It’s BBQ season somewhere in the world, although in our household with a Canadian holding the bbq tongs, the season is 365 days long. Rain or shine, the guy wants to BBQ.
There’s nothing quite like it; hot day, sun shining, slab of something sizzling (often burnt) on the “Q”, outdoor dining, mosquito repellant and too much beer or wine.
Ah yes summer, gotta love it; no -20°, snow and digging out the barbie, although in some parts of the world that is summer. Get your BBQ on!
In recent years the “Q” season has been a short, wet and rather painful experience but I am ever hopeful that summer will return and dammit we will “Q”. I have even installed a waterproof gazebo over our table so that we can still eat outside despite the rain. Umbrellas provided, bring your own raincoat, I’m committed!
Not content with the norm and true to my culinary roots we have 2 “Q’s”. We have a regular every day grill that runs off propane gas and a smoker bbq that uses charcoal and wood in a smoker box to create it’s heat and flavour.
The gas grill, slated by bbq perfectionists, is efficient and roomy allowing us to cook without the time restraints of having to wait for the charcoals to be at the right temperature. It’s quick, clean and the grills can be regulated easily. It’s also huge which for my purposes does make a difference!
The smoker “Q” requires a bit of skill to get the best results. It’s a process; cooking times are long and it’s laborious but when you get it right the results are incredible. You can use cheaper cuts of meat that benefit from the longer cooking times and experiment with brines, marinades and rubs. Not to mention the smell of the smoker chuffing away during the afternoon that makes everyone’s mouths water. I feel like a true “Qer” when that thing is running.
Think pork shoulder marinated in brine overnight then rubbed with your favourite bbq seasoning and slowly smoked for 6 hours with charcoal and hickory. The result, when right, will rival any smoke shack or bbq restaurant.
It doesn’t just have to be meat on the smoker, which also functions as a normal bbq. I’ve cooked fish, whole chickens and all sorts of veggies on it but like I said, there’s a learning curve, so if you’re thinking about getting one bare that in mind. They are a lot of fun and totally add to the “Q”ing experience for those that are looking for something more than just a grill. The internet, as always, is a great source of information on how to use them and there are a bunch of sites dedicated to the art of using smoker bbq’s.
When planning libations for your “Q” there are a few things to think about. Although if you ask my husband it’s pretty simple, drink beer, lots of it, end of conversation.
There are no hard and fast rules about what to drink with bbq’d foods but remember if it’s wine you are looking for, not all wine will stand up to a “Q” – specifically charcoal and spice. If it’s beer, think the same thing.
Think about breaking “Q’s” down into Before and During when finding alcoholic refreshments for guests. I won’t talk about non-alcoholic refreshments here other that to say keep it light, refreshing and maybe sparkling.
When everyone’s sitting around socialising and waiting for the food to be cooked. Think in terms of fresh, crisp and light, not something that will fill everyone up or kill their palates but something that will lighten the tone and be refreshing in the (hopefully) hot weather. For beer think, light lagers or lagers with lime or lemon and for wine, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, dry Chenin Blanc and light rosés.
Of course there’s always fizz which no one should ever be without, both rosé style and regular. If Champagne is your thing leave the vintage stuff for later and drink the lighter “everyday” Champagne. My favie bbq fizz is Italian Prosecco, it’s great value and fun to drink when you can’t afford Champagne.
For beers, go for regular tasting, no fruit lagers, pilsners or darker beers depending on what your preference is and what you are eating. The heavier the meat, the heavier the beer although be careful with hot spice as some darker beers don’t do so well with that.
Remember that some wines just won’t stand up charred meat; their fruit may be too delicate and will be lost by the harsh flavours. If you like hot spices remember that some wines can also be overpowered by spice so stay with the fruitier numbers like Riesling.
If you like bigger bolder wines then Shiraz and Malbec are a good place to start for meats. If you can find a sparkling Shiraz try it, you will be surprised how well it works.
Chilled reds also work at a “Q” as they are refreshing and really easy to drink. Try Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo, Grenache or Carignan, they are all great in their own right and will work with almost anything.
If you are a white wine person (which I am, although to be honest I’m an “any wine” person) try something oaky like an Aussie Chardonnay for meats and something lighter for fish, veggies and chicken such as a Pouilly Fumé or if you can find one a Sauvignon blanc that has been lightly aged in oak.
Keep in mind that “Q’s” are supposed to be fun places; both the food and wine should not to be taken too seriously so find something to drink that will mirror that. Why spend good money on big label wine and not be able to taste it because of the heat or the spice. Leave the expensive stuff for another time when you can enjoy everything it has to offer.
As for the “Q”, it’s the simplest form of cooking. Heat from charcoal (or gas) and food = good times and great memories (even if the food was burnt).
So, go get your BBQ on and enjoy!