Brought to you by our in-house Chef Kai Salimaki
With new lockdown measures in place it looks like we all need to plan a little “Stay-cation” for this upcoming May Long Weekend. We were hoping we could all get out and enjoy some beautiful weather camping but now we have to flip it a bit and make the best of a not so great situation. Just because we can’t go camping doesn’t mean we can’t cook some amazing backyard camp inspired bbq fun.
Kebabs (A.K.A. Kabobs / Skewers / Sticks of Fun)
For my family, Kabobs are an easy go to and we like to bring the kids in on the action and have them make their own kabobs/skewers. I’m not going to list recipes on how to make kebabs but instead offer up my suggestions with preparing and executing the kebabs. The possibilities are honestly endless, be creative as always and have fun with them.
Tip #1: Skewers. Buy long metal skewers meant for the bbq. This can help save time by not having to soak bamboo or wooden skewers and will also ensure that you don’t have them catch on fire and fall apart.
Tip #2: Separation. I’m not talking about evenly spacing the vegetables or meats. I’m talking about having the skewers separated from meat and vegetables. As pretty as it is to have a medley of beautiful vegetables and chunks of meat together, the reality is that something on that skewer is going to get overcooked. I like to have vegetables on a dedicated skewer and meats separate. This way, you can control the cooking process and your timing will be easier.
Tip #3: Marinate. Whichever meat you choose to use, whether it be chicken, pork or beef, a couple of hours in a simple marinade does wonders. Dice your meats in approximately 1” cubes and toss with a tablespoon of minced garlic, fresh herbs, canola/olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. You can add anything to the marinade really, a dollop of mustard, a dry spice mix or even a splash of your favourite beer or wine. Don’t forget your vegetables! Toss these in a marinade as well.
One of my most favorite things to grill are sausages. They are painless, easy to cook and don’t take too long and lucky for you, we carry an amazing selection of locally made Alberta sausage.
Some of our favourites to enjoy are:
- Bear and The Flower Hawaiian Pineapple Pork Sausage (it sounds crazy but is delicious!)
- Bear and The Flower Mexican Chorizo Pork Sausage
- Valbella Bison Whiskey Sausage
- Lambtastic Lamb Merguez Sausage
Beer Can Chicken with Alabama White Sauce
We are fortunate to have some of the best chicken Alberta has to offer. Lone Pine Chicken from our Hutterite friends is the perfect backyard bbq addition. Ever heard of beer can chicken and wonder what that’s all about? Well we want to help you with this fun spin on a roasted whole chicken. This recipe can be executed in an oven or on a bbq but for today’s purpose we are going to use BBQ.
First off, we need to make sure you can fit the chicken in your BBQ. This chicken will be standing straight up so we need clearance in the bbq. Most BBQ’s have a removable top rack, so if you can, remove it. We won’t be grilling the chicken at all but will be using the bbq as more of an oven. You will also need a baking sheet or roasting pan that can fit on your grill.
1 x Whole Chicken
1 x Can of Beer (if you don’t want to do beer, you can always substitute a can of ginger ale or lemon lime soda)
1 x Lemon
1 x Whole head of garlic
1 x Sprig fresh thyme/rosemary
Beer Can Preparation:
Crack the beer and drink half!
Now take a can opener and remove the top of the beer can. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the half into the can and put the lemon inside. Same with the garlic, cut in half and put in the can as well as your fresh herbs.
Make sure your whole chicken is nice and dry, pat it down with a paper towel inside and out, set aside for now.
Rub about a Tbsp or two of canola oil all over the chicken, season liberally with salt and pepper. Don’t forget to season the inside of the chicken as well!! If you have a favourite dry rub, now is the time to use it (or try local Township 27 Citrus Rub). Place the remaining half lemon and half garlic bulb inside the chicken and any leftover herbs if you have them.
Preheat your BBQ, you want to have the temperature around 350-400 degrees fahrenheit.
Now we need to put the can in the chicken. Carefully lower the chicken onto the beer can, the bird should fit snugly over the can and should be able to stand by itself without additional support. You may need to tinker a bit with the fitting, we want to make sure the bird won’t fall over during the cooking process. Take the beer canned chicken and place it in your roasting pan or on your baking sheet. Roast the chicken for approximately 45min-1 hour or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and allow to rest, cover with some tin foil and let it rest.
Carefully remove the can (it might still be hot!) and carve up your juicy bird!
Now what to serve with this amazing chicken?
A great and unique accompaniment to grilled or roasted chicken is Alabama White Sauce. This is a new spin on a “BBQ” sauce that is becoming more and more popular. This is a quick no-cook sauce that can be whipped together in under 5min. Mayonnaise is the base and helps add a creaminess to the otherwise tangy sauce.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (you can use extra hot horseradish for more of a kick)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (or more to your tastes)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together and chill for an hour to let the flavours develop.
Potato Salad War
There are many variations of potato salad but the main war between aficionados is: Creamy or Vinegar based?
I like to think both are great and serve their purposes for different dishes. Creamy Potato salad is a little more traditional but I also love a vinegar based potato salad to help cut some richness of fatty bbq meats.
- Yellow fleshed potatoes such as Poplar Bluff Agria or Phoenix Farms Yellow Columba are great to use. Put a large pot of water on the stove and season with salt (should taste like the ocean). I like to boil the potatoes whole but you can dice them if you’d like (watch out for overcooking and falling apart!). Place them in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Strain the potatoes and allow to cool at room temperature.
Tip: When mixing potato salad, if the potatoes are still slightly warm, they absorb more of the dressing and flavours. Don’t mix when the potatoes are too hot however, if you are using a mayo based dressing you can run the risk of “splitting” the dressing.
- Garnish Ingredients: Garnishes are chef’s speak for all the extra ingredients that go into a sauce or salad mix...etc. The base of the dish is potatoes, the dressing can be a vinaigrette or mayo based.
But now what garnishes do we add? Here is a list of classic ingredients we like in our Potato Salad
- Hard boiled egg (some say yes, some say no!)
- Green Onion or chives
- Capers (rinsed of their brine so they aren’t too salty)
- Diced Celery for crunch and texture
- Dill Pickle (a little pop of flavour!) or you can use relish
- Fresh Herbs. Please use fresh. Dill, Parsley
- Mustard. A dollop of dijon
- Celery Seed (a little chef secret, just a touch (¼ tsp)
For the Dressing:
If you have followed the Alabama white sauce recipe in this post, this can serve as a dual purpose sauce/dressing! It has all the right ingredients (you can leave out the horseradish if you’d like) and simply toss all the above in with the potatoes...done!
For a vinegar based dressing:
- Use the Alabama white sauce recipe and instead of mayo, use a ½ cup of canola oil. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and slowly whisk in the canola oil to create your dressing.
Tell us about your favourite Potato Salad Recipes! What’s your secret or go to ingredient?