“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” Victor Borge

Notice the snow!

Notice the snow!

I love Christmas, I become many people during the season. I’m a shopper, decorator, wrapper, host but mostly a father.  I don’t look for presents; I look for the reaction to the gifts I give to my children and loved ones.  I’ve never returned a gift because it’s given with love.  I’ve even kept the unfitting sweaters and shirts because they were given from the heart. OK, I’m silly but that’s me.

My favourite role is that of cook. My neighbours see the smoke rising every Christmas morning as I start the Big Green Egg to smoke my turkey. Sometimes the weather participates and then there are other times, like this year.  Toronto experienced an ice storm the weekend before and 350,000 homes were without power. I was lucky, my fence wasn’t. But better the fence than the house, or my BGE!

Five years ago I experimented with brine for my turkey. I haven’t done one since without. Osmosis is a wonderful thing.  It doesn’t produce a salty bird, just a juicy and tasty turkey that will surprise and astound your family.

My brine; kosher salt, whole black pepper, brown sugar, 2 whole cut clementines, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic head, onions, and a little maple syrup for the hell of it.  Submersed in a cold brine for 10 hours in a cooler and flipped every 4 hours or so (when I remembered).  Rinsed and patted dry and ready for a smoky embrace. Stuffed with onions, garlic, rosemary, sage and clementines. Rubbed with a concoction of butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.

This year’s choice of smoke, maple wood! Sweet and light!

I’m practical with my smoking and realize that I don’t want to spend the day outside so I smoke for approximately 2 to 3 hours on my BGE.  I finish inside in the oven. This way I’m paying attention to not only the bird but the veggies too! That and I don’t kill myself by falling on the ice! On transfer to the oven I cover with bacon to add more flavor and moisture. I found if you put it on while you smoke it the bacon holds back the smoke on the areas it covering. It also leaves a weird pattern. Get the smoke to the flesh first.

You might notice I haven’t mentioned stuffing. I choose to make mine on the side in a cast iron pan. I take some of the drippings from the pan I had underneath the bird in the BGE and mix them with the stuffing. I make a sausage stuffing. Sometimes duck but this year an artisanal porcini sausage. Wonderful combination!

20 minutes a pound and my 18lb bird was ready in 6 hours but I started checking them temperature after 4 hours. You have to take in account fluctuation in the fire and the temperature outside. Every time you open the lid, you drop the temp.

So here’s my bird! Garlic mash, turnip, green beans in a cream sauce, brandied carrots, and sausage stuffing.

Too bad Santa had to leave!

Too bad Santa had to leave!

Enjoy! We did!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Advertisements

The Artisanal Grill / Now on FoodSided.com

A little smoke goes a long way!

A little smoke goes a long way!

So a new start to a new year!

Creating a new direction in life is a journey of expectation, wonderment, possibilities, and fear.  I’ve travelled this road for over a year now and lo and behold the future I see is bright. I haven’t travelled this path alone; I have the support and love of everyone I know. In addition I’m travelling it with a few friends that are on their own paths.

My concept of taking the indoors outdoors and looking at food as an offering of love and comfort seems to have spread and connected me with like thinkers and food centric renaissance people alike.  BBQ, smokers, grills or whatever you chose to call them are just extensions of your kitchen and can be utilized all year.  Conventional recipes can be updated to add flair and switched up.  How your mother made it is wonderful, but thinks about what you can turn it into if you add your own personality and skill.

So now starts the next dimension to my journey.  I am now a staff writer for FoodSided.com. FoodSided is an extension of FanSided which is dedicated to sports and sports bloggers.  Taking the same passion from their base site, FoodSided is building to become one of the most popular and searched food sites on the web. I look forward to the experience and the continuation of the journey.

I will be posting here and on FoodSided.com along with updates on Twitter and my Facebook page.

Please follow and enjoy the journey with me.

Be well and eat well!

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

 

Don’t cancel your Christmas Turkey people! Take it outside Artisanal Grill Style!!

So the weather in Toronto has left us powerless and cold.  Reports are in that people are canceling orders for their Christmas Turkeys because they are afraid their electricity will be off and they can’t cook their birds.

