BBQ Vacation: “I need to speak to The Greek”

Don’t get me wrong, we love Ontario, but who wouldn’t love a vacation in the Mediterranean right about now?  Since that’s not an option, here’s our attempt at a BBQ vacation by making pork souvlaki on the grill.  Both the pork and tzaztiki recipes came from the current issue of Fine Cooking magazine.

Getting ready to grill

Ready to grill!

Ingredients:

  • 1½ lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1” think rounds
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8-10 skewers (we used soaked wooden ones)

Toss the pork in the other ingredients, marinate for 10 minutes, then thread the pork onto the skewers and grill on medium-high until done. (About 8 minutes.)

All fired up

All fired up

Homemade Tzatziki:

  • ½ an English cucumber, peeled & grated with excess juice squeezed out
  • ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt

We served it up with Greek-style pitas and a salad made from tomatoes, cucumber and red onion tossed with feta and a quick balsamic vinaigrette.  The souvlaki and tzatziki were both delicious, and the smaller pieces of meat cook up quickly on the grill. 

The final product

The final product

The only improvement needed is to use better-quality Greek-style pitas.  We used Dempster’s Pocketless Pitas, since that’s what was available at our local grocery store, but they didn’t fold well and fell apart pretty readily.  This recipe serves 3-4 people, which means that I will be using the rest of the souvlaki in a salad tomorrow for lunch (like the original recipe recommends).

P.S. The title of this post is a nod to the second season of The Wire – a brilliant show.  Not much to do with cooking of course, but delicious in its own way.

Barbeque makes everything taste better

This is turning out to be a pretty relaxing Saturday.  The kind of Saturday that means we had time to stock up on fresh groceries, peruse new recipes, and try out a couple of new dinner foods on the barbeque: marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts and grilled corn on the cob.  (After yesterday’s ribs, we’re keeping it a little healthier today.  But still tasty.)  Rather than ruminate on it, I’ll just get to the good stuff:

Grilled to perfection

Grilled to perfection.

Marinated Lime & Mustard Chicken (recipe from The Barbecue Bible)

Mix the juice of one lime (about 1/4 cup), about 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tbsp honey Dijon mustard (we used French’s), plus a pinch each of cayenne, garlic, and cumin.  Rinse 2 chicken breasts and pat dry, then pour the marinade over and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Preheat the grill to medium, and cook for about 10-12 minutes.  (We might have left them on a tad long but they were still juicy.)

Grilled Corn

This one’s pretty standard.  The grill was already on medium, which worked out perfectly.  Every couple of minutes we turned the corn about 1/4 turn and brushed them with melted butter with a bit of cumin in it.  Done after about 10 minutes.

The Verdict

It might be sacrilegious to prefer vegetables to meat when the barbeque is involved, but even though the chicken had a lovely hint of lime and we’d certainly use the marinade again, the corn was the highlight of the meal for both of us.  Which is saying something, because even though in my opinion corn on the cob is the ultimate summer food, it’s never been one of hubby’s favourites.

So there we have it: further proof that the barbeque makes everything taste better!

Ribs are delicious

Today was the first attempt at barbequed ribs.  Admittedly, ribs are a bit of a daunting thing to make since it seems that everyone claims to have the ‘best’ method.  (Heck, I’ve got two current foodie magazines in the house right now that are chock full of tips for the juiciest, smokiest rack of ribs.)  Thankfully, we only have to feed two people and we’re not trying to win a competition so the only opinion that really mattered was our own.

First attempt at pork ribs

My plate. Note the vegetables.

And they were gooooood!

I should point out that this was not only hubby’s first attempt at ribs, it was also his first attempt at sauce.  For a guy raised by vegetarians, I’ve got to give him an ‘A’ on this one.  I’ve never been one to enjoy ribs all that much, but he’s out to convert me and it’s certainly working.

He baked them slowly in the oven for a couple of hours, and made the sauce from scratch.  He mostly followed Scott Hibb’s Amazing Whiskey Grilled Baby Back Ribs recipe, with a few modifications to the sauce.  (We didn’t use any liquid smoke, and substituted a little red wine for the whiskey.)  It turned out tangy and a little sweet with some definite heat to it, and the meat fell off the bone after grilling over high heat.

Was he as pleased with the result as I was?  Well, I think this photo speaks for itself:

RIBS!

His plate. Yup.

Now we’re cooking with fire…

A couple of weeks ago, we acquired a barbeque.  My husband bought it one afternoon while I was at work, and not a moment was wasted in making up for lost time.  He’d assembled it and eaten a couple of hamburgers before I even got home that night.  The burgers were apparently totally worth the 2 hours of assembly time spent following direction that were clearly written by a drunk monkey.

Almost ready to eat!

A simple beginning: centre cut pork chops with a little olive oil and spices. Pretty good.

It was an auspicious beginning.

We’ve never had a barbeque.  We have been planning to acquire a barbeque since our wedding a few years back, but somehow we had never gotten around to it.  Neither of us know much about barbeques. My in-laws are vegetarian so there wasn’t a lot of need for one in his house, and I’m more of a baker.  So while we’re both decent cooks and we both really love a good steak (or pork chop, or strip of bacon, or rack of lamb) we’d never really had occasion to pay attention to the minutiae of cooking with fire.

Despite this, we’ve used the barbeque almost every single day for the last two weeks.  This has been substantially encouraged by the current heat wave.  Because we don’t want to turn on any indoor appliances, we’ve tried beef burgers, chicken breasts, bison burgers, ballpark hot dogs, roasted veggies, and steak.  So far everything’s been pretty delicious but we spend an inordinate amount of time saying things like “Do you think it’s done?” and “Well, it looks done.  Let’s just eat it.”

Hence the blog.  Originally, I suggested we try cooking something on the barbeque every day for the next year.  (This is Ontario, so while there may be a heat wave now, there will also inevitably be a blizzard in about 6 months.)  We opted instead to spare ourselves the pressure and embrace the enthusiasm we both have for our new acquisition.  The blog is our way to chronicle some of our successes and inevitable failures as we learn more about how to make really excellent food on the grill.

If you’re already an expert, this may not be the blog for you.  If you’re a purist about the spelling of the word “barbecue”, you may be dismayed about my preference for the letter “Q”.  But if you love food (especially grilled food) then we hope you’ll enjoy it.  Over the next little while we’ll be improving the look of the blog, getting a better camera for photos, and setting up a Twitter feed, so bear with us and feel free to share any ideas you may have for improvements.  Thanks for reading!