 
Six jumbo Alaskan Weathervane or Digby sea scallops
            ¼ lb sea asparagus (optional)
            Kosher salt
            Olive oil
            2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
            fresh lemon wedges
            truffle oil (optional)
           
Preheat your grill for direct high cooking.

While your grill is preheating, bring some water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the sea asparagus and cook it for a minute or two. Remove the asparagus from the water and set it aside in a bowl.

Lightly salt the scallops, drizzle them with a little olive oil and take them out to the grill. Scrape the grill so the cooking grate is as smooth and clean as possible. Place the scallops on the grill. Cover the grill and cook them for about two minutes, turning them about every 30 seconds, until the scallops have nice char marks and are starting to feel firm to the touch.

Transfer the scallops from the grill to a plate and let them rest. While the scallops are resting, toss the sea asparagus with just a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Serve the scallops on a bed of sea asparagus and sprinkle some chopped parsley on top. A bit of juice will have come out of the sea scallops while they were resting, so be sure to drizzle that over everything. Garnish with a lemon wedge and, if you want to get fancy, finish the scallops with just a drop or two of truffle oil.


Grilled Pacific Snapper with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

Fresh Pacific snapper is a firm-fleshed fish that is great on the grill. In this recipe I’ve paired it with a delicious sauce made with fresh seasonal vegetables.  It goes well with some steamed rice and grilled asparagus.

Serves 4

4 6-oz. portions of boneless, skinless Pacific snapper fillets (you can substitute another firm-fleshed fish like halibut)

For the balsamic reduction
1 cup balsamic vinegar

For the sauce
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. crushed chili flakes
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

For the rub
Kosher salt
Granulated onion
Dried basil
Extra virgin olive oil
           
For the garnish
            Freshly chopped parsley
            Lemon wedges
 

Pour the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, watching carefully, until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume (about 10-15 minutes). It should be a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside to cool. (You’ll have some left over, which is great for drizzling on pretty much anything.)

Preheat your grill for medium direct cooking.

While the grill is warming up, make the sauce:  Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent (about two or three minutes). Add the salt, chili flakes and chopped tomatoes and sauté the mixture for another couple of minutes, until the tomatoes are heated through. Add the chopped basil and give the sauce a stir. Adjust the seasonings to taste and set the sauce aside.

Sprinkle the snapper pieces with a light coating of salt, granulated onion and dried basil, and drizzle them with olive oil.

Scrape the cooking grate so it’s as smooth and clean as possible. Place the snapper on the cooking grate and cover the grill. Cook it for about three minutes and, with a large spatula, carefully turn the fish. Cook it for another three minutes or so, until the fish is firm to the touch. Carefully remove it from the grill and set it aside to rest for a minute or two.

Serve the fish on a bed of the sauce, surrounded by a drizzle of the balsamic reduction and topped with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.





 

Recipes of the Week: The Joys of Mesquite - Tequila Lime Quail and Grilled Pork Tacos

Aug 18, 2012

Description:

This week let’s celebrate good old mesquite, one of the most flavourful and versatile cooking woods. It grows everywhere, but I suppose it’s most associated with places like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, where mesquite wood and charcoal have been used for ages to produce some of the best barbecue in the world. In the early 1980s a bunch of fancy New York and California chefs started to use it to fuel their grills, and the mesquite fire spread from there to become popular in restaurants across North America.

Mesquite is a dark-coloured, dense, hard wood. It’s actually a member of the legume family and produces beans that were a staple food for the aboriginal people of the American Southwest. Its smoke has a sweet, strong aroma with a bitter edge; if you’re not careful you can use too much of it. In competition I like to use a blend of mesquite, hickory and a fruitwood like apple or cherry for a nice, well-rounded flavour, but mesquite on its own works extremely well in many applications.

Mesquite charcoal is highly valued by outdoor cooks because it burns clean and hot for maximum searing power. Lump charcoal – even if it’s made from mesquite – doesn’t impart a lot of flavour, so if you use it, add a few chunks of mesquite wood on top of the coals once you’ve got them going. 

You can buy mesquite chips and chunks at most barbecue stores and in the grilling section of home improvement stores. Chunks work best when you’re using a covered charcoal grill like a Weber kettle. If you’ve got a gas grill, the easiest way to get some mesquite smoke into your food is to wrap a couple of handfuls of mesquite chips in aluminum foil sort of like a big cigar, poke some holes in it with a fork, and place the package under your cooking grate, right above the heating elements. As your grill heats up, the chips will start to smoulder and throw off lovely aromatic smoke into the cooking chamber. If you want extra smoke, soak the chips for an hour or so before using.

Here are a couple of great recipes that take full advantage of mesquite’s magical powers. Hope you like them! If you do, let me know by posting a note on the Barbecue Secrets Facebook page.

Tequila-Lime Quail

This dish is inspired by a recipe in an old cookbook called Mesquite Cookery by Courtenay Beinhorn. You can get frozen quail, six in a pack, in the frozen poultry section of bigger supermarkets. These tasty little birds make a great first course. Gnawing on their tiny drumsticks makes me feel like Shrek.

Makes six appetizers or three first-course servings

6 quail
½ cup tequila
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons corn oil or other neutral-flavored oil
8 crushed pequin chiles or 1 tablespoon crushed chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (regular chile powder will do)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
some more corn oil for brushing the birds
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 firm, ripe avocado
Lime wedges and cilantro leaves for garnish

Remove the backbone from the quail using a sharp knife or poultry shears. Discard the bones or save them to make stock. Once you’ve removed the backbones, place the quail, bone-side down, on a cutting board and press down on them with the heel of your hand to flatten them. You’ll feel the breastbone crack.

Combine the tequila, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of oil, chiles, salt, cumin, chile powder and cilantro in a bowl and mix them together well. Combine the marinade with the quail in a heavy duty Ziploc bag, push the air out of the bag and seal it. Put the bag in your refrigerator and marinate the quail for at least one or two hours, turning them once or twice. (You can marinate them overnight if you like.)

Get your charcoal or gas grill going at medium-high. If you’re using a gas grill, use mesquite chips wrapped in aluminum foil; if you’re cooking with charcoal, place one or two chunks of mesquite on the hot coals just before you start to cook.

Remove the quail from the marinade and pat them dry. Brush them with some oil and give them a light coating of salt and pepper. When your fire is hot, put the quail on the grill, bone side down. Cover the grill and cook the quail for four minutes. Turn it over and cook it for another four minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden brown and the meat is cooked to a core temperature of 160F.

Remove the quail from the grill and while it’s resting, peel the avocado. Serve the quail garnished with a few cilantro leaves, a couple of slices of avocado and a lime wedge.

 
Grilled Pork Tacos

Instead of making tacos with seasoned ground meat, try it this way, with smoky slices of grilled pork tossed with enchilada sauce. Yummy!

Serves four adults or two teenagers

1 small onion
1 10-ounce can of enchilada sauce
1 fresh lime
4 8-ounce boneless pork loin chops
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons corn oil or any neutral-flavored oil
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Your favorite taco condiments (salsa, guacamole, pickled jalapeño)
12 warmed corn or flour tortillas

Peel and chop the onion and sauté it in the oil over medium heat for about three minutes, stirring often, until it’s translucent. Add the enchilada sauce and the juice of half a lime. Season the sauce to taste and set it aside.

Combine the salt, pepper and granulated onion and garlic and sprinkle the mixture onto the pork chops. Drizzle the oil over the chops to coat them lightly.

Get your charcoal or gas grill going at medium-high. If you’re using a gas grill, use mesquite chips wrapped in aluminum foil; if you’re cooking with charcoal, place one or two chunks of mesquite on the hot coals just before you start to cook.

Place the chops on the grill, cover it, and cook them for about 4 minutes per side or until they’re cooked through to about 140F for medium-rare, or 160F for well done.

Remove the chops from the grill, cover them loosely in aluminum foil, and while they’re resting, heat the tortillas by placing them, one at a time, in a hot non-stick skillet, turning them once to heat them through. When the tortillas are done, thinly slice the pork chops and toss the slices in the enchilada sauce. Transfer the meat to a serving bowl and lay out the pork, tortillas and condiments on the table so everyone can make their own tacos.

__________________


My cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, now available as an iBook from the iTunes Store.


Recipes of the Week: Rob's Salmon and Ronnie's Lingcod

Aug 11, 2012

Description:

These recipes feature the best of British Columbia's seafood bounty and showcase a couple of great grilling techniques.

Both recipes are from my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, now available as an iBook from the iTunes Store.

Wild BC Salmon with Homemade Tartar Sauce and Tomato Salad

Makes 4 servings

Rob Clarke, Executive Chef of C Restaurant, Nu Restaurant, and Raincity Grill is the best seafood chef in Vancouver, and that’s saying something. This is his recipe, adapted for the grill. It’s a sophisticated version of a salmon grilling technique I learned many years ago that’s as easy as pie and as delicious as it gets. The concept is to slather a side of salmon with mayo, put it on a hot grill, skin side down, and cook it until the salmon is done and the mayo has sort of set, like a savory pudding, on the fish. Pair this salmon with some BC Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

For the tartar sauce:
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
2 tsp | 10 mL dried dill
3 Tbsp | 45 mL finely chopped cornichons (gherkins)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped stuffed green olives
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped shallots 
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped capers
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard 15 mL

For the salmon:
four 6 oz | 175 g  boneless wild BC salmon fillets (skin on) (Rob prefers pink salmon but coho or sockeye also work well)
sea salt

For the tomato salad:
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp | 10 mL rice wine vinegar
1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely minced shallot
1/8 tsp | .5 mL cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 medium fresh heirloom tomatoes (yellow ones work nicely)

            Prepare the tartar sauce by combining the mayonnaise, dill, cornichons, olives, shallots, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and mustard until well blended. Set the mixture aside.
            Prepare the tomato salad by whisking together all the ingredients except the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch | 6 mm rounds. Gently toss the tomato slices in the vinaigrette and divide the salad between 4 serving plates.
            Season the salmon fillets with salt and let them sit for 10 minutes.
            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Place the salmon fillets, skin-side-down, on the cooking grate and slather each of them with 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of the tartar sauce. Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 5–7 minutes, until the fillets reach an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C.
            To serve the salmon, place the fillets on the plates beside the tomato salad and finish the dish with a dollop of the remaining tartar sauce.


Lingcod in Foil with Fennel and Apple Salsa

Makes 4–6 servings

The lingcod is a long, greenish blue bottom fish with a big, ugly face and a giant mouth that can take an octopus in one bite. It also has incredibly succulent, delicate, bluish white flesh that’s so tender it falls apart if you try to grill it, but is just great cooked in foil.

1 fennel bulb, stalk and fronds attached
1 navel orange
3 Tbsp | 45 mL orange-infused extra virgin olive oil (or regular if you can’t find the orange-infused kind)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL white balsamic vinegar
½ tsp | 2 mL Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Granny Smith apples
1 medium yellow onion
2 oz | 60 g butter
granulated garlic
1 ½ lb | 750 g boneless ling cod fillet (halibut would also work)
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 oz | 30 mL Pernod liqueur
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

            Trim the fronds from the fennel, discarding the woody stems.  Finely chop the fennel fronds and set them aside.
            Halve the orange and set one half aside. Combine the 3 Tbsp | 45 mL of olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl along with the juice of half the orange and 1 tsp | 5 mL of the chopped fennel fronds. Whisk the ingredients together and add salt and pepper to taste. Set the vinaigrette aside.
            Cut the fennel bulb in half, from top to bottom. Cut one half of the fennel bulb into very thin slices using a mandoline or a very sharp chef’s knife. Set the sliced fennel aside.
            Chop the other half of the fennel bulb into a ¼ inch | 6 mm dice and place it in the mixing bowl containing the vinaigrette.
            Peel and core the apples and chop them into a ¼ inch | 6 mm dice. Transfer them to the bowl with the vinaigrette and diced fennel and toss them together. Set the salsa aside.
            Trim and peel the onion and then cut it into the same kind of thin slices as the fennel using the mandoline. Set the sliced onion aside.
            Fold a 4 foot | 120 cm strip of wide, heavy-duty aluminium foil in half and lay it down on your counter. Coat the foil with a thin layer of the butter, leaving a 4 inch | 10 cm margin around the rectangle of foil. Lay down the sliced onion on the foil and sprinkle the onion slices with a little salt. Season both sides of the lingcod fillet with a very light sprinkle of salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Lay it on top of the onions, and then lay the shaved fennel slices on top of the fish. Drizzle the fish with the Pernod and some olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the chopped fennel fronds and a pinch of salt over the shaved fennel. Tightly seal the foil around the ingredients.

Note: Because fennel bulbs and onions come in different sizes, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much of these ingredients you’ll have when you come to assembling the foil packet. Use your best judgement—if it looks like you have too much fennel or onion for everything to fit comfortably, feel free to change the amounts to suit the situation.
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Place the foil packet, onion layer facing down, on the grill and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the onions are soft and the fish is cooked through. Transfer the packet to a heatproof serving platter and let it rest for about 5 minutes. To serve, open up the packet at the table and divide its contents between you and your guests with a large serving spoon, making sure everyone gets some of the liquid. Top each serving with a dollop of the salsa and a wedge of the remaining half of the orange.

Recipe of the Week - A Tribute to the Brits - lamb kebabs and minty potato hobo pack

Aug 4, 2012

Description:


Zesty Lamb Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings, and 6–8 appetizer servings

These easy, delicious kebabs make a great party appetizer or a tasty main course. The secret to this dish is to not overcook the lamb, which becomes tough and rubbery if it’s left on the grill too long. Serve it either as an appetizer or as a main course on a bed of rice.

8 long metal skewers or
12 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
 
To marinate the lamb:
1 2 lb | 1 kg leg of lamb
1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh basil
1 tsp | 5 mL dried mint
1 tsp | 5 mL dried basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground coriander seed
pinch cayenne
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped

For the kebabs:
1 purple onion, cut into bite-sized
chunks
16 cherry tomatoes
kosher salt to taste
olive oil, for drizzling
1 lemon (the same one you zested),
cut in half for squeezing

Cut the lamb into 11/2-inch | 4 cm chunks. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with the lamb. Place the lamb in a resealable plastic bag or a nonreactive bowl, refrigerate it, and
marinate it for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Thread the lamb chunks on the metal or bamboo skewers, alternating them with the onion chunks and cherry tomatoes. Grill the kebabs, turning them 2 or 3 times, until the lamb is medium rare (6–8 minutes), taking care not to overcook it. Remove the skewers from the grill, sprinkle them with salt, drizzle them with oil, and squeeze some lemon juice over them. Serve the kebabs immediately.

Tandoori Lamb Kebabs

Makes 4 servings

Tandoori paste is available in the Indian food section of most supermarkets, and it’s a great thing to have in your fridge. It adds intense flavor to chicken and lamb, and if you have the foresight to marinate the meat overnight, it also has a tenderizing effect. Serve these lamb kebabs with steamed basmati rice, a vegetable curry, and your favorite chutney.

eight 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour

1/2 cup | 125 mL tandoori paste
1/3 cup | 75 mL yogurt
2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice
3 Tbsp | 45 mL chopped fresh cilantro
one 3 lb | 1.5 kg boneless leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large Spanish onion, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 oz | 75 g butter
lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs for garnish

Mix together the tandoori paste, yogurt, lemon juice, and chopped cilantro in a medium nonreactive bowl. Add the lamb chunks and coat them with the marinade. Refrigerate the lamb overnight if possible, or at least 1 hour. Thread the lamb chunks onto the skewers, alternating them with pieces of onion.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan just until it’s melted. Set it aside and keep it warm.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Place the kebabs on the cooking grate and grill them for 6–8 minutes, or until the lamb chunks are springy to the touch. Every couple of minutes, turn and baste the kebabs with butter (be sure to have your spray bottle at the ready; the butter can cause flare-ups). Remove the kebabs from the grill and serve them garnished with lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs.



Minty Potato Hobo Pack

Makes 4–6 servings

Why, oh why, do we ignore the glories of fresh mint in North American home cooking? It’s delicious, refreshing, and its aroma is like nothing else. This dish is insanely simple to make, and the combination of mint and potatoes will wow your guests.  Because this recipe calls for indirect heat, you can use the hot side of the grill to cook your steaks and grill your veggies.

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tsp | 10 mL dried mint leaves
1 large yellow onion
¼ lb | 125 g butter
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup | 120 mL tightly packed fresh mint leaves
½ a fresh lemon, the other half cut into wedges for garnish
kosher salt

Bring the butter to room temperature.
            Take 6 feet | 2 M of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold it in half. Place the foil on a counter and coat it with about ¼ of the butter, leaving about a 4 inch | 10 cm margin all the way around the rectangle.
            Peel the onion and slice it into 1/4-in | 6 mm rounds, split the rounds into rings, and spread the rings to cover the buttered area of the foil. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch slices, leaving the skins on, and layer them on top of the onions, sprinkling a little dried mint and salt on each layer. Top the potatoes with a few dabs of the butter, reserving half of it for finishing the dish.
            Gather up the foil around the edges and close up the hobo pack, making it into a loaf-like cylinder. Make sure you have a tight seal all the way around.
            Prepare your grill for medium-high indirect heat. Place the hobo pack on the grill (away from direct heat), and cook for 15–20 minutes. At this point, you can take the hobo pack off the grill and it will retain its heat for at least half an hour if you have other things to prepare.
            When you’re ready to serve the potatoes, finely chop the mint leaves and set them aside. Put the hobo pack on a serving platter and carefully open it, taking care not to get burned by the escaping steam. Sprinkle half the chopped mint leaves over the potatoes, add the rest of the butter in daubs, and gently toss the mint, onions, and potatoes together. Sprinkle some salt and the rest of the mint leaves over the potatoes, drizzle them with a little olive oil, and squeeze the lemon over top. Serve the potatoes immediately, garnished with lemon wedges.

Barbecue Secret
It’s easy to burn the bottom of a hobo pack, but it’s hard to screw up using this basic technique. Make sure to use heavy-duty foil and double it. Coat the foil with oil or butter, then put whatever ingredient will take the most direct heat, like bacon or onions, first. Then lay on the rest of your ingredients in order of vulnerability and cooking time—potatoes next, then bell pepper, and so on, with any fresh herbs on top. Finish the package with a couple of dabs of butter or a drizzle of oil, seal it tightly, and place it on medium direct heat. If the bottom layer of onions and/or bacon get charred, they’ll add to the flavor. To avoid risk of burning altogether, cook hobo packs using high indirect heat.


Confessions of a Meat Freak

Jul 28, 2012

Description:


Eating meat is so important to my diet that, when I’m traveling on business, I pack an emergency can of Spam. There are times when, rushing to get to a meeting in my rental car, I crack open a can, shape a makeshift spoon/fork/knife out of the lid, and shovel the pink, salty, unctuous processed pork into my mouth with one hand while gripping the steering wheel with the other.

By the time half the can’s contents are down my gullet, I can feel the meat’s healing powers as it nourishes my body, sharpens my brain and calms my soul. For me, a day that starts with meat is going to be a good day.

I don’t know why meat and I get along so well. I know there’s a popular theory that says people have different dietary needs based on their blood type. Some are natural omnivores, others are wired to thrive on pure animal protein, and some, the poor sods, are genetically predisposed to eat nothing but vegetables. I’m not sure of my blood type, but I know that meat is good for me, and I’m glad, because I love it so.

I’m not alone. Most humans love meat. Our cravings for fleisch are inexorably tied to memories of past meals: the sound of a steak hitting a hot skillet; the aroma of a plump, glistening turkey as an oven door is pulled open; the dark, shiny, bubbling surface of a pot full of braised lamb shanks; the multi-sensory explosion of a smoky, fat, juicy pork shoulder, fresh from the smoker at the magic moment that it’s first pulled apart. Each new meat-eating experience conjures up and connects us with a rich stew of Proustian remembrances of meats past, each bite building on the last and adding to the richness of the current meat moment.

As someone who has seared, fried, boiled, baked and barbecued and eaten enough meat to feed several armies, I’ve developed some strong preferences for certain types of meat and cooking techniques , but it’s impossible to narrow them down to one favourite.

Real Barbecued RibsHow can one choose between a bite of tender, succulent pork rib with its salty crust and sweet, tangy coating of sauce, and the first glistening slice of chicken breast that’s been carved from the bird, its golden skin hiding under a pool of velvety gravy?

How can anyone claim that a bright pink, bone-thick slab of pepper-crusted prime rib roast, with its quivering eye of silken fat, is better than a pan-seared duck breast, its bacon-crisp skin competing for attention with the silky smooth rare meat that accompanies every forkful?

And is it really fair to compare the dark richness of fork-tender beef short ribs that have been braised for hours in red wine and veal stock with a rack of lamb coated with sea salt and herbs and grilled for a few minutes over a charcoal fire?

No. There are so many meats, and so many ways to make them taste great, one just can’t pick a winner.

But perfect meat that’s perfectly done has some shared traits. It must be juicy, of course. There’s nothing worse than white, overcooked pork, or dry, mealy chicken breast, or grey, crumbly beef brisket. Texture is so important. Whether it’s braised for hours and served shredded, or cooked so little that it scares away the squeamish, great meat has a smooth texture that caresses the taster’s tongue. Ideally, that smoothness is contrasted with a charred, crunchy, salty crust. And then there’s the fat. Whether it’s contained in the cracklings or marbled into the meat itself, fat must be present, for without it, the meat cannot fully satisfy.

Tomahawk ribeye on the grillI’ve eaten so much meat that I’m kind-of jaded, and I’m always on the lookout for new trends and exotic meat-eating experiences. One of the best things that’s happened over the last few years is a resurgence of fatty meat. In the 1980s the cholesterol fascists took over the food chain, and most of the fat and flavour were bred out of our beef and pork. Today, well-marbled meat is gaining in popularity and breeds like Berkshire pork and Wagyu beef are available to home cooks. One of the best meat experiences I’ve ever had was a special cut of Wagyu beef called spinalis, or rib-eye cap. It must have had about a 50 per cent fat content; when it came off the grill, it jiggled like Jell-O. Man, oh man, was it good.

Beyond the super-exotic cuts of standard meats, there’s a growing interest among North American restaurateurs and meat aficionados in game, ranging from delicious farmed venison and bison grown here in Canada to crazy stuff like Australian farmed ostrich and wild kangaroo, which both taste like leaner, slightly more complex versions of the best beef tenderloin one could imagine. I recently got a chance to barbecue a wild camel shoulder, also from Australia. It was a bit chewier and less fatty than domesticated beef or pork, but made up for those shortfalls with a wonderful gamey flavour.

The most exotic meat I’ve ever tasted was seal, which is also one of the most contentious meats. Ill-informed European activist campaigns continue to threaten Canada’s sealing industry. There are lots of seals -- so many, in fact, that their overpopulation continues to impede the recovery of our East Coast cod stocks. They’re humanely killed, the harvest is sustainable, and I’m pleased to report that seal meat is delicious. All the fat on a seal is on the outside of the animal, so the meat itself is extremely lean – it’s so rich in iron that it’s deep purple, verging on black. Raw seal meat is the texture of the finest tuna sashimi and tastes like a cross between beef tenderloin and sea urchin roe. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you’re a true meat lover, it’s worth adding to your bucket list.

How to treat your meat

To make great meat, you must start with an excellent product, but ultimately what makes the difference between disappointing and delectable is you, the cook. Here are some tips.

Choose the right cut. Leaner, more tender cuts like tenderloin are best for shorter, hotter techniques like grilling or pan-frying and are most delicious when served rare to medium rare. Chewier cuts like shoulder, shank and brisket do best with long, slow cooking methods like smoking or braising, which break down the tough connective tissue and turn it into toothsome goodness.

Marinating tenderloinSeason it well, with good salt and fresh spices. The best use of standard iodized table salt is to mix it with hot water and gargle with it next time you have a sore throat.  Please don’t put it on meat. Instead, use Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt, French sea salt, English Maldon salt, Australian Murray River salt, or pink Himalayan salt to add flavour and texture to meat dishes. Also, always go with freshly ground pepper; it’s ten times better than the packaged, pre-ground stuff, which adds a dusty taste to meat. Feel free to use dried herbs and spices, but make sure they haven’t been sitting in your pantry for six years. 

Start out on high, then turn the heat down. This principle applies whether you’re grilling a steak or braising some veal shanks. Use high heat to quickly seal in juices and add complexity to the meat’s flavour, then turn it down to achieve maximum tenderness. In the oven, start roasts at 500F and reduce the heat to 350F after the first 10 minutes. On the grill, start out super-hot and then go with a medium setting after you’ve got char-marks on your meat. To braise the toughest cuts, season the meat and toss it around over high heat with some oil or fat till it’s nicely seared, then add liquid, cover it, and cook it for a long time over low heat.

Treat it simply. Don’t smother meat with sauce or spice it so much that you can’t taste anything but sauce and spices.

Let it rest before you eat. After any meat is off the heat, let it rest, loosely tented in foil, to give the fibres a chance to relax for a much juicier, silkier texture. For steaks and other single-serving portions, five minutes or so of resting is good. For something like a whole roast chicken or a prime rib of beef or pork loin roast, half an hour or even an hour of resting time can make a big difference.


RECIPES

The Perfect Meat Experience: Pan-Fried Steak

Although I’m known as an avid outdoor cook, when it comes to steak, it’s hard to beat a good old frying pan to give the meat a perfect crust. Save this recipe for a rainy day. I love to serve steak on a bed of fresh bitter greens like baby arugula and finish it with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a drizzle of good olive oil. Or serve it with a big salad full of fresh tomatoes and avocados.

1 2-inch-thick well-marbled rib steak or T-bone
1 clove garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp coarsely ground or cracked black peppercorns
3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 4-inch sprig of rosemary
1/2 cup red wine

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Take the steak out of the fridge and let it rest half an hour to bring it to room temperature. Peel and slice the garlic into paper-thin slices. Generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Put 2 Tbsp of the butter and the olive oil into a cold cast iron skillet. Place the skillet on the burner and turn the heat to high. Just as the butter is barely melted and starting to sizzle, lay the rosemary sprig and the garlic slices in the pan and place the seasoned steak on top.
Keeping the heat on high, cook the steak for 3–4 minutes on one side, until it has a nice brown crust, then turn it and cook it for another 2–3 minutes, just long enough to create a crust on the other side of the steak. Place the skillet in the oven and bake the steak for 10–15 minutes, or until the centre is 120°F for rare or 140˚F for medium rare.
            Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, deglaze the pan with the red wine over high heat, reducing it by about half. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter just at the end, swirling it into the pan sauce. Remove the charred garlic pieces and the rosemary sprig, pour the sauce over the steak, and enjoy.
            When you’re finished the steak, go chop a cord of wood.

Sexy Minty Lamb Racks for Two

Makes 2 servings

This dish delivers one of the purest meat experiences – a perfect combination of sweet, tangy and herbal flavours does exactly what’s necessary to deliver the goods. It’s great with summery salads like
couscous or grilled eggplant.  

1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 racks of lamb, Frenched by your butcher

Combine the mint, sugar, and vinegar, and mix them together until you have a thick, wet paste, adding a splash more of the vinegar if it seems too thick. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Coat the lamb racks generously with the paste and grill them for 8–12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for rare or 140˚F for medium rare. Turn the lamb every couple of minutes to allow the brown sugar on both sides of the rack to gently caramelize and the flavour of the mint to intensify.

This article originally appeared in Calgary's City Palate magazine.

Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk is chief cook of the barbecue team Rockin’ Ronnie’s Butt Shredders and the author of several bestselling cookbooks, including Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! (Whitecap). He’s also the host of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, available for free on iTunes.  Visit www.ronshewchuk.com to find out more.

Recipes of the week: Thai Beef Burgers, Wakefield Inn Oyster Burger and Easy Alabama Potato Salad

Jul 28, 2012

Description:

These recipes (except the potato salad) are from my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, now available as an iBook from the Apple iTunes store. Check it out!

Thai-flavored Beef Burgers with Sautéed Shiitakes

Makes 4 burgers

For the burger mix:
11/2 lb | 750 g ground beef chuck
(80 percent lean)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped fresh
Thai or Italian basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lime juice
2 tsp | 10 mL fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp | 5 mL grated or finely chopped
lime zest
1 tsp | 5 mL grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground
black pepper

For the mushrooms:
3 Tbsp | 45 mL unsalted butter
2 Tbsp | 25 mL canola or peanut oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp | 10 mL grated fresh ginger
8 oz | 250 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems
removed, cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm slices
few drops sesame oil
1/4 tsp | 1 mL kosher salt
1/4 tsp | 1 mL freshly ground black pepper

To finish the burgers:
4 hamburger buns, lightly buttered and
sprinkled with granulated onion
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame seeds

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Gently mix the burger ingredients in a large bowl with your hands, taking care not to overwork the meat. Wet your hands with cold water and shape the mixture into 4 patties about 3/4 inch | 2 cm thick. Cover them and refrigerate them for at least 1/2 hour or up to 4 hours.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. While the grill is heating, prepare the mushrooms. Melt the butter with the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the shallot and ginger. Add the mushrooms and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender, 4–6 minutes. Add the sesame oil, salt, and pepper and mix them in thoroughly. Set the mushrooms aside and keep them warm.
            Brush the burger patties with oil and grill them over direct medium heat for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F | 71˚C. Remove them from the heat. Grill the buns for 30–60 seconds, butter side down, until they’re nicely toasted. Serve the hot burgers on the toasted buns, topped with the mushrooms and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

The Wakefield Inn Oyster Burger

Makes 4 burgers

Years ago the Wakefield Inn, a pub on BC’s Sunshine Coast, invented the ultimate burger —and it’s not grilled. To get the right texture, you need to pan-fry the oysters. The Wakefield Inn used seasoned flour to coat the oysters, but I prefer the extra crunch of cornmeal. Serve the burger with a dill pickle, a dollop of Easy Alabama Potato Salad (see recipe below), and a big mug of cold beer. Sadly, the Wakefield Inn has fallen to a condo developer’s wrecking ball and all that’s left is the great view, and this recipe.

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 tsp | 5 mL ground ancho chiles
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup | 125 mL cornmeal
1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter
1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive oil
12 medium-sized fresh West Coast oysters, pre-shucked (you can buy them in tubs)
4 burger buns, toasted and buttered
4 Tbsp | 60 mL commercial tartar sauce
1 bunch green leaf lettuce
4 slices crisply cooked bacon
1 thinly sliced ripe tomato
pickle slices and parsley sprigs, for garnish

Combine the cumin, ground ancho, pepper, and cornmeal in a small bowl and pour the mixture onto a dinner plate. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is sizzling. Lightly coat the oysters in the cornmeal mixture and fry them in the oil and butter until they’re crisp on the outside and done inside, 2–3 minutes per side.
            Spread 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of tartar sauce on each toasted and buttered bun. Add a leaf or two of lettuce, 3 of the fried oysters, one crispy slice of bacon (ripped in half), and 1 or 2 slices of tomato. Sprinkle the works with salt and pepper. Top with the other half of the bun, and garnish with a pickle and a parsley sprig.


Easy Alabama Potato Salad

Makes 8 servings

I once met a nice woman from Alabama on a plane, and I quizzed her on what she and her family liked to eat in the summertime. She shared this quick, pantry-based recipe for a potato salad that’s bound to bring back memories of happy times for anyone. I’ve added a favorite ingredient, toasted pecans, to give it some extra crunch.

3 lb | 1.5 kg yellow-fleshed potatoes
1/2 red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 Tbsp | 15 mL green hot dog relish
1 Tbsp | 15 mL prepared mustard
1 tsp | 5 mL sugar
1 tsp | 5 mL white vinegar
sweet paprika and chopped chives or green onion for garnish
1/2 cup | 125 mL toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a large pot of cold salted water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes, uncovered, for 10–15 minutes, until they are almost done. Drain them and let them cool to room temperature.

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add the red onion. Combine the mayo, relish, mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a large bowl. Toss the dressing with the potatoes. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and garnish it with a dusting of paprika, a sprinkling of chopped chives or green onion, and the chopped pecans, if desired.

Recipes of the week: The bigger cuts - Barbecue Beef Brisket and Planked Leg of Lamb

Jul 21, 2012

Description:

From Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! Now also available as an e-book!  Buy it now from the iTunes store.

The King of Barbecue: Beef Brisket

Makes 10–16 servings, depending on the size of the brisket and guest appetites

This sinewy, fatty cut of beef may not be something you see often in the supermarket’s meat section, but it’s one of the most flavorful meats, and it’s the classic barbecue choice in Texas. The bigger the brisket, the juicier the end product. Smaller cuts can end up dry. Cooking a brisket requires a long-term commitment. Plan to do this on a day when you can stay around the house doing yard work or watching sports on TV. The process I’ve described here is as close as possible to what we do in competition. The end result is succulent, fork-tender slices of meat that need no accompaniment, but if you insist, serve them with a little dipping sauce, some coleslaw, beans, and pickled onions. The charred, fatty crust of the brisket can be cut off and roughly chopped to make “burnt ends,” which are superb either in a bun or thrown into some baked beans to give them an extra jolt of smoky, fatty flavor.

