As the heat of the summer approaches, most people like to spend more time outdoors soaking up every bit of warmth and extended sunshine while it lasts. So, let’s dust off the barbecue and prepare to enjoy cooking outside!
The terms barbecue and grilling have become interchangeable over time, however, they approach cooking from two different and complementary techniques. Barbecuing traditionally refers to cooking on a low heat for a long time with the lid closed so the hot air circumvents the food (like in the oven). Barbecue is the alchemist, the quiet one that slowly transforms a tough piece of meat to tender and flavorful. Grilling is the showman: lid up, direct heat on the bottom, flames, short cooking times, and relying on the raw product to do the heavy lifting.
When you grill you are using products such as steaks, burgers, fish, cut pieces of chicken and turkey, and most veggies. Barbecuing wants meats like brisket, chuck roasts, leg of lamb, ribs, tomahawk steak, whole chicken or whole turkey. Vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower can also handle a longer cooking time.
Rubs add lots of flavour. You can make and store blends to complement different kinds of meats and vegetables. Try this blend with pork or chicken: 2T mustard seed, 1T anise, coriander, cumin, fennel, and celery seeds plus 1T Spanish paprika and 1T salt. Toast all seeds on medium-low until fragrant (5min). Cool. Grind until fine and combine with the other ingredients. Store for up to 1 month.
Keys to low and slow barbecuing: 1. Ask your butcher for the right cut that will need a longer time on the barbecue to breakdown its connective tissue and produce meaty results. 2. Spritz the meat or keep a container of liquid (beer, wine, seasoned water) on the grill while the meat cooks as this will add flavour and moisture. 3. Try and keep your barbecue’s temperature between 200 and 250 degrees F. 4. Use a thermometer to get an accurate cooking temperature for doneness 5. Kick up the heat at the end to sear the outside of the meat and 6. Resting time. By the time you put the rest of your meal on the table and gather everyone together your meat is rested.
Since most vegetables take very little time on the barbecue, adding them once you have set your meat to rest will give them the perfect time to cook. You can also grill some sliced watermelon then add feta, olive oil, mint and olives for a light salad.
Don’t forget dessert on the barbecue as well. Sliced pineapple, mango, and bananas make a tropical dessert when drizzled with lime and paired with some coconut ice cream on the side.
Summertime is all about easy meals that allow the most time enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. Utilizing your barbecue for your whole meal is easy and delicious. So get outside and put your grill to good use.
– Natalie Findlay