IS THAT MY CUE?

Make summer funner and not a bummer with our Sanagan’s Grilling Guide. I hope it will inspire you to consider all the backyard/back deck/back alley cooking options that are available to you and how our great, locally raised products can be transformed by a baptism of smoke and fire.

GAS VS CHARCOAL

GAS: Faster, easier to control, cleaner, and safer for settings like rooftop decks.

CHARCOAL: Easier to refuel — you don’t need a car to buy a bag of charcoal, more affordable purchase options, and more flavourful, according to loyalist.   

Pro Tip: Not all charcoal is created equal. Use either pure hardwood lump charcoal (higher heat, quicker burning) or pure hardwood briquettes (lower heat, longer burning). Cheap charcoal may contain dubious non-hardwood fillers.

COOKING TECHNIQUES

DIRECT

Steaks, chops, burgers, boneless chicken breasts, sausages, Miami short-ribs and skewers.  

Direct is the essence of grilling. The food is sizzled right over the flame, be it a pile of charcoal or a gas jet. Sear it, flame it, watch it smoke, listen to it hiss; get in-touch with your inner caveperson.

Pro Tip: Reserve a not-hot-spot on the grill so if you get a fiery flare-up, food can be moved off the flame, avoiding incineration.  

INDIRECT

Whole birds, larger roasts, briskets, pork shoulders, lamb legs, porchetta.    

You’ll need at least a standard sized gas or charcoal grill with a lid. With this method the heat source is not directly under the meat but burning off to the side, either by gas burner selection or positioning charcoal on the grill’s periphery. This technique allows for roasting and slow-cook barbecuing, in the Southern style.

Pro Tip: As impossible as it may seem — at least in my case — try not to peek. Leave the lid closed except to check for doneness, adding more charcoal, or for basting/saucing. 

DIRECT/INDIRECT

Bone-in chicken pieces, small roasts, thick steaks and chops.

It’s the best of both worlds. Say your steak is extra-thick. Start it over direct heat to get that beautiful sear then move it off the direct heat source so it continues to cook evenly and thoroughly. 

Pro Tip: Remember to let your meat rest on a warm platter once it comes off the grill. This allows the juices to circulate through the meat and for you to partake of a sympathetic chilled beverage.

MARINADES, SAUCES, AND RUBS

You’ve got your meat — now let’s dress it up. Merinades are usually thinner preparations that are applied to the grillables ahead of time. In addition to adding flavour they often act as a tenderizer. Sauces are usually thicker and can be brushed on during the cooking process and also used as a condiment. Rubs are dry combinations of herbs, spices, salts and sugars. They are applied to the meat before cooking, often well ahead of time.

There are thousands of D.I.Y. options for all of the above, from the simplest combos of ketchup and vinegar to complex long-cooked preparations. Or let the professionals do it for you. Sanagan’s stocks a full line of locally produced rubs, merinades and sauces, including our own POULTRY RUB, BBQ SAUCES AND SANGAN’S POPULAR MARINADES — JERK, TERIYAKE AND SOUVLAKI — NOW AVAILABLE IN 250ml JARS! 

Pro tip: If you want to apply any merinades or sauces after the meat is cooked, be sure to set aside a quantity that has not come in contact with the raw meat. 

SMOKE  

Smoke is an important part of so many great cuisines and, obviously, outdoor cooking is where you can smoke it up. Few things bring me more pleasure than the sight of my kettle barbecue wafting wisps of aromatic hardwood smoke as I stand by, beer/wine and-or cocktail in one hand and instant read thermometer in the other.

Hardwood chunks or chips are the most suitable options for home smoking. With charcoal, you put the wood right on the coals. With gas you need a smoker box which can be an aluminum foil pan placed under the grill. Once you start smoking, prepare for a lot of research and trial and error. Remember, smoking is addictive.

Pro Tip: After about four hours of smoking, feel free to move that big cut off the charcoal and into the oven, or just continue on the gas grill without any more smoke. It’s a relief from tending the fire and you can get on with the potato salad. And no one can tell the difference.

 TOOLS

This can be an endless list but here’s the bare minimum for sensible, comfortable, reliable Q fun.

Long-Handled Grill Tools: Really just a pair of sturdy tongs and some sort of sturdy flipper/spatula thing should cover most of the action. If you’re going to barbecue something huge, a fork would also come in handy. 

Instant Read Thermometer: Given the variables of grilling, almost all recipe cooking times can be imprecise. Save your meat and possibly your health with an accurate, fast-reading thermometer.

Charcoal Chimney: Looks like a great big empty can with a handle and allows you to light your charcoal without stinky lighter fuel. 

Pro Tip: Soap and water is an excellent tool. A clean barbecue is a safer, more efficient, longer-lasting barbecue.

Egalitarian Footnote: For you apartment dwellers with no home grill access, they’re a number of affordable portable grills that are entirely park-compatible.