1 whole brisket, 10–14 pounds | 4.5 to 6 kg,
with a nice white fat cap
3 quarts | 3 L apple juice
1 cup | 250 mL prepared mustard
1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic
11/2 cups | 375 mL Championship Barbecue Rub or
Texas–Style Rub 2 cups | 500 mL apple juice mixed with bourbon and
maple syrup in a spray bottle
2 cups | 500 mL Ron’s Rich, Deeply Satisfying
Dipping Sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce

For large cuts like pork butts and briskets, the rule of thumb is to cook them 11/2 hours per lb | 500 g. That means a 10 lb | 4.5 kg brisket will take 15 hours to cook, so you really need to start cooking it the night before you’re going to serve it. Your timing doesn’t have to be exact, so you shouldn’t have to get up at 3 in the morning to put on the roast. (I usually put a big brisket on just before going to bed, at about midnight). Sealed in foil and wrapped in a blanket (or in a 160˚F | 70˚C oven), a cooked brisket can sit for a few hours before you serve it.
            Take your thawed brisket out of the refrigerator and let it sit for an hour or two, so it starts to come up to room temperature. Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Make sure you line your water pan with a double layer of extra-wide foil and fill the pan with apple juice. Use as much charcoal or hardwood as your smoker or pit will hold. A good water smoker will hold close to 15 lb | 7 kg of charcoal, which will burn for almost 24 hours. (You should know your smoker well before you attempt to cook a brisket.)
            There should be a nice fat cap on the brisket. Trim the excess fat off it with a sharp knife so you’re left with a layer about 1/8 to 1/4 inch | 3 to 5 mm thick.
            Coat the brisket with regular ballpark mustard. Sprinkle both sides with a light coating of granulated garlic. Coat both sides of the brisket with a heavy sprinkling of barbecue rub so that it is evenly coated.
            Let the brisket rest for about half an hour, until the rub starts to get moist and tacky—the salt in the rub pulls some of the juices out of the roast, and this helps to make a nice crust. Put the brisket, fat side up, into your smoker and place some hickory or mesquite chunks on top of the coals. Cook the brisket for 11/2 hours per lb | 500 g.
            The internal temperature of the brisket should rise very gradually throughout the cooking time, reaching a final temperature of about 180˚F | 82˚C. If you’re going to use a meat thermometer, keep it in the roast—don’t use one that you poke into the meat every time you use it, because it will cause the juices to run out. Halfway through the cooking time (first thing in the morning), turn the brisket, spraying it on both sides with the apple juice/bourbon mixture. At this point, be sure to add some more hardwood chunks and top up the water pan with hot water. Also, make sure you have plenty of coals left, and replenish them if you’re running low.
            Three-quarters of the way through the cooking time, turn the brisket and spray it  again. About two hours before you take it out of the smoker, turn it and give it a good coating of barbecue sauce on both sides. Cook the sauce-coated brisket for about another half hour, just enough so the sauce starts to set. Give the brisket one more coating of glaze, take it off the cooking grate, and wrap it in a double layer of foil (the extra-wide works best). Put the wrapped brisket back to cook for 1 more hour.
            Remove the brisket and let it rest for at least an hour. In competition, our briskets often rest for as many as 3 or 4 hours.
            Take the brisket out of the foil and slice it, perpendicular to the grain, in about 1/8- to 1/4-inch | 3 to 6 mm slices. Serve it just like that, on a plate, with a little barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.


Barbecue Secrets
For some reason, freezing helps to tenderize a brisket. I always freeze mine and then thaw it in the refrigerator for at least two days before cooking. Once it’s thawed, store it in the refrigerator.
When a brisket is done, it looks like a meteorite—so dark and crusty that you can’t see the grain of the meat. Barbecue competitors mark the brisket before cooking it to make carving easy. Before you start preparing the brisket for cooking, cut off
a 3- or 4-oz | 125- or 150 g chunk of meat from the flat end of the brisket, perpendicular to the grain of the meat. This marks the roast so you know where to start carving slices.

Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

 

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

 

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first
introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

 

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawrey’s)

1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)

1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper

1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

 

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

 

Texas-style Rub

 

Makes about 2 cups | 500 mL

 

Everyone has a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone in Texas with a great rub recipe. This one came to me through occasional Butt Shredder and barbecue enthusiast Ian “Big Daddy” Baird. The cayenne gives it a nice burn. Use it as an all-purpose rub, but it really makes brisket sing.

 

3/4 cup | 175 mL paprika

1/4 cup | 50 mL kosher salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL sugar

1/4 cup | 50 mL ground black pepper

1/4 cup | 50 mL chile powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL garlic powder

2 Tbsp | 25 mL onion powder

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne, or to taste

 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.



 

Planked Leg of Lamb with Red Wine Reduction

Makes 4–6 servings

Yes, you can plank a whole leg of lamb. And, surprisingly, cedar works very nicely, although any of the hardwoods, particularly apple or cherry, are also excellent. Serve this lamb with grilled vegetables, which you can do next to the meat during the last hour of cooking.

1 cooking plank, soaked overnight or for at least 1 hour
one 6 lb | 2.7 kg bone-in leg of lamb
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
16 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp | 15 mL mustard powder
12 sprigs fresh thyme
one 750 mL bottle Cabernet Sauvignon or other red wine
1 cup | 250 mL chicken stock
3 large shallots, finely chopped

Season the lamb with salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil on it, using your hands to evenly coat the leg in the oil. Push 4 of the garlic cloves through a garlic press and spread the garlic evenly over the lamb. Dust the leg with the mustard powder and massage it into the flesh. Lightly crush the rest of the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife.
            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
            On the plank, make a bed of the crushed garlic and half of the thyme sprigs. Place the lamb leg on top, fat side up, and place the rest of the thyme sprigs along the top of the roast, patting them so they stick to the meat. Cook the leg for about 11⁄2 hours, or until the lamb has an internal temperature of 125°F | 52°C at the thickest part of the roast.
            While the lamb is roasting, pour the wine and chicken stock into a heavy saucepan and add the shallots. Bring the mixture to a medium boil and reduce it until you have about a cupful of syrupy sauce. Set it aside and keep it warm.
            When the lamb reaches the target internal temperature, take it off the grill and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest for 30–45 minutes. Carve the lamb at the table and pass the sauce around.

Photo copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Recipes of the Week: Grilled Corn and Other Veggie Delights

Jul 14, 2012

Description:

Honestly, I have nothing against vegetables. Some of them are good friends of mine, as you'll see in this week's recipes!

Supercharged Grilled Corn on the Cob with Savory Butters

Allow one whole cob per guest

Almost nothing goes better with grilled or barbecued meat than good old corn on the cob, and it’s so easy on the grill. It’s also easy to do a little bit more to give it an extra jolt of buttery flavor.

1 unshucked ear of corn per guest
savory butter or butters
kosher salt

Soak the whole, unshucked corn in cold water for an hour. Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Remove the corn from the water and place it on the grill. Cook it for about half an hour, turning it regularly. Don’t worry if the husks turn brown or black—the corn inside will be protected. Remove it from the grill, let it cool enough that you can handle it, remove the husks, and serve the corn with herbed butter and kosher salt. (If you want a more rustic, charred look and flavor, husk the corn cobs before cooking them, then grill them naked for 10–15 minutes, watching to make sure they char but don’t burn.)

Barbecue Secret
Roasted corn is excellent with plain soft butter and a sprinkling of a simple rub consisting of one part kosher salt and one part ancho chile powder.

Barbecue Secret
If you feel like fussing a little, you can bend the husk back to one end of each cooked corn cob and tie the leaves together with a bit of twine for a handy corn cob holder.

Flavored Butters for all Occasions

Once you’ve made any of these savory butters you’ll always want to keep some in the freezer. Brought to room temperature, they’re incredible on roasted corn on the cob or slathered on cornbread, and a pat of flavored butter on a freshly grilled steak or fish fillet is heavenly. You can even use one of these as a sautéing butter for thinly sliced mushrooms or scrambled eggs, or toss one with some cooked noodles for a quick, easy side.

Mediterranean Butter
4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,
basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,
tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)
1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt to taste

Red Pepper Butter
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and
coarsely chopped
1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp | 5 mL sweet paprika
kosher salt to taste

Garlic Chive Butter
4 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
(or 8 cloves roasted garlic, squeezed out of their skins)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt to taste

Gorgonzola Butter
3/4 cup | 175 mL Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 lb | 125 g unsalted butter at
room temperature
1 tsp | 5 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter  right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.
            If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.


Grilled Eggplant with Hazelnut Oil and Marjoram

Although this has a couple of relatively obscure ingredients, it’s dead simple to make, and extremely delicious.

Makes 2 servings as a side, or enough to add to a salad

1 large, firm eggplant (the big round kind)
Toasted hazelnut oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
Crushed chili flakes
Dried marjoram
Olive oil
1 fresh lemon

Prepare your grill for high direct cooking. Peel the eggplant and slice it into ¾ -inch rounds. With a basting bruch, paint it with a coating of hazelnut oil. Sprinkle on both sides with salt, chili flakes and marjoram. Let the slices sit for a few minutes. Place the eggplant slices on the cooking grate, close the grill and immediately turn the heat down to low. Cook for three or four minutes, turn, and cook for another few minutes until the eggplant has nice grill marks and has softened. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.  Also great at room temperature. Serve as a side with grilled Italian sausages.


Grilled Vegetable Platter

Makes 10 to 20 servings, depending what else you’ve got on the grill

There’s almost nothing as boring as a bunch of raw celery, carrots, radishes, and broccoli florets on a plate with a bowl of seasoned yogurt in the middle. Add some excitement to veggies by grilling them and serving them with a couple of interesting dips. The key here is to not overdo the vegetables. Each vegetable cooks a little differently—zucchini and asparagus cook the fastest and raw sweet potatoes take the longest to grill. This recipe is pretty elaborate and is designed for when you’re entertaining. For everyday cooking, just grill one or two kinds of veggies and they’re ready in minutes. For a party, put out this platter as an appetizer, followed by quesadillas and perhaps some kebabs. Grilled veggies are delicious on their own, but go even better with a nice dip, like a flavored mayo (see recipes below). They’re also great tossed into a green salad or served as a side with grilled meat or fish. To add more flavor, before grilling toss them with some dried or fresh chopped herbs like rosemary, oregano, or basil.

20 nugget potatoes, skins on
20 cauliflower florets (about 1 head of cauliflower)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds 1/2 inch | 1 cm thick
2 red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 green bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 bunches fresh asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off
4 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch | 1 cm slabs
20 whole ripe cherry tomatoes
1 cup | 250 mL extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 fresh lemons, cut into wedges

Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of cold water over high heat. Turn down the heat and
simmer them for 10 minutes, adding the cauliflower florets when you have 5 minutes to go. Remove the vegetables from the pot and cool the potatoes and cauliflower in a bowl of cold water. Drain them again and set them aside.
            Preheat your charcoal or gas grill for medium direct heat.
            Put all the vegetables in a large bowl, in batches if necessary, and toss them with the extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper, and herbs, if desired. Grill the vegetables over high direct heat, starting with the sweet potatoes, potatoes, and cauliflower, turning them often. Grill the most tender vegetables last, taking care not to overcook the asparagus, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes (which really only need to be heated through).
            Arrange all the grilled vegetables on a big platter, drizzle them with a little more oil, garnish the platter with lemon wedges, and serve the vegetables immediately. You can also make this an hour or two ahead of time and serve the vegetables at room temperature.

Barbecue Secret
You can grill almost any vegetable, in any quantity, simply by tossing the veggies in olive oil,
sprinkling them with salt, and putting them on a hot grill. The more robust the vegetable, the longer the cooking time. The more you grill, the better you’ll get!

Doctored mayonnaise

I love plain old mayo—in sandwiches, as a dip for french fries, and as a simple dressing for hot or cold veggies. But mix in some extra flavor and you’ve got something that sends your taste buds to new heights. These variations are my favorites, but feel free to create your own.

The technique is simple: Combine good-quality store-bought or homemade mayonnaise with the other ingredients in a food processor and whiz them until they’re smooth, then refrigerate the result. If possible, store it in the refrigerator for a day, or at least a few hours, to let the flavors marry and intensify.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed
out of their skins
1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made
from toasted cumin seeds)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Sesame Mayo

This is the perfect dip for roasted veggies, and it’s also great tossed with rice noodles for a cool, creamy side to grilled Asian-flavored meats. Sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp | 2 mL soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp | 5 mL Chinese chili sauce or
spicy Szechuan chili oil (or to taste)
1 tsp | 5 mL grated or finely chopped
fresh lemon, lime, or orange rind
1 to 2 Tbsp | 25 mL toasted sesame seeds (to taste)

Curry Mayo

This is perfect with veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups | 310 mL mayonnaise

2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 tsp | 20 mL curry powder
1 Tbsp | 15 mL vegetable oil
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon juice

Barbecue Mayo

A great “secret sauce” for your homemade burger, french fries, or grilled chicken wings. Cut it with sour cream for a tasty chip dip.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 Tbsp | 15 mL barbecue rub of your choice
1/4 cup | 50 mL barbecue sauce of your choice
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon or lime juice

Wasabi Mayo

Excellent on planked fish, or on fried crab cakes, or in a slaw or salad.

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise

1 Tbsp | 15 mL wasabi powder or paste
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lime juice

Roasted Garlic
Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.
Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.





Recipe of the Week: Planked Brie with Roasted Tomato-Cherry Relish

Jul 7, 2012

Description:

Planked Brie with Roasted Tomato-Cherry Relish

From Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! Buy it now in iTunes!

Makes 8–12 servings

I know. Just the name of the recipe sounds luscious. And it is. Roasting the cherries and tomatoes takes a while, but there’s no heavy lifting involved, and planking the cheese is a snap. One taste of this molten, smoky, tangy/sweet concoction and you’ll be addicted. I  want to acknowledge my friend Gail Norton for the relish recipe, and planking god Ted Reader for the cooking technique, which he showcases in his great Sticks & Stones cookbook.

1 maple or fruitwood plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
2 small rounds brie (1/4 lb | 125 g each)
1 cup | 250 mL Roasted Tomato-Cherry Relish (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp | 15 mL balsamic reduction (see sidebar page xx)

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Cut the top of the rind off each of the rounds of brie. Grind a little pepper over the exposed cheese. Spread about 1⁄2 cup | 125 mL of the relish over the brie rounds.
            Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Place the cheese on the plank and cook it for 10–12 minutes, or until the cheese turns golden and starts to soften (be careful not to overcook it—the cheese can fall apart, and then you’ve got a tasty mess on your hands). Remove the brie from the grill and drizzle it with the balsamic reduction. Garnish it with a few fresh grape tomatoes and/or cherries and serve it, on the plank, with crusty bread, rye crisps, or your favorite crackers.

Roasted Tomato-Cherry Relish
Makes about 2 cups | 500 mL
1 lb | 500 g ripe fresh cherries, pits removed
1 lb | 500 g grape tomatoes or small cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup | 50 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
balsamic reduction for drizzling (see sidebar page xxx)

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 180°C. Spread the cherries and tomatoes on a large baking pan in one layer. Drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt over the fruit and toss the cherries and tomatoes to coat them. Place the fruit in the oven and roast it for 1 hour, mixing it around once or twice. Reduce the heat to 300°F | 150°C and roast the fruit for another hour, again mixing it once or twice. The tomatoes and cherries should be nicely caramelized. Drizzle the relish with a little more oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, mix them in thoroughly, and transfer the mixture to a storage container. This relish keeps in the fridge for 1 or 2 weeks and freezes well.

Recipe of the Week: Florida-style Grilled Zucchini

Jun 23, 2012

Description:

Makes 4 servings

Why Florida? In 1990 there was a feature in Gourmet magazine about cooking dinner in Florida. Must have been about low-cal eating for the diet-conscious retiree. That’s all I remember, except for this incredibly simple and delicious grilled zucchini.

1 large clove garlic, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh lemon juice

1 tsp | 5 mL white wine vinegar

1/4 cup | 50 mL vegetable oil

freshly ground black pepper

2 zucchini (each about 11/2 inches | 4 cm in diameter), scrubbed

Whisk together the garlic paste, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and toss the pieces in the marinade, making sure they’re well-coated. Cover and refrigerate them overnight, turning the zucchini several times. Prepare your grill for medium heat. Grill the zucchini for 4–5 minutes, cut side down. Turn them, brush them with some marinade, and grill the other side for 4–5 more minutes, or until they’re just tender. Transfer them to a cutting board, slice them diagonally, and serve. This is a perfect dish to make while a large cut of meat is off the grill and resting.

Recipe of the Week: Real Barbecued Ribs (and a rant)

Jun 16, 2012

Description:


I have a (rib) bone to pick with a story that ran in the Globe and Mail earlier this week. I like the writer's enthusiasm, and he has a certain sense of bravado that's consistent with my barbecue values, but the piece stinks of Toronto-style, know-it-all arrogance. Here's a passage that got my blood boiling:

...I don’t buy most of the southern barbecue mythology. These guys who go around calling themselves “barbecue chefs,” and “pitmasters?” Most of them were IT specialists until approximately four months ago. Barbecue doesn’t take a lifelong apprenticeship or a trove of secret family recipes. Weekend hobbyists with no-to-little previous cooking experience routinely clean up at big-money southern barbecue competitions – there’s even a booming circuit in Canada. A lot of the time, they steal first prize.

As chief cook of a barbecue team that took seven years to win its first championship, and who has competed in a few of those "big money" contests, I take issue with this pompous ignoramus. I've done a lot of work to demystify barbecue and share my secrets, but this guy's implying that there's nothing to it. Hogwash. Barbecue is high ceremonial cooking, and those who cook it well deserve a little more respect than this.

And as for the "booming circuit in Canada," make that WESTERN Canada, please. If you're going to write about this for a publication that claims to be Canada's national newspaper, do a little research. You'll discover that the trend that you think you've uncovered has been around and growing steadily for about 20 years in Alberta and B.C. and is making great gains in the other Western provinces. And yes, there are some great barbecue cooks in Ontario, too, like the world-famous Diva Q. But did she even get a mention? The only expert referred to is a cookbook author from Oklahoma. Sheesh.

He also claims that "If you’ve got a decent smoker, ribs are just a parlour trick. Anybody can do them incredibly well." Harumph.

It's true that barbecue's not that hard, when you know how to do it, but it ain't that easy, either. Here's my "parlour trick," which has won a few ribbons over the years. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Real Barbecued Ribs

Makes 2–4 servings

To get the taste of authentic barbecued ribs, you need to cook them slowly, the traditional way, in a water smoker or barbecue pit at a low temperature. This is how we do ribs in competition. You can also accomplish something close to this using indirect low heat on your covered charcoal or gas grill.

2 racks pork side ribs, St. Louis cut
(with the breast plate attached)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL prepared mustard
1 tsp | 5 mL or so granulated garlic
1/2 cup | 125 mL Championship Barbecue Rub (see recipe below)
apple juice in a spray bottle
NATURAL CHAMPIONS Kansas City-style BBQ Sauce (or your favorite barbecue sauce)

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Cut along the gristly part of the ribs to separate each rack from the breast plate. Remove the shiny membrane on the inside of the ribs.
            Coat the ribs evenly with mustard on both sides. Sprinkle them lightly with garlic, then give them a medium coating of rub, coating the convex (inner) side first and finishing with the convex side facing down (this prevents the rub from getting smudged).
            Let the ribs sit for at least 15 minutes, or until the rub starts to draw moisture out of the meat and looks shiny.
            Place the ribs on the cooking grate, with the convex side up, or place them on a rib rack. Cook them for 5–7 hours, depending on the size of the ribs, spraying them with apple juice at the 3-hour point and then again about every hour or so afterward.
            At the beginning of the last hour of cooking, paint the ribs with a light coating of barbecue sauce.

Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, test the ribs for doneness. If they pass the pull test (see Barbecue Secret, below) give them one more coat of sauce, wrap them in foil, and return them to the cooker for another half hour or so.
            Remove them from the cooker and let the wrapped ribs rest for 20–45 minutes. Unwrap them, cut them into single ribs, and serve them with your favorite accompaniments.


Barbecue Secret
To test ribs for doneness, use the pull test. Grab the outer two ribs with your thumbs and forefingers and gently pull them apart. If they are bonded tightly, the ribs are not yet done. If the meat pulls apart easily, the ribs are ready to take out of the cooker.


Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first
introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawry’s)
1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)
1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper
1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

Recipe Korean-style Rib-Eyes

Jun 9, 2012

Description:

Korean-style Rib-Eyes

Makes 6 servings

Koreans like a little sweet and sour in their marinades and so do I. This recipe draws on the flavors of Korean barbecue, but with a distinctly North American cut and portion size.

For the marinade:
1 cup | 250 mL soy sauce
1/4 cup | 50 mL rice vinegar
1/3 cup | 75 mL chopped green onions
2 Tbsp | 25 mL liquid honey
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely minced garlic
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely minced ginger
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil
1 tsp | 5 mL Vietnamese hot sauce

For the steaks:
three 16 oz | 500 g rib-eye steaks, about 2 inches | 5 cm thick, with rib bones attached
toasted sesame seeds
1 green onion, chopped for garnish

Combine the marinade ingredients in a nonreactive bowl or pan. Place the steaks in the marinade and turn them to coat them. Refrigerate them, uncovered, for at least half an hour and up to 2 hours, turning them once or twice. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat them dry. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and cook it over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the marinade for 5 minutes. Set it aside.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Cook the steaks for 4–6 minutes per side, or until they have an internal temperature of 125°F | 52°C. Remove them from the grill and let them rest, loosely tented in foil, for about 5 minutes.
            Remove the steaks from the bone and cut them into 1⁄2-inch | 1 cm slices. Divide the slices between 4 plates and drizzle them with a little of the sauce. Garnish the meat with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Put the remaining sauce in a serving dish so guests can help themselves.

Recipe of the Week: The Wings Variations

Jun 2, 2012

Description:

Chicken wings are so easy to grill or barbecue. To trim them, just cut the wing tips off and discard them. I like to leave the wing/drummettes together, but you can separate them if you like.

Flavor the wings with your favorite rub or marinade. On the grill, cook them for 15 - 20 minutes using medium direct heat, turning them regularly, until they’re almost charred, basting them with your favorite barbecue sauce for the last few minutes of cooking.

To barbecue them, prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Cook the wings for about an hour with hickory, mesquite, or fruitwood as a flavoring agent, and then crisp them up on a grill and give them a last-minute coating of barbecue sauce if you like.

Fiery Southwestern Wings: Make a simple rub with 1 part powdered chipotles, 1 part ancho chile powder, and 1 part garlic salt. Grill the wings till they’re crispy, and finish them with a drizzling of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt, and a squeeze of lemon.

Teriyaki Wings: Marinate the wings in teriyaki sauce for 2 hours. Grill them till they’re crispy, basting them with more sauce. Finish them with extra sauce and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Buffalo–Style Grilled Wings: Melt 1/4 cup | 50 ml of butter and add 1/2 cup | 125 mL of Louisiana–style hot sauce (Franks, Tabasco, etc.). Salt and pepper the wings and grill them till they’re crispy. Take the wings off the grill and immediately toss them in the butter/hot sauce mixture. Serve them with blue cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks. Lemon Dijon

Rosemary Wings: Season the wings with salt and pepper and coat them with Dijon mustard. Sprinkle them with dried rosemary and a very light dusting of cayenne. Grill them until they’re crispy, season them with a little more salt and pepper, and squeeze a lemon over them just before serving.

Cumin Seed Wings: Season the wings, coat them with mustard, sprinkle them with your favorite grilling rub, and coat them lightly with cumin seeds. Grill them till they’re crispy, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper.

Recipes of the Week: Tasty Marinades

May 26, 2012

Description:

Whether you just douse your meat in a tasty marinade and let it sit for an hour, or soak it in salty-sweet brine over night, these are great ways to add extra flavour to what you're planning to throw on the grill.

Mediterranean Marinade

Makes enough for a couple of racks of lamb, four chicken breasts, or eight chicken thighs

Don’t let the anchovy scare you. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor, and the end product doesn’t taste fishy at all.

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive paste or 6 kalamata olives,
pitted and chopped
1 anchovy fillet
1 Tbsp | 15 mL coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub (see page xx)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice
1 Tbsp | 15 mL balsamic vinegar
           
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz them together until they’re blended but not totally puréed.


Asian Poultry Brine

Makes enough for 2 cut-up chickens or a dozen thighs

The high salt content makes this more of a brine than a marinade, and my barbecue team has used it very successfully in competition. It gives the poultry a nice saltiness and a rich, complex Asian flavor. I marinate duck overnight in this; for milder-tasting chicken, a couple of hours is all you need. Pat the excess moisture from the meat after you’ve taken it out of the marinade and then use a barbecue rub doctored with Asian flavors, like powdered ginger and five-spice powder. Barbecue or grill as you like, and finish the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce.

11/2 cups | 375 mL water
1 cup | 250 mL soy sauce
1/2 cup | 125 mL sherry or vermouth
1/2 cup | 125 mL apple or pineapple juice
1/4 cup | 50 mL brown sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL coarse salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed
1 shallot, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp | 25 mL grated fresh ginger
1 tsp | 5 mL sesame oil
pinch ground cloves
pinch five-spice powder

Combine all the ingredients well, stirring thoroughly to dissolve the salt and sugar.


Marinade for Pork

Makes enough marinade for up to 2 lb | 1 kg pork chops or whole tenderloins

Pork tastes great no matter how you prepare it, but this sweet, aromatic marinade nicely offsets its richness and gives it an exotic edge.

1/4 cup | 50 mL soy sauce
2 Tbsp | 25 mL dry sherry
2 Tbsp | 25 mL honey
2 Tbsp | 25 mL brown sugar
1 tsp | 5 mL salt
1/2 tsp | 2 mL crushed anise seed
1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp | 1/2 mL ground cloves
1 Tbsp | 15 mL grated fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat them gently until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the mixture before marinating the meat for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge if you want a stronger flavor.


Recipe of the Week: Ronnie & Denzel's Perfect Pulled Pork Burger

May 19, 2012

Description:

At the 2011 BC Home & Design Show I faced my old friend and barbecue competitor Brian Misko in a burger throwdown, and this juicy, spicy burger was the victor. One of the judges said that the Perfect Pulled Pork topping was my “ninja in the closet” that kicked the flavor into the stratosphere. The pulled pork helped – but so did my friend Denzel Sandberg’s awesome garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather. This burger is complicated but delicious – lots of work, but well worth the effort!

Makes 6 burgers

For the burger mix:
3 lb | 1.4 kg medium ground beef
(or half-and-half ground beef and ground pork)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. | 4 mL granulated garlic
1 tsp. | 4 mL toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp | 25 mL dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne
(or more, if you like more heat)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup | 75 mL cold water

For the caramelized onions:
2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter, olive oil, or a combination of both
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL sugar
1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne
best quality balsamic vinegar

For the fried mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil
1 lb | 454 g white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
kosher salt and pepper
fresh lemon

For Denzel’s garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather
one ½ lb. | 250 g block of cream cheese
1 cup | 250 mL mayonniase
2 Tbsp | 25 mL Worcestershire sauce
10 cloves of raw garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

For finishing the burgers:
1 lb. | 545 g Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS Perfect Pulled Pork, heated and ready to eat
Your favorite flavor of NATURAL CHAMPIONS barbecue sauce
6 hamburger buns
1 large fresh jalapeño chile, thinly sliced

To prepare the burger patties: Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix the burger ingredients together with your hands in a large nonreactive bowl. Wet your hands in cold water before you form the mixture into chunks the size of tennis balls. Flatten them into patties, placing them on the cookie sheet. Each patty will be about 1/2 lb | 250 g before cooking. Place them in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.

To prepare the caramelized onions: Heat the butter/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté them until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to sauté the onions, stirring them regularly, until they are shiny and brown, about half an hour, being careful not to burn them (add a little water, if necessary, to prevent burning). To finish them, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and mix it evenly into the onions. Set the mixture aside.

To prepare the fried mushrooms:
Add the oil, garlic clove and mushrooms to a medium-hot frying pan along with a pinch of salt. Sauté the mushrooms, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until they’re soft and brown. Squeeze some lemon juice over the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set them aside.

To prepare Denzel’s garlicky mayo/cream cheese slather:
Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly and let stand for at least half an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

To grill the burgers:
Preheat your grill for medium direct heat. Take the burgers out of the freezer and grill them for 6 minutes per side, or until they are springy to the touch, glazing them on both sides with barbecue sauce. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, toss on the buns, cut side down, to toast them a bit.

To assemble the burgers:
Generously coat the bottom and top halves of the buns with the mayo/cream cheese slather. Place the burgers on the buns and then layer on some mushrooms, caramelized onions and a juicy dollop of pulled pork. Drizzle some barbecue sauce on top of the pork and place some thin slices of fresh jalapeño on top. Cap off the burgers with the top half of the buns. When your guests take a big, messy bite, they’ll be in hog heaven.

Final Recipe of the Week for 2011: Grilled Venison Tenderloin with Cumberland Sauce

Sep 24, 2011

Description:

Makes 4 servings

I love the gamy taste and silky texture of venison tenderloin, which needs to be cooked rare to medium-rare. This recipe treats the venison very simply, but dresses it up with a lovely, complex, old-school British sauce that I found in The Joy of Cooking. Serve this dish as a course on its own; it doesn’t need any accompaniment but its own sauce, which can be served warm or cold.

Of course, this recipe would also work well with good old beef tenderloin, or pork tenderloin for that matter!

For the venison:

one 1 lb venison tenderloin

kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

olive oil 

For the Cumberland sauce:

1/2 cup | 125 mL slivered almonds

1 tsp | 5 mL dry mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL brown sugar

1/4 tsp | 1 mL powdered ginger

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp | 1 mL kosher salt

1/4 tsp | 1 mL ground cloves

1 1/2 cups | 375 mL port wine

1/2 cup | 125 mL seedless golden raisins

2 tsp | 10 mL cornstarch

2 Tbsp | 30 mL cold water

1/4 cup | 60 mL red currant jelly

1/2 Tbsp | 7.5 mL finely grated orange rind

1/2 Tbsp | 7.5 mL finely grated lemon rind

1/4 cup | 50 mL orange juice

2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice

2 Tbsp | 30 mL Grand Marnier liqeur 

Lightly toast the almonds in a sauté pan over medium heat, taking care not to burn them. Set the almonds aside.

            Combine the mustard, sugar, ginger, cayenne, salt, cloves, port, raisins, and toasted almonds in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 8–10 minutes.

            Thoroughly combine the cornstarch and cold water and stir the mixture into the sauce. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the jelly, orange and lemon rind, and orange and lemon juice until you have a smooth, glossy mixture. Set the sauce aside.

            Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Season the venison tenderloin with salt and pepper and wet it with a little oil.  Grill it, turning it often for just a few minutes, until the exterior is nicely charred and the tenderloin reaches a core temperature of no more than 120°F | 50°C. Remove the meat from the grill and set it aside to rest, loosely tented with foil, for 5 minutes.

            While the tenderloin is resting, heat up the sauce and stir in the Grand Marnier just before serving.

            Slice the tenderloin into 3/4 inch | 2 cm medallions and arrange the slices on plates. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve.

Photo copyright John Sinal Photography, used with permission.

 

Where to get Perfect Pulled Pork

Sep 22, 2011

Description:

 Here are all the places you can currently get Perfect Pulled Pork.

(Be sure to call ahead, because it's been selling out fast, and if your favorite meat shop or gourmet food store doesn't carry it, get them to call Sellar Sale Agency at (250) 889-9404.)

___________________________________________________________

Vancouver:

Gourmet Warehouse 1340 East Hastings Street (604) 253-3022 ‎

Edible Canada 1596 Johnston Street (604) 682-6675

___________________________________________________________

Langley:

Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store  Suite 302C-20771 Langley Bypass (604) 530-1518

___________________________________________________________

North Vancouver:

Lynn Valley Meats 1264 Lynn Valley Road (604) 985-5969

___________________________________________________________

Ladner:

Superior Fish Trennant Park Square, 5229 Ladner Trunk Road (604) 946-2097

___________________________________________________________

Victoria:

The Market on Yates 903 Yates Street (250) 381-6000

Slater's First Class Meats 2577 Cadboro Bay Rd. (250) 592-0283

___________________________________________________________

North Saanich:

Deep Cove Market 10940 West Saanich Road

___________________________________________________________

And here are some useful links:

If you're on Facebook, please 'Like' the Natural Champions BBQ Facebook page to get updates or ask questions about our products.

Visit Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk's Barbecue Secrets websites for recipes, audio and vido podcasts, great barbecue photos and much more:

Barbecue Secrets Facebook Page

Barbecue Secrets Blog

Barbecue Secrets Audio Podcast on iTunes

Barbecue Secrets YouTube Channel

Barbecue Secrets Twitter Stream (@rockinronnie)

 

Recipe of the Week: A Grilled Quesadilla Library

Sep 17, 2011

Description:

Easy to make and quick to cook, quesadillas are the perfect party food. Think of the soft flour tortilla as a palette upon which you can paint beautiful taste-scapes for your guests. Or something like that. Preparing a quesadilla is as easy as one, two, three, four, five.

