Summer is here, and that means BBQ. The hardcore among us BBQ 365 days a year, but come summer everyone likes a good barbecue party. We sat down with Cambridge Club Executive Chef Deron Engbers to get his top tips and tricks to help you host the ultimate backyard bbq that'll truly wow your guests.
1. Cut & Quality
Quality of meat is obviously the number one priority for having a great barbecue. The Cambridge Club Oak Room is proud to use Olliffe Butchers as one of our primary meat suppliers. These guys will custom cut any beef, pork or chicken you want, and they use only the best suppliers from Ontario and Canada.
For beef, look for a deep dark red, with lots of white marbling through it. Popular cuts include flat iron, striploin and ribeye. I don’t recommend tenderloin for bbq season, as it is super lean, and tends to end up with a dry piece of meat. For pork, a nice deep pink colour, decent layer of fat, which should be creamy white. Popular cuts include ribs, rack, loin, shoulder (good for long, slow roasts!!). Again, stay away from tenderloin!! For chicken, you want a nice deep yellow to the skin, and a healthy light pink colour. Thighs are great for grilling, as are the wings and breasts!! Ask your butcher to spatchcock it for you!!
Charcoal – The best way to cook meat and vegetables. There are two major ways to set up your coals. Direct and Indirect heat. Direct is exactly what it sounds like, a pile of coals on fire, and you cook your meat right on top of it. Benefits include good caramelization of the meat, and a great quick sear. Downside is that it can lead to flaring, which gives you carbon deposits on your meat, and that can taste kinda funky. There are two ways to set up indirect heat. One is that you can pile all your coals on one side, and then you can move your meat off the heat if you feel you need to. This is also a great technique for larger pieces of meat that you want to slow cook. Have your coals going on one side, and then have your meat over the empty area, cooking via convection. A second method for indirect heat is to set up your coals on either side with a channel in the middle. The benefit to this is good heat from both sides, and avoiding the flaring. Small downside is that it’s a bit of a lower heat, giving you less caramelization/ flavour.
Gas – Obviously the simplest set up. Best practices here would be getting your grill as hot as possible for that initial sear, and then moving it off to indirect heat (I usually keep one side of the grill a little lower, just in case of flaring).
3. Advanced Techniques and Marinating Marinating
Tons of debate on this! I’m personally not one for marinating my meat, but sometimes you want a little something different, or you weren’t able to get a great cut. Beer is a natural tenderizer, as are papaya seeds. Brining works well for poultry, just make sure you leave enough time to let it air dry. That will ensure you get really great crispy skin.
Sous Vide – This is an advanced technique that a lot of kitchens use these days. It’s great for bigger cuts of meat to ensure that it’s cooked all the way through, or for infusing flavours into your meat. You’ll need a vacuum sealer (Canadian tire sells them), and an immersion circulator (look up the anova circulator, it’s decent for home use). Basically you cook your meat in a vacuum sealed bag at very low temperature for long periods of time, allowing the meat to cook all the way through, without over cooking. Great for poultry, and for large cuts like 30+oz ribeyes/striploins. Your butcher should be able to vacuum pack your meat for you, but if you want to add herbs or garlic or other things into the bag (flavour infuses as the meat sits in the water bath), you’ll have to do it at home.
Think you'd rather leave the bbqing to the professionals? Cottage goers can enjoy a personally packed custom cooler bag prepped for your next weekend getaway. Contact Food & Beverage Manager Christina De Bartolo for more details.