Really?

Hard times call for creative thoughts. One of the concepts that I have been dictating for some time now is that what you can do inside you can do outside. I’ve been planning a step by step on my Christmas bird from brining to smoking, but that’s to come when I start it tomorrow. But for now as a reminder to all you Canadians out there with BBQs, you can do your bird outside. Dust the snow and ice of the grill, get out your camping stove, and make the lady at the convenience store look at you funny when you ask if they have any charcoal while everyone else is buying salt! Make this Christmas the year of the Q!

Now don’t be scared. Transform your thoughts of grilling on it. Think of your BBQ as an oven. After all, it’s a heating source.

Step 1:  Prep your bird as you would but leave out the dressing (stuffing). It’s better to do it separately.

Step 2:  Set-up your BBQ for offset cooking. Meaning if you have 2 burners, only light one of them, if you have 3, keep the center on off and light the outside ones. You want to set up a cooking environment that has no direct heat underneath the bird. Think about it. In your oven there is no direct heat source underneath the bird. Hot air circulates around it. This is what you’re doing outside.  If you’re using charcoal, place the lit coal to one side so none will be under the bird. (Note. You’ll have to add more to keep the temperature constant so have a way to light more to add to the coals and minimize the open lid time.)

Step 3:  Place a pan on the unlit area to catch the drippings. This gives you a drip pan.  Add water, wine, and whatever else you would place around the bird in the oven. This gives you the base for your gravy.

Step: 4  Bring your grill to the proper temperature (350 degrees f). An 8 to 12lb unstuffed bird should take between 3 to 4 hours cooking time. Time can vary by 30 minutes so have a thermometer ready to check internal temperature (165 degrees f). Place the bird breast side down over the drip pan.

Step: 5  Rotate your bird every 45 minutes or so to brown and cook evenly. Every grill will behave differently so pay attention and remember if you’re looking, you’re not cooking. Take some of the juices that have accumulated in the drip pan and baste. To minimize open lid time, you can create a secondary baste liquid of heated chicken stock with sautéed bacon and onions. Have it ready to go. So open the lid, turn the bird, baste the bird, and close the lid.

Step: 6  Pay attention and follow your bird’s path. Outdoor climate will affect the overall time but with patience you can create a Christmas turkey that will astound your family.

The classic French rules say that your cooked bird should stand as long as you cooked it for. I can’t do that but I will let my bird stand for at least 30 to 45 minutes after it’s out of the heat. Cover with tin foil and let the juices work their way back through the meat.  If you do this and don’t turn off your grill you’ll have plenty of time to cook your veggies, stuffing, and make your gravy on the BBQ. Remember the camping stove I mentioned? Why not use it too!

We’re Canadian folks! Don’t let a little thing like a power outage or an ice storm to make you resort to KD or cold-cuts for Christmas dinner. Take the lead, put on a sweater and get outside!

“Age seldom arrives smoothly or quickly. It’s more often a succession of jerks.” Jean Rhys

Jerk Chicken wings with Mango Hot SauHeat again? I’m afraid so! As I’ve said before it’s really not about the heat, although that’s fun, it’s about the flavor and the feeling released on your senses. Jerk is one of my favourites and always has been. There is a sweetness in the fiery goodness from the All Spice, cinnamon, and brown sugar that permeates the meat to another dimension.

Spicy and sweet has always been in my arsenal. There are plenty of ready-made dry rubs out there to make your life easier but there is nothing like creating your own concoction specific to your personal taste and it’s easy.

My wings were marinated in my own rub and moistened with a little vegetable oil to spread the karma of the Caribbean. Grilled over charcoal and served with a Scotch Bonnet and mango dipping sauce smoothed out with honey and yogurt excited the mouth.   On the side, Orzo and grilled vegetable salad with toasted tortilla strips for crunch.

You have to take bland out of the equation. Good meals with interesting twists and a flavour theme keep the creative juices flowing.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

“A hot dog at the ball park is better than steak at the Ritz.” Humphrey Bogart

Yesterday was a good day. Things happened, issues worked out, and the feeling in the air was happy. It wasn’t a prime rib or porterhouse day, more like a Salisbury steak day, which in the long run is satisfying and comforting. Like a meat hug.