1. Place a large flour tortilla on a cutting board or cookie sheet and cover half of it with a 1/4-inch | 5 mm layer of shredded cheese. (What you want is a gooey but bland cheese like mozzarella or Jack for the right texture, plus, if you want to get fancy, a more robust-tasting cheese like Asiago, Gouda, or blue cheese for extra flavor.)

2. Layer on the toppings, taking care to distribute them evenly.

3. Sprinkle the toppings with salt, pepper, and a little hot sauce to taste. (If you’ve used a salty cheese like blue, go easy.)

4. Coat the toppings with another thin layer of shredded cheese.

5. Fold over the tortilla and it’s ready to hit the grill.

To cook, preheat your charcoal or gas grill to a medium-high heat. Place the quesadilla directly on the grill and cook it for 2 or 3 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the tortilla is toasted and slightly charred. Flip it with a big spatula and cook the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes. Take it off the grill, place it on a cutting board, and let it rest for a minute or two. Cut it into pizza-like slices with a big sharp knife.

            Accompany the quesadillas with fresh salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for dipping. Quesadillas can also easily be made on a stovetop or on the propane burner on the side of your grill in a large, lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. You can prepare the quesadillas in advance and keep them covered and refrigerated for an hour or two before grilling (if you try to keep them overnight, however, the tortillas will get soggy).

 

Variations

Simple but Great

Just plain shredded Jack or cheddar cheese with pickled jalapeño slices.

Classic

Equal parts shredded Asiago and Jack cheese, with pickled jalapeño slices, a bit of tomato salsa, and some chopped cilantro, salt, and pepper. Sour cream and guacamole are perfect accompaniments.

Hiker’s Dream (from Calgary foodie Dee Hobsbawn-Smith)

Equal parts shredded Jack and smoked Gouda, thinly sliced Granny Smith apple, fresh chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Unusual and delicious!

Funky

Shredded Jack cheese, chunks of chèvre (creamy goat cheese), slices of roasted red pepper, lightly toasted pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Serve with jalapeño jelly.

Heavenly

Shredded Jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and a few spoonfuls of leftover chili or chorizo. Dip in sour cream or fresh salsa.

Wolfgangpuckadilla

Shredded Jack cheese with daubs of cream cheese, slices of lox, a few capers, some thinly sliced red onion, salt, and pepper. Serve with sour cream and…caviar?

Blue Cheese Dream

Shredded Jack, crumbled strong blue cheese like roquefort or Gorgonzola, ripe pear slices, and coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. Maybe even a little caramelized onion.

Blue Cheese Dream (II)

Danish blue cheese, shredded Jack, lightly toasted chopped walnuts, and caramelized onions.

Calicado

Shredded Jack with chopped, pitted canned black olives, avocado slices, chopped cilantro, chopped fresh red bell pepper, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Tropical

Mozzarella and brie, thinly sliced ripe mango or papaya, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced onion, and chopped fresh jalapeño. Serve with sour cream as a dip.

 

Note: Flavored cheeses like jalapeño Jack, peppered goat cheese, or spiced Gouda are excellent in quesadillas.

 

Recipe of the Week: Plank-Roasted Prime Rib

Sep 9, 2011

Description:

Makes 6–8 servings

This is a novel way to cook a classic cut of beef because it imparts an unexpected smoky flavor (even more unusual if you use a cedar plank). The key with cuts like this is to be careful not to overcook. If you don’t want to plank your roast, you can easily cook it using indirect heat. See alternate cooking instructions at the bottom of the recipe.

For the dry rub:

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic (or garlic powder)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion (or onion powder)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL freshly ground coarse black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1/4 to 1/2 tsp | 1 to 2 mL cayenne pepper

For the roast:

1 plank of your choice, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour

one 5 lb | 2.2 kg rib roast, bones attached

kosher salt or, if you want to get fancy, fleur de sel (French sea salt)

2 Tbsp | 25 mL. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

extra virgin olive oil

4 or 5 whole rosemary branches, 5 inches | 12 cm long

Combine all the rub ingredients and set the rub aside.

            Take the roast out of the fridge and let it sit for an hour to come to room temperature. Season it on all sides with kosher salt. Coat it with the mustard. Sprinkle the rosemary evenly on the roast, then sprinkle it generously with the dry rub (you’ll have some left over). Drizzle it with olive oil and pat the rub and rosemary into the roast.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

            Lay the rosemary twigs across the plank to make a bed for the roast. Place the roast on the rosemary and cover the grill. Cook for 11⁄2 to 2 hours, until the core of the roast reaches an internal temperature of 125°F | 52°C. Remove it from the grill, tent it  loosely in foil, and let it rest for half an hour to an hour before serving it with your favorite sides. (The long resting time gives you plenty of time to grill some veggies.)

ALTERNATIVE METHOD – INDIRECT HEAT: Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. When the grill is preheated, turn half the burners off and the others to medium-low. Place the roast, bones-side down, over the burners that are turned off, and cook the roast as if it were in an oven – about 20 minutes per pound. If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, it’s the same idea. Just pile your coals on one side of the grill and cook your roast on the other. It’s not a bad idea to put a cake tin or aluminum foil baking dish under the cooking grate to catch the drippings for gravy!

Planking Secret

The flavor of cedar smoke goes well with so many foods, from salmon to cheese, and even beef. But most of the time, when I’m planking beef, I want classic hardwood flavor. I choose planks made of oak, hickory, and mesquite, although fruitwoods also work well. You can get hardwood cooking planks from Johnstone’s BBQs and Parts in North Vancouver, www.johnstones.com.

Recipe of the week: Cowboy Steaks

Sep 3, 2011

Description:

Makes 4 servings

This is pretty close to my favorite steak. The earthiness of the cumin seeds, the sharpness of the cracked pepper, the sweetness of the onion and garlic granules, and the smoky, tart bite of the ground chipotles create an explosion of flavor. Serve whole steaks with beans, a slab of cornbread, and some coleslaw. Alternative serving suggestion: Slice up the steaks and serve them fajita–style with salsa, guacamole, and shredded Jack cheese alongside some warm flour tortillas.

4 big rib-eye steaks, bone in, about 11/2 inches | 4 cm thick

kosher salt (or another fancy coarse salt like Maldon or

fleur de sel) to taste

1/2 cup | 125 mL black peppercorns

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotle chiles

(if you can’t find chipotles, use the same amount of cayenne)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted cumin seeds

extra virgin olive oil

 

Place the steaks in a dish or on a large cutting board and let them come to room temperature (it’ll take about an hour). Use a spice mill or a mortar and pestle to give the peppercorns a coarse grinding, or put them in a thick paper or plastic bag and pound them with a hammer or rolling pin until they reach the desired consistency. They shouldn’t be powdery, but more like coarse sand. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper. Combine the granulated onion and garlic, ground chipotles, and cumin seeds in a bowl. Coat the steaks on one side with the mixture, patting it on so it sticks nicely. Drizzle the rubbed steaks with a light coating of olive oil, turn them over and repeat the seasoning, rub it in, and drizzle some oil on top.

            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat and cook the steaks 4–6 minutes per side for medium-rare. If using a charcoal grill, toss a couple of chunks of mesquite (or a handful of wood chips) onto the coals just prior to grilling. With a gas grill, use a foil pack of pre-soaked chips with holes punched into it with a fork.

            Be sure not to overcook the steaks! Remember, they will continue to cook after they are taken off the heat. Remove them from the grill and let them rest for 4–5 minutes before serving.

 

Recipe of the Week: Wild BC Pink Salmon Two Ways

Aug 27, 2011

Description:

I love pink salmon, the delicious but often overlooked species of the West Coast. During salmon season you’ll see pinks next to the other wild species like sockeye and coho in the seafood section of supermarkets. It’s just as fresh, just as delicious but often costs a lot less.

Most of the time I see fresh pinks packaged as whole, cleaned fish, but you can also get them in fillets in the freezer section. Here are two great ways to cook this excellent, wild, sustainable seafood.

Grilled Whole Pink Salmon in Foil

Makes 4-6 servings

The following simple technique gives the fish a more subtle and delicate flavor and texture than grilling over direct heat, and the orange adds a lovely flavor and aroma.

1 whole, cleaned 3-4 lb | 1.5 - 2 kg wild BC pink salmon (you can also do this with other salmon species or trout)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 Tbsp | 45 mL butter, at room temperature

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh parsley

1/2 medium white onion, peeled

2 oranges

sprigs of parsley for garnish

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Tear off a strip of heavy-duty foil 21/2 times as long as the fish and double it. Spread 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of the butter evenly over the top surface of the foil. Place the fish on the buttered foil. Lightly season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper, and sprinkle it with chopped parsley. Slice the onion and one of the oranges into thin rounds and place half of the onion and orange slices inside the body cavity and the other half on top of the fish. Daub the remaining 2 Tbsp | 30 mL butter inside the fish and on top of the onion and orange slices. Squeeze half the remaining orange over everything and wrap the foil around the fish, sealing it tightly.

            Place the foil package on the cooking grate, cover the grill, and cook the salmon for 8–12 minutes, or until the fish is just done (about 140 to 150˚F | 60 to 66˚C). You can poke a meat thermometer through the foil in the last few minutes of cooking to check for doneness. To serve, open up the foil, carefully transfer the fish to a warmed platter, and pour the juices left in the foil over the fish (alternatively, it looks great served in the foil, too). Garnish the salmon with orange wedges and parsley sprigs.


Planked Pink Salmon with Pesto

Makes 4 - 6 servings

This is a classic way to plank BC wild pink salmon. Serve it with a tossed green salad and maybe some Fettuccini Alfredo.

For the salmon:

two 1 – 2 lb | .5 – 1 Kg  boned pink salmon fillets (or sockeye, if you can’t find pink fillets), skin on

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons for garnish

two cedar cooking planks, soaked in cold water overnight or at least a couple hours

For the pesto (for maximum convenience, you can use good-quality store-bought pesto)

1 cup | 250 mL basil leaves, washed and dried

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup | 75 mL pine nuts

1 cup | 250 mL grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup | 175 mL extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the filets with a little salt and pepper and set them aside.

            In a food processor, purée the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese with 2 or 3 Tbsp | 30 or 45 mL of the olive oil. With the processor running, slowly add the rest of the oil. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

            Coat the salmon filets with an even layer of the pesto (you’ll have enough pesto left over to toss with some pasta another day; it freezes well, too).

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the salmon filets on the plank, leaving room around each for heat to circulate. Cook the fish for 8–12 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Serve the salmon garnished with lemon wedges.

 

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Little Fish

Aug 20, 2011

Description:

Makes 2–4 servings

This technique works with sardines, smelts, fresh herring, or any other smallish fish, like pan-fry-sized trout. Just make sure the fish are scaled, gutted, and ultra-fresh. The only thing you need to serve with these is a crisp, dry white wine. 

1 lb | 500 g fresh, cleaned small fish

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

dried oregano (or finely chopped fresh herbs of your choice)

extra virgin olive oil

fresh lemon wedges

finely chopped fresh parsley

Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Pat the cleaned fish dry with a paper towel and place them in a nonreactive dish. Cut 3 or 4 diagonal slashes with a sharp knife, about 1/8 inch | 3 mm deep, along each side of each fish. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and crumbled oregano or chopped fresh herbs. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and pat the herbs and oil into the little slashes with your fingers.

            When the grill is hot, place the fish on the grate. Cover them and cook them for no more than a couple of minutes per side. Remove them from the heat and season them  with a little more salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with some more olive oil and squeeze some lemon juice over them. Finish them with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley and serve them with a lemon wedge and a cold glass of wine.

 

Recipe of the Week:

Aug 13, 2011

Description:

Whiskey and Honey-planked Peaches

Makes 8 servings

This delicious recipe is based on the technique of planking god Ted Reader. You can easily substitute ripe pears or nectarines for the peach halves. The key is to use perfectly ripe freestone peaches so it’s easy to halve and peel them.

1 cedar plank, soaked for 6 hours or overnight

3/4 cup | 175 mL Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

1/2 cup | 125 mL honey

freshly ground black pepper to taste

freshly grated nutmeg to taste

8 ripe but firm freestone peaches, peeled and halved

1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon juice

1 cup | 250 mL whipped cream, sweetened with  

a dash of Amaretto, or premium vanilla ice cream

8 sprigs fresh mint 

        Combine the whiskey and honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Season the mixture with the pepper and nutmeg. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer it until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove it from the heat and cool it.

         Arrange the peaches cut side up in a dish just large enough to hold them in one layer and brush them with the lemon juice. Spoon 1 Tbsp | 15 mL whiskey-honey mixture over each peach and let them marinate for 1 hour.

            Preheat the grill to high. Place the soaked plank on the grill, close the lid, and bake it for 3–5 minutes, or until it begins to crackle and smoke. Carefully lift the lid, place the peaches on the plank, cut side up, and close the lid. Cook them for 3–5 minutes, or until the peaches are hot and tender and starting to char on the edges. Remove them from the plank and transfer them to dessert plates. Garnish each peach with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, drizzle it with the remaining bourbon-honey mixture, add a sprig of mint, and serve the peaches immediately.

SAFETY NOTE: Keep a spray bottle filled with water next to the grill to extinguish any flames – sometimes the corners of the plank will catch fire. You should always have a fire extinguisher near your grill in any case.

Recipe of the Week: Lamb Meatball Kebabs with Mint Jelly Glaze

Aug 6, 2011

Description:

Lamb Meatball Kebabs With Mint Jelly Glaze

Makes 4 main course servings or 8 appetizers

The combination of toasted pine nuts and fresh and dried herbs gives these kebabs a rich flavor and tender but nutty texture. This recipe is a bit fussy because the raw lamb meatballs are very delicate and need to be handled gently when they’re placed on the skewer and when you’re turning them on the grill. But man, are they worth the trouble! This is an unbelievably succulent kebab. Serve it as an appetizer or as a main course with some rice, tabouleh and grilled vegetables.

 

eight 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour

1/2 cup | 125 mL mint jelly

1/4 cup | 50 mL water

1/2 cup | 125 mL pine nuts

1 lb | 500 g ground lamb

1/2 cup | 125 mL fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped cilantro

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh chives

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried oregano

1/4 tsp | 1 mL freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

generous grinding black pepper

2 or 3 small zucchini, sliced into 3/4-inch | 2 cm discs

10 ripe cherry tomatoes

10 smallish button mushrooms, or 5 larger ones cut in half

 

Combine the mint jelly and water in a small saucepan and heat the mixture, stirring, until the jelly is melted. Set it aside.

            Toast the pine nuts in a skillet or nonstick sauté pan over medium heat until they turn golden brown. Remove them from the pan, cool them for a few minutes, and then coarsely chop the nuts. Gently but thoroughly combine the ground lamb, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, parsley, mint, chives, oregano, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a nonreactive bowl.

            Wetting your hands to prevent sticking, shape the lamb mixture into about 25 1-inch | 2.5 cm balls. Thread the meatballs onto 5 to 8 soaked bamboo skewers, alternating them with the zucchini discs, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. (Press the vegetables gently against the meatballs to help hold them in place while grilling.) At this point, you can refrigerate the completed skewers, covered with plastic wrap, for an hour or two.

            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat and oil the grill. Spray the kebabs with cooking spray or brush them with oil and place them on the grill. Cook them for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the meatballs are cooked through, brushing them with the mint jelly glaze during grilling. (Note: These kebabs are touchy. Be careful when you turn them to ensure the meatballs stay on the skewer. The trick here is to start with a clean cooking grate and to not touch them for at least the first three or four minutes of cooking time, so the meatballs have a chance to firm up before you start moving them.)

 

(Photo copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission)

Recipe of the Week: Planked Saffron Halibut with Avocado and Tropical Fruit Salsa

Jul 29, 2011

Description:

Makes 4–6 servings

This unusual recipe from my friend Mike the fishmonger, which I’ve adapted for the plank, pairs the intense flavor of the spiced halibut with a cool tropical salsa. Substitute snapper for halibut for a stronger flavor. Cuban-style Black Beans and Rice go very well with this, so I’ve included the recipe at the bottom of this post.

For the fish:

1 plank (cedar or fruitwood), soaked overnight or at least 1 hour

four 6 oz | 175 g halibut fillets

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1/2 tsp | 2 mL turmeric

pinch saffron threads, crumbled

pinch cayenne pepper

1 lime, cut in half

extra virgin olive oil

 

For the salsa:

1 batch Tropical Fruit Salsa (see recipe below)

 

Prepare the salsa and set it aside.

            Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper. Combine the cumin, turmeric, saffron, and cayenne in a bowl and sprinkle the rub lightly over the fillets. Squeeze the lime halves over the fillets and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Marinate the fish for 15 minutes.

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

            Place the fillets on the plank and cook the fish for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Remove it from the grill and tent it lightly in foil. Let it rest for 2 or 3 minutes.

            Serve the fillets topped with a dollop of salsa.

 

Tropical Fruit Salsa

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

This perfect summer salsa is great on grilled fish or beef. No matter where or when you eat it, you’re instantly on a sunny vacation.

2 cups | 500 mL diced tropical fruit (any combination of mango, papaya, kiwi, pineapple)

2 just-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped

3 Tbsp | 45 mL chopped cilantro

3 Tbsp | 45 mL chopped red onion

1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

2 tsp | 10 mL fresh lime juice

pinch sugar

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let the salsa stand, covered, in the fridge for
about an hour.

Cuban-style Black Beans

Makes 6–8 servings

This dish, along with some white rice, is a great accompaniment to planked meats, particularly those with Southwestern and barbecue flavors. It also goes great with ham and eggs. 

1/4 cup | 50 mL olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried oregano

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

two 19 oz | 540 mL cans black beans,

rinsed and drained

3/4 cup | 175 mL chicken stock or water

11/2 Tbsp | 20 mL cider vinegar

1 tsp | 5 mL sugar

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, and cumin, and sauté the mixture until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

            Add about 1 cup | 250 mL of the beans and mash them with the back of a fork. Add the rest of the beans, the stock or water, and the vinegar. Simmer the beans, stirring them often, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Stir in the sugar. Season the beans with salt and pepper and serve.

 

 

 

Recipe of the week: Beef Burger with Herbed Butter Core and Caramelized Onions

Jul 23, 2011

Description:

Makes 4 burgers

This recipe won the burger category at the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in Whistler, British Columbia, in the summer of 2003. More than a burger, it is the Atkins equivalent of a jelly doughnut (if you forego the bun). It’s a life-shaping experience that should probably be accompanied by some kind of parental guidance message. Be careful to whom you serve this—your guests may stalk you until you cook it for them again.

11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg of ground beef, 20 percent fat content

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg

4 1/2-inch | 1 cm discs of frozen Mediterranean Herbed Butter (see following recipe)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard

Your favorite barbecue rub

4 hamburger buns

extra softened Herbed Butter for the buns

granulated garlic

1/2 cup | 125 mL chèvre (a creamy white French-style

goat cheese), at room temperature

2 large roasted red bell peppers, torn into quarters

Caramelized Onions (see following recipe)

Combine the beef and nutmeg in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix together the spice and the meat lightly with your hands, being careful not to overwork it. Split the meat into 4 equal portions and roll it into balls. Poke your thumb in the middle of each ball to create a hole and insert a frozen disc of herbed butter. Encase the butter in the burger as you shape it into a classic burger shape about ¾-inch | 2 cm thick, ensuring that there are no openings where molten butter could run out. (It may be helpful to dip your hands periodically into cold water to prevent the meat from sticking to them.)

            Coat the burger patties lightly with the mustard and sprinkle them with a light coating of the rub. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Either spray the burgers with vegetable oil spray, or coat the grill with oil. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the patties become firm, but not hard, to the touch.

            Remove the burgers from the grill, tent them with foil, and let them rest for 4–5 minutes. In the meantime, coat the buns with the softened herbed butter, sprinkle them with a little granulated garlic, and toast them for 30–60 seconds on your grill.

            Dress the burgers with a slather of goat cheese, a piece or two of roasted red pepper, and a dollop of caramelized onion. Inhale. (Note: Warn your guests that the burgers have a molten filling or they could be in for a shock! In any case, have plenty of napkins at the ready. These are very juicy burgers.)

Caramelized Onions

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

This makes a great topping for burgers but is also an excellent all-purpose condiment. Try it as an omelet filling or as a topping for grilled pork chops. Mix it with goat cheese and spread it on crackers for a tangy, sweet appetizer. It’s also a great topping on a planked round of brie.

2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter, olive oil, or a combination of both

4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into rings

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL sugar

1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon

pinch cayenne

Heat the butter/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté them until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to sauté the onions, stirring them regularly, until they are shiny and brown, about 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them (add a little water, if necessary,  to prevent burning).

Mediterranean Butter

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,

basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,

tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)

1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.

            If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.

Recipes of the Week: Three Great Summer Salads

Jul 16, 2011

Description:

Even though it's not much of a summer so far here in the West, and the growing season is extraordinarily late, we're getting into the best time of year for fresh fruit and veggies. Serve any or all of these great summer salads along whatever you've got coming off the grill, and even if you can't see the sun, you'll surely taste it!

Tomatoes in Paradise

Makes 4 servings

Two words: simple and sensational. 

3 Tbsp | 45 mL extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lemon juice

1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard

1 clove finely chopped or pressed garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh herbs (mint, basil, rosemary, etc.)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 exceptional tomatoes, cut into quarters

1/2 cup | 125 mL chopped red onion

1 cup | 250 mL kalamata or other Mediterranean olives

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and herbs in a salad bowl. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add the other ingredients and toss them together gently. Let the tomatoes stand for half an hour at room temperature, then serve.

 

Tidewater Coleslaw

Makes 8–10 servings

My dear friend and fellow Butt Shredder Kathy Richardier discovered this slaw many years ago and I have substituted my favorite toasted cumin seeds for the celery seeds in the original recipe. This pungent, high-sugar slaw is best as a condiment, piled high on top of a pulled pork sandwich or burger, or on the side of a few slices of barbecued brisket.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1/2 cup | 125 mL white vinegar

1/3 cup | 75 mL white sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted cumin seeds (cumin seeds are easy to toast - just toss them in a frying pan over medium heat for a minute, stirring or shaking constantly until the seeds just start to darken in color)

1 small head cabbage, finely shredded

2 carrots, peeled and finely grated

Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and cumin together in a bowl. Toss it with the cabbage and carrots and refrigerate it. You can make this slaw a few hours ahead of time. Toss it just before serving to redistribute the dressing.

 

Watermelon Salad

Makes 4 servings

This lovely summer salad, created by my friend Michele Allaire, is as refreshing as it sounds.

1/2 watermelon, rind removed and flesh cut into 1-inch | 2.5 cm chunks

1/2 lb | 250 g feta cheese, cut into small chunks

2 Tbsp | 30 mL lemon juice

3 Tbsp | 45 mL olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp| 15 mL finely chopped fresh mint (optional)

Place the watermelon chunks in a salad bowl. Add the feta cheese. In a separate bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, and a grinding of black pepper. Add the dressing and the chopped mint at the last minute, just before serving.

 

Recipe of the Week: The Fire Chef's BBQ Salmon on a Plank

Jul 9, 2011

Description:

The Fire Chef’s BBQ Salmon on a Plank

Makes 4–6 servings

The late David Veljacic was the father of barbecue in Canada, founding the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in New Westminster back in 1988. David was a firefighter, hence his nickname, “The Fire Chef.” He was diagnosed with cancer several years before he succumbed to it in 2001, and while on medical leave he wrote cookbooks and taught barbecue and grilling to a generation of backyard cooks. This is his most famous recipe, adapted for the plank. 

For the marinade:

1/3 cup | 75 mL finely chopped parsley

3 Tbsp | 45 mL oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup | 75 mL extra virgin olive oil

For the salmon:

1 cedar, alder or hickory plank, soaked overnight

or at least 1 hour

one 21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet,

skin on

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below), cloves squeezed out of their skins

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the fillet in a nonreactive dish (a lasagna pan would do). Pour the marinade over the fillet. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

Score the salmon with 2 long slits along the length of the fillet. Don’t cut all the way through the fish. Mash the salt together with the roasted garlic and spread the mixture over the fillet and into the slits. Re-coat the fillet with the marinade after you’ve spread the garlic paste over it.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Place the salmon on the plank and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook it for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Remove the plank and the salmon from the grill and serve it.

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

Recipe of the Week: Cheater Ribs

Jul 2, 2011

Description:

  Cheater Ribs

(From Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!)

Makes 4 servings 

Die-hard barbecue people don’t even like to consider this technique, which goes against all the principles and values of barbecue culture. These ribs may not be smoky, and they may not be quite as flavorful as true barbecued ribs, but they’re wonderfully tender, they taste great, and they don’t take all day to cook.

 2 racks side or back ribs, trimmed by your butcher

1 medium onion, peeled and halved

1 tsp | 5 mL peppercorns

3 or 4 whole cloves

2 Tbsp | 25 mL prepared mustard

1/2 tsp | 2 mL granulated garlic

1/4 cup | 50 mL or so Championship Barbecue Rub

1 cup | 250 mL barbecue sauce, the sweeter and tangier the better

Remove the membrane from the ribs if your butcher hasn’t already done it for you. Fill a large pot with cold water and completely submerge the ribs in the water. Add the onion, peppercorns, and cloves. Bring the water just to a boil. With a spoon or ladle, quickly skim off the soapy scum that forms on the top of the water and reduce the heat to low. Gently simmer the ribs for about 11/4 hours, or until the rib bones start to protrude from the meat. Take the ribs out of the water and cool them on a cooking sheet until they are easy to handle.

            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Coat the ribs with mustard, sprinkle them lightly with the granulated garlic, and lightly coat them with the rub. Let them sit until the rub starts to glisten, about 10 minutes. Grill the ribs for 3–4 minutes on each side, applying barbecue sauce with a basting brush as you turn them. Cook them until the sauce is nicely caramelized and the ribs are lightly charred in a few places. Remove them from the grill, let them rest for a few minutes, cut them into single ribs or half racks, and serve them with classic barbecue accompaniments like corn on the cob, slaw, beans, etc.

Barbecue Secret

Pork rib membrane is slippery and frustrating to remove unless you use this technique: Separate a corner of the membrane from the rib cage with a sharp knife. Using a dry paper towel as a gripper, grab the loosened membrane and peel it off the ribs with steady pressure, reestablishing your grip as more membrane comes off. Once you have removed it, trim off any excess fat from the ribs, along with any remaining bits of membrane.

(Photo copyright John Sinal Photography, used with permission.)

with any remaining bits of membrane.

Recipe of the week: T-bone Steak with Rosemary and Balsamic Marinade

Jun 25, 2011

Description:

Man, I love a good T-bone. It’s the ultimate steak, in a way, because it combines the strip loin and the filet in one handy cut (the two live in peaceful harmony on either side of the bone). The key ingredient here is the balsamic reduction, which penetrates the steak and gives it a bright, distinctive flavor. This dish goes well with mashed or roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables.

(Note: these days you can buy a product similar to balsamic reduction at Italian grocery stores or in bigger supermarkets - it's called crema, and works nicely.)

Makes 4 servings

 

2 T-bone steaks, 16 to 20 oz | 500 to 600 g each and about 2 inches | 6 cm thick

kosher salt

cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh rosemary

2 cloves garlic, smashed or pushed through a press

1/3 cup | 75 mL balsamic reduction (see recipe below)

¼ cup | 50 mL finely chopped parsley

kosher salt and pepper

extra virgin olive oil

 

Take the steaks out of the fridge and put them in a nonreactive dish. Season them with salt and a pinch of cayenne on both sides. Evenly spread the rosemary and garlic over the steaks. Set aside half of the balsamic reduction and drizzle the rest over the steaks, turning them to coat both sides. Refrigerate the steaks, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or overnight, turning them once or twice.

            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Grill the steaks 4–6 minutes per side,  or until they have an internal temperature of 125°F | 52°C.

            Remove them from the grill and let them rest, loosely tented in foil, for about 5 minutes. Using a paring knive, carve the steaks from the bone and slice them into 1⁄2-inch | 1 cm slices. Divide the slices between 4 plates and drizzle them with the remaining balsamic reduction. Finish them with a sprinkle of salt, a grinding of pepper, some chopped parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Balsamic Reduction

This incredible, tangy, sweet, rich syrup has a multitude of uses. It supercharges any vinaigrette. It’s great in marinades (or as a simple marinade on its own), and you can even drizzle it on ice cream or fruit.

Pour a 10 oz | 300 mL bottle of cheap balsamic vinegar (you could use more or less as your need dictates; this is just a handy amount to prepare) in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook it at a gently rolling boil, watching it carefully, until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/3 its original volume (10–15 minutes). When it’s ready, it should be a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside to cool. Transfer it to a squeeze bottle and store it in a cool, dry place. It keeps indefinitely.

Recipe of the week: Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jun 18, 2011

Description:

Last night I made jerk chicken. Again. My family can't seem to get enough of this classic Jamaican dish, with its old-world flavours and fiery habanero heat. I posted my jerk chicken recipe, along with some great traditional side dishes, on this blog a few years ago - find that post here.

And for more about the wonders of Jamaican cuisine, check out my report on a trip I took to Jamaica last winter. It's an amazing country. If you get a chance, get down there and experience it for yourself!

Recipe of the Week: Spice-Crusted Pork Blade Steaks

Jun 11, 2011

Description:

Makes 6 servings

 

I developed this recipe for the folks at Food & Wine magazine for their 2005 summer barbecue issue. I love pork blade steaks because they’re inexpensive, extremely tasty, and very hard to ruin. The cumin seeds add an earthy tang and interesting texture to these rich, flavorful, chewy steaks. Serve them with your favorite summer sides (I like grilled asparagus and cherry tomatoes).

 

For the rub:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL powdered ancho chiles

(if you can’t find ground anchos, any chili powder will do)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles (substitute cayenne pepper if you can’t find ground chipotles)

1 tsp | 5 mL dried oregano

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

 

For the steaks:

6 pork blade steaks (8 to 10 oz | 225 to 300 g each)

kosher salt

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard (regular prepared mustard will also do)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL cumin seeds

extra virgin olive oil

 

Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and set the rub aside.

            Toast the cumin seeds in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until they’re fragrant and just starting to turn light brown. Remove the cumin from the pan and set it aside.

            Generously season the blade steaks with salt. Using the back of a spoon or a basting brush, coat the steaks with a thin layer of mustard. Sprinkle the cumin seeds on both sides of the steaks and pat them in so they stick to the mustard. Sprinkle a generous coating of rub on the steaks and drizzle them with a little olive oil. (You’ll have rub left over, which is great for grilling just about anything.)

            Prepare your grill for high direct heat. Place the steaks on the cooking grate, close the grill, and immediately reduce the heat to medium.

            Cook the steaks for 8–10 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until they are springy to the touch. Remove the steaks from the grill, tent them with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and serve.

            WARNING: These steaks have a lot of juice and fat in them, so be on the alert for flare-ups.

 

Summer 2011 Recipe of the Week #2: Triumphant Torres Tacos

Jun 3, 2011

Description:

Triumphant Torres Tacos

This recipe for delicious grilled salmon tacos is my tribute to Vancouver Canuck Raffe Torres, who scored the game-winning goal in the first game of this year’s Stanley Cup Final series. Serve this dish with a cold Canadian beer, or a crisp, fruity British Columbia white wine.

Makes 16 tacos, enough for 4–6 as a main course, or 16 appetizer servings

For the sauce: 

1/2 cup | 125 mL Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo (see recipe below)

¼ cup | 60 mL sour cream or yoghurt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lime juice

For the Red Onion, Green Mango, and Jalapeño pickle:

2 cups | 500 mL rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

3 Tbsp | 45 mL freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tbsp | 60 mL kosher salt

1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into thin strips

2 large jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips

1 green (unripe) mango, peeled, cored, and cut into thin strips

For the salmon tacos:

one 2 lb | 1 kg side of wild sockeye or coho salmon, skin on

about 1 tsp | 5 mL Rockin’ Ronnie’s Grilling Rub or seasoning salt

For the rest of the fixins:

16 white corn tortillas

1 batch of Smoked Tomato Guacamole (see recipe below)

half a head of iceberg lettuce, chopped

½ cup | 125 mL chopped fresh cilantro

Louisiana-style hot sauce

Combine the sauce ingredients and set the mixture aside in the refrigerator.

Combine the rice vinegar, lime juice, and salt in a saucepan and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring it until the salt dissolves and the mixture comes barely to a boil. Place the onion, jalapeño, and mango slices in a bowl and pour the hot vinegar mixture over them. Let the pickle stand at room temperature for at least one hour and up to 8 hours. Transfer it to a storage container and refrigerate it.

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Sprinkle the salmon with a light coating of the grilling rub. Let the rubbed salmon sit for a few minutes, until it starts to glisten. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the cooking grate and grill it for 8–12 minutes, until the salmon springs back to your touch or comes to an internal temperature of about 130 to 140˚F | 55 to 60˚C.

While the salmon is cooking, heat a sauté pan to medium-high and lightly toast both sides of each of the corn tortillas in the hot, dry pan. Keep the heated pile of tortillas warm by covering them with a clean, damp dishcloth.

