It’s BBQ season and without a doubt, I can say that it’s my favourite season in terms of cooking. There’s so much versatility but I think the biggest selling point is the no muss, no fuss, laid back attitude that happens when you’re grilling that somehow just doesn’t seem to happen when you’re cooking in the kitchen. Maybe it has something to do with the absence of pots and pans? Not sure, but whatever it is, we LOVE BBQ at our place!!!
Quite honestly though, we BBQ year round. It’s just that summer seems so much more suited to cooking outdoors than 30cm of snow, that we put a bit more into it.
Most of what we “cook” outdoors starts indoors and my motto is to keep it as simple as possible. Some basic marinades, a few tried and true seasonings, a bit of time to sit and absorb the flavour, and onto the grill.
In the interests of keeping it simple, I’ve listed a few of my favourite “go to” marinades and what I use them for:
- Balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper are my favourites to use for beef or pork. When I’m marinating beef steaks with this, I will usually crush three or four good sized garlic cloves and add it as well.
- Dark soy, sesame oil and a light dusting of five spice powder is wonderful on chicken but also works well for pork.
- Also a favourite on chicken is lemon juice, tarragon and freshly ground white peppercorns.
- For salmon steaks, I am a bit boring. I always use the same thing: teriyaki sauce and sesame oil, lay the salmon steaks in the marinade and let sit for an hour or so turning occasionally. If you’re using salmon fillets, lay them skin side up in the marinade and I don’t usually bother to turn them.
- For lamb, our all purpose “got to” is a simple mixture of fresh rosemary, LOTS of lemon (I usually use the juice of at least one lemon for each pound of lamb) and crushed garlic. The longer you let this combination marinate, the yummier it will be!
- I never add salt before cooking any type of meat or fish on the grill. In fact, for the most part, once it’s marinated well and grilled, salt is almost unnecessary.
We usually try to keep the accompaniments to the BBQ feast simple as well:
- Potatoes covered in foil and “baked” on the coals. Sometimes, I’ll split the potatoes lengthwise in half and season them with olive oil and pepper before wrapping them. Sometimes I’ll slice them thinly, not all the way through to the bottom so that they’re held together still, season them and then wrap them.
- Corn on the cob is always shucked, cleaned of silk and wrapped in buttered foil, then double wrapped and cooked on the top rack while the rest of the meal is cooking.
- Any number of your favourite vegetables can be sliced about a quarter inch thick, grilled quickly and then brushed with a balsamic vinegar dressing (one part vinegar, two parts olive oil, two tbsp of chopped Italian parsley and salt and pepper to taste). My favourites done this way are eggplant, zucchini and red peppers, but just about any vegetable that can be sliced will work.
- With asparagus I usually select the thicker stalks, and thread a wooden skewer through them raft-like. Mostly, because my personal preference is to eat asparagus plain, I don’t use any seasoning on them, but the same balsamic dressing that we use for other vegetables would work well here as well.
- One of the vegetables that is requested a lot around my house at any time of year, is not done on the grill though. I make a green bean salad that is so simple yet tasty that though I’m often asked for the recipe, everyone seems to like them best when I make them. Not sure why. It’s an easy preparation. Once you’ve topped and tailed your beans, wash them well and boil them in salted water until they are just tender crisp. Drain them well and quickly, before they have a chance to cool down (this part is key) drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a good red wine vinegar over them and toss so that the beans are well coated. As they cool down, it’s important to continue to toss them. As often as every couple of minutes isn’t too much. The more you toss, the more they’ll all absorb a good amount of the vinegar. Once they’re cooled, remove them to a clean bowl and with the vinegar that’s left in the bottom of the first bowl, make a dressing. Use the usual two parts olive oil to one part vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine (it will usually thicken up if you whisk it briskly) and then “dress” the beans. Serve at room temperature. They’re sure to be a hit!
I recently received an email about the “man’s” work of BBQ-ing. Though I’m sure many of you have seen it, I thought I’d share:
The OFFICIAL BBQ RULES
We are about to enter the BBQ season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:
The unimportant stuff:
- The woman buys the food.
- The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
- The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand.
- The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.
Here comes the important part:
- THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL.
More unimportant routine:
- The woman goes inside to organise the plates and cutlery.
- The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will bring him another beer while he flips the meat
More important stuff:
- THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN.
- The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table.
- After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.
And most important of all:
- Everyone PRAISES the MAN and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
- The man asks the woman how she enjoyed 'her night off', and, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women.
Remember, whatever you’ll be grilling this season, keep it simple and keep it fun!!!TTFN!!!