There’s nothing like a backyard barbecue to bring friends and family together, says Canadian chef and grill expert Rob Rainford.
Rainford, who teaches at George Brown College and is the chef at Gossip restaurant in Toronto, says when he is entertaining he will often cook a chicken or a tenderloin — “so I’m not completely straddled to the barbecue, and I can spend time with guests, too.” But he is happy cooking a steak or burger to order as well.
Here is how to grill the Rainford way:
• Keep one part of the grill hot and the other at a lower temperature. “Then, depending on the cut of meat, you can sear it on both sides on the hot side, then finish the cooking process more gently on the cooler side of the grill.”
• Always bring meat to room temperature before you grill to ensure even cooking.
• To keep meat or fish from sticking to the grill, wipe the cooking grates with vegetable oil before putting food onto them. Also, and this is most important, maintain a high temperature and leave the meat alone for the first 30 to 45 seconds.
• Use a water spray bottle to extinguish flare-ups from dripping juices from the meat. But it may also be better to move the meat to the lower heat side of the grill and finish cooking it that way.
• Watch the food you are grilling at all times. If you are slow grilling — the barbecue is at 100 C (220 F) — you can walk away but be sure to check it every half-hour.
• Let meat rest (even burgers) for about 10 minutes under tented foil before serving.
• Grilled Greens: “I always add a grilled element to salads to add that barbecue flavour,” says Rainford. For example, he will take scallions or leeks and grill them quickly and put them into a tossed green salad.
• Smoke It: Consider using wood chips in your barbecue and adding a smoky flavour. There are different kinds depending on what you are grilling. Flavourful woods such as hickory and mesquite go well with ribs while sweeter woods such as apple or cherry are recommended for tuna or chicken.
• Add Some Heat: Rainford, who has Jamaican parents, says you can jazz up any recipe by adding a tablespoon of Jerk sauce to the barbecue sauce you use (he includes recipes in his cookbook).
Recipe. Rob Rainford’s Fired-Up Chicken Wings
1 Combine the canola oil, jerk marinade, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, jalapeño, salt and ground ginger in a large bowl.
2 Add the chicken wings and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
3 Fire up your charcoal. You need a medium-high grilling temp of around 350 F (180 C). Prep the grill for cooking over direct heat. If using a gas barbecue, preheat one side to medium-high and turn the other burner off so you can finish grilling the wings on the cooler side of the grill if they start to char.
4 Remove the wings from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Pat the wings dry with paper towels.
5 Grill the wings, turning often, for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and the juices run clear. (If using a kamado-style grill, the wings need to be turned just once, halfway through cooking.)Makes two main-course servings; 10 appetizer-size servings.
Excerpted from Rob Rainford’s Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes From My Backyard to Yours. Copyright 2012 Rob Rainford. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
• ½ cup (125 ml) canola oil
• ¼ cup (60 ml) Jerk Marinade (see Rainford’s Staple Recipes in his book)
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) chili powder
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) onion powder
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) garlic powder
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) smoked paprika
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly ground black pepper
• 1 jalapeno chili (for less heat, seed the chili)
• 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt
• ½ tsp (2 ml) ground ginger
• 2 lbs (1 kg) chicken wings