Take the side of salmon off the grill with a long spatula (or a couple of short ones). It should come right off the skin. Transfer the salmon to a cutting board and let it rest, tented in foil, for 5 minutes.

While the salmon is resting, return to the grill and try to pull the salmon skin off with a set of tongs. If it comes off easily, flip it over and lightly grill the other side for no more than 30 seconds (if it doesn’t come off easily, I usually tear what I can off the grill and eat it right then and there). Transfer the skin to a plate and set it aside. As it cooks, it will become very crisp, like bacon.

Slice the salmon into ½ inch | 1 cm strips (the fish may break apart when you slice it, but that’s okay) and place the slices in a serving dish. Coarsely chop the salmon skin and place it in a small serving bowl.

To serve the tacos, lay out the tortillas, salmon, salmon skin, sauce, pickles, guacamole, chopped lettuce, chopped cilantro, and hot sauce on a table and let your guests assemble their own.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed

out of their skins, or ½ teaspoon granulated garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made

from toasted cumin seeds)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce

(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Combine the mayonnaise with the other ingredients in a food processor and whiz them until they’re smooth, then refrigerate the result. If possible, store it in the refrigerator for a day, or at least a few hours, to let the flavors marry and intensify.

Chunky Tomato Guacamole

Makes about 2 cups | 500 mL of guacamole

2 large ripe but still firm avocados

2 ripe tomatoes

4 tsp | 20 mL fresh lime juice or 2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped cilantro

3 tinned green chiles, rinsed, seeded, and chopped

1 finely minced fresh jalapeño or serrano chile (optional)

kosher salt

Peel the avocados and remove the pits. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and avocados and transfer them to a salad bowl. Add lime or lemon juice, garlic, chopped cilantro, green chiles, and hot chiles, if desired, and gently toss the mixture. Season the guacamole to taste with salt, give it one last toss, and it’s ready to serve.

 

Woo hoo! Let's get it on. Here's this summer's first recipe of the week, my favorite grilling rub

May 28, 2011

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! I just confirmed with my friends at Vancouver's CKNW AM 980 that I'll be appearing on The World Today with Jon McComb every Friday for the rest of this spring and summer!

I'm on today for one segment at about 6.15 p.m., but from June 3 on, listen for me in the last half hour of the show, we're I'll be talking with Jon over two segments starting at about 6.35 p.m.

You can listen live on the Web here.

To kick off this year's grilling season, I thought it would be useful to share my favourite all-around grilling rub, which adds great flavour to whatever you're planning to throw on the grill.

Now go on, and get grilling!

Rockin’ Ronnie’s Grilling Rub

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

I like to use this combination of seasonings for everyday grilling (grilling rubs contain little or no sugar because the higher heat of grilling would make a sugary rub turn black). It perfectly balances the earthiness of the toasted cumin, the sharpness of ground pepper, the smokiness and heat of the ground chipotles, and the natural sweetness of the ancho chile, granulated onion, and garlic.

4 Tbsp | 60 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL ground pepper

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ground toasted cumin seeds

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground oregano

2 Tbsp | 25 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ancho chile powder

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotles

(if you can’t find this, substitute cayenne)

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well. Store, covered, in cool, dry place.

 

Biting into Jamaica’s Spicy Past

Mar 26, 2011

Description:

This article is in the current edition of Calgary's City Palate magazine. To see how it appeared in the Palate, click here and go to page 32. 

 

 

 

Here’s an interesting recipe. Take a big green island and add Spanish and British imperialists and enslaved Africans. Stir vigorously until the aboriginals are extinct. When things boil over to the point where slavery is done, add indentured Indian and Chinese labourers.  Let the whole thing simmer for about 600 years and invite the rest of the world over to eat. 

Jerky Anderson, Ronnie and Chef Dervent SmithThat, in a coconut shell, sums up the major influences on Jamaican food. One would not want to have lived through the country’s brutal past, but the positives of the resulting ethnic mix are instantly apparent in the outrageously delicious and diverse cuisine of this beautiful Caribbean country. 

I got a chance to visit Jamaica for the second time last winter. My official quest was to find the best, most authentic Jamaican food, but there’s also plenty to do between meals, from riding horses in the ocean, to climbing up a waterfall, to scooting down a mountain through a jungle in a bobsled. 

Jamaica’s tourism industry is booming, fueled in part by growing numbers of Canadian winter escapists. Last year Westjet introduced direct flights from seven Canadian cities including Calgary and Edmonton, and the popularity of the north coast’s Montego Bay/Ocho Rios corridor is spurring new investments in resorts and attractions.

I’m pleased to report that Jamaican cuisine is also undergoing a renaissance. Local dishes that were once seen as peasant food are now proudly featured on tourist-friendly restaurant menus. It’s not unusual, for example, to find salted mackerel stewed in coconut milk or braised pork belly on the breakfast buffet of an all-inclusive resort.  

Miss T's restaurantIt’s nice to find some local treats on the resort buffet, but they don’t satisfy my foodie cravings. So I’m delighted to discover a culinary oasis at Miss T’s Kitchen, a colourful little restaurant in Ocho Rios.

A chalkboard menu in Miss T’s dining area spans pretty much the whole range of Jamaican food, from plantation-era “poor people cooking” dishes like cow foot and bean stew all the way to subtle, delicate, lobster “rundown” in a creamy coconut milk-based reduction. As the other restaurant patrons relax at open-air tables, sipping Jamaica’s ubiquitous Red Stripe beer while they wait for their meals, I talk my way into the kitchen and stand over the cooks’ shoulders as they conjure the big, bold flavours of Jamaica.

Chefs Dervent Smith and Stafford “Jerky” Anderson are swamped with a lunch order that includes almost every dish on Miss T’s menu, which is tough on them, but lucky for me.

Whole steamed snapperThe big highlight is watching them prepare steamed whole snapper, gradually building layers of flavour with classic Jamaican ingredients: coconut milk, scallion, fresh thyme, scotch bonnet chile, squash and okra. Jerky tends the fish as if he’s bathing a baby, gently spooning the bubbling sauce over it as it cooks in a big sauté pan. He finishes it with some fried plantain chips and a few slices of bammy, a chewy flatbread made from cassava root flour.

  Dishes like bammy can be traced back to the island’s aboriginal peoples, but most Jamaican food is rooted in its more recent colonial past, which began with the arrival of Columbus in 1494. With Spanish rule came dishes like escoveitch, a kind of fried fish that’s doused in a spicy, vinegary sauce and often served cold as a snack. The British brought tea, dark rum-soaked fruitcake and the Cornish pastie, which evolved into the beloved Jamaican pattie.  

Over the centuries, African slaves would also have a huge influence on Jamaican food. Runaway slaves called Maroons escaped to the mountains and lived with the dwindling population of aboriginals, who taught them how to season and cook wild pigs over smoldering charcoal on a wooden grate called a barbaca – the progenitor of today’s barbecue.

The aboriginal style of cooking became known as jerk.  Its inventors, the Arawaks and Tainos, were eventually wiped out, but the descendents of the Maroons carried on the traditional technique. Thanks to them, jerk cooking and jerk seasonings survived and have become one of Jamaica’s great gifts to the world.

Ackee and saltfish The Spanish were kicked out in 1655 by the British, who used African slaves for another 200 years. Their descendants make up the vast majority of Jamaica’s 2.8 million people. Tree fruits like ackee, plantain, banana and breadfruit, brought over from Africa, are still part of most Jamaicans’ daily diet. The ackee’s curd-like lobes are boiled till tender and then sautéed with salt cod and other ingredients to make the national dish, ackee and saltfish, which has the silky texture of scrambled eggs.

When slavery was finally abolished by Britain in the mid-1800s, indentured workers from India and China were recruited to work on the plantations, and these newcomers made their marks on the Jamaican menu. Ask Jamaicans to name their favourite dish, and many will tell you what they crave the most is curry goat, a gloriously flavourful stew. On the menu of a jerk joint you’ll often also find Chinese-style fried rice with chopped jerk chicken or pork mixed in.

Jerk conch At six days, my visit to Jamaica was too short, but I had a chance to sample local food at several places besides Miss T’s. There were some real standouts. At the Ocho Rios Jerk Centre, which is frequented by tourists and locals alike, I tasted delicious jerk conch (the meat of a giant snail that’s chewy like octopus), and had a steaming hot cup of mannish water, a rich soup made by simmering a goat’s head along with other offal. No matter where you go, you’ll find yummy side dishes like red peas and rice (made with rice, coconut milk and red kidney beans), callaloo (a leafy chard-like vegetable), boiled green bananas, and the fluffy fried doughnut fingers called “festival” served with almost everything.

While traditional foods dominate the local culture, Jamaican cuisine is not standing still. Local chefs are using native ingredients in new ways and fusing Jamaican flavours with countless others. Alongside traditional pastas at Evita’s, a popular Italian restaurant in Ocho Rios, the menu features “Jam-Italian fusion” dishes such as lasagna Rastafari and jerk spaghetti.

Over at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort, Jamaica-born Executive Chef Donovan Campbell is shaking up the menu of the resort’s Reef Terrace restaurant. “Rather than cooking it the way I was taught, I’ve learned in my travels how to take my culture’s food and fuse it with other cultures,” he says. “At Reef Terrace, we’ll take a traditional yam dish usually served plain and braise it with red wine. It gives it a whole new face, an entirely different flavour. And rather than scalloped potato, we make a very nice scalloped bammy.” 

Some things you don’t want to change.  Back in the kitchen at Miss T’s, Jerky pulls me aside, pours some of his homemade house jerk sauce on a plate and offers me a taste. I touch it to my tongue. My eyes nearly pop out of my head, and Jerky has a good laugh. His sauce is screamingly hot, tangy, spicy, rich and dark all at the same time. That dense, enticing flavour -- the perfect metaphor for this culturally complex, physically beautiful island -- stays on my tongue for the rest of the day.

 Shrimp Rundown

This is an easy way to experience the delicious flavours of Jamaica. Miss T’s served it with red peas and rice and some slaw.

1 can coconut milk

1 small onion, halved and cut into ¼ - inch slices

1 carrot, peeled and cut into slices like the onion

1 scotch bonnet chile (no other type will do), crushed lightly with the back of a knife (be careful not to touch the chile with your fingers – it’ll burn if you accidently rub your eyes!)

2 whole scallions, trimmed and gently pounded with the back of a knife

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped (optional)

pinch of kosher salt

1 lb. large fresh shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined

1 lime

Shrimp rundown with red peas and ricePut the coconut milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the onion, carrot, scotch bonnet, scallions and thyme and simmer them in the coconut milk, stirring now and then, until the onion and carrot are tender and the sauce starts to thicken.  Add the shrimp and simmer for a couple more minutes, until they turn pink and curl. Add a squeeze of lime and more salt if needed.  Remove the chile, scallions and thyme sprigs and serve over rice with cole slaw or a green salad.  Serves 4.

It's snowing in Vancouver and I miss Texas

Jan 13, 2011 01:11

Description:

It's been almost a year since I went on a barbecue pilgrimage to Lockhart, Texas, home of the world's first barbecue joint. I've got lots more video, but I just had to get something up here to whet everyone's appetite and help offset the Canadian winter blues.

Turkey on the Grill!

Dec 24, 2010

Description:

Best of the season to you, barbecue fans!

Here are two turkey recipes - an excellent recipe from epicurious.com that includes brining the bird, which adds a huge amount of flavour, and this one, from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!


Merry Christmas, and Happy Grilling!


Don Genova’s Smoked and Grilled Mediterranean-style Turkey in a Hurry 

 

Makes enough to serve a festive gathering of at least 15 people

 

My friend and fellow foodie Don Genova is a well-known Canadian media personality. He hosts a great blog (http://blog.dongenova.com/http://blog.dongenova.com/) and his podcast, “All You Can Eat,” is consistently ranked among the most popular food podcasts on iTunes. I asked him to contribute one of his favorite recipes to Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, and I'm pleased to share it with you here. The trick to this recipe is to start the turkey in a hot smoker and finish it on a hot grill so you get a nice, crispy skin.

Note: This recipe is unusual because it calls for you to prepare your smoker for a higher temperature than the normal 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Don uses an electric Traeger smoker, which uses hardwood pellets and is easy to get to a higher cooking temperature. I’ve adapted this recipe with the assumption that you’re using a standard water smoker like a Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker.

 

1 cup | 250 mL olive oil

1/2 cup | 125 mL fresh oregano and rosemary, chopped

4–5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

smoked paprika, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4–6 Tbsp | 60–90 mL lemon juice

10–12 lb | 4.5–5.5 kg  turkey

 

Mix together the oil, herbs, garlic, spices, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

 

Cut the wing tips off the turkey and save them for making stock. Then cut off the turkey thighs and legs, keeping the thigh and leg as one piece. Cut the  backbone out of the turkey and save it for stock, then butterfly the breast by squishing it flat, skin side up.

 

Smear the oil and herb mixture all over the turkey pieces, working some of it under the skin wherever possible, and marinate it, refrigerated, for at least an hour and up to overnight.

 

Let the turkey sit at room temperature for about an hour before you start cooking.

Remove the turkey pieces from the marinade, and reserve the marinade for basting.

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 250 - 300˚F | 120–150˚C.  To achieve this higher temperature on a water smoker, don’t put any liquid in the water pan and makes sure all vents are wide open.

 

Put the turkey pieces on the smoker for about two hours, skin side up, using hickory or apple wood as the flavoring agent.  Remove the turkey pieces from the smoker and set them aside. (To avoid wasting charcoal, either use the remaining cooking time to smoke some tomatoes, onions, nuts, etc., or close off all air vents to shut down the fire.)                       

 

Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Grill the turkey pieces for about half an hour, turning regularly, until the skin crisps, the juices run clear, and a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the thigh reads160˚F | 70˚C. Remove the turkey pieces from the grill, let them rest, tented in foil, for about half an hour. Carve the turkey pieces into slices and serve them with your favorite accompaniments.   

 

 

In Praise of Gluttony

Nov 19, 2010

Description:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in the November/December 2010 edition of Calgary's City Palate, an excellent publication covering Calgary's food scene.

 

I once ate a 48-ounce steak in one sitting, and I have the T-shirt to prove it.

I am a notorious glutton who, at a business dinner, threatened to bite a waiter’s hand off for attempting to clear my plate before it was empty. Over the years I’ve gotten used to being viewed as a culinary carnival freak. Lately, however, I’ve noticed that gluttony seems to be in style.

The current trend is exemplified by the popular food blog, This is Why You’re Fat, which features glutton-friendly dishes like Meat Mountain and Deep Fried Cheesecake Bites. Visitors to the blog marvel at the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger, and our jaws drop as we ogle the Fat Monkey (two slices of chocolate chip banana bread, with layers of Nutella, bananas, and marshmallow creme sandwiched in between, dipped in cake batter and deep-fried, then dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in toasted almonds and coconut).

Major fast food outfits have followed suit by introducing headline-grabbing dishes like KFC’s infamous Double Down, a cheese and bacon sandwich dripping with special sauce and served between two deep-fried chicken fillets. At the top of the fast food chain is the 1,420-calorie Hardee’s Monster Thickburger. Though I’ve never had one, it seems to me it would be ideal washed down with a 1,290-calorie Jack In The Box Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Shake. 

Okay. That kind of food is too much -- even for a guy like me. But it’s not just the fast food industry that’s riding this fatty wave. Look at any fine dining menu and you’re likely to see dishes like braised pork belly and short rib sandwiches that pack just as many calories as the downscale monstrosities that are getting all the press. (Mind you, in a swank eatery, a main course for one isn’t routinely served on a table-sized platter.)

The haute fat craze began about 10 years ago, when lovers of real food began rebelling against the cholesterol fascists who co-opted the food chain in the 1980s. Led by their big-haired overlord Jenny Craig, this group of skinny finger-waggers demonized animal fat to the point where you couldn’t get a decently wobbling pork butt in this country. It was a long, dry period for those of us who like to leave the dinner table with grease all over our cheeks.

Now it’s much easier to get triple-A beef and well-marbled pork, although it astounds me that meat producers still get a premium for the leanest cuts. Why in hell’s name should extra-lean ground beef cost three times as much as regular, which has three times the flavour? The obvious answer is that too much of a good thing will eventually kill you.

We’re constantly reminded of the consequences of overeating by documentaries like Supersize Me, goody-two-shoes chefs like Jamie Oliver and reality shows like The Biggest Loser. But does gluttony really belong next to greed, wrath, sloth, pride, lust and envy? In some contexts, it actually qualifies as a virtue. For example, gluttony has always been an important survival mechanism in the animal kingdom. Whether you’re a lion or a vulture, gorging yourself is simply what you do when you’re lucky enough to find something big to eat.

The same rationale used to apply to humans. In agrarian societies, gluttony was an important part of the annual cycle. Every fall after the harvest came in and the pigs were ready to go to hog heaven, the traditional weeks of feasting weren’t just for pleasure. Loading up on the autumn bounty was necessary. It helped build up reserves of fat that would allow people to last through the long, cold winter, in which culinary highlights included wizened carrots from the root cellar and a barrel of sauerkraut stored in the barn so it wouldn’t stink up the house.

Same thing for the aboriginal people of the Wet Coast. The annual return of the salmon meant a release from the drudgery of eating nothing but dried food over the winter, and gluttony was simply part of the seasonal celebration of the harvest.

Of course, the most gluttonous society of all was Rome at its political and cultural peak, when every decent home had a vomitorium, and, presumably, the book Eat, Puke, Repeat was at the top of the bestseller lists.

It’s obvious that today’s form of gluttony has little to do with survival – it’s closer to Rome than it is to Haida Gwai. Gluttony in modern life is about glamour and prestige. It reflects our cultural craving to vicariously experience the ideal. Just as fashion photography or architecture or music allow us to escape to a place beyond our day-to-day existence, so it is with a rich, full, long dining experience.

When we eat something truly delicious we experience a transient form of perfection. Many of us continue to eat beyond what we need because we don’t want to let go of that feeling.

MFK Fisher put it best in a little essay called G is for Gluttony, when she wrote:

“Perhaps the nearest I come to gluttony is with wine. As often as possible, when a really beautiful bottle is before me, I drink all I can of it, even when I know I have had more than I want physically. That is gluttonous. But I think to myself, when again will I have this taste upon my tongue? Where else in the world is there just such wine as this, with just this bouquet, and just this heat, in just this crystal cup? And when again will I be alive to it as I am this very minute, sitting here in this dim, murmuring, richly odourous restaurant, or here in this fishermen’s café on the wharf? More, more, I think – all if it, to the last exquisite drop, for there is no satiety for me, nor ever has been, in such drinking.”

That’s wonderfully poetic. But, of course, modern gluttony can also be inspired by less profound influences -- namely, booze. When I drink, I eat more than double what I would consume without the help of alcohol. Sometimes I continue to eat for no other reason than to counteract the effects of my drinking, which of course allows me to drink more, which prompts me to eat still more. Which is not very glamorous, and not very good for my health.

But let’s end these gluttonous musings on a higher note. What inspires you to MFK-Fisher-style gluttony? What eating experiences create moments for you that you just don’t want to relinquish?

For me, it’s meals like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. I eat too much of them because I don’t want the occasion that brings me together with my friends and family to end.

It’s a big juicy fried oyster burger (or two) washed down with cold beer on a sunny deck with a perfect ocean view.

It’s one deep-fried mini-donut after another after another, savoured as the music from the merry-go-round drowns out the worries of the world.

It’s biting into a perfect rib, and then six or eight more, at a summer barbecue between easy laughs with your best friends, the ones you can’t see often enough. Every bite of the juicy, tangy, smoky pork, and every refreshing swig of that glass of crisp, fruity white wine extends that elusive moment of perfection just…. a little…. longer.

Come on. Just one more bite. Please?

 

 The Wakefield Inn Oyster Burger

Makes 4 burgers

Years ago the Wakefield Inn, a pub on BC’s Sunshine Coast, invented the ultimate burger —and it’s not grilled. To get the right texture, you need to pan-fry the oysters. The Wakefield Inn used seasoned flour to coat the oysters, but I prefer the extra crunch of cornmeal. Serve the burger with a dill pickle, a dollop of potato salad and a big mug of cold beer. Sadly, the Wakefield Inn has fallen to a condo developer’s wrecking ball and all that’s left is the great view, and this recipe.

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL ground ancho chiles

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup | 125 mL cornmeal

1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter

1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive oil

12 medium-sized fresh West Coast oysters, pre-shucked (you can buy them in tubs)

4 burger buns, toasted and buttered

4 Tbsp | 60 mL commercial or home made tartar sauce

1 bunch green leaf lettuce

4 slices crisply cooked bacon

1 thinly sliced ripe tomato

pickle slices and parsley sprigs, for garnish

Combine the cumin, ground ancho, pepper, and cornmeal in a small bowl and pour the mixture onto a dinner plate. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is sizzling. Lightly coat the oysters in the cornmeal mixture and fry them in the oil and butter until they’re crisp on the outside and done inside, 2–3 minutes per side.

            Spread 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of tartar sauce on each toasted and buttered bun. Add a leaf or two of lettuce, 3 of the fried oysters, one crispy slice of bacon (ripped in half), and 1 or 2 slices of tomato. Sprinkle the works with salt and pepper. Top with the other half of the bun, and garnish with a pickle and a parsley sprig.

---------

So, dear Barbecue Secrets readers. What brings out the glutton in you? Voracious minds want to know. This blog rarely gets comments -- I invite you to dig in and share.

Recipe of the Week: Salmon Burger, West Coast Style

Aug 27, 2010

Description:

Salmon Burger, White Spot Style 

 Makes 4 burgers

 White Spot restaurants are a fixture in British Columbia, known for their excellent old-fashioned hamburgers. In recent years they’ve gone a bit upscale, adding more gourmet fare to their classic dishes, including a phenomenal salmon burger. Executive chef Chuck Curry likes to play his recipes close to the chest so I’ve had to recreate this dish based on my experience of eating it, but this comes pretty close to the real thing. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to make the aïoli, substitute with regular commercial mayo doctored with finely chopped fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

For the burgers:

4 8 oz | 250 g boneless, skinless wild BC salmon fillets (farmed salmon will do, but it’s just not as good)

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

1 large, fresh, perfectly ripe beefsteak tomato

1 red onion

green leaf lettuce

4 large sesame burger buns

butter

 

For the basil aïoli:

2 large egg yolks

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice

11/4 cups | 300 mL extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup | 50 mL tightly packed fresh basil leaves

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the egg yolks and the lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor; process the mixture for 5 seconds. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, processing until the mixture is combined. Coarsely chop the basil and add it to the mixture. Whiz the machine again until the basil is incorporated into the aïoli. Season it with salt and pepper and set it aside. It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

            Cut the tomato into four equal slices and peel and thinly slice enough onion to suit your taste. Butter the buns and set them aside.

            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Make sure the cooking grate is scrubbed clean. In this case, you may want to coat the cooking grate with a little oil just before you put the salmon on. Place the salmon on the grill, cover it, and cook the fish for 3–4 minutes per side, or until the core temperature of the fillet reaches 130˚F | 55˚C.

            Take the salmon off the grill and loosely tent it with foil. While the salmon is resting, place the buns, buttered side down, on the cooking grate, cover the grill, and toast the buns for maybe half a minute, taking care not to burn them.

            Slather both sides of each toasted bun with the aïoli. Place the salmon filets in the buns and top them with onion, tomato, and lettuce. Serve the burgers with a cold beer or a glass of crisp, fruity white wine.

 

 

 

Recipe of the week: Grill-Seared Calamari with Tomato-Basil Salsa

Aug 20, 2010

Description:

Seared Calamari with Fresh Tomato Basil Salsa

 Makes 4 servings

 The secret to great grilled squid is to use the freshest and smallest you can find, and to cook it over high heat for no more than a minute per side. Any longer and it turns rubbery. In this recipe, the tomato salsa provides a cool, tangy, herbal complement to the hot, garlicky calamari. You also can cook this dish on a plank to give it some extra smoky flavor, but you won’t get the nice charring that happens when you grill it over direct heat.

1 lb | 500 g cleaned squid, equal parts bodies and tentacles

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp | 2 mL red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups | 500 mL small, ripe cherry or grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat the squid in the salt, then rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Slit the bodies and score the inside surfaces with diagonal cuts. Cut each squid into large, bite-sized pieces.  Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup | 50mL of the olive oil, the red pepper flakes, and the garlic. Toss them to coat them and marinate them in the refrigerator for about an hour.

            Preheat your grill on high. While the grill is heating, coarsely chop the tomatoes (halves or quarters are fine), slice the basil leaves into fine shreds, and toss them together in a bowl with the vinegar and the remainder of the olive oil. Distribute the salsa between four plates.

When the grill is hot, open it up and gently place the calamari on the cooking grate, taking care not to let the pieces slip through the cracks (you may even want to use a grill-topper with small holes designed for this kind of task). Don’t walk away! Stand at the open grill and tend the squid with a set of good tongs, turning the pieces often so they are cooked quickly and evenly, no more than a minute per side. Remove the squid from the grill and transfer it to the plates.

Sprinkle each serving with just a pinch of kosher salt and a light grinding of pepper. Drizzle the calamari with a little more olive oil and serve it immediately with a crisp, fruity white wine.

 

 

Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Aug 14, 2010

Description:

 

With only a week to go, there are still spaces available in my Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs, which runs August 20 - 22. If you love great food and wine, and want to eat and drink and cook and laugh with me in one of the most beautiful outdoor settings on earth, read on!

My best barbecue event ever

For the past 15 years I’ve been leading grilling and barbecue classes and workshops in Calgary and Vancouver, and even as far away as Texas and Australia. This summer, working in partnership with my friends at the Fairmont Banff Springs, I’ve put together my tastiest, most entertaining event ever.

Barbecue Academy is a sizzlin’ getaway weekend featuring the very best recipes and techniques from my latest book, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! It’s an entertaining and informative combination of a hands-on workshop and gourmet grilling demonstrations that will supercharge your outdoor cooking skills and introduce you to the smoky world of real, Southern-Style championship barbecue.

Great sponsors are on board

What’s more, I’m proud to report that Barbecue Academy has some world-class sponsors to help bring you a memorable experience. We'll be cooking on genuine Weber equipment – the gold standard of outdoor cooking. And throughout the weekend you’ll taste some of the finest Canadian and global wines, from Sumac Ridge Chardonnay to Ravenswood Zin, and refresh your thirst with cold, crisp Budweiser and Bud Light.

The ultimate barbecue experience The Barbecue Academy package includes: Accommodation in a deluxe room at the Fairmont Banff Springs for a minimum of two nights Friday: an opening reception Saturday: an all-day, hands-on championship barbecue workshop featuring a classic barbecue feast for lunch Sunday: a half-day grilling and planking demonstration with delicious wine pairings with each dish A complementary copy of my book with each Barbecue Academy package

 An amazing program to take your barbecue skills and your taste buds to the next level

Here’s a more detailed look at the curriculum of this Institute of Higher Grilling:

DAY ONE: Friday, August 20th

“Meat and Greet” 6.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.

Join us for a casual opening reception where you’ll meet me and your fellow participants, enjoy delicious appetizers and a sip on a feature signature cocktail from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!

DAY TWO: Saturday, August 21st “Secrets of Championship Barbecue” 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

This is the weekend’s main event: an all-day, hands-on southern-style barbecue workshop laced with tall tales and hickory smoke and finished with sweet, tangy sauce. Students will split into teams of two to four, with each team having exclusive use of a brand new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker for the day. Think of it as my barbecue boot camp, where you’ll learn to prep and cook competition-quality chicken and ribs and get indoctrinated into the ways of the Barbecue Lifestyle. A highlight of the day will be a barbecue feast for lunch featuring classic pulled pork sandwiches and Texas-style brisket with great sides and a lip-smackin’ dessert. At the end of the day, we’ll have a fun contest in which teams will present the meats of their labour to be judged by a specially selected panel according to the rules of championship barbecue. Cheap plastic trophies will be handed to the winners -- just like in a real barbecue contest! Whether you want to do some training to enter a real barbecue contest or want to be a champion in your own back yard, this day will change your life. Here’s what past participants in this workshop have said about it:

“Ronnie is hilarious, knowledgeable and leads a great workshop.”

“It has improved my understanding, my technique, my confidence and my end product immeasurably.”

 “This was an exceptional workshop filled with the science, the art and the lifestyle of barbecue.”

DAY THREE: Sunday, August 22nd

“Essentials of Everyday Grilling” 10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m

This luxurious three-hour cooking demonstration will feature my best grilled and planked dishes, sides and desserts, all paired with superb Vincor wines, including the classic barbecue-friendly Ravenswood Zin. The menu is varied and extensive; by one o’clock everyone will be completely full and satisfied. Here’s what folks have told me about past grilling demonstrations:

“Excellent, excellent, excellent. Oh yes – exceptionally yummy!”

“Come hungry!”

“Do it! Open your culinary tastes.”

At the end of day three, all participants will receive special barbecue goody bags and official personalized diplomas signifying their completion of the workshop and their new understanding of the tools, techniques, lifestyle and philosophy of Southern-style Barbecue, grilling and plank-cooking.

Before departing, you can enjoy the hotel or the town of Banff in the afternoon. A variety of activities are available to you including a round of golf on the famed Stanley Thompson course, a spa treatment at Willow Stream Spa, a nature “photo walk,” shopping in Banff, or even a fly-in fishing experience on the Bow River.

So, there you have it. Whether you’re a foodie or a barbecue fanatic, a wine lover or an adventure traveler, Barbecue Academy promises to be an unforgettable experience, just waiting to happen for you. All you have to do is enroll, which I suggest you do now, because participation is limited and we're only a week away!

I hope to see you and your companion or gang of friends at Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs in the beautiful Canadian Rockies! If you're on the edge of deciding and want to talk to me directly about the weekend, give me a call at 604-351-1999. To view a video invitation from me, click here.

Yours forever in smoke,

Rockin’ Ronnie

www.ronshewchuk.com

604-351-1999

 

 

 

 

Recipe of the week: Grilled Rice Cakes with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Aug 13, 2010

Description:

Grilled Rice Cakes

Makes 3–5 servings

These traditional Japanese rice cakes are often found, stuffed with tuna or salmon, in Japanese take-out shops. They take on a wonderful, crunchy, chewy texture when grilled, and they go well with any Asian-flavored grilled or barbecued meat. I learned how to make them from Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper’s cookbook, Asian Tapas and Wild Sushi. You can get sushi rice at just about any supermarket these days. If you can’t find it there, look for it at an Asian market or gourmet food store.

3 cups | 750 mL sushi rice

33/4 cups | 925 mL water

neutral-flavored oil, like peanut or canola

Home made teriyaki sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite bottled teriyaki

Place the rice and water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the rice for 2 minutes, then cover it and reduce the heat to medium. Cook it for another 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low, and cook it for 15 more minutes. Do not remove the lid. Turn off the heat and let the covered pot stand for another 10 minutes.

            Empty the rice into a bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle with your bare hands. Have a bowl of cold water handy so you can wet your hands before you form each rice cake.

            Wet your hands and grab about 1/2 cup | 125 mL of the rice. Press it together firmly, cupping your hands to shape the rice into a triangular shape, about the size of a modest wedge of pie. Squeeze it tightly so it will stick together well when it’s grilled. Once you have formed all the rice into about 10 neat wedges, the rice cakes can be covered and refrigerated for a day or two before grilling.

            To cook the cakes, use a basting brush to paint each one with the oil. Grill them over direct high heat until they are crisp and golden brown, with nice char marks. Drizzle each rice cake with teriyaki sauce. Allow at least 2 per person.

Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce

Makes about 8 cups | 2 L

This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.

11/2 cups | 375 mL sake (Japanese rice wine)

11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin

2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar

4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce

1 small onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 orange, chopped, skin on

1 small pear, chopped

1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.

 

 

Recipe of the week: Grilled Frogs' Legs with Proscuitto Pantaloons

Aug 5, 2010

Description:

While browsing the big T&T Asian supermarket in Vancouver a few weeks ago I was intrigued by some frozen frogs’ legs in the fish department.  They’re a popular dish in Cantonese home cooking, where they’re spiced and stir-fried on the bone. They’re also big in France, of course, as well as Italy, Spain, Greece, the Caribbean and even in the Southern U.S., where they are breaded and deep fried.

The ones I saw, which I think were farmed in Vietnam, were inexpensive – four pairs of legs for about five bucks – and despite their cartoonish (some might say macabre) appearance, they also looked plump and juicy and perfect for the grill.

I marched a squad of them home, cooked them up and they turned out great. To me they tasted like a cross between halibut and crab, with a texture like a chicken wing, but much more tender. Really delicious! I shared them with my barbecue teammate Tom Masterson and on a lark we agreed that we should enter them in the chef’s choice category at the National BBQ Championships in Whistler. After some brainstorming, we decided to give them a funny little twist, wrapping their bottoms with prosciutto to protect their modesty and add some great flavour.

But what to name the dish? We’ve had lots of suggestions from friends and other teammates: Rub it and Ribbit, Kermit Gets Porked, Bacon N’ Legs, and Green Legs and Ham. But I like the sound of Prosciutto Pantaloons.