So hitting the #BGE with my more than massive cast iron pan I thought why not switch it up a little bit. Salisbury meatballs in a onion sauce. Then the thought of what to serve them with?  We’ve all had baked potatoes with the works on top. You know chili, bacon and cheddar, broccoli and cheese, whatever. So my meatballs sat on a twice stuffed cheddar potato with the onion gravy ladled on top.

Ok decadent, maybe a little excessive, but my doctor is on holidays, and cholesterol level is surprisingly normal, so why not.

Veal, medium ground and a de-cased  pork sausage for a meat medley. Dehydrated onions, worcestershire, a little soya sauce, garlic and pepper with some bread crumbs to make my balls. I sautéed them in the cast iron over coal till they were browned and removed from the heat. The onion went in to clear added garlic beef stock with a slurry of corn starch to thicken the sauce. Then back in with the meatballs to finish cooking.

The potatoes were baked, scooped and mixed with cheddar and cream till and blended till smooth. Then back in the skins. Balls on top and sauce over everything!

Nice and comforting.

Salisbury meatballs! A different take on an old standard.

Be well and eat well.

Scott

Browned

Browned

Sauced

Sauced

Over the top

Over the top

“I want to be strapped to a table, while a family of chickens argues over who gets to eat my legs.” ― Jarod Kintz,

“If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee Lamb, And we can walk together down in Dixieland Down in Dixieland”. This is one of my favourite Little Feat songs. I didn’t do southern chicken, I did stuffed chicken legs!

I’ve been working on my butchering skills and have only seen this preparation a few times, so I thought, why not?

I had a house full of trolls and a whack of chicken legs. My usual got to is to wrap in bacon and smoke over hickory. Tonight I wanted to try something different. My attack plan was simple, if I can get the first leg deboned, I can do it! Honestly, it was simpler than I thought. Creating these little poultry packs of heaven is something I will definitely go back to.

The fridge and the pantry had genoa, bocconcini, chèvre, tomatoes, and spaghettini. So let’s go Italian!

I blended the chèvre into a paste with garlic, red onion, and Italian seasoning. I placed a dollop of paste on a slice of genoa with a whole basil leaf and a slice of bocconcini. Rolled into a little cigar and then inserted it into the drumstick sealing the end with a toothpick. The outside was rubbed with olive oil and Italian seasoning. The little morsels of love were grilled on the cast iron until they were browned.

The meal was served with a tomato, red wine sauce tossed into the spaghettini.

Being able to take a bite without the bone there is a great experience. I’m thinking a bacon and cheddar stuffing next time!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Where's the bone!

Where’s the bone!

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” Paul Bryant

So thinking outside the kitchen, and in turn sacrificing one of my indoor cast iron pots I decided to make #beefstew on my #BGE #BigGreenEgg.   Incorporating smoke with the flavor of the beef and sauce was one of the best things I’ve ever attempted.

I marinated the beef in beer with fresh rosemary overnight. Patted dry, floured, seasoned, and seared in my cast iron over the fire with hickory smoking away below. Since I was using the Egg, I left the lid off the pot because closing the lid on the Egg had the same effect and allowed the smoke to permeate the flavor. I removed the beef and sautéed the onions in the juices from the beef and then reunited them with more beer and some beef stock. At the halfway mark I joined the union of flavours with peas, potatoes, and carrots. When we were about 15 minutes away from completion, I add my dumplings to cook in the broth.

The comments from the trolls that live with me? This is the best stew we’ve ever had. I have to say I’m really proud of this one. The hickory smoke add to the overall experience of the stew and mixed with the rosemary background in the meat gave it another dimension.

My pot will survive and is now destined for use on the #BGE all the time.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Beer marinated beef and rosemary

Beer marinated beef and rosemary

Everyone into the pool! You too dumplings!

Everyone into the pool! You too dumplings!

Pretty tasty stew!

Pretty tasty stew!