Give this recipe a try and, whatever you call it, I think you’ll find it hoppin’ good eatin’.

Photo by Click Media Works. Used with permission. 

Grilled Frogs Legs with Prosciutto Pantaloons

8 pairs of skinless frogs’ legs

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp granulated onion

1 tsp granulated garlic

pinch cayenne pepper

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

half cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 thin slices of Italian prosciutto (buy extra in case the slices rip as you’re wrapping the frogs’ legs)

8 tooth picks

Lemon wedges and fresh dill for garnish

 

Soak the toothpicks in water.

Place the frogs’ legs in a large baking dish like a lasagna pan. Combine the salt, granulated onion and garlic, cayenne and chopped rosemary and sprinkle the rub on both sides of the legs. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard and lemon juice to make a simple vinaigrette. Add half of the vinaigrette to the pan and toss the frogs’ legs around so that the ingredients combine and the legs are nicely coated in the marinade. Reserve the other half of the vinaigrette.

Marinate the frogs’ legs for about 15 minutes, turning them once or twice.

Cut the prosciutto into 1-inch strips. Take a strip of prosciutto and wrap it neatly around the waist of the frogs’ legs to make the pantaloons. Use a toothpick to fasten the prosciutto to the legs.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and make sure you scrape the cooking grates. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on the frogs’ legs and place them on the grill.

Cover the grill, turn the heat down to medium, and cook the frogs’ legs for about two or three minutes, until they come away easily from the cooking grate and have nice grill marks. Turn the legs and cook for another two or three minutes. Continue grilling and turning until the thighs are springy to the touch and the meat loses its pink, translucent appearance (just like a chicken breast turns white when you cook it).

Take the frogs’ legs off the grill, remove the toothpicks and place on a platter garnished with fronds of fresh dill and lemon wedges. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.  For extra fun, we presented them at the BBQ championship on a place mat that looked like a stylized lily pad. And, you know, although some of the judges were a bit shocked and reluctant when they first saw them, they loved them and our Grilled Frogs’ Legs with Proscuitto Pantaloons ended up 24th out of 40 or so entries. Not bad for such an unconventional dish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled sliders!

Jul 29, 2010 01:23

Description:

In this second teaser for Barbecue Academy at the Banff Springs, I show you a great technique I've been working on -- sliders on the grill. It's a great way to feed a bunch of teenagers with minimum fuss!

Recipe of the Week: Easiest, Tastiest Steak (or anything else) Marinade

Jul 29, 2010

Description:

One of my all-time favorites. I use this mainly as a quick and delicious marinade for beef steak, but it’s also great with pork chops or chicken, as well as rich, meaty fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, and swordfish. I’ve provided precise measurements of the ingredients, but it’s really meant to be a marinade that you just throw together. A few glugs of soy sauce, a small glug of sesame oil, as much garlic and ginger as you like, and so on. Once you try this, it will become a standard in your kitchen.

Makes about 11/2 cups  | 375 mL, enough for 4 to 6 steaks

 

1 cup | 250 mL dark soy sauce

1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped or grated fresh ginger

freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lemon juice or 1/4 cup | 50 mL mirin

(Japanese sweet rice wine)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL tapioca starch (cornstarch will also do)

Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, black pepper, lemon juice or mirin, and tapioca starch in a nonreactive baking dish. Add the meat or fish, turn it to coat it, and marinate it for 10 minutes to 1⁄2 hour, turning it once or twice. Don’t marinate it overnight, as this is fairly salty.

 

 

Recipe of the week: Grilled Pineapple with Caramel Sauce

Jul 23, 2010

Description:

Grilled Pineapple with Caramel Sauce

Makes 6 servings

This easy and delicious summer recipe is the perfect end to a grilled dinner. For an extra-luxurious finish, serve with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.

1 fresh pineapple

kosher salt

coarsely ground black pepper

caramel ice cream topping or Mexican cajeta sauce (available at most Latin specialty stores or gourmet food shops – get the kind in the squeeze bottle)

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple and stand it up on a cutting board. Cut it in half lengthwise, then in half again and again so you have 8 wedges. Remove the skin and the tough strip of pineapple core from each wedge. Sprinkle the wedges with a little salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Grill the pineapple strips for about 2-4 minutes per side, until they’re slightly charred. Warm the sauce in a microwave or double boiler. Drizzle the pineapple slices with the warmed sauce and serve.

NOTE: Some cajeta sauce comes in a glass jar, and it’s much thicker than the kind available in squeeze bottles. If you get the thicker kind, put it in a double boiler along with a splash of whipping cream. Heat gently and the sauce will thin enough so you can easily drizzle it on the pineapple.

 

 

Recipe of the week: Classic Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tidewater Coleslaw

Jul 16, 2010

Description:

Classic North Carolina Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwiches

 

From Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, Whitecap Books

Makes 18–24 servings

Note: this dish is meant to be cooked in a charcoal-fired smoker, but you can emulate real barbecue on your gas grill. See the instructions at the end of the recipe.

 

The concept here is to cook a pork shoulder butt roast (sometimes called a Boston butt) for many hours in a smoky chamber until it is literally falling apart. One test competitors use for doneness is that if the blade bone can easily be pulled out of the roast, the pork is ready to shred and serve. This is real barbecue the way we prepare it for competition, and the way it is eaten in the Southeastern states. You can substitute any good rub you have on hand if you don’t have time to make some from scratch, but fellow Butt Shredder Kathy Richardier’s Butt Rub is the best! This recipe calls for two butts because if you’re going to tend the smoker for such a long time, you might as well fill it up. Pork butt freezes very well, so if you’re not feeding a huge crowd, just serve one of the butts, wrap the other in an extra layer of foil, and freeze it for later use.

 

For Kathy’s Butt Rub:

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

2 Tbsp | 25 mL sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL brown sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL cumin

2 Tbsp | 25 mL chili powder (like

Chimayo blend, New Mexico, or ancho)

2 Tbsp | 25 mL ground black pepper

up to 1 Tbsp | 15 mL cayenne

1/4 cup | 50 mL paprika

 

For the pulled pork sandwiches:

2 pork shoulder butt roasts, about

6 to 9 lb | 2.7 to 3 kg each, bone in

1 cup | 250 mL prepared mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

apple juice/maple syrup/bourbon

blend in a spray bottle

(see Barbecue Secret below)

2 cups | 500 mL or more of your favorite barbecue sauce

1 cup | 250 mL North Carolina-style

Vinegar Sauce (see recipe below)

2 dozen fresh, fluffy white buns

Tidewater Coleslaw (see recipe below)

 

             Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and set the rub aside.

            Slather the butts with the mustard, sprinkle them with the granulated garlic, and then coat them liberally with the rub. Let the rubbed butts sit for half an hour, until the meat’s juices make the rub look wet and shiny.

            Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature up to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Line the drip pan of your smoker with a double layer of foil and fill it with apple juice. (If you want a more crispy crust on the butts, just line the drip pan and leave it dry.) Cook the butts for 11/2 to two hours per lb | 500 g (about 10–14 hours, or to an internal temperature of 185˚F | 85˚C), adding coals and chunks of hardwood as required. We use apple wood in competition.

            About halfway through the cooking time, turn the butts and spray them with the apple juice mixture. Turn them over and spray them again at the 3/4 mark. Two hours before the butts are due to be ready, turn them over again and, with a basting brush, generously glaze them with barbecue sauce. At the same point, throw a couple of chunks of hardwood on the coals. An hour before the butts are due to be finished, turn and glaze them one more time and wrap them in a double coating of foil. One more hour in the smoker, then take them out. Let them rest for at least half an hour (in competition we’ll let our butts rest, wrapped in foil, then wrapped in a blanket and placed in an insulated cooler, for as many as four hours).

            Take the butts out of the foil and place them in a large roasting pan or heavy duty roasting tray. Pull apart the pork, using two forks or your hands sheathed in rubber gloves, mixing the exterior crusty bits together with the tender, juicy white meat. Drizzle the shredded meat with the vinegar sauce and mix it in. (These days I use equal parts vinegar sauce and barbecue sauce – Ronnie.)

            To serve, pile the shredded pork on the buns, drizzle it with some more vinegar sauce and/or some of your favorite barbecue sauce, and top it with the coleslaw for a big, juicy, crunchy, messy barbecue sandwich. Take one bite and you will know what real barbecue tastes like!

Variation: Cooking Barbecue on a Grill

 

Covered grill method: You can barbecue pork butts on your covered charcoal or gas grill. Follow the recipe above exactly, but use indirect low heat. Indirect heat means you put what you’re cooking on a part of the grill that has no heat under it. This is easier on a gas grill because to maintain low heat on a charcoal grill means you have to add coals every hour or two for a whole day. Use soaked wood chips or chunks wrapped in foil and poked with a fork to create a bit of smoke. It won’t be as smoky as barbecue made in the traditional style, but it’ll still be good! The one advantage of this technique is you can probably get by with a couple of hours less cooking time.

 

North Carolina-style Vinegar Sauce

Makes a little more than 1 cup | 250 mL

This is old-school barbecue sauce at its finest. Drizzle some of this into pulled pork just before serving to give it some classic heat and tang, or use it to baste pork butt.

1 cup | 250 mL white vinegar

1 cup | 250 mL cider vinegar

2 Tbsp | 15 mL brown sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL crushed dried red chile flakes

1 tsp | 5 mL Louisiana–style hot pepper sauce

salt and pepper to taste

       Combine all the ingredients and stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. The sauce stores indefinitely in the fridge.

 

Tidewater Coleslaw

Makes 8–10 servings

 

My dear friend and fellow Butt Shredder Kathy Richardier discovered this slaw many years ago and I have substituted my favorite toasted cumin seeds for the celery seeds in the original recipe. This pungent, high-sugar slaw is best as a condiment, piled high on top of a pulled pork sandwich or burger, or on the side of a few slices of barbecued brisket.

 

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1/2 cup | 125 mL white vinegar

1/3 cup | 75 mL white sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted cumin seeds

1 small head cabbage, finely shredded

2 carrots, peeled and finely grated

 

       Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and cumin together in a bowl. Toss it with the cabbage and carrots and refrigerate it. You can make this slaw a few hours ahead of time. Toss it just before serving to redistribute the dressing.

 

Barbecue Secret

Spray your meat periodically to give it a sweet shine. Starting about halfway through the cooking time, spray chicken, ribs, brisket, or pork butt with a mixture of 2 parts apple juice, 1 part Jack Daniel’s, and 1 part maple syrup.

 

Photo copyright John Sinal from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Rockin' Ronnie's Vodka Primer

Jul 15, 2010

Description:

An old friend of mine wrote me the other day asking for some advice. He had decided to switch from beer to vodka, and didn't know where to start. Here's my advice to him, slightly revised and expanded. I initially posted this on Facebook, but my friend Rick doesn’t like information on the web that’s trapped inside a "walled garden" like FB.

 

So here you go, Ricky, and everyone else outside the garden.

 

[Disclaimer: Vodka is not good for everyone, and I can't guarantee the same positive results for other drinkers. Please drink responsibly.]

_________________________________________

So you've decided to switch from beer to vodka. Congrats on making the healthy choice. I have existed on not much more than pork fat and vitamin V for the last 10 years or so, and it has reversed the aging process for me. Thanks to Brother Smirnoff I am now 34 years old.

But seriously, good vodka is much better for one's health than most alcoholic beverages because it is free of impurities. Unless one considers ethyl alcohol an impurity.

 

As for which brand of vodka I would recommend, it depends how you intend to drink it. If you are going to be mixing it with anything, then your best bets are brands like Skyye, Polar Ice or Alberta Pure, which pride themselves on purity and have such a neutral taste that they're almost undetectable in a mixed drink.

 

If you are going to drink it straight, or in a dry martini, that's another story, and everything depends on your personal taste. Some potato-based vodkas, like Chopin or Luksusowa, have a strong, oily flavour that brings to mind Orwell's Victory Gin. I don't like this style, but others do, and you might.

 

Classic Russian-style vodkas like Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya have a lovely smoothness, a slight sweetness and velvety feeling on your tongue.

  Tito's Handmade Vodka, made in Texas, is excellent.

 

Some super-premium vodkas have truly sublime flavour. My favourites are Grey Goose and Wyborowa Exquisite. But they're very expensive and not worth the hefty premium except for very special occasions (like the arrival of Tuesday).

 

There are lots of organic vodkas out there these days. A lot of them are not very good. I have a theory that some "premium" organic vodkas are not much more than a way of automotive-grade ethanol producers to get some extra value out of their surplus production. But 360, Square One and Rain are quite nice. In fact, sometimes I find myself praying for Rain.

 

My everyday vodka (well, not quite every day) is Smirnoff red label. Clean, smooth, pure, and available at a decent price. Finlandia, Absolut, Ketel One, 42 Below, and Bols are in the same vein.

 

Ciroc is crap. Too sweet. Designed for the Crantini set.

Don’t trust a vodka in a super-fancy designer bottle. Same with gimmick packaging like Crystal Head. Cool bottle, lousy vodka. There are exceptions, though. NASCAR legend Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon Carolina Moonshine is excellent.

Conversly, what's with Russian Prince vodka? As my cousin Tommy points out, "who would buy vodka that comes in a shampoo bottle?"

The best way to drink vodka is in a shot glass, straight. The vodka should come right out of the freezer. I recommend bites of pickled herring or some good fatty slices of cured meat between shots. There's an old Polish phrase - "binoculars and jellyfish" which describes a classic way to drink vodka with a friend -- a bottle and two shot glasses (the binoculars) are placed on a bare kitchen table next to a plate full of quivering slices of pickled pig's feet (the jellyfish). Yum.

 

Second best way, for me anyway, is a vodka Martini, which isn't really a Martini the way I like it because it does not have any vermouth. The vodka is poured over ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, shaken and then strained into a chilled Martini glass. The glass needs to be flavoured with microsopic droplets of lemon oil from a slice of peel from a firm, fresh lemon that is twisted over the glass. Drop in the twist (if you want to be geeky, rub the yellow side of the peel around the inner rim of the glass), pour in the vodka from the shaker, and you have a perfect cocktail. Don't guzzle; this is a sipping drink, although you must drink it fairly quickly while it is still super cold.

 

Be careful. These beauties are strong and silent, and I would recommend no more than two to start off an evening. Although that kind of self control can be hard to achieve. James Thurber once quipped, "One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough."

 

And then there's the old Dorothy Parker poem:

 

I like to have a martini,

Two at the very most.

After three I'm under the table,

After four I'm under my host.

 

I'll leave you with this, from Roger Ebert, on his drinking days in NY:

 

"Above all we drank. It is not advisable, perhaps not possible, to spend very many evenings in a place like O’Rourke’s while drinking Cokes and club soda. Sometimes I attempted to cut back, by adopting drinks whose taste I hated (fernet branca) or those with low alcohol content (white wine and soda). Night after night I found these substitutes relaxed me enough to switch to scotch and soda. For a time I experimented with vodka and tonic. I asked Jay Kovar what he knew about vodka ‘as a drink’. He said: ‘Sooner or later, all the heavy hitters get to vodka.’"

 

 

A wine and BBQ pairing in Whistler on July 31!

Jul 15, 2010

Description:

AN AFTERNOON OF GREAT WINE AND FOOD WITH

THE GODFATHER OF ZIN & CANADA'S BARBECUE EVANGELIST

Joel Peterson -Winemaker and Founder of Ravenswood

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk -Author of Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!

July 30, 2010

 

Award-winning winemaker Joel Peterson and barbecue champion Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk pair up like Ravenswood Zinfandel and a perfectly grilled steak. For the last four decades Joel has been an acknowledged leader in California Wine – an articulate spokesperson and stylistic trendsetter who helped make Zinfandel the runaway phenomenon that it is today. Ronnie is a bestselling cookbook author and a true barbecue pioneer. As chief cook of the Butt Shredders, he led the first Canadian team to win a U.S. barbecue championship and Food & Wine Magazine has named him one of America’s greatest grillers. Both men share a love of great wine and delicious food, and both are known for their down-to earth personalities and entertaining storytelling. Put them on Dusty’s patio with a fine selection of Joel’s Ravenswood wines paired with Ronnie’s smokin’ dishes and there’s bound to be some sizzle!

DATE: Friday, July 30 (the day before the National BBQ Championships)

TIME: 1:30pm - 3:30pm

WHERE: Dusty's Bar & BBQ, Creekside

HOW: Tickets $10 (yes, only $10!) at Dusty's - Limited Availability. Call 604-905-2171

This will be a casual, interactive and undoubtedly entertaining afternoon with two legendary storytellers matched with great wine and BBQ – get your tickets early! Sip, Laugh, Eat, Win a Door Prize - what more can you ask for a Friday afternoon?

 

 

Recipe of the week: Ronnie's Rich, Deeply Satisfying Dipping Sauce

Jul 9, 2010

Description:

Ronnie’s Rich, Deeply Satisfying Dipping Sauce

(With acknowledgments to the Baron of Barbecue, Paul Kirk)

Makes about 6 cups | 1.5 L

Any student of barbecue has to bow in the direction of Kansas City once in a while, and Paul Kirk is one of the world’s greatest barbecue cooks and also perhaps its best-known ambassador. Paul has taught thousands of cooks the essentials of barbecue, and this rich, sweet, tangy sauce is based on his Kansas City classic.

 

2 Tbsp | 25 mL powdered ancho, poblano or New Mexico chiles

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dry mustard

1 tsp | 5 mL ground coriander

1 tsp | 5 mL ground allspice

1/4 tsp | 1 mL ground cloves

1/2 tsp | 2 mL grated nutmeg

up to 1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne, according to your taste

1/4 cup | 50 mL neutral-flavored oil, such as canola

1 onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup | 125 mL tightly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup | 250 mL white vinegar

1/2 cup | 125 mL clover honey

1/4 cup | 50 mL Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

or a combination

1 tsp | 5 mL liquid smoke or hickory smoked salt (optional)

1 32 oz. | 1-L keg ketchup

Mix all the spices together and set the mixture aside. Heat the oil in a big pot over medium heat and gently sauté the onion, garlic, and shallot until tender. Add the spices and mix the ingredients together thoroughly, cooking the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes to bring out their flavors.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring often (be careful, it spatters). Don’t cook it too long or it will start to caramelize and you’ll have spicy fudge. If you want a very smooth sauce, blend it with a hand blender or food processor. Refrigerate it or preserve it as you would a jam or jelly in mason jars. Use the sauce as a glaze or dip for barbecued meats, as a flavoring sauce in fajitas, or mix it half-and-half with mayo for a fabulous dip for French fries.

            Note: This thick sauce is designed for dipping. If you want to use it as a basting sauce or a glaze, thin it with water, apple juice, or Jack Daniel’s to suit your taste and the task at hand.

Barbecue Secret

Use sauce sparingly when grilling, planking, or barbecuing meat. In competition we use it only as a finishing glaze. If you baste meat with a sugary sauce more than an hour before you take it off the smoker or more than a few minutes before removing it from the grill, it will turn black when the sugar caramelizes from the heat. Also use sauce sparingly when you serve, offering it to guests on the side. Too much sauce and you lose the barbecue flavor you’ve worked so hard to achieve!

 

 

Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Reduction

Jul 1, 2010

Description:

Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Reduction

Makes 4 main course servings or 8 appetizer servings

This is a delicious way to grill lamb racks. The balsamic reduction has an incredible sweet tanginess that offsets the earthiness of the dried herbs and brings out the flavor of the meat. Serve the racks cut into chops as an appetizer, or as a main course with rice, grilled asparagus, and a nice green salad.

4 racks of lamb, Frenched by your butcher

(trimmed to bare the ribs and remove the silverskin – lots of lamb is pre-packaged this way)

kosher salt to taste

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, smashed or pushed through a garlic press

1 cup | 250 mL balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1/2 tsp | 2 mL cayenne

1/2 cup | 125 mL Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub (see recipe below)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive oil

sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

            One to two hours before you are going to cook the lamb racks, lightly season the lamb with salt. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup | 50 mL oil, 2 Tbsp | 25 mL mustard, rosemary, pepper, and fresh garlic in a nonreactive baking dish or resealable plastic bag. Add the racks, turning them once or twice to ensure they are evenly exposed to the marinade.

            While the lamb is marinating, pour the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook it, watching it carefully, until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/2 its
original volume (10–15 minutes). It should be a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside to cool.

            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Take the lamb out of the marinade, pat the racks dry with paper towels, and brush them with the remaining 2 Tbsp | 25 mL mustard. Combine the granulated garlic, onion, and cayenne in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture lightly over the lamb racks. Coat the racks generously with the herb rub, patting it on with your hands so it sticks to the meat. Drizzle the olive oil over the rubbed racks and pat it into the rub.

            Using cherry wood as a flavoring agent (optional), grill the racks for 4—5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature at the thickest point is 135–140˚F | 57–60˚C. To serve, cut the racks into individual chops, arrange them on plates, and drizzle them with the balsamic reduction. Garnish the lamb with sprigs of fresh mint.

Mediterranean Dried Herb Rub

Makes enough to coat several racks of lamb or a whole leg of lamb or pork roast

These days, food lovers tend to shy away from dried herbs in favor of the fresh ones that are so
readily available. We tend to associate unpleasantly stale, dirty flavors with dried herbs, but that’s probably because we use them so rarely that the ones in our pantry are too old. Dried herbs, when used within a few months of purchasing them, can add a wonderful earthiness and complexity to grilled foods. In fact, the high heat of grilling often destroys the delicate flavors of fresh herbs. In most cases fresh herbs, other than the very strong rosemary and sage, are best used after your meat is off the grill, as a finely chopped sprinkle to add color and aroma. Use this rub for meats like chicken and pork, but it also works well with grilled vegetables. Just toss the veggies with oil and sprinkle them with the rub and some kosher salt.

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried (not powdered) oregano

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried mint

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried basil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dried rosemary

1 tsp | 5 mL dried parsley

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together well.

 

 

 

Rocco and Ronnie's Great Northern Adventure: Episode 1, Northern Lights

Jun 26, 2010 03:20

Description:

This is the first in a series of video vignettes about a trip my friend Rocco Ciancio and I took to the Northwest Territories this spring. I'm sharing it in conjunction with a travel piece that Rocco and I wrote for the Globe and Mail, which was published today.

A couple of tasty chicken kebab recipes

Jun 24, 2010

Description:

Tikka-Style Chicken Kebabs

Makes 4 servings

Serve these kebabs on a bed of steamed basmati rice with some of your favorite chutney and some curried veggies on the side.

8 bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for at least half an hour

 

To marinate the chicken:

1 cup | 250 mL plain yogurt

3 Tbsp | 45 mL neutral-flavored oil,

such as canola or peanut

3 Tbsp | 45 mL minced ginger

3 Tbsp | 45 mL minced garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

2 Tbsp | 25 mL lime juice

1 Tbsp | 15 mL tandoori paste

1 Tbsp | 15 mL garam masala spice

1 large purple onion, peeled and cut

into chunks

4 large boneless, skinless chicken

breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 lime

 

To finish the kebabs:

olive or canola oil

kosher salt to taste

1 lime

Combine the yogurt, oil, ginger, garlic, salt, lime juice, tandoori paste, and garam masala in a large nonreactive bowl and mix them together well. Add the onion chunks and the chicken, cover the mixture with plastic wrap, and marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.

            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Thread the chicken chunks and onion pieces onto 8 presoaked bamboo skewers. Grill the kebabs for 4–6 minutes, turning them 2 or 3 times. (Don’t overcook the chicken or it will have a mealy texture!) Remove the kebabs from the grill, drizzle them with a little oil, season them with salt to taste, squeeze some fresh lime juice over each skewer, and serve the Tikka Chicken immediately.

Dilled Yogurt Chicken Kebabs

Makes appetizers for 12 or a main course for 4–6

Yogurt and dill do something wonderful to chicken. Using chicken thighs instead of breast meat gives these kebabs added richness. Serve these as an appetizer or as a main course with some rice and green salad.

8 metal skewers or 12 pre-soaked bamboo skewers

2 lb | 1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs,

cut into bite-sized chunks

1 cup | 250 mL plain full-fat yogurt

1/2 cup | 125 mL fresh chopped dill

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried dill weed

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

2 cloves garlic, forced through a garlic press

1 tsp | 5 mL lemon juice

pinch cayenne

grinding of black pepper

2 medium sweet white onions, quartered and separated into bite-sized

chunks (or use a cut-up fennel bulb, or a combination of the two)

1 lemon, cut into wedges

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

olive oil for drizzling

Combine the chicken chunks with the yogurt, dill, onion, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne, and pepper in a nonreactive container and refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.

Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, alternating the meat with the onion or fennel chunks. Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Place the kebabs on the grate and cook them for 3–5 minutes per side, or until they’re just done. Take the kebabs off the grill, season them with salt and pepper, drizzle them with some olive oil, and serve them immediately. Garnish them with lemon wedges.

 

 

 

Flank Steak Fajitas Adobo with Mango Strawberry Salsa

Jun 18, 2010

Description:

Makes 4 servings

This recipe makes use of the flank steak, one of the tougher and leaner cuts of beef, but also by far the most flavorful. The trick to great flank steak is to make sure you don’t overcook it, let it rest before carving it, and cut thin slices across the grain. This recipe contrasts a spicy marinade with a fruit salsa. The fajitas go well with cold Mexican beer or a light red wine.

To marinate the steak:

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1/4 cup | 50 mL lime juice

2 tsp | 10 mL vegetable oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground cumin

1 Tbsp | 15 mL powdered ancho or

New Mexico chili powder

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

ground black pepper to taste

1 large flank or skirt steak

(about 11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg)

 

For the mango strawberry salsa:

2 fresh ripe (but not too ripe) mangoes,

peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped

1/2 cup | 125 mL ripe but firm strawberries,

stems removed and roughly chopped

1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely chopped

dash or two of Louisiana–style hot sauce

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1/2 tsp | 2 mL sugar

2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh lime juice

freshly ground pepper to taste

 

To make the fajitas:

12 flour tortillas, wrapped in foil and

warmed in a 250˚F | 120˚C oven

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Blend the salt, lime juice, oil, cumin, chile powder, garlic, chipotles, and pepper in a food processor until you have a fairly smooth paste. Place the steak in a nonreactive baking dish and spoon on the marinade, thoroughly coating the steak on both sides. Cover the steak with plastic wrap and refrigerate it 6 hours or overnight, turning it once or twice.

Half an hour before cooking the steak, combine the salsa ingredients and lightly toss them in a bowl. Season the salsa to taste, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator.

            Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Place the flank steak on the grill. Flip it  after 3 minutes and spoon 1 or 2 Tbsp | 15 or 25 mL of the marinade on top. Cook it for 3 more minutes and flip it again. Grill it for 1 more minute for rare; add a minute or two per side for medium rare. Set the steak on a chopping board, tent it with foil, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.

            Thinly slice the flank steak across the grain, creating juicy strips of meat, and place it in a warmed serving dish. Put out the salsa, cilantro, and warmed tortillas. People can now serve themselves, placing a couple of slices of meat, then a dollop of salsa, then a sprinkling of cilantro on a tortilla, folding it up, and wolfing it down.

 

 

An invitation to Rockin' Ronnie's Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Jun 17, 2010 01:14

Description:

Hey Barbecue Fans. I'm teaming up with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts to put on a weekend getaway with a barbecue theme. Check out this video invitation!

Planked Salmon

Jun 11, 2010

Description:

Cedar-planked Salmon with Whiskey-maple Glaze

 

Makes 6–8 servings

 

This has become one of my signature recipes. I’ve cooked it scores of times over the past few years, my team has won awards with it, and I often get the comment, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever eaten.” The sweet, woody flavor of the Jack Daniel’s and maple syrup complements the richness of the salmon and the aroma of the cedar in this West Coast dish. I like to present it on the plank and then serve it on a bed of field greens tossed with some French walnut oil, kosher salt, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

 

1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour

1/2 cup | 125 mL Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

1 cup | 250 mL real maple syrup

1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes

1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter at room temperature

1 whole, boned fillet wild Pacific salmon

(about 3 lb  | 1.5 kg), skin on

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion (or onion powder

if you can’t find granules)

2 lemons, halved

parsley sprigs for garnish

1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

 

Make the sauce by combining the whiskey and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil and reduce it by about half, until you have a thick syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Add the chiles and butter and stir the sauce until it’s just combined. Set it aside and keep it warm on the stovetop.

            Season the skinless side of the salmon with salt, pepper, and granulated onion. Let the salmon sit for 10–15 minutes at room temperature, until the rub is moistened.

            While the salmon is sitting, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season the plank with kosher salt and place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.

            Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Check it periodically to make sure the plank doesn’t catch fire, and spray the burning edges with water if it does, making sure to close the lid afterwards.

            When the salmon is done, squeeze half a lemon along its length and carefully transfer it, plank and all, to a platter. Garnish it with parsley sprigs and the remaining lemon cut into slices. Drizzle a spoonful of the sauce over each portion as you serve it, and sprinkle it with a little chopped parsley.

 

Planked Salmon with Pesto

 

Makes 6 servings

 

This is another classic way to plank salmon. Serve it with a tossed green salad and maybe some Fettuccini Alfredo. You can make the pesto yourself, but there are lots of very good options for pre-made pesto in your supermarket your favorite gourmet food store.

 

For the salmon:

one 21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet, skin on

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, one for juice, one for garnish

1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil

 

For the pesto:

1 cup | 250 mL basil leaves, washed and dried

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup | 75 mL pine nuts

1 cup | 250 mL grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup | 175 mL extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Cut the fillet into 6 even portions. Season them on all sides with salt and pepper. Combine the juice of one lemon with the olive oil and pour it over the salmon. Let it marinate at room temperature for about an hour.

            In a food processor, purée the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese with 2 or 3 Tbsp | 30 or 45 mL of the olive oil. With the processor running, slowly add the rest of the oil. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

            Coat the salmon pieces generously with the pesto (you’ll have enough pesto left over to toss with some pasta another day; it freezes well, too).

            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the salmon portions on the plank, leaving room around each for heat to circulate. Cook the fish for 8–12 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Serve the salmon garnished with lemon wedges.

 

 

Classic Dadburger Deluxe with Supercharged Corn on the Cob

Jun 3, 2010

Description:

 

Classic Dadburger Deluxe

 

Makes 12–16 patties, depending on how big you like them

This recipe will feed a crowd, or four teenagers. You can easily halve the recipe. If your kids are like mine and don’t like bits of onion and garlic in their burgers, substitute 1 tsp | 5 mL each of granulated onion and granulated garlic for the fresh variety.

For the burger mix:

6 lb | 2.7 kg medium ground beef

(or half-and-half ground beef and ground pork)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed out and mashed with a fork (see recipe below)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted sesame oil

2 Tbsp | 25 mL dark soy sauce or

Worcestershire sauce or a combination

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne

(or more, if you like more heat)

lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

1/2 cup | 125 mL cold water

 

To finish the burgers:

Your favoriate barbecue sauce

12 to 16 cheese slices (optional)

12 to 16 hamburger buns

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix the burger ingredients together with your hands in a large nonreactive bowl. Wet your hands in cold water before you form the mixture into chunks the size of tennis balls. Flatten them into patties, placing them on the cookie sheet. Each patty will be about 1/2 lb | 250 g before cooking. Place them in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.

Preheat your grill for medium direct heat. Take the burgers out of the freezer and grill them for 6 minutes per side, or until they are springy to the touch, glazing them on both sides with barbecue sauce. Top each patty with a slice of cheese for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Serve the burgers on buns with your favorite condiments.

A Library of Burger Toppings

We’re all so used to iceberg lettuce, ketchup, mayo, ballpark mustard, green relish, and sliced onion and tomato on our burgers that we hardly notice them any more. Try these unusual burger toppings for a change and experiment with your own combinations.

·       thinly sliced button mushrooms sautéed with a smashed garlic clove in butter and olive oil

·       crunchy-style peanut butter, bacon, raw onion, and lettuce

·       an egg fried in butter, over easy, with a leaf of iceberg lettuce and a slather of mayo

·       avocado slices, bacon, and salsa

·       caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese

·       tomato slices, thinly sliced red onion, and fresh arugula

·       black olive paste and slices of hard-boiled egg

·       brie or Gorgonzola cheese

 

 

Roasted Garlic

 

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.

 

Supercharged Grilled Corn on the Cob with Savory Butters

Allow one whole cob per guest

Almost nothing goes better with grilled or barbecued meat than good old corn on the cob, and it’s so easy on the grill. It’s also easy to do a little bit more to give it an extra jolt of buttery flavor.

1 unshucked ear of corn per guest

savory butter or butters (see recipes below)

kosher salt

Soak the whole, unshucked corn in cold water for an hour. Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Remove the corn from the water and place it on the grill. Cook it for about half an hour, turning it regularly. Don’t worry if the husks turn brown or black—the corn inside will be protected. Remove it from the grill, let it cool enough that you can handle it, remove the husks, and serve the corn with herbed butter and kosher salt. (If you want a more rustic, charred look and flavor, husk the corn cobs before cooking them, then grill them naked for 10–15 minutes, watching to make sure they char but don’t burn.)

Barbecue Secret

Roasted corn is excellent with plain soft butter and a sprinkling of a simple rub consisting of one part kosher salt and one part ancho chile powder.

Barbecue Secret

If you feel like fussing a little, you can bend the husk back to one end of each cooked corn cob and tie the leaves together with a bit of twine for a handy corn cob holder.

 

Flavored Butters for all Occasions

Once you’ve made any of these savory butters you’ll always want to keep some in the freezer. Brought to room temperature, they’re incredible on roasted corn on the cob or slathered on cornbread, and a pat of flavored butter on a freshly grilled steak or fish fillet is heavenly. You can even use one of these as a sautéing butter for thinly sliced mushrooms or scrambled eggs, or toss one with some cooked noodles for a quick, easy side.

Mediterranean Butter

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,

basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,

tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)

1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt to taste

Red Pepper Butter

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and

coarsely chopped

1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tsp | 5 mL sweet paprika

kosher salt to taste

 

Garlic Chive Butter

4 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press

(or 8 cloves roasted garlic, squeezed out of their skins)

2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped fresh chives

1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt to taste

Gorgonzola Butter

3/4 cup | 175 mL Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 lb | 125 g unsalted butter at

room temperature

1 tsp | 5 mL fresh lemon juice

kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter  right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.

If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.

 

 

A meal to launch this year's barbecue season!

May 21, 2010

Description:

15 Steps to a Great Grilled Dinner

This article originally appeared in Westjet's Up magazine. I've adapted it to suit the occasion.

Even though it isn’t officially summer for another month, I’ve always considered the Victoria Day long weekend to be the official beginning of the summer grilling season. So just follow these simple steps for a quick, delicious grilled meal for family or friends that will get your grilling muscles toned up for a sizzlin’ summer!

This is meant for a family of four, and it’s designed to be super-convenient so you can do it right after work if you want. Adjust according to the size of your family or party.

 

1. Stop at the supermarket and buy:

4 one-inch-thick rib eye or New York strip loin beef steaks

6 cobs fresh corn

1 or 2 bunches fresh asparagus

1 lemon

1 fresh pineapple

1 pint vanilla ice cream

You’ve already stocked up on the following basic ingredients so you don’t have to waste precious time running around the store: beer, wine, lemonade, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, lemon, tapioca starch (corn starch will do), olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper, and a can of cooking spray.

2. In one smooth motion, arrive home, put on some summer music, and pour you and your partner a drink.

3. Get one of the children to shuck the corn and put the cobs in a bowl of cold water. Get the other to set the table and make some lemonade.

4. While you’re catching up with your partner, in a shallow pan (like a lasagna tray) combine a few glugs of soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, a couple of smashed cloves of garlic, and some grated or finely chopped ginger. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half into the mixture. Add about a tablespoon of cornstarch and a generous grinding of black pepper.

5. Stir all the ingredients into a smooth mixture and add the steaks, turning them to coat them. Set them aside, and turn them every five minutes or so.

6. Start your propane or natural gas grill (use charcoal if you like, but in this case we’re going for speed and convenience) and let it preheat on medium-high for about 15 minutes.

7. While the grill is preheating, top up the drinks. Wash and trim the asparagus and dry the stalks by wrapping them gently in a paper towel or dry dishcloth. Transfer the asparagus to a mixing bowl.

8. Trim the pineapple and cut it into half-inch | 1.2 cm thick slabs. Lightly salt and pepper the slices and set them aside.

9. Place the corn cobs and the steaks on the grill. Close the grill (keep it closed throughout) and turn on a timer for four minutes.

10. Turn the corn and the steaks at the four-minute mark. Turn on the timer for another four minutes.

11. Turn the corn again. Check the steaks for doneness by prodding them with your finger. If they’re springy to the touch, they’re done. Take the steaks off the grill, put them on a platter, and tent them with foil.

 

12. Drizzle some olive oil on the asparagus and sprinkle it lightly with salt. Toss the spears to coat them, and place them crosswise on the grill, taking care not to lose the stalks through the grate. Turn the corn once more. Close the grill and set the timer for two minutes.

13. Yell to gather the family for dinner, and take the asparagus and corn off the grill. Turn the heat to medium and lightly coat the cooking grate with the cooking spray. Place the pineapple slices on the grill.

14. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the asparagus; make sure there’s butter on the table so people can slather it on their corn; and arrange the vegetables and steaks on a platter. Dinner is served.

15. Halfway through eating your steak, get up and turn the pineapple. By the time the main course is done, the fruit will have nice char marks. Serve it with a dollop of ice cream and enjoy the sunset.

 

Happy grilling, everyone!

Cowboy Cornbread

Sep 16, 2009

Description:

This is a killer dish from my first book, Barbecue Secrets, followed by a recipe for the best taco filling I've ever had. Thanks to Cindy Crescenzo for the request. Hope you enjoy it! (It should also work fine if you don't want to go through the trouble of adding all the filling - just throwing in some grated cheese and chopped pimentos as the filling would work just fine, too.)

Cowboy Cornbread with Taco Filling

Makes 6–8 servings

This recipe is a meal in itself, but is also a great side dish. I adapted it from a recipe that my Texan friend Amy Walker shared with me.

11/2 cups | 375 mL cornmeal

1/2 tsp | 2 mL baking soda

2 eggs

1 can (14 oz | 398 mL) cream-style corn

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 cup | 250 mL milk

1/4 cup | 50 mL olive oil

1 cup | 250 mL Mark’s Otherworldly Taco Filling (see recipe below) or, in a pinch, taco filling made from your favoriate commercial seasoning mix

2 Tbsp | 25 mL cornmeal

1 cup | 250 mL chopped onion

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

3 jalapeño peppers, chopped

1 jar (2 oz | 57 mL) pimentos, chopped

1/2 lb | 250 g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350˚F | 180˚C. Mix the 11/2 cups | 375 mL cornmeal, soda, eggs, corn, salt, milk, and oil together. Set the batter aside. Warm up the taco filling in a skillet. Sprinkle the 2 Tbsp | 25 mL cornmeal in the bottom of a greased 11 x 7-inch | 2 L casserole dish. Pour in half the cornbread batter. Layer the taco filling, onion, green pepper, jalapeños, pimentos, and grated cheese. Top with the remaining cornbread batter. Bake the cornbread for 60–70 minutes. Cool it for at least 5 minutes before serving it.

Mark’s Otherworldly Taco Filling

Makes 4 servings

We’ve all had tacos made with ground beef and commercial “taco seasoning”—a cheap, sorry imitation of this wonderful dish, which is a staple food in Latin America. This rich, luxurious “chorizo” (a kind of loose version of what we normally think of as Spanish sausage) comes from famous Southwestern chef Mark Miller’s ground-breaking Coyote Café cookbook. It’s a great filling for quesadillas, tacos, or burritos. You can also mix it with scrambled eggs, spice up a soup with it, or just eat it right out of the pot. When I make it I usually double or triple the recipe and freeze some for future use.

1 lb | 500 g fresh ground pork

1/2 lb | 250 g fresh lean ground beef

2 small cloves garlic, finely minced

4 Tbsp | 60 mL ancho or New Mexico chili powder

1/2 tsp | 2 mL cayenne

1/8 tsp | 1/2 mL ground cloves

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp | 10 mL ground cinnamon

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

3 cups | 750 mL water

 Fry the pork and beef in a heavy skillet or big pot over medium heat. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and do not allow it to brown. Add the garlic, spices, salt, and 1 cup | 250 mL of the water. Cook the mixture slowly over low heat for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry. Add extra water as needed, though the finished mixture should not be wet; all the excess water should have evaporated and the chorizo should be cooking in its own fat (which you shouldn’t drain off because it’s so full of flavor!). Adjust the final seasonings by adding salt and pepper to taste.


Lemon Chiffon Cake

Sep 9, 2009

Description:

Yesterday I cooked this delectable dessert, from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which was contributed by my friend Jennifer Wah. In response to a reader request, I'm sharing it here:

 

Lemon Chiffon Cake

2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup safflower oil

7 unbeaten egg yolks

3/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

1 tsp. vanilla

7 egg whites

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar


Oven: 325°

Separate eggs, putting whites in a metal bowl and yolks into a large pyrex measuring cup.

Beat whites until soft peaks form, then add cream of tartar and continue beating until very stiff peaks form. Set aside.

To the unbeaten egg yolks in the large pyrex measuring cup, add oil, juice(s), zest and vanilla.

Into a large bowl, measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre.

Add egg yolk mixture to flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Using a spatula, very gently fold the beaten egg whites into the flour-sugar mixture.

Pour batter into an ungreased 25 cm (10”) tube pan and bake for 1 – 1/14/ hours.

Invert pan and allow cake to cool before running a knife around the inside of the pan and inverting onto a serving plate.

Top with Lemon Glaze.

Lemon Glaze

2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature

Pinch of salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon (make sure zest is very fine for glaze)

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, salt and zest until combined. Gradually add lemon juice until it’s the consistency you want it to be, adding more sugar or lemon juice if needed to get it just right. Drizzle over cake and let it run down the sides, or use a knife to help spread it evenly and glaze the whole cake, if you prefer. Garnish with lemon and orange crescents.

Pink Salmon Festival – A Celebration of Health & Plenty

Aug 28, 2009

Description:

Hey barbecue fans. If you're in the Vancouver area this weekend, come by Hadden/Vanier park and taste some pink salmon, some of it cooked by yours truly. See the news release below for details.

NEWS RELEASE

Pink Salmon Festival – A Celebration of Health & Plenty

August 30th, 11am – 5pm Hadden/ Vanier Park, Vancouver BC.

(Vancouver) Each summer in BC, millions of salmon return to their home rivers to spawn and rejuvenate our west coast ecosystem. On August 30th, the Pacific Salmon Foundation is hosting a celebration of the return of one of the greatest, yet under-appreciated, resources in the province – Pink Salmon. While sockeye populations on the Fraser River have not returned in the expected numbers, all indications point to a run of up to 15 million pink salmon coming home to the Fraser over the coming weeks.

The PSF Pink Salmon Festival is a celebration of all that Pink Salmon represent and offer. Pink Salmon are the base for BC’s coastal ecological systems, they are sustainably harvested, and their delicious and delicate texture and are prized by culinary experts the world over.

Foodies take note: this free event features Robert Clark, the visionary and celebrated executive chef of C restaurant as well as the chefs from Raincity Grill and Nu preparing specialty pink salmon creations for the public to enjoy. In addition, barbecue evangelist Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk will be preparing a West-Coast classic: cedar-planked pink salmon with his signature whisky-maple glaze. This all-star culinary team will be preparing close to 3,000 pounds of beautiful, succulent pink salmon in free, sample-sized portions for what is sure to be an appreciative crowd.

Pink Salmon will also be celebrated with live music by Highrise Lonesome, fish painting by the Stream of Dreams Society, magicians, entertainers and a 60 foot salmon story telling tent! Attendees can try their hand at fly fishing and fly tying as well as enjoying a salmon art show and a fundraising silent auction and raffle. Displays from community partners such as the Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise program in addition to the PSF education areas featuring ocean creature touch tanks will inform people of the important role Pink Salmon play in BC every year.

Pink Salmon are a wonderful example of the health and plenty of British Columbia. Please join us in celebrating their return home this year.

Hosted by the Pacific Salmon Foundation


Christy Clark interviews Ronnie about burgers and takes listener calls

Aug 16, 2009 26:27

Description:

On August 11th I had a great time on the Christy Clark Show. In this episode I serve Christy the first-place winner in the Backyard Burger event of this year's Canadian National BBQ Championships in Whistler, B.C., my Beef Burger With Chile Butter Core. I also answer a bunch of great listener questions.

Barbecue Academy now booking into this fall!

Aug 13, 2009

Description:

Teamwork through barbeceu graphic A few years ago I launched Barbecue Academyⓒ. It's a day-long corporate teambuilding workshop that teaches participants about championship barbecue in a fun, relaxing atmosphere with plenty of room for socializing.

I think it's the only event of its kind in the world. There are lots of hands-on barbecue workshops for the public, and some of the big barbecue celebrities in the U.S. do corporate cooking demos and catered events. And there are even some corporate team building workshops based on cooking contests. But, as far as I know, this is the only corporate workshop that creates a competitive environment for participants, who divide into teams, prep and cook real barbecued chicken and ribs, and vie for cheap plastic trophies just like the big boys.

I've done three of them so far, for energy companies in Calgary, with positive feedback.

Here's what some of the participants have said:

 “You learn a little about smoking and barbecue, and a whole bunch about some folks that I don’t normally work with. We all had fun!”

“A great teambuilding event. The service was outstanding.”

“Lots of laughter, lots of concentration, great tastes, lots of enthusiasm from everyone.”

“An opportunity to mix in a creative environment.”

“It was a great day and I am full!”

“This was an exceptional workshop. It is filled with the science, the art and the lifestyle of barbecue. Ron is very knowledgeable and entertaining.”

“Ron’s team is terrific! Everyone is friendly, fun and extremely knowledgeable. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!”

“Fostered good camaraderie while incorporating some healthy competition. Highly recommended!”


I love putting on these workshops, and I want to do more. So far, I've done them only in Calgary, where I've found a great facility, but the concept is portable. I'm now booking sessions into this fall, and I'd like to do at least one in Vancouver.

Here's a promo sheet:

Download BBQ Academy promo

Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested.

In Search of the Perfect Burger

Jul 8, 2009

Description:

This article appears in the latest edition of Calgary's City Palate, and I'm pleased to share it here.


North American society has nearly killed its beloved hamburger.

The anti-fat movement, which shamed us into using extra lean ground beef, robbed the meat of most of its flavour. And worries about E coli contamination led to stringent regulation that pretty much requires today’s restaurants to cook the life out of their burgers.

As a result, most fast-food burger patties are not much more than dry, grainy hockey pucks – charred, pitiful pieces of meat that, to be palatable, need to be overwhelmed by their toppings and shielded by their buns. Even real restaurants often resort to frozen, pre-maid patties.

That just ain’t right. Although there are some notable exceptions to today’s crappy, overcooked commercial burgers, it’s left to backyard cooks to keep the sacred tradition of the real, tasty, juicy hamburger alive.

And so, dads everywhere have developed their perfect burger recipe. This is the story of how I arrived at mine.

When I challenged myself to imagine the perfect burger, I couldn’t help but think back to my youth.

I remembered hot, juicy A&W teenburgers, delivered on a tray that hitched onto the window of my family’s two-tone ’56 Chevy, devoured by my brother and me in the back seat and washed down with long drafts of cold sweet root beer from heavy glass mugs.

And then there was my first Big Mac. At 49 cents when it came out in 1968, it was an expensive gourmet treat, the tallest and fanciest restaurant burger of its day. Its super-soft triple-decker sesame bun, two all-beef patties and combination of American cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles, onion and special sauce sent my palate to new heights, and the red sleeve of 10-cent fries and cardboard cup of ice cold Coca-Cola were the perfect accompaniments. The Big Mac was the first burger I can remember where you needed to unhinge your jaw to take the first bite, which would always leave a trail of shiny juice running down your chin.

Of course, I can’t forget the homemade burgers grilled over charcoal briquettes at our family cottage at Alberta Beach – softball-sized lumps of charred ground beef laced with crunchy bits of chopped raw onion. After having the life squeezed out of them by dad’s spatula, those homemade burgers were almost as dry as the restaurant burgers of today. Luckily, it was a condition that was easily cured by a cold, clear bottle of Crush cream soda.

I recount these memories because, as with any classic comfort food, our best early memories become the Proustian references by which we judge every other burger we eat. The perfect burger is the one that comes closest to the idealized conglomeration of one’s remembrances of burgers past.  

It comes as no surprise, then, that Canadians are not adventurous burger eaters. A Harveys/Ipsos Reid survey in 2007 found that 61 percent of respondents order the exact same toppings on every single burger they eat, and the three most popular toppings are cheese, onions and ketchup. Interestingly, the distinguishing characteristic of prairie burger eaters is that we’re the most likely to eat naked hamburgers. Don’t mess with that Alberta beef!

But then there’s the other 39 per cent of us, who still want our burgers to hit that comfort-food nerve, but also need a little adventure and appreciate some extravagance now and then. One of my favorite adult burger memories is a lamb burger served with goat cheese and roasted red pepper on a toasted ciabatta bun at River Café in the spring of 1994. Another one that stands out in the current decade is the hilariously extravagant, Daniel Boulud-inspired $28 Feenie Burger, stuffed with braised short ribs and topped with a slice of seared foie gras.

On a hot August day in the summer of 2003, at the Canadian National Barbecue Championships in Whistler, B.C., everything I’d ever learned about what makes a great burger came together.

I knew it had to be juicy and tender, so I added a spash of cold water to the meat as I blended the seasonings into the ground beef with my hands, taking care not to overmix. (In this case I had no choice of meat, but the ideal would be to get your butcher to custom-grind chuck with at least 20 per cent fat content and mix it with ground pork or veal.)

I knew it had to be rich and unctuous, so I stuffed the patty with a frozen disk of butter that had been blended with fresh basil, mint and parsley. Freezing a log of the herbed butter made it easy to slice it into disks and also prevented overcooking. (James Beard used to put an ice cube into his burger patties to keep them moist and juicy.)

I knew it had to be smoky, so I cooked it over hardwood charcoal with a chunk of cherry wood thrown in.

I knew the toppings had to add richness, complexity and balance to the flavour and texture of the burger, so I slathered it with creamy, tangy Saltspring Island goat cheese, topped that with a filet of roasted red bell pepper that had been soaked in extra virgin olive oil infused with fresh basil leaves, and topped the whole thing with a dollop of sweet, shiny brown caramelized onions that had been flavoured with cinnamon, sugar and a touch of cayenne pepper.

And I knew the bun had to be soft and tender, but to add some extra flavour I brushed it with some melted herbed butter and toasted it for a few seconds on the hot grill.

That burger won first place in the burger category at the Nationals, so technically I cooked the best burger in Canada that year. What matters more to me is that, years later, my kids still think their dad makes the best burger ever.

Man, oh, man. I need a perfect burger right now, don’t you? To help you hit that burger nerve, here are three of my favorite burger recipes, ranging from the over-the-top extravagance of my award-winning herbed-butter-stuffed burger to the comfort food flavour of what I call the Classic Dadburger Deluxe. I hope at least one of them is perfect for you.

BURGER RECIPES

Beef Burger with Herbed Butter Core and Caramelized Onions

Makes 4 burgers

This recipe won the burger category at the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in Whistler, British Columbia, in the summer of 2003. More than a burger, it is the Atkins equivalent of a jelly doughnut (if you forego the bun). It’s a life-shaping experience that should probably be accompanied by some kind of parental guidance message. Be careful to whom you serve this—your guests may stalk you until you cook it for them again.

11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg of ground beef, 20 percent fat content
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg
4 1/2-inch | 1 cm discs of frozen Mediterranean Herbed Butter (butter whizzed in a blender with fresh herbs like bazil, mint, parsley)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard
Championship Barbecue Rub (or seasoned salt)
4 hamburger buns
extra softened Herbed Butter for the buns
granulated garlic
1/2 cup | 125 mL chèvre (a creamy white French-style
goat cheese), at room temperature
2 large roasted red bell peppers, torn into quarters
Caramelized Onions (see recipe below)

Combine the beef and nutmeg in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix together the spice and the meat lightly with your hands, being careful not to overwork it. Split the meat into 4 equal portions and roll it into balls. Poke your thumb in the middle of each ball to create a hole and insert a frozen disc of herbed butter. Encase the butter in the burger as you shape it into a classic burger shape about _-inch | 2 cm thick, ensuring that there are no openings where molten butter could run out. (It may be helpful to dip your hands periodically into cold water to prevent the meat from sticking to them.)
    Coat the burger patties lightly with the mustard and sprinkle them with a light coating of the rub. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Either spray the burgers with vegetable oil spray, or coat the grill with oil. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the patties become firm, but not hard, to the touch.
    Remove the burgers from the grill, tent them with foil, and let them rest for 4–5 minutes. In the meantime, coat the buns with the softened herbed butter, sprinkle them with a little granulated garlic, and toast them for 30–60 seconds on your grill.
    Dress the burgers with a slather of goat cheese, a piece or two of roasted red pepper, and a dollop of caramelized onion. Inhale. (Note: Warn your guests that the burgers have a molten filling or they could be in for a shock! In any case, have plenty of napkins at the ready. These are very juicy burgers.)

Caramelized Onions

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

This makes a great topping for burgers but is also an excellent all-purpose condiment. Try it as an omelet filling or as a topping for grilled pork chops. Mix it with goat cheese and spread it on crackers for a tangy, sweet appetizer. It’s also a great topping on a planked round of brie.

2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter, olive oil, or a combination of both
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt
1 tsp | 5 mL sugar
1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne

Heat the butter/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté them until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to sauté the onions, stirring them regularly, until they are shiny and brown, about 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them (add a little water, if necessary,  to prevent burning).


Classic Dadburger Deluxe

Makes 12–16 patties, depending on how big you like them

This recipe will feed a crowd, or four teenagers. You can easily halve the recipe. If your kids are like mine and don’t like bits of onion and garlic in their burgers, substitute 1 tsp | 5 mL each of granulated onion and granulated garlic for the fresh variety.

For the burger mix:
6 lb | 2.7 kg medium ground beef
(or half-and-half ground beef and ground pork)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 head roasted garlic, cloves
squeezed out and mashed with a fork
1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp | 25 mL dark soy sauce or
Worcestershire sauce or a combination
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne
(or more, if you like more heat)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup | 125 mL cold water

To finish the burgers:
your favourite barbecue sauce
12 to 16 cheese slices (optional)
12 to 16 hamburger buns

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix the burger ingredients together with your hands in a large nonreactive bowl. Wet your hands in cold water before you form the mixture into chunks the size of tennis balls. Flatten them into patties, placing them on the cookie sheet. Each patty will be about 1/2 lb | 250 g before cooking. Place them in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.
    Preheat your grill for medium direct heat. Take the burgers out of the freezer and grill them for 6 minutes per side, or until they are springy to the touch, glazing them on both sides with barbecue sauce. Top each patty with a slice of cheese for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Serve the burgers on buns with your favourite condiments.


Lamb Burger with Molten Goat Cheese Core

Makes 4 burgers

We North Americans eat so much ground beef that we almost forget what beef tastes like. When you eat a lamb burger you actually taste the lamb and it makes for a deliciously different grilling experience. The goat cheese stuffing adds an orgiastic twist. Don’t forget to freeze the goat cheese!

For the tzatziki:
1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 cup | 250 mL plain Greek
full-fat yogurt
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 long English cucumber, finely grated

To finish the burgers:
Softened butter that’s been blended with some fresh herbs like mint, basil or flatleaf parsley
2 large fresh rounds of pita bread
fresh sliced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and
dried

For the patties:
11/2 lb | 750 g ground lamb
2 Tbsp | 25 mL chopped fresh mint
1 tsp | 5 mL dried oregano
1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 oz | 75 g soft goat cheese (chèvre),
frozen and sliced into 4 1/2-inch | 1 cm discs
2 Tbsp | 25 mL softened herbed butter
kosher salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste

To make the tzatziki, dry-fry the ground cumin over medium heat for 30 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant and browns just slightly. Transfer the cumin from the hot pan into a bowl. Add the yogurt, mint and cucumber, mix them together thoroughly, cover the tzatziki, and refrigerate it until it’s needed.
    Gently mix the lamb with the mint, oregano, salt and a few grindings of pepper in a nonreactive bowl with your hands. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape them into balls. Make a hole in each patty with your thumb and insert a disc of frozen goat cheese. Carefully seal the hole and shape the ball into a patty 3/4 inch | 2 cm thick, making sure to cover the cheese with the meat. Season the outside of the patties with salt and pepper. Lightly brush them with olive oil and grill them over medium direct heat for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature is 160˚F | 71˚C.
    Take the burgers off the grill and spread a thin layer of the herbed butter on top of each one (if you don’t have any herbed butter, drizzle them with a little olive oil—just enough to make them glisten). Let them rest for 3–4 minutes. Just before you’re ready to serve them, toast the pitas on the grill for 10–15 seconds per side. Cut the pitas in half, open them up, and stuff the burgers inside. Dress them with the tomatoes, onion, arugula,  and tzatziki.


Barbecue Secret
For extra-juicy burgers, add some cold water (about 1 Tbsp | 15 mL per lb | 500 g) to your raw burger meat before you mix it. For extra-tender burgers, don’t overwork the burger mix.

Hamburger History
We can follow the roots of the modern hamburger back to Hamburg, Germany in the 19th century, where cheap cuts of beef were chopped, seasoned, and served cooked or raw to the lower classes. The “Hamburg Steak” first appeared on New York menus in the mid-1800s, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was served in restaurants as far away as Walla Walla, WA. It’s a lot harder to determine exactly which American state’s residents first had the idea to create a sandwich out of that chopped beef steak to create the burger we know and love today—there are at least five different claims ranging from Wisconsin to Texas.

A Library of Burger Toppings
We’re all so used to iceberg lettuce, ketchup, mayo, ballpark mustard, green relish, and sliced onion and tomato on our burgers that we hardly notice them any more. Try these unusual toppings for a change and experiment with your own combinations.

• thinly sliced button mushrooms sautéed with a smashed garlic clove in butter and olive oil
• crunchy-style peanut butter, bacon, raw onion and lettuce
• an egg fried in butter, over easy, with a leaf of iceberg lettuce and a slather of mayo
• avocado slices, bacon and tomato salsa
• caramelized onion, roasted red pepper and goat cheese
• tomato slices, thinly sliced red onion and fresh arugula
• black olive paste and slices of hard-boiled egg
• brie or Gorgonzola cheese

The ultimate “special sauce” – Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is the best burger condiment I know, but it’s also great on just about anything.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed
out of their skins
1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made
from toasted cumin seeds)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Please all ingredients in a food processor and whiz them until they’re thoroughly combined.

Astounding image of my last barbecue taken from space

Jun 27, 2009

Description:

Now I see why the neighbors complained.

(Find out the real story here and check out this stunning animated view.)


Ronnie and Gary Johnstone talk BBQ gear on Urban Rush

Jun 26, 2009 07:43

Description:

Just before Father's Day, my friend Gary Johnstone, owner of Johnstone's BBQs and Parts, and I talk about grills and accessories on Vancouver-based chat show Urban Rush.

The cool charcoal cooker at the beginning of the segment is a Cobb cooker, my favorite portable charcoal grill/barbecue.

Grand prize winners of the BBQ Tweets Contest!

Jun 24, 2009

Description:

Hey, barbecue fans.

First, let me apologize for being late in announcing the winners for the last three weeks of my BBQ tweets contest. I had a death in my family earlier this month and was completely preoccupied with that, as well as other work and barbecue responsibilities.

It's been a fun contest. Although the number of entries I received was pretty small, those who entered showed a lot of imagination and good humor and shared some interesting and useful tips.

WEEK FIVE

In week five (the week of June 1), I got some excellent recipes. Steve Hagemoen shared his technique for "No mess roast garlic. 1 head peeled. 1pc parch. paper wrapped alu foil. olive oil. Salt pepper. 425F 45 mins. No burnt fingers."

That week I also got a couple of good hobo pack recipes. From Sandra Post in Vernon, B.C. came this recipe with an icy twist: "On the BBQ put foil packet of potatoes, onions, & carrots drizzled with butter and an ice cube. Provides just enough moisture to help steam veggies and speed up cooking."

Week five's winner, from Barb and Gord Parker, only slightly tops Sandra's with the addition of some extra flavor: "On foil slice 1 pepper/2C mush/1C broc/add 2T butter/2T oyster sauce/fold foil shut/10m or tender/top 1T parm." Congrats, Barb and Gord!

WEEK 6

Deciding on the week six winner was a no-brainer for several reasons: it's a nice, simple recipe, it names me -- and it was the only submission I got that week! "Place boneless chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag along with one of Ronnie's excellent dry rubs.  Pound to flatten with mallet - grill until done.  Neat and delicious!" Lucky it wasn't a dud! Thanks and congrats, Harold Watson of Calgary!

Finally, last week's entries were among the best of the bunch. My friend Angie Quaale (@AngieQuaale) shared some barbecue wisdom: "Give a man a bbq feed him for a day,teach a man to bbq ,feed him for the summer-Jesus You don't make friends with salad." Ha!

Award-winning BBQ Chef Bubba-Q (@BBQTalk) sent in a some hot tips: "Boil rice, not ribs! Never ever boil your ribs! Also, never take a laxative and a sleeping pill in the same night!" I have to say I like the laxative tip more than the rib one (I like to simmer ribs but I do agree you shouldn't boil the heck out of them.) and "Hot Tip #2: 1 beer for every 20 minutes on the grill!" Thanks, Bubba-Q! I can't think of many better ways to mark time.

WEEK SEVEN

Those are great tweets, but the best of the bunch from the final week of the contest comes from @cachesk from Montreal, who calls herself a "nature loving gadget queen." It's a superb barbecue tip featuring an unusual ingredient to put in the smoker. "Meat done, still got smoke? Open can black beans, rinse, put can in smoker. Smoke 1hr., Store for use in salads, salsas."

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS!

And now, a drum roll please!

The Grand Champion, and winner of a Weber Q120 portable gas grill from Johnstone's Barbecues, a Bottle of Ravenswood Zin, a Ravenswood set of barbecue tools with matching straw cowboy hat, a complete set of all three of my cookbooks, a set of Ronnie & Denzel's NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ Sauces and a package of cedar cooking planks from Westcoast Lifestyles is:

@YVRBcbudz: "I had real BBQ from a southern grandma the day the LA riots started and it was a coming together of races over pulled pork."

Second place (or Reserve Grand Champion, as we say in the world of competitive barbecue), and a Cobb portable charcoal grill from Johnstone's Barbecues, a bottle of Ravenswood Zin, a Ravenswood set of barbecue tools with matching straw cowboy hat, a complete set of all three of my cookbooks, a wet of Ronnie & Denzel's NATURAL CHAMPIONS BBQ Sauces and a package of cedar cooking planks from Westcoast Lifestyles goes to:

@8chocolate: "When cooking fish on barbq, wrap seasoned fillets in cabbage leaves. Protects fish, keeps juices in and can eat the cabbage 2."

Tied for third, fourth and fifth prizes, which are a copy of Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, a bottle of Ravenswood Zin and a set of Ravenswood BBQ tools are:

@dougflet:  "Dad bbq'd a turkey when I was a kid. While resting, dog got at it. When served, no one asked where the leg went! Good stuff!"

@DivaQBBQ: "32rawshrimp 8orangesliced 32skewers shrimponorange piercewithskewer sprinklewithvegeta grill indirect glazemandarinBBQsauce"

@cachesk: "Meat done, still got smoke? Open can black beans, rinse, put can in smoker. Smoke 1hr., Store for use in salads, salsas."

Congrats to the winners, who I'll be contacting directly to arrange to get you your prizes, and thanks to everyone who participated in and followed this contest!





BBQ Tweet contest winners for weeks 3 and 4

Jun 2, 2009

Description:

The dust has finally settled for me after a couple of weeks of intense book promotion activity, including a great four days in Calgary and a fun appearance last Thursday on Vancouver's Urban Rush.

The BBQ tweets have gone down to a trickle (I'm not sure barbecue fanatics are active twitterers....yet.) But the ones I did receive have been great. Here are the winners.

Week three's best BBBQ tweet is a story, told well in 140 characters or less, from @dougflet:

"Dad bbq'd a turkey when I was a kid. While resting, dog got at it. When served, no one asked where the leg went! Good stuff!"

And last week's winner is this excellent, very condensed recipe for barbecue beef tri-tip from @TailgatingTimes:

"3lb tritip/1slcd onion/1can stout/2TB hrsrdsh/2tsp ppr/2TB djn mstrd/1bch rsmry/TB evoo/slt/-mix/mrnte12hrs/smoke&mop@250/2hrs"

Once again, thanks to everyone who entered...and get your tweets in for this week for your chance to win a copy of Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! and a chance at big grand prizes to be awarded Father's Day weekend. Here are the contest rules and a rundown on the grand prizes. Get on it!

Last week's BBQ Tweets winner!

May 22, 2009

Description:

The volume of tweets last week was down a bit but entrants made up for it with some great recipes, tips and tricks. Again, it was hard to choose.

Here are the best of them, with the winner at the end:

An easy, elegant dessert from @ruthlesscrab: Blackberries&Jim Beam Whipped Cream. Great after-bbq dessert. Whp 500ml(2c)crm w 2 T brn sug+2 T bourbon. Srv on fresh berries

Nice appetizer from @erlewilliams Mushroom Appetizer: Marinate mushrooms in balsamic vinager, seasame oil, soya sauce, chili peppers, S&P. Grill a few minutes.

Another lip-smackin' dish from @erlewilliams:  2 chick breast. 2/3c rum, grated ginger, 1/3c oj, 6 clove garlic, 2T worcestershire, 2T br. sug, selantro, Marinate 3h. Grill.

Excellent common-sense tip from @danklassen: make sure to have some extra propane handy in case you run out... unlike my last weekend

Simple and delicious spuds from @sbouchard: love grilling sliced potatoes (brushed with a little evo right on the grill. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Delicious!