“Life is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have a half a one for breakfast.” Douglas Adams

So you sit and wait, and wait, and wait.  No matter how much of yourself you put into something and take a personal stake in it, it seems you always end up waiting for others to act. There seems to be this pause in the universe that puts a hold on things and makes you ponder your actions. What’s it for? Why can’t we just get on with things? What’s the hold up?

The rain in Toronto put a damper on my efforts to do a Lobster Mac on the grill. A little rain doesn’t usually hamper me but that was ridiculous. We’re still drying out! Needless to say the Mac went in the oven against my better judgment.

So I realize that I’ve been slow to post but once again life threw a wrench in my direction. No complaints just waiting for stuff to happen.

I’m still working on the presentation for Masterchef Canada? I have an idea and am working on a plan. The biggest question? Do I wear my kilt? Do I go for the spectacle? It’s 30 days till the audition and I’m in 2nd gear. 3rd and 4th gear are in hand but still to come.

The backyard has had a few meals go through it. Here are a few images of what’s happened on my deck.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Wet time, Summer in the City. My backyard grills get wet.... well wetter!

Wet time, Summer in the City. My backyard grills get wet…. well wetter!

Trying to get through that bottle of Maple flavoured Rye!

Trying to get through that bottle of Maple flavoured Rye!

Took it inside. I don't mind a little rain, but I look bad when I'm drenched!  Really bad!

Took it inside. I don’t mind a little rain, but I look bad when I’m drenched! Really bad!

Garam masala rubbed Mutton with curried rice

Garam masala rubbed Mutton with curried rice

“There’s no straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends” Harry Chapin

“There’s no straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends;

There’s no clear-cut beginnings;  And so far no dead-ends.”   Circle (Harry Chapin)

This lyric has permeated my mind for the past year. The way people and things from my past keep reoccurring in my life. Since I have had the last 12 months to analyze myself and the world, I have come to the conclusion that I’m happy. Things haven’t gone as planned. But whose do. You’re dealt cards that you have to try and make sense of. You plan your hand, and then someone pulls from the bottom of the deck. It’s not your fault how your hand plays out. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But the point is to stay at the table and handle your cards as best you can.

I started #TheArtisanalGrill as an outlet for my cooking and my thoughts.  Its growth has been organic. Simple quotes, alternative methods of cooking conventional meals, and twists on life and the world.

So now comes the next step; Last night I met with one of my high school English teachers. Neil is the Editor of The Bluffs Advocate, a local community newspaper in south east Toronto. We’ve had discussions over the past month regarding me contributing a BBQ piece for the summer edition.  Exciting, yes, scary, yes, fun, absolutely!

The images below are from the Official Launch Party they held @DoraKeogh last night.  Music, beer, and laughs filled the popular Irish pub.

Back to talking about food!

Tonight; Meatloaf on the BGE

Be well and eat well

Scott

Dora Keogh

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Neil Walker and Jim McQueen

Medicine Line

Medicine Line

Medicine LineParty people

The Griller and his lady

The Griller and his lady

 

 

“The mere thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.” Douglas Adams

You try, you do, and you hope that someone is listening or at least paying attention. Then you realize that you are the only one doing it and everyone else is on a cerebral vacation from reality. Life is funny, but someone has to be serious. Never thought it would be me?

Burgers are the combination of effort, taste, and love. Buying a frozen ready-made patty and throwing it on an assembly line bun is not a burger. That’s why the condiment companies make so much money. People try and hide the flavor.

My favourite go to burger is a mixture of lean ground beef and Italian sausage. The pork and the seasoning bring a new taste and adds some juiciness to the burger. You definitely need a napkin with them. Grilled mushrooms, red pepper, crisped pancetta, and some melted Havarti topped them off.

The burgers were plated with a warm potato and radish salad with a yogurt and Dijon base, sweetened with honey.

It takes only a few minute more to go artisanal than mass produced. It’s worth it!

I have 2 friends for dinner tomorrow night so the BGE will be smoking.

Be well and eat well

Scott

When the meat hits the grill like a big dollar bill...That's amore. OK, I tried.

When the meat hits the grill like a big dollar bill…That’s amore. OK, I tried.