This pork recipe from @denisyb got my juices going: roast pork loin smothered in maple and apricot jam glaze (with a little cider vinegar) + oiled & grilled apple slices = mmm

An over-the-top classic sausage log from @DivaQBBQ: 5lbsausage 5tbsponion 4japsdiced 3tbspfavBBQrub mx tologshape wrapw/2lbbaconbbqindirec-165glazew/sweetBBQsauce make friends

And, finally, the WINNER for this week, a lovely shrimp skewer, again from @DivaQBBQ: 32rawshrimp 8orangesliced 32skewers shrimponorange piercewithskewer sprinklewithvegeta grill indirect glazemandarinBBQsauce

Thanks to everyone who entered...and get your tweets in for this week, there are only two days left! Here are the contest rules and a rundown on the grand prizes. Get on it!





Hawaiian Tri-Tip

May 21, 2009

Description:

I picked up some great beef tri-tip at the supermarket the other day. It's almost impossible to find this delicious, juicy cut in Canada; I figure all our tri-tip, which is the bottom half of the sirloin, gets exported to the U.S., where it's one of the more popular grilling cuts. When my family was in Maui a couple summers ago I learned an old Sam Choy recipe that I'm happy to share with you.

Hawaiian Tri Tip Steak

2 1/2 lb tri tip steak (the one I got was cut into strips but it's also great grilled whole)
1/2 Tbs. salt (I used Hawaiian red salt but any good sea salt works well)
1/2 Tbs. cracked black peppercorns
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
1 Tbs. ginger, grated
1 Tbs. shoyu (light soy sauce will do)
white pepper
1 Tbs. brown sugar

Marinate meat in above ingredients for 30 to 45 minutes. Grill the steak to desired doneness, being careful not to overcook it. Tri-tip is quite lean and is ruined if cooked beyond medium rare. I basted the steak strips with the marinade that was left in the pan I marinated them in. Carve into thin slices and serve with a vegetable stir fry and some rice or mashed potatoes.

Ronnie and friends talk barbecue on The Tasting Room

May 17, 2009 22:37

Description:

My friends Gary Johnstone of Johnstone's BBQs and Parts and Angie Quaale, organizer of BBQ on the Bypass, join me on a season-opening barbecue panel talking about outdoor cooking with broadcasting icon Terry David Mulligan, on his food and wine show, The Tasting Room.

BBQ Tweet Contest Week #1 Winner!

May 12, 2009

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! The first week of the big BBQ Tweet contest ended Friday and I'm delighted to report that I received lots of great tweets and e-mail entries.

There were simple, delicious recipes like graemeb3's: "The easiest and most delicious BBQ salmon recipe: salmon covered in mild salsa placed on tinfoil. Great when camping too!"

Carib1028 had my mouth watering with this nicely condensed recipe for a stuffed burger: "saute onions, shitake/load on thin patty w/ cheese/top w/ thin patty/seal/grill w/ R&Ds BBQ sauce/serve on toasted bun/ooz'n."

GisellLaRose shared a delicious take on burger seasoning: "My secret weapon in my homemade bbq sauce or hamburgers is sesame oil and cumin. Sooo good, you have to try it!"

I also got some excellent tips, like this one from 8chocolate: "When cooking fish on barbq, wrap seasoned fillets in cabbage leaves. Protects fish, keeps juices in and can eat the cabbage 2."

All excellent, and worthy of honorable mention. It was a hard choice, but here is the winner, which is a very short but touching barbecue story from YVRBcbudz: "I had real BBQ from a southern grandma the day the LA riots started and it was a coming together of races over pulled pork." That pretty much captures the spirit of barbecue as far as I'm concerned.

CONGRATS! YVRBcbudz, e-mail me at rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com with your address and Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! publisher Whitecap Books will get a copy in the mail to you right away.

Please keep the tweets and e-mails coming and I look foward to announcing next week's winner. Don't forget, there are great prizes for the grand champion and four runners up. Find out more about the contest at this Whitecap blog post.




 

Rockin' Ronnie call-in segment May 4th on Vancouver's Christy Clark show

May 6, 2009 17:40

Description:

Had a nice visit with Vancouver CKNW radio talk show host Christy Clarke and had a chance to take some great listener questions.

A brisket tasting on my back deck

May 3, 2009

Description:

.

On May 1 some friends came over for the first barbecue feast of the season. On hand was writer Laurie Cooper who captured some moments of brisket ecstacy on her Flip camera and posted it on YouTube. Thanks for sharing, Laurie!

Ronnie's May 2 Appearance on Global TV

May 3, 2009 10:01

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! is now on bookstands across Canada and I've begun the big cross-Canada media tour.

My first TV appearance was May 2, when I visited Global TV B.C.'s Saturday Morning News program. Had a smoky and delicious time with anchor Sophie Lui, sports anchor/reporter Jay Janower and weekend meteorologist Kristi Gordon.

On the program I took the opportunity to announce the big Barbecue Secrets DELUXE1 BBQ Tweet Contest, and I got an instant response. Here are some of the first tweets that rolled in:

graemeb3@rockinronnie The easiest and most delicious BBQ salmon recipe: salmon covered in mild salsa placed on tinfoil. Great when camping too!

walkingpoles@rockinronnie Thank you for the Awesome demonstration on the News this morning. Nothing like a good BBQ. Don Marshall

dougflet@rockinronnie fav bbq appie: blanched asparagus with red pepper strips wrapped in prosciutto and grilled with maple bbq sauce.

dougflet@rockinronnie What an awesome concept--using social networking to build your business. Very impressive! Good luck with it.

carib1028@rockinronnie/saute onions, shitake/load on thin patty w/ cheese/top w/ thin patty/seal/grill w/ R&Ds BBQ sauce/serve on toasted bun/ooz'n

erlewilliams@rockinronnie Grilled Squid 1lb squid .5c evo 6 garlic, minced 2 tbsp parsley, minced Juice of 1 lemon .5c mustard .5 tsp S&P

wendylangridge@rockinronnie side dish of mushrooms, foil them with chunky onions, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce.

SusanMain@rockinronnie I am a big fan of the BBQ! My friends and fam have been @ my house many times. Still use charcoal - not propane

wendymcleod10@rockinronnie I do my burgers with Gorganzola stuffed inside, instead of your herb butter, love BBQing, the man does not touch the BBQ

CortneyLessard@rockinronnie just saw you on the news, def making those ribs for the canucks game tonight! 

GiseleLaRose@rockinronnie Hi Ronnie! My secret weapon in my homemade bbq sauce or hamburgers is sesame oil and cumin. Sooo good, you have to try it!

8chocolate@rockinronnie When cooking fish on barbq, wrap seasoned fillets in cabbage leaves. Protects fish, keeps juices in and can eat the cabbage 2

YVRBcbudz@rockinronnie I had real BBQ from a southern grandma the day the LA riots started and it was a coming together of races over pulled pork

mrkeithk@rockinronnie try marinating in Tequila, lime and chili poweder for some Mexican flavor

codias@rockinronnie Mediterranean Burger w/ cucumber, red onion, feta cheese (in core of burger), diced green+yellow pepper, tomato+sliced olives

Please feel free to join in the fun and tweet your own tip, recipe or story, or just post a comment (140 characters or less) as a comment on this blog post.

Ronnie & Denzel's Sauces Haul in the Gold

Feb 19, 2009

Description:

Woo hoo!  I just got word that Ronnie & Denzel's Natural Champions Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce has one Gold in the BBQ Sauce/Glaze/Marinade category of the 2009 Napa Valley Mustard Festival's World-Wide Mustard Competition! That mean's we're in the running for the Grand Champion Award, which will be announced at the awards gala at Black Stallion Winery in Napa on March 13th. This year's competition garnered more than 300 entries from seven countries in 19 categories.

The win follows on the heels of our two first place victories in the 2009 Scovie Awards. Our Island Heat BBQ Sauce came first in the World Beat category and our Southwestern Red BBQ Sauce won best Chipotle-based sauce.

In the industry's most rigorous blind tastings, a panel of the country's top culinary experts sampled hundreds of the world's most lauded gourmet foods, and the top scoring products each won a coveted Scovie banner. The awards are named for Wilbur Scoville who pioneered a rating scale for spicy foods.  The Scovie Awards have become the industry standard for excellence, with over 600 products from around the world competing for top honors in 60 categories.

Congrats to my Natural Champions partner Denzel Sandberg, who has been winning international awards for his line of delicious Denzel's Hot Sauces for years. Denzel cooks up our Ronnie and Denzel's BBQ sauces in his commercial kitchen in Enderby, B.C.

Ask your favorite gourmet food retailer to get in touch with Denzel and bring in our sauces in time for barbecue season!

Come see me at the BC Home and Garden Show!

Feb 19, 2009

Description:

Hey barbecue fans! Just a quick note to invite you to come see my grilling demos at the BC Home and Garden show this weekend, where I'll be on the Terasen Gas stage.

On Saturday at 5.00 p.m. my theme will be grilled desserts:
* Planked Pear Crisp
* Grilled Pineapple with Caramel Sauce

And on Sunday at 2.30 p.m. I'll be focusing on some great starters and sides:
* Grilled Calamari With Tomato Basil Salsa
* Grilled Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette
* Grilled Polenta Diamonds with Chipotle Goat Cheese & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Hope to see you there!

Canadian Barbecue Guru Mixes Business with Brisket

Feb 12, 2009

Description:

This just came over the wire. If you know anyone in Houston, please spread the word.


Everything I Know About Communication, I Learned From Barbecue: Part III

Jan 22, 2009 11:10

Description:

Here's the third installment of my interview with communications guru Steve Crescenzo.

Everything I Know About Communication, I Learned From Barbecue: Part II

Jan 19, 2009 19:15

Description:

Here's part two of my interview with old pal Steve Crescenzo (seen pictured on the right, with me and team mate Tom Masterson at the Nationals in Whistler in 2004). In this episode, entitled: Are You a Chicken or a Pork Butt, I get to the main courses of my barbecue-as-a-metaphor-for-communication theory.

Everything I Know About Communication, I Learned From Barbecue: Part I

Jan 10, 2009 16:13

Description:

In addition to my life as a barbecue fanatic, I am also a communication consultant. I have been working for years trying to find a way to put these two parts of my life together in perfect balance, and I'm coming close. This interview with me, in a recent podcast by my friend, communication guru Steve Crescenzo, has me talking about what barbecue can teach us about how to improve communication in the workplace. It's the first of three segments. Hope you enjoy it!

For the love of animal fat

Oct 1, 2008

Description:

As long as I can remember, I have always loved animal fat. Whether it's the perfect, silken round of beef fat in a rib eye steak, the crunchy, greasy cracklings on the back of a pork shoulder roast or the glistening molten fat coating a whole lamb on a spit, I can't get enough of it.

Every morning these days I make two pieces of toast and smear each of them with a big dollop of Oyama pork and duck rillettes, which must be about 60 percent fat. I never skim the fat from a roasting pan before I make gravy (What's the point of that?). I always cook and eat chicken with the skin on. And I must be the only guy on the planet that likes to make burgers from regular ground beef mixed with ground pork.

So imagine my surprise and delight last week when I met with my doctor to discuss the results of my latest physical. All indicators from the blood work were positive, including an extremely low bad cholesterol level and a high good cholesterol count.

I am a perfectly healthy 50 year old whose diet consists mainly of fatty meat. Woo hoo!

With this in mind, I was further delighted to see an interview on salon.com with Jennifer Mclagan, author of Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes. Animal fat, it turns out, is good for us and has nothing to do with the health crisis facing North America these days.  Thank you, Jennifer, for lifting the guilt that's been eating me for quite a few years. I can now tuck into that rib eye with impunity, and continue to ask my favorite question at the family dinner table whenever I see some fat that's been trimmed off a steak: "Are you going to finish that?"

Wow! Two new Weber bullets coming out this fall!

Sep 18, 2008

Description:

Saints be praised! The folks at Weber have finally decided to do a major overhaul of their Weber Bullet, which hasn't had a design change in many years. A comprehensive review on The Virtual Weber Bullet website reports that the new models are a backyard barbecuer's dream come true.

I'm particularly excited about the new, bigger 22-inch model, which features
• a built-in-thermometer (finally!)
• a two gallon water pan (it's about time!)
• a side door with an innovative bottom hinge that allows it to flip open (long overdue!)
• sturdier legs (right on!)
• a nifty extra handle on the lid (cool!)
•  a heat shield at the bottom to protect your deck or lawn (great news!).

All that, and the sucker will fit three or even four pork butts or three full racks of pork ribs (lying down) on a single cooking grate.

Apparently they're coming out next month at selected dealers, with a full rollout expected before Christmas.

Don't tell my wife, but I gotta get me one!

Barbecue Academy: now booking for 2009

Sep 12, 2008

Description:

A few years ago I launched Barbecue Academy. It's a day-long corporate teambuilding workshop that teaches participants about championship barbecue in a fun, relaxing atmosphere with plenty of room for socializing.

I think it's the only event of its kind in the world. There are lots of hands-on barbecue workshops for the public, and some of the big barbecue celebrities in the U.S. do corporate cooking demos and catered events. And there are even some corporate teambuilding workshops based on cooking contests. But, as far as I know, this is the only corporate workshop that creates a competitive environment for participants, who divide into teams, prep and cook real barbecued chicken and ribs, and vie for cheap plastic trophies just like the big boys.

I've done three of them so far, for energy companies in Calgary, with positive feedback.

Here's what some of the participants have said:

 “You learn a little about smoking and barbecue, and a whole bunch about some folks that I don’t normally work with. We all had fun!”

“A great teambuilding event. The service was outstanding.”

“Lots of laughter, lots of concentration, great tastes, lots of enthusiasm from everyone.”

“An opportunity to mix in a creative environment.”

“It was a great day and I am full!”

“This was an exceptional workshop. It is filled with the science, the art and the lifestyle of barbecue. Ron is very knowledgeable and entertaining.”

“Ron’s team is terrific! Everyone is friendly, fun and extremely knowledgeable. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!”

“Fostered good camaraderie while incorporating some healthy competition. Highly recommended!”

Please forgive the promotional tone of this post. I'm doing this because I love putting on these workshops, and I want to do more. So far, I've done them only in Calgary, where I've found a great facility, but the concept is portable.

Here's a promo sheet: Download bbq_academy_promo.pdf

Pass it on to anyone you know who might be interested.

Minty Potato Hobo Pack

Sep 1, 2008

Description:

Minty Potato Hobo Pack

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Why, oh why, do we ignore the glories of fresh mint in North American home cooking? It’s delicious, refreshing and its aroma is like nothing else. This dish is insanely simple to make, and the combination of mint and potatoes will wow your guests.  Because this recipe calls for indirect heat, you can use the hot side of the grill to cook your steaks and grill your veggies.

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tsp | 10 mL dried mint leaves
1 large yellow onion
¼ lb | 125 g butter
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup | 120 mL tightly packed fresh mint leaves
½ a fresh lemon, the other half cut into wedges for garnish
kosher salt

Bring the butter to room temperature.

Take 6 feet | 2 M of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold it in half. Place the foil on a counter and coat it with about ¼ of the butter, leaving about a 4 inch | 10 cm margin all the way around the rectangle.

Peel the onion and slice it into 1/4-inch rounds, split the rounds into rings and spread the rings to cover the buttered area of the foil. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch slices, leaving the skins on, and layer them on top of the onions, sprinkling a little dried mint and salt on each layer. Top the potatoes with a few dabs of the butter, reserving half of it for finishing the dish.

Gather up the foil around the edges and close up the hobo pack, making it into a loaf-like cylinder. Make sure you have a tight seal all the way around.

Prepare your grill for medium-high indirect heat. Place the hobo pack on the grill (away from direct heat), and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. At this point you can take the hobo pack off the grill and it will retain its heat for at least half an hour if you have other things to prepare.

When you’re ready to serve, finely chop the mint leaves and set them aside. Put the hobo pack on a serving platter and carefully open it, taking care not to burn yourself from the escaping steam. Sprinkle half of the chopped mint leaves over the potatoes, add the rest of the butter in daubs and gently toss the mint, onions and potatoes together. Sprinkle some salt and the rest of the mint leaves over the potatoes, drizzle with a little olive oil and squeeze the lemon over everything. Serve immediately garnished with lemon wedges.

Classic Dadburger Deluxe

Aug 28, 2008

Description:

Tomorrow I'm on Vancouver's Bill Good Show talking about burgers and taking listener calls. Here's one of my favorite burger recipes from Barbecue Secrets, along with a few suggestions for unusual burger toppings.

Classic Dadburger Deluxe
 
Makes 12 to 16 patties, depending on how big you like them
 
This recipe will feed a crowd, or four teenagers. You can easily halve this recipe. If your kids are like mine and don’t like bits of onion and garlic in their burgers, substitute 1 tsp/5 mL each of granulated onion and granulated garlic for the fresh variety.
 
For the burger mix:
6 lb | 2.7 kg medium ground beef
(or half-and-half ground beef and ground pork)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed out and mashed with a fork
1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp | 25 mL dark soy sauce or
Worcestershire sauce or a combination
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp | 1 mL cayenne
(or more, if you like more heat)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup | 125 mL cold water
 
To finish the burgers:
barbecue sauce
12 to 16 cheese slices (optional)
12 to 16 hamburger buns
 
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Mix the burger ingredients together with your hands in a large nonreactive bowl. Wet your hands in cold water before you form the mixture into chunks the size of tennis balls. Flatten them into patties, placing them on the cookie sheet. Each patty will be about 1/2 lb. | 250 g before cooking. Place them in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.
 
Preheat your grill for medium direct heat. Grill the burgers for 6 minutes per side, or until they are springy to the touch, glazing them on both sides with barbecue sauce. Top each patty with a slice of cheese for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Serve the burgers on buns with your favorite condiments.
 

A Library of Burger Toppings

We’re all so used to iceberg lettuce, ketchup, mayo, ballpark mustard, green relish, and sliced onion and tomato on our burgers that we hardly notice them any more. Try these unusual burger toppings for a change and experiment with your own combinations.
 
thinly sliced button mushrooms sautéed with a smashed garlic clove in butter and olive oil
crunchy–style peanut butter, bacon, raw onion, and lettuce
an egg fried in butter, over easy, with a leaf of lettuce and a slather of mayo
avocado slices, bacon, and salsa
caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese
tomato slices, thinly sliced red onion, and fresh arugula
black olive paste and slices of hard-boiled egg
brie or Gorgonzola cheese
 

Grilled Stuffed Pork Loin Chops

Aug 20, 2008

Description:

Grilled Stuffed Pork Loin Chops

I always say I like to keep it simple but sometimes a little fussing goes a long way in making a grilled meal special. I created this recipe using pork chops, but you could easily substitute a bone-in rib steak or veal chop. I love the strong Italian flavours of this dish. Serve it as a secondo after a little bowl of Fettuccini Alfredo or Linguine with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and finish the meal with a tossed green salad.

4 pork loin centre cut chops, bone in, at least 1 ½ inches|4 cm thick

For the stuffing:
4 large artichoke hearts in olive oil, coarsely chopped (the roasted kind are best if you can get them)
½ lb|250 g full-fat mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch|1 cm cubes
3 Tbsp|45 mL grated Parmesan cheese
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp|30 mL chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
½ cup|250 g black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tsp|5 mL finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp|15 mL extra virgin olive oil
splash of balsamic reduction or regular balsamic vinegar
1 head roasted garlic

For the rub:
1 Tbsp|15 mL dried basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
granulated onion
cayenne pepper
extra virgin olive oil

To finish:
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic reduction or balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch fresh basil, stems removed

Combine the artichokes, cheeses, bell pepper, parsley, olives, lemon zest, olive oil and balsamic in a mixing bowl. Squeeze out the roasted garlic into the mixture and stir it in. 

Cut pockets in the pork chops with a sharp paring knife by making a thumb-sized cut in the side of the chops opposite the bone. With the knife touching the bone, expand the size of the pocket without increasing the size of the entry hole, making sure not to cut through to the outside of the chop. Divide the stuffing mixture into four equal portions and stuff it into the chops. If you’re worried the stuffing is going to come out, you can use a sharp toothpick to sort of sew the opening up.

Season the chops with sprinklings of salt, pepper, dried basil and a light dusting of cayenne. Drizzle a little olive oil just to make the chops shiny and set aside.

Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Grill the chops for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the chop reaches 140˚F/60˚C. Remove from the grill and let rest, tented in foil, for five minutes.

While the chops are resting, gather the basil leaves into a tight ball and finely chop them into thin strips with a sharp knife. To serve, place the chops on plates, drizzle with a little oil and balsamic and garnish with a sprinkling of the shredded basil.

Planking, German-style!

Aug 12, 2008

Description:

I got a nice note today from Jürgen Keil, Planking Secrets fan from Germany. As you can see in the photos above, Jürgen has been planking up a storm.

His recent planking projects include one of my more challenging recipes, Real Barbecued Pork on a Plank, which turns pork hocks into Southern-style barbecue. He used a beechwood plank and it looks like it turned out pretty darned good -- good enough for a barbecue sandwich, German-style!

Below the pork hock shots he's got cedar-planked pork tenderloin, scallops and lamb. Yum!

You'll also notice a shot of Jürgen visiting an eel-smoking hut in Northern Germany called Aalkate. Man, them eels look like mighty good eatin'! 

Thanks for sharing the photos, Jürgen, and happy cooking!

A great Jamaican meal

Aug 10, 2008

Description:

Here's a series of recipes that consitute a superb Jamaican-style summer meal.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs

I had the pleasure of visiting the north coast of Jamaica in 2007 and got to taste some fantastic cooking in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, including the spicy, smoky jerk chicken that’s as close to the taste of the original barbacoa as you can get. Jerk Centres are everywhere, and each one has its own distinctive style. The common flavours are extreme chili heat and intense smoke – the heat derived from the infamously fiery habanero or scotch bonnet chili and the smoke coming from pimento wood, which has a sharp, mesquite-like aroma. The pimento tree berry is known outside of Jamaica as allspice, which is another of the key flavours of any jerk seasoning.

I’m using skinless chicken thighs here because the slow cooking technique tends to make chicken skin rubbery. If you leave the skin on, finish the dish by crisping the skin side of the chicken pieces over medium direct heat.

Note: The habaneros make this quite hot. If you want a milder jerk, substitute jalapenos or serranos. In any case, wear vinyl gloves when you’re handling them and watch not to get any in your eyes!

For the marinade:
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups green onion, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp|22.5 mL fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 or 2 habanero chilis, chopped
2 tsp|10 mL whole Jamaican allspice, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan and then finely ground (or pre-ground allspice if you don’t want to fuss)
1/2 tsp|2 mL ground cinnamon
1 tsp|5 mL freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp|5 mL freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp|10 mL sugar
1 tsp|5 mL kosher salt
3 Tbsp|45 mL neutral flavored cooking oil like canola or corn oil
2 Tbsp|30 mL cider vinegar
1 tsp|5 mL of browning (liquid caramel – if you don’t have any, use 1 Tbsp|15 mL dark soy sauce or liquid gravy seasoning like Kitchen Bouquet or Bovril
a splash of Appleton Estate dark rum

4 lb|1.8 kg skinless chicken thighs (or one chicken cut into parts)

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. Reserve about 1/3 of the mixture and set aside.

Put the chicken in a lasagna pan or large baking dish and pour one cup|250 mL of the marinade over the chicken. Move the chicken pieces around so they are covered completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 or 4 hours or overnight, turning once or twice to make sure the pieces stay coated evenly.

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200–220˚F/95–100˚C. Just before you’re ready to put the chicken on, toss one chunk of mesquite (or pimento wood if you can get it) on the coals. Place the chicken pieces on the cooking grate and smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting regularly with the remaining marinade, until the temperature at the thickest part of the biggest piece reads 160˚F|71˚C. (At this point, if you’re using chicken with skin on, you can crisp it up on a medium grill.) Remove from the cooker and let rest, lightly tented in foil, for five minutes. Serve with Coconut Beans and Rice and Jamaican Cole Slaw (see recipes below).

Alternative grilling method: If you want to cook the chicken on a gas or charcoal grill, prepare the grill for indirect low-medium heat (about 250˚F|120˚C) and cook as above, using mesquite as a flavoring agent if you like. At the end of the cooking time, raise the temperature of the grill to medium and crisp up the chicken pieces for a few minutes over direct heat.

Jamaican-style Dry Jerk Seasoning

Classic jerk is made with a wet marinade and takes time to prep and more time to marinate your meat. This rub gives chicken, pork or snapper – or whatever else you’re grilling – a classic Jamaican flavor without any fuss.

2 Tbsp|30 mL granulated onion
2 Tbsp|30 mL dried onion flakes (get flakes that aren’t too big)
1 Tbsp|15 mL ground dried thyme
1 Tbsp|15 mL kosher salt
2 tsp|10 mL ground allspice
1/2 tsp|5 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp|5 mL ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp|15 mL sugar
2 tsp|10 mL freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp|10 mL cayenne or chipotle powder
1 1/2 Tbsp|22.5 mL dried chives

Note: Double or quadruple this recipe so you have some on hand. It’s super easy to make a great jerk marinade simply by whizzing 1/2 cup|125 mL of this rub in a food processor with a splash of cooking oil, a chopped habanero, a chopped onion and some chopped scallions.

Jamaican Cole Slaw

This recipe, adapted slightly from the excellent Jerk From Jamaica cookbook by Helen Willinsky (I’ve added raisins), is a superb side. If you want to serve it with something other than jerk, substitute your favorite rub for the Dry Jerk Seasoning.

4 cups|1 L shredded purple cabbage
3/4 cup|185 mL grated carrots
1/4 lb|125 g golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios almonds or anything else you like)
1/2 cup|125 mL mayonnaise
1 Tbsp|15 mL cider vinegar
1 Tbsp|15 mL Jamaican-Style Dry Jerk Seasoning

Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss. Cover and chill for at least an hour and toss again just before serving.

Jamaican Rice and Beans

In Jamaica this dish is a staple. Jamaicans call it rice and peas, but it often features red kidney beans so I’ve renamed it to avoid confusion. The creamy, sweet richness of the coconut milk helps make this dish a perfect complement to jerk chicken or any spicy grilled meat.

2 14-oz/398-mL cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz/398-mL can coconut milk
2 thick slices double-smoked bacon, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 habanero chile (whole – do not chop)
2 cups|500 mL long grain white rice
2 cups boiling water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a frying pan, sauté the chopped bacon until it’s starting to brown but is not yet crispy. Drain off the excess fat and set the bacon aside.

In a large saucepan combine the beans, coconut milk, bacon, green onion, thyme and the habanero. Cook over medium-high heat just until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add the hot water and stir in the rice. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and cook without disturbing for about 25 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff before serving and don’t forget to remove the habanero so it doesn’t surprise anyone!



Thanks for listening!

Aug 8, 2008

Description:

This blog/podcast was practically inactive for over a year, and yet since I posted a new podcast yesterday over 150 people [EDIT: nearly 500 as of August 19th!] have downloaded it. I want to thank everyone out there for your patience. Thanks for sticking with me! I'll try to keep posting here fairly often and maybe I'll even put together a podcast or two in the coming months!

One other thing. Is anyone other than McCharles following this blog? Take a few seconds and post a comment if you're reading this!

Ronnie

Barbecue Secrets #9: Rockin' Ronnie on The Tasting Room

Aug 7, 2008 11:50

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I recently had the pleasure of being part of a barbecue panel on Terry David Mulligan's new radio show, The Tasting Room, along with my fellow barbecue competitors Adam Protter (www.bigsmoke.ca) and Justin Kyllo (www.smokeandbones.ca). I've turned our segment into an episode of the Barbecue Secrets podcast.

A few shots from the Nationals

Aug 6, 2008

Description:

The Butt Shredders had a great time over the weekend at the Canadian National BBQ Championships. About 25 teams showed, despite a rock slide that turned a 2-hour drive into an 8-hour detour, but it was more than worth the trip. The highlight: we won the Budweiser King of the Grill contest (which is basically a chef's choice/unlimited category) with wild B.C. sockeye salmon with a Jack Daniel's and maple syrup glaze.  We also did well in chicken (2nd place thanks to the great work of Vince Gogolek) and butt (4th place, which is okay considering we had a smoker catasrophe at four in the morning when a lawn sprinkler went off and soaked our cookers while everyone was asleep).

Check out a few photos at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=140011&l=7088e&id=838345116

Caraway Crusted Planked Monkfish with Tomato and Green Onion Sauce

Jul 30, 2008

Description:


Caraway Crusted Planked Monkfish with Tomato and Green Onion Sauce

Serves 4

Monkfish is often referred to as the poor man’s lobster because it has very firm, rich, flavourful white flesh. The fillet looks kind of like a pork tenderloin, and it cooks up very nicely on a plank. The tomato and green onion sauce nicely offsets the strong flavor of the caraway-crusted fish.

For the fish:
1 lb|500 g skinless monkfish fillet
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp|30 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp| 22.5 mL caraway seeds
pinch cayenne
granulated onion

For the sauce:
¼ cup|60 mL mayonnaise
1 ripe fresh tomato, chopped into a ¼ inch|6 mm dice
3 stalks fresh green onion, finely chopped, 1 Tbsp|15 mL reserved for garnish
1 Tbsp|15 mL finely chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
pinch cayenne
1 Tbsp|15 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt

Lightly toast the caraway seeds in a dry frying pan, transfer to a plate to cool, and set aside.

Season the fillet with salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, minced garlic and lemon zest and coat the fillet with the mixture. Sprinkle all but ½ Tbsp|7.5 mL of the caraway seeds evenly over the fillet. Let sit for 15 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5 or 10 minutes or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4 or 5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium.

Place the fish on the plank and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time, until the fish is springy to the touch or has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C.

Cut the fish into medallions and serve with a dollop of the sauce, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with the reserved seeds and green onions.

Salmon Burger, White-Spot Style

Jul 28, 2008

Description:

This is my attempt to emulate the delicious salmon burger on famed B.C. restaurant chain White Spot's menu. If you cook it, let me know how you like it!

Salmon burger, White Spot Style

Serves 4

White Spot restaurants are a fixture in British Columbia known for their excellent old-fashioned hamburgers. In recent years they’ve gone a bit upscale, adding more gourmet fare to their classic dishes, including a phenomenal salmon burger. Executive chef Chuck Curry likes to play his recipes close to the chest so I’ve had to recreate this dish based on my experience of eating it, but this comes pretty close to the real thing. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make the homemade aioli, substitute with regular commercial mayo doctored with finely chopped fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

For the burgers:
4 8-oz.|250 g boneless, skinless wild B.C. salmon fillets (farmed salmon will do, but it’s just not as good)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 large, fresh, perfectly ripe beefsteak tomato
1 red onion
green leaf lettuce
4 large sesame burger buns
butter

For the basil aioli:
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp|25 mL lemon juice
11/4 cups|300 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup|50 mL tightly packed fresh basil leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the egg yolks and lemon juice; process for 5 seconds. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube in a slow steady stream, processing until combined. Coursely chop the basil and add to the mixture. Whiz it again until the basil is incorporated into the aioli. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. It will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Cut the tomato into four equal slices and peel and thinly slice enough onion to suit your taste. Butter the buns and set aside.

Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Make sure the cooking grate is scrubbed clean. In this case you may want to coat the cooking grate with a little oil just before you put the salmon on. Place the salmon on the grill, cover and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes per side or until the core temperature of the fillet reaches 130˚F|55˚C.

Take the salmon off the grill and loosely tent with foil. While the salmon is resting, place the buns, buttered side down, on the cooking grate, cover and toast the buns for maybe half a minute, taking care not to burn them.

Slather both sides of each toasted bun with the aioli. Place the salmon filets in the buns and top with onion, tomato and lettuce. Serve with a cold beer or glass of crisp, fruity white wine.

Peach and Blackberry Salsa

Jul 26, 2008

Description:

Here's another great, summery salsa.

Peach and Blackberry Salsa

Serves 4

This salsa, invented by my wife, Kate, is something you should try only when these fruits are at their peak, which on the west coast of Canada is in August but should be around now in many parts of the continent. Paired with planked chicken, it’s a mind-blower.

4 peaches, peeled and diced, not too small
1 cup|250 mL fresh blackberries,
washed and picked over
1/4 cup|50 mL red onion, diced
1/2 fresh green jalapeño or other hot pepper,
seeded and minced
juice of 2 limes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Let the salsa stand, covered, in the fridge for about an hour.


Quick Cucumber Salsa

Jul 26, 2008

Description:

So, here goes. I'm in the final stages of putting together my new book, Planking Secrets DELUXE! which is due out next spring. In the coming week or two I'm going to post as many new recipes I can on this blog. Here's the first one. Watch for more.

Quick Cucumber Salsa

Makes about two cups.

Often, the simplest combinations are the best. This one tastes like summer. Try it on grilled fish, spoon it over a cold soup or split it between two bowls as a starter for a summer lunch.

1 cucumber
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp.|5 mL chopped fresh dill
1 tsp.|5 mL sugar
Kosher salt

Peel the cucumber, cut it lengthwise into quarters, and remove the seeds. Chop into a ¼ inch|6 mm dice. Add the lime juice, dill, sugar and a pinch of salt. Use immediately.

Eat! Vancouver pic and free recipe booklet

May 29, 2008

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Had a great time over the weekend helping out the folks at the BC Salmon Marketing Council promote one of the best foods on earth, BC wild salmon. I joined Vancouver chefs Karen Barnaby and Rob Clark demonstrating recipes from a fabulous new recipe booklet featuring BC's best wild salmon recipes.

Eat! Vancouver appearance

May 24, 2008

Description:

Tonight, tomorrow and Sunday I'll be down at the Eat! Vancouver show helping promote one of my favorite foods to grill, plank and smoke -- Wild B.C. Salmon. Drop by the BC Salmon Marketing Council booth. I'll be sampling my favorite planked salmon recipe, Wild B.C. Spring Salmon with Whiskey Maple Glaze, and also selling my cookbooks and Ronnie & Denzel's BBQ sauces. Hope to see you there!

The sauces of summer have arrived!

May 14, 2008

Description:

This just in:

VANCOUVER, BC – Barbecue Champion and cookbook author Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk and International Award Winning Hot Sauce maker Denzel Sandberg are proud to announce the launch of their “Ronnie & Denzel’s” line of all-natural barbecue sauces.

The newly formed partnership has produced four lip-smackin’ sauces that pay tribute to the unique barbecue regions of the Southern States and the Caribbean. They are:

•    Kansas City Style, a classic tomato-based sauce with a bit of spice and a nice tang;
•    Southwestern Red, a naturally smoky sauce with the flavours of New Mexico Chiles and spices;
•    Honey Mustard, which is loosely based on the sauces of South Carolina; and
•    Habanero Heat, a truly fiery sauce with flavours reminiscent of the Caribbean islands.

“Denzel is a great cook and it’s been a lot of fun collaborating with him to create this line of classic barbecue sauces,” says Ronnie. “They’re true to tradition at the same time as they reflect our unique styles.” The sauces are all natural and are made in small batches with high quality ingredients that are totally free of chemical preservatives.

Ronnie will be sampling the sauces at three launch events in the Lower Mainland:

North Vancouver: Saturday, May 17 from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. at Johnstone’s Barbecues & Parts, 165 Pemberton Ave, North Vancouver, 604-985-0234.

North Vancouver: Saturday, May 31 from 9.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. at Westlynn Meats & Seafood, 1199 Lynn Valley Road (in the Lynn Valley Mall), (604) 988-7644.
 
Langley: Saturday, May 31 from Noon to 3.00 p.m. at Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store, 20771 Langley By-Pass, (604) 530-1518.

Rockin’ Ronnie has authored two cookbooks, Barbecue Secrets and Planking Secrets, and was named one of “America’s greatest grillers” in Food & Wine magazine.  His competition BBQ team the Butt Shredders are two-time Alberta champs and they also won the 2004 Canadian Nationals. Denzel’s hot sauces have won 14 international food awards including the coveted Golden Chile at the 2005 Fiery Foods Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas as well as several 1st place showings in the Scovie Awards held in Albuqueque, New Mexico. To get your fix of Ronnie & Denzel’s new barbecue sauces, visit www.denzelshotsauce.com or see your local grocer.

Contact: Ronnie Shewchuk, ron@ronshewchuk.com (604) 351-1999.

I'm back!

May 6, 2008

Description:

My year-long sabbatical from the world of barbecue is officially over and I'm back in the saddle.

Although I'm sure this blog hasn't had many visits in the time it's been inactive, I'm very gratified that people are still listening to and watching my podcast archive to the tune of about 600 views a month. In the coming year I hope to do a bit more podcasting, but in the meantime, I've got several pieces of news:

* I've partnered with international hot sauce champion Denzel Sandberg to put together a new line of sauces under the brand "Ronnie & Denzel's All-Natural Barbecue Sauce." Watch for the official launch soon.

* I've begun work on my next book, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which will be, as the title implies, a deluxe version of my first cookbook that will incorporate the best of Planking Secrets, a bunch of new recipes, new colour food photos, and some extra surprises.

* Just a few days ago I started twittering under the name rockinronnie. If you don't know about twitter, it's an interesting way you can keep in touch with friends or follow news about a topic or person you're interested in. Some have called it micro-blogging. I'm going to use it to update folks on the progress of the sauces and new book, share barbecue tips and generally twitter about outdoor cooking. Check it out at http://twitter.com/.

So, get on board. The Rockin' Ronnie train is about to leave the station on a new round of barbecue adventures.

Yours forever in smoke,

Rockin'



A juicy article about steak

Aug 2, 2007

Description:

City_palate_cover_2

This is the cover story of the summer, 2007 edition of City Palate, a Calgary-based food publication I've been contributing to for many years. It's a long post. Hope you enjoy.

I. Love. Steak.

A lip-smacking tribute to the king of grilled meat, the glorious beef steak

As I write this, the giant rib eye that I just finished devouring is pleasantly stretching my overfull belly, which is throbbing happily as it begins processing its glorious, meaty cargo.

The after-effects of that super-delicious steak are still with me. My lips are greasy, the gaps in my teeth hang on to the remaining shards of flesh, and my taste buds resonate with a familiar peppery afterglow.

Licking my lips nostalgically, I have a steak flashback.

Cut to five minutes ago. There it is, glistening on the plate as it throws off the classic aroma of seared fat, mesquite smoke and charred spices. Atop the steaming slab sits a slowly liquefying daub of Gorgonzola butter. The dark mass of the steak is framed nicely by slices of ripe red tomato, a few spears of grilled asparagus and a handful of roasted nugget potatoes, all drizzled with fruity olive oil, spritzed with fresh lemon juice and dusted with a sparkling skiff of Malden salt.

That bite. That first bite! Sawn from a corner of the steak with the serrated edge of my knife, the freshly exposed surface shines with juice as I draw the slice to my mouth. Its warm red core is silky on my tongue, and the crusty, chewy outer layers give my teeth the most meaningful assignment in their lives.

I liberate another shiny slice from the beautiful hunk and ceremoniously drag it through the mixture of juice, savory butter and olive oil that has pooled on the plate. The next forkful includes a tangy chunk of tomato; the next, a creamy bite of potato. Then a lemony, palate-refreshing bite of asparagus.

Oh, yes, almost forgot the wine. A big, jammy Shiraz of course. A slug of that, and then back to the motherlode of a steak, which looms on the plate, its edge now jagged like a mine face, waiting to be carved away.

Many satisfying chews and gulps of wine later, I reach my final destination: the rib bone, with its familiar curve. Setting down my implements, I grab the meat-sicle with my bare hands and gnaw away at it, reveling in the fattiest, richest, chewiest bites, my cheeks shining in the candlelight.

Finally, I can wrest no more flesh from the bone. The job is done, and all that’s left is to release a meal-crowning burp and loosen my belt. Hallelujah.

So, now you know what I do when my wife’s away for the weekend.

A beef steak primer

And now for some advice on how you can replicate great steak experiences at home (with your spouse or not).

Okay. First, and perhaps most important, you have to get a perfect piece of meat, well-aged and nicely marbled. My favorite, as you just found out, is the rib eye steak with the bone attached. I like it because it has lots of fat, and it also has nice chewy connective tissue that makes for an interesting texture (and makes for a steak that kids often don’t like). But there are all kinds of great cuts:

The king of grilling steaks the rib eye,  is one of the most marbled and delicious cuts. It's rich and juicy and because it's got so much fat it's hard to overcook. Even better when it's on the bone.
 Flank/skirt/hanger steak, from the diaphragm of the animal, is the most flavourful cut of beef in my opinion. It’s best when treated with an overnight marinade, seared quickly on the grill to a maximum doneness of medium rare, and then sliced thinly across the grain and served fajita-style in warmed tortillas with all the fixings. Strip loin or New York strip is the classic restaurant steak. With its perfect shape and thin edge of white fat, it’s hard to ruin one of these. No need for complex treatment; a quick dry or wet rub or a short bath in a soy sauce-based marinade is all you need. Or maybe just course salt and freshly cracked pepper. The filet mignon or tenderloing steak is the most expensive cut. This super-lean steak is a favourite among the ladies. Its mild flavour benefits from a wrapper of bacon, a pat of compound butter or a rich sauce but, as with all steaks, it also is nice with just salt and pepper. This one is also best served as rare as possible. Overcook it and it gets mealy. Sirloin is a less expensive cut. Like the flank, this sinewy steak has lots of flavour, but it’s relatively lean. This is a great breakfast steak, cut thin, fried fast and served with a couple of sunny-side-up eggs laid on top. The Porterhouse/T-bone is gloriously complex, with a tasty, more chewy piec of loin on one side of the bone and a round of filet on the other. This is a rich steak. I like to get one custom cut to about a 3-inch thickness, cook it over medium heat and then carve the meat off the bone and pre-slice it for my guests. Round steak is my least favourite cut of beef. Extremely lean, kind of tough, and not a lot of flavour. Acceptable if cooked quite rare, and, like sirloin, not bad for breakfast. Chuck. Not good for the grill, but this delicious cut is redolent with intramuscular fat and grisly connective tissue. Simmer or bake it for a long time and it takes on magical properties. But summer’s coming, so just never mind.

Steak your reputation on these tips

Cooking a steak is easy. Almost as easy as ruining one. Heed these words and avoid grill-related emasculation.

1. Turn it down. High heat is important to grilling a great steak because it makes grill marks, which give a nice charred taste to the steak and make it look appetizing. So preheat your grill on high, get some nice grill marks in the first couple of minutes of cooking, and then turn it down to medium-high or even just plain medium. Your steak will cook more evenly and you’ll avoid it being burned on the outside and raw and cold on the inside.

2. Pay attention. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Don’t walk away from the grill. Or, if you do walk away, set a kitchen timer to prompt you come back. Most steaks take about three or four minutes per side, which means if you want to pay full attention it might take eight minutes out of your day. The alternative: go watch TV and come back to the grill when your steak is ruined.

3. Don’t oversauce. I never use barbecue sauce on a steak because I prefer to taste the steak. But if you do use barbecue sauce, use it for the last minute or two as a finishing glaze. Slather it on at the beginning and you’ll have a black steak that tastes of burnt sugar.

4. Let it rest. Here’s a rule of thumb: if it’s done on the grill, it’s overdone on the plate. Take your steak off the grill when it’s almost done, then let it rest, tented in foil, for at least four or five minutes before serving. This allows the residual heat to complete the cooking process and lets the juices in the steak redistribute into the meat so they won’t spurt out when you carve your first bite.

5. Thick is better than thin. Most steaks you buy in the supermarket are cut too thin because they’re designed for people who cook on too high a heat. Get the meat cutter to cut a 1 1/2 to 2-inch steak, cook it a little longer and on a little lower heat, and you’ll get a juicier, more succulent result.

I could go on. But, really, cooking a great steak is pretty simple. Follow these rules and you will experience excellent steak flashbacks that will keep you licking your lips for days.

A nice review

Sep 3, 2006

Description:

The latest edition of Podcast User Magazine has a nice review of this podcast by writer Phil Clark. Check it out.

Sorry I haven't posted anything in the past month. I've been on vacation and busy with various work projects. Expect an audio podcast soon, plus more video.

Ronnie

Pacific Palate Does Barbecue

Jul 27, 2006

Description:

My friend Don Genova is a longtime radio personality specializing in food. His excellent blog, Pacific Palate, features an item on me and my latest cookbook, Planking Secrets. Check out the blog post, or download the mini-documentary and give it a listen.


Barbecue Secrets #8: More Planking Secrets

Jul 12, 2006 05:17

Description:

Hey, barbecue fans. Welcome to another Barbecue Secrets video podcast.  This spring I was a guest on Vancouver's Global Morning News demonstrating plank cooking recipes from my new book, Planking Secrets. With the kind help of Sharron Bates of Global I'm re-broadcasting them on this podcast, and I'm posting the recipes from each show here on the podcast blog. This is the second of five segments.

Planked Pork Loin Roast with Whisky-Apricot Glaze (From Planking Secrets)

Serves 4 to 6

In this recipe the aromatic, spicy, mildly astringent flavor of the cedar smoke nicely complements the sweetness and richness of the pork. The trick with plank-cooking a roast this big is to get the plank smoldering on a high or medium-high heat, and then turn it down to medium as soon as you get the meat on. Serve slices of the pork with roasted vegetables on the side and, if you like, some Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
one 14-oz./398 mL can apricot halves in light syrup
1/4 cup/50 mL Dijon mustard
1/4 cup/50 mL Jack Daniel's whisky
1/4 cup/50 mL brown sugar
1/4 cup/50 mL apricot jam
pinch cayenne pepper
one 3-lb./1.5-kg pork loin roast with a 1/8-inch/3-mm fat cap
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprigs fresh parsley and thyme for garnish

Open the can of apricots and drain the syrup into a medium-sized saucepan, reserving the fruit. Add the mustard, Jack Daniel's, brown sugar, apricot jam, and cayenne to the syrup. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring to melt the sugar and the jam. When it looks like a smooth, fairly thick sauce (about 5 minutes), take it off the heat and set it in a bowl of ice cubes to cool.

Lightly score the fat cap of the pork loin in a diamond pattern. Season it with salt and pepper, and set the meat on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spoon half of the mustard-whisky mixture over the loin and pat it all over to coat. Wrap the foil around the meat, sealing it as best you can. Place the wrapped loin in the meat drawer of your fridge. Let it sit for a couple of hours at least, but overnight if possible.

Combine the remaining half of the sauce with the reserved apricot halves, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5 or 10 minutes or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°C. Rinse the plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4 or 5 minutes, or until it's starting to throw off a bit of smoke and crackling lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Place the marinated pork loin on the plank fat side up. Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour, checking periodically for flare-ups.

At the one-hour mark, take the reserved apricots out of the sauce mixture and place them on the plank next to the roast. Baste the roast with some of the sauce and cook for about another 10 or 20 minutes, until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 140°C.  Take off the roast and lightly tent it in foil.

Transfer the apricot halves to a cutting board and coarsely chop them. Warm the remaining sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave and add the chopped apricots. Let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes (while it's resting, roast some vegetables on the grill). Carve the roast into 1/2-inch/1-cm slices and serve on warmed plates with a spoonful of the apricots and sauce. Garnish with sprigs of parsley and thyme.



Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Planking Secrets: How to Grill with Wooden Planks for Unbeatable Barbecue Flavor, and Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Barbecue Secrets #7: Whole Hog!

Jul 8, 2006 06:35

Description:

[Sorry if you had trouble viewing this podcast. I initially posted the wrong media file, and also, I think libsyn doesn't support video on its player in the right hand column of this blog. So, here's a link directly to the podcast download.]

In this edition I follow pitmaster Adam Protter of Big Smoke Mountain Barbecue in Whistler, B.C. as he prepares, cooks and serves a whole hog at a special event at Dusty's Bar & Barbecue, home of the Canadian National Barbecue Championships.

VIEWER ADVISORY: This podcast contains graphic scenes of raw hog preparation and is not for the squeamish.


Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Planking Secrets: How to Grill with Wooden Planks for Unbeatable Barbecue Flavor, and Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and tasty barbecue recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Barbecue Secrets #6: Planking Secrets video #1

Jun 11, 2006 06:04

Description:

Hey, barbecue fans! Welcome to the first Barbecue Secrets video podast. A couple of weeks ago I was a guest on Vancouver's Global Morning News demonstrating plank cooking recipes from my new book, Planking Secrets. With the kind help of Sharron Bates of Global I'm re-broadcasting them on this podcast, and I'm posting the recipes from each show here on the podcast blog. This is the first of five segments.

Fred's Citrus Salmon with Sesame Mayo

Serves 6 to 8

Brian Misko is an enthusiastic barbecuer who recently took the plunge and started up a barbecue team, House of Q. Brian passed on this recipe, which he has cooked time and again for his family. "It was originally crafted after salmon fishing in Tofino with my in-laws," he says.  "I had never been fishing on the open ocean before, nor had Fred Kraus, my father-in-law.  Nonetheless, a nice side of salmon was decorated for the grill with whatever we had in the cabin." And they've cooked it that way ever since. "Serve with a wonderful fruity white wine and a salad and you have a nice west coast meal," says Brian.

1 alder or cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
1 tsp./5 mL grated zest from the three fruits (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pushed through a press
1/4 to 1/2 cup/50 to 125 mL olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole, boned fillet wild Pacific salmon (about 3 lb./1.5 kg), skin on

Squeeze the juice from the three fruits into a nonreactive dish like a lasagna pan. Reserve a few slices for garnish. Don't worry about pulp or seeds in the marinade - it all adds flavor.  Add the zest, if desired, and the garlic and oil.  The volume of oil depends on how big your piece of salmon is. A larger one will take a bit more oil. Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over the salmon.  Marinate for a minimum of 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5 or 10 minutes or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F/260°C. Rinse the plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4 or 5 minutes, or until it's starting to throw off a bit of smoke and crackling lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and season it with salt and pepper. Place it on the plank and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C. Halfway through the cooking time, spoon some of the marinade on top of the fish. When the salmon is done, serve it on the plank garnished with extra citrus slices.

Sesame Mayo

This is the perfect dip for roasted veggies, and it's also great tossed with rice noodles for a cool, creamy side to grilled Asian-flavored meats. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.
1 cup/250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp./5 mL toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp./2 mL soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp./5 mL Chinese chili sauce or spicy Szechuan chili oil (or to taste)
1 tsp./5 mL grated or finely chopped fresh lemon, lime or orange rind
1 to 2 Tbsp./25 mL toasted sesame seeds (to taste)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients. Use immediately or refrigerate. If you're using store bought mayo, it will keep for a week in the fridge.



Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Planking Secrets: How to Grill with Wooden Planks for Unbeatable Barbecue Flavor, and Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Vancouver Book Launch a Great Party!

May 21, 2006

Description:

My thanks to everyone who attended the big Planking Secrets book launch event on May 16 at Vancouver's Hamilton Street Grill. What a great party, enhanced greatly by HSG chef Neil Wyle's hospitality, along with complementary food from Whitecap Books and delicious beverages from R&B Brewing and Appleton Estate rum.

The big thrill of the evening for me was a surprise visit from my planking mentor, famed barbecue chef Ted Reader, author of Sticks and Stones, a great book about planking and other things.

Thanks also to Johnstone's BBQs & Parts for providing the Weber Genesis grill that all the food was cooked on, and Johnstone's Bryan O'Connor for taking the fab photos of the event (see them here. Thanks, Bryan!)


Big Rock Workshop Winners!

May 16, 2006

Description:

Better late than never, I say.

First of all, a big thanks to all the participants in our big Secrets of Championship Barbecue workshop on Saturday, May 13.

For the first time in the ten-year history of the event, we staged a mini-contest at the end of the day, with two-person teams turning in their chicken and ribs to a group of judges provided by the Barbecue on the Bow Society, which held a judging workshop in conjunction with our event.

Good idea, and well organized by the wonderful Linda Matthie-Jacobs. Problem was, the turnout for the judging workshop was so high that we had 20 judges tasting each of 16 entries in two categories, so it took longer than expected to get the results tabulated.

So, thanks for your patience. Here are the winners...drum roll please.

CHICKEN

6th place: Kiss My Ash
5th place: Choke 'n' Smoke
4th place: All Ribs and Rooster
3rd place: Beavis and Pork Butt Head
2nd place: Our Butts are Glazed
1st place: Smells Like Smoke, Tastes Like Chicken

RIBS

6th place: Saucy Meat Masters
5th place: Porkaholics Anonymous
4th place: One Bone to Chew On
3rd place: Beavis and Pork Butt Head
2nd place: Kiss My Ash
1st place: All Ribs and Rooster

BEST TEAM NAME

Honourable Mention: Kiss My Ash
1st place: Porkaholics Anonymous

OVERALL RESULTS (COMBINED CHICKEN AND RIBS)

6th place: Choke 'n' Smoke
5th place: Saucy Meat Masters
4th place: Smells Like Smoke, Tastes Like Chicken
3rd place: Kiss My Ash
RESERVE GRAND CHAMPIONS: All Ribs and Rooster
GRAND CHAMPIONS: Beavis and Pork Butt Head

Congrats to the winners and thanks again for all who participated. I hope you all had fun!

Please note: first place winners in each category need to email me at rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com with your mailing address so I can send you your cheap plastic trophy!

Also, those who either did not get a diploma please at rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com with your correct name and mailing address and I'll get one out to you.

Yours forever in smoke,

Rockin' Ronnie

Calgary BBQ Event

May 14, 2006

Description:

Just a quick note to all who participated in the big Secrets of Championship Barbecue event on Saturday, May 13 at the Big Rock Brewery in Calgary. I will be posting the results of the mini-competition on this blog as soon as they are available. Thanks to everyone for the great barbecue spirit, and watch this space for the winners!

Ronnie

World Barbecue Organizer Rocky Danner

Apr 15, 2006

Description:

This blog doesn't allow me to post more than one photo per entry, so here's a picture of my friend Rocky Danner, who was interviewed in Barbecue Secrets #5, which you'll see below.

Barbecue Secrets #5: A barbecue history lesson and more...

Apr 15, 2006 39:30

Description:

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. E-mail questions, tips and suggestions to barbecuesecrets@ronshewchuk.com. In this edition:

2:20 An interview with World Barbecue Organizer Rocky Danner who talks about how the people of the West Indies used empty U.S. Army oil drums to make the precursor of the modern back yard grill (the photo at the top of this post is an authentic Jamaican barbecue grill made from an oil drum)
12:41 Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn of amazingribs.com and I answer a couple of questions about ribs from listener Craig Jolly one about marinades and rubs, and another about the infamous "Texas crutch"
33:24 Competition Corner -- Jeff of Light My Fire BBQ asks about the merits of wood pellets and Glenn Erho of House of Q wonders if there's a better way to clean the cooking grates of his Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Links

Rocky Danner is a reporter for the National Barbecue News

Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn is the creator of www.amazingribs.com and he has a special section on marinades at http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/marinades.html

For more information about hardwood pellets, visit Traeger Industries' Web site at http://www.traegerindustries.com/tips6index.htm

There's a section of The Virtrual Weber Bullet, a Web site for afficionados of the famous Smokey Mountain Cooker, where they talk about cleaning the cooking grates of the Bullet. http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cleanup.html

Podcast #5  Recipe: Marinade for Pork

Since Craig and I talked about marinades, here's one of my favorites:

Pork tastes great no matter how you prepare them, but this sweet, aromatic marinade nicely offsets the richness of pork and gives it an exotic edge. You can use this for ribs, chops or tenderloins.

1/4 cup/50 mL soy sauce
2 Tbsp./25 mL dry sherry
2 Tbsp./25 mL honey
2 Tbsp./25 mL brown sugar
1 tsp./5 mL salt
1/2 tsp./2 mL crushed anise seed
1/2 tsp./2 mL  ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp./1/2 mL ground cloves
1 Tbsp./15 mL grated fresh ginger


Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved.  Cool before marinating meat in a sealable bag for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge if you want a stronger flavour.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Planking Secrets: How to Grill with Wooden Planks for Unbeatable Barbecue Flavor, and Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

This is a blog, too!

Mar 12, 2006

Description:

This is the place where my bi-weekly podcast is posted, but I just realized that I'm also able to blog in this space. So, I hereby launch the Barbecue Secrets blog, in which I'll try to post thoughts and photos periodically, and answer questions, if you have any. Blogs are about conversation, so please, if you visit here, post a comment to keep the ball rolling! Yours forever in smoke, Ronnie

Here's a picture of the Cobb

Mar 7, 2006

Description:

Just wanted to post a picture of the Cobb, a really great portable cooker from South Africa. Listen to my interview with Johan Olsen of Cobb Canada in Barbecue Secrets podcast #4 below.

Barbecue Secrets #4: A real Barbecue Queen and more...

Mar 5, 2006 34:35

Description:

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. E-mail questions, tips and suggestions to rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com. In this edition:

2:45 An interview with Barbecue Queen Karen Adler 18:03 Talking with Johan Olsen of Cobb Canada about a great charcoal-fueled portable cooker, the Cobb 30:46 Competition Corner -- Tequilas at dawn

Links

Visit the Barbecue Queens' website. Find more info about the Cobb in Canada, or internationally.

Podcast #4 Guest Recipe

This divinely delicious recipe for grilling flak steak is reprinted with permission from The BBQ Queens' Big Book of Barbecue by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (Harvard Common Press, 2005)

Grilled Flank, Skirt, Hangar, or Other Thin Steak

The whole steak scene had gotten a bit ho-hum. Very predictable. You knew what cuts were available: rib-eye, strip, sirloin, flank. You knew what to do with them. And then, all of a sudden, things changed. There were new cuts and names, such as beef bavette and skirt, hangar, flat iron, patio, and charcoal steak. Whassup? (as a hip-hop queen might ask).

The change is partly a result of consumer interest in ethnic foods, hence the loose-grained skirt steak (the diaphragm muscle on a steer and the first choice for making great fajitas) and the beef bavette (cut from the flank for the French bistro steak and frites combo). Both can be hard to find at the grocery store but are readily available at butcher shops and from online vendors such as Niman Ranch.

In addition, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, based in Colorado, has championed new �moderately priced� options such as the flat iron steak, cut from the beef chuck, and the western griller, cut from the bottom round. Cube steak, a.k.a. minute steak, has been around for a while. It is cut from the round and cubed twice to tenderize this tasty but tough piece of meat and make it great for grilling (a minute per side, not surprisingly). The hangar steak comes from the flank and is actually a thick muscle. It is much tougher than flank steak but is a bistro favorite and is also referred to as onglet.

All of these steaks have a chewy texture but great beef flavor. You need to tenderize them either by marinating them for at least an hour (preferably eight hours) or pounding them with a meat tenderizer or mallet. Then you grill them over a hot fire to medium-rare. The final crucial step is slicing them properly to serve. Before you marinate a steak, locate the direction of the grain in the meat, which is easy to do. The grain consists of the lines of muscle fiber, which usually go in one direction. File that information away, grill your steak, and cut the meat against the grain, on the diagonal, holding your knife at a 45-degree angle (so it's slanted, not straight up and down). Perfecto!

For the marinade, we suggest Garlic-Citrus Marinade and the Smoked Garlic Cilnatro Cream Sauce is an excellent serving sauce. They follow below.

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds beef bavette or flank, skirt, hangar, flat iron, or western griller steak

1. Place the marinade and steak in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

2. Prepare a hot fire in a grill.

3. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then cut against the grain, on the diagonal and at a 45-degree angle, into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Serve warm.

Garlic-Citrus Marinade

This is a delicious way to marinate skirt, sirloin, or flank steak, but it's also good with chicken, pork, lamb, fish, or vegetables. Guess we like this with everything! Makes about 3/4 cup

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (1 to 2 oranges)

2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Place all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake to blend. This marinade will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Smoked Garlic and Cilantro Cream Sauce

Delicious served with grilled or smoked meats. If you don't want to use smoked garlic, substitute two minced garlic cloves for a sharper but still delicious flavor. Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 6 cloves garlic, smoked (see page 000) and peeled

1. In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.

2. Transfer the puree to a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the sauce begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Barbecue Secrets #3: British BBQ legends and more...

Feb 13, 2006 29:15

Description:

Welcome to the third edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a 29:15 minute show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. In this edition:

2:07 An interview with Jackie Weight of Mad Cows Barbecue (22:49) Answers to listener questions about warm-up time for your grill, (24:48) BARBECUE SECRET OF THE WEEK: how to avoid food sticking to the grill and (26:09) when to use granulated garlic (22:49) (27:00) Competition Secret of the week: one word: plenitude!

Photo courtesy Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn.

Links: Jackie and Rick Weight's website, visit www.americanbbq.co.uk. Also, please drop in and post a message at www.bbqforum.co.uk.

This week's recipe: Stuffed Tenderloin of Pork

Ingredients: 1 whole pork tenderloin (weighing around 1-11/2 lbs) 1 small red onion - finely chopped 5 oz. mushrooms - finely chopped 1 oz. butter or olive oil Pinch of dried sage Pinch of dried thyme 4 oz fresh breadcrumbs Grated rind of 1 lemon 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1oz toasted pine nut kernels 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley 6 cardamom pods (seeds only - finely ground) 3 teaspoons of sweet chilli sauce (more if you like it hot) 4 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) 4 oz dried apricots - very finely chopped Fresh Spinach Black Pudding / Blood Sausage Butter for brushing the meat Bacon

Fry the onion and mushrooms in olive oil or butter until tender, transfer to a bowl and add the sage, thyme, breadcrumbs, lemon rind, lemon juice, pine nut kernels, parsley, cardamom, coriander and chilli sauce; mix well, season to taste.

Take the pork tenderloin and butterfly it (split lengthways). Place a piece of cling wrap underneath it and one on top and beat it out to a thin square.

Remove the top piece of cling wrap, brush meat with butter and lay spinach leaves (remove any tough stalks from the spinach leaves) so that the whole meat surface area is covered. Take the filling mix and spread it over the spinach - use your fingers to get an even covering.

Now take the black pudding / blood sausage, remove casing and cut in half lengthways, mould the finely chopped dried apricots to form it into a full sausage shape again and place along the length of the meat / stuffing area.

Using the remaining piece of cling wrap to help you, roll the whole thing up (similar to a Swiss roll or roulade). Dispose of cling wrap.

Once rolled, wrap the bacon around the whole piece of meat in a spiral so that you have completely covered the meat. Roll up with a fresh piece of cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook (best to leave this for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse).

Cook in a roasting pan, over indirect heat on a barbecue, or in the oven at 350F for approximately 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted into the centre reads 170F. Deglaze the roasting pan with a little white wine and add 1 oz of butter to make a sauce if desired.

Allow meat to rest for at least 15 minutes and serve cut into approx 3/4 inch slices.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com and e-mail questions, tips and suggestions to rockinronnie@ronshewchuk.com.

Barbecue Secrets #2: Amazing Ribs and more...

Feb 1, 2006 18:40

Description:

Welcome to the second edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. In this edition:

2:26 An interview with Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn of amazingribs.com Answers to listener questions about ribs (7:18) and rubs (12:37) 15:36 Barbecue Secret of the week: raise that table!

Show notes:

Guest interview: Craig Goldwyn, rib afficionado. For information about Craig, including lots of tips and recipes, visit www.amazingribs.com. Craig also posted a special page for us with instructions on how to cook the greatest ribs ever, www.amazingribs.com/recipes/greatest_ribs_ever.html.

Listener questions: Gary Tobin's wants to know why his ribs turned black, and Jeff of Light My Fire BBQ has a question and a great tip.

This week's recipe: Classic Barbecue Rub (a.k.a. Bob's Rub) (from Barbecue Secrets, Whitecap Books)

Makes about three cups (750 mL)

We call this Bob's Rub, and it's what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at a barbecue workshop that first introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that's worth remembering: a third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

Ingredients: 1 cup white granulated sugar 1/4 cup celery salt 1/4 cup garlic salt 1/4 cup onion salt 1/4 cup seasoning salt (I like Lourey's) 1/3 cup chili powder (Use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combo of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guahilla.) 1/3 cup black pepper 1/3 cup paprika

To this basic rub add as much heat as you want using cayenne pepper, hot paprika or ground chipotles. Then add two or three signature spices to suit whatever you're cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 - 3 tsp. of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.

Barbecue Secrets #1: Winter Grilling and more...

Jan 16, 2006 24:02

Description:

Cover of Barbecue Secrets bookWelcome to the first edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. In this edition:

The time for a barbecue podcast is NOW: The Barbecue Secrets manifesto. Nanook of the pork: the joys of winter grilling Our first listener question: to close the grill, or not? Barbecue Secret of the week: turn it down! And a great winter grilling recipe: Pork and Apple Kebabs

Show notes: Guest interview: Ross Mikkelsen, owner of Barbecues Galore in Canada. For information about products and locations visit www.barbecuesgalore.ca.

Listener question: Shel Holtz, co-host of For Immediate Release, a twice-weekly podcast about communication and technology - www.forimmediaterelease.biz.

This week's recipe: Pork and Apple Kebabs (from Barbecue Secrets, Whitecap Books)

Serves 8 as an appetizer or 4 to 6 as a main course. This is a great winter grilling dish. Use the tangiest, firmest apples you can find. (I like Granny Smiths.) Serve as an appetizer, or with grill-roasted winter vegetables and mashed potatoes as a main course.

To marinate the pork: 2 lb. (1 kg) boneless pork loin, cut into bite-sized chunks 1 tsp. granulated onion (or onion powder) 1 clove garlic, forced through a garlic press 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary 1 tsp. dried rosemary 1/2 tsp. allspice 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg pinch cayenne pinch clove 1/4 cup cider vinegar For the kebabs: 6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized chunks Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper Extra-virgin olive oil

Combine marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and add pork, mixing thoroughly. Marinate for about an hour at room temperature or two or three hours in the fridge. Prepare grill for medium direct heat. Thread pork on skewers, alternating with chunks of apple. (Use eight long metal skewers or 12 pre-soaked bamboo skewers.) Oil cooking grate and grill kebabs for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until pork is just done. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at www.ronshewchuk.com.