Barbecuing removes many of the worst parts of cooking — the claustrophobic kitchen environment, the daunting number of pots and pans involved — and instead adds to the mix sunshine, shorts, and the ability to responsibly play with fire (which is really the ultimate superpower). You just fire up your grill, throw on a steak and fresh vegetables (reminder: it’s farmers’ market season, folks), then open the lid and gently poke things every now and then. In other words, laid-back bliss. If you’re feeling slightly more ambitious, stock the galvanized metal beer bucket, invite the neighbours over for dinner, and serve them one of our three outdoor grilling menus. We’ll leave finding the bad novelty apron up to you.
Embrace butterfly butchering to lay your chicken down flat and ensure even cooking.
1. Shear along both sides of the chicken’s backbone and remove it, then press down on the chicken’s sternum until you hear a crack. Marinate in a plastic bag with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper for 1 hour in the fridge.
2. Remove chicken from bag and rest at room temp for 30 min.
3. Cook chicken, skin side down, over med-high direct heat until seared. Flip and cover, cooking over indirect heat to an internal temp of 160 degrees F. Rest 15 min.
Technique to master: That aforementioned shearing business. Probably best to watch at least two YouTube demos — and maybe a couple of Grey’s Anatomy reruns — first.
Advanced flavour move: Grill some olive oil-coated flatbreads as accompaniments.
A Spanish rice dish that adds rich saffron flavour to a combo of chicken, sausage, and seafood.
1. Stir pinch of saffron threads into 1 cup water, 3 cups chicken broth.
2. In olive-oiled pan over med-high heat, sauté then remove chicken, shrimp, chorizo (2 min each), onions, and red pepper (15 min).
3. Pour in stock mix, 1 can of diced tomatoes with a pinch of paprika, and 3 cups uncooked arborio rice; return meat and veg from before; add chopped parsley, garlic, and 1 cup frozen peas. Boil for 10 min. Add mussels, and cook until they open. Rest for 10 min.
Technique to master: Forming a crunchy socarrat rice crust on the bottom of the pan. The most common mistake: over-stirring your rice. Give that stuff a minute to chill!
Advanced flavour move: Grill some lemons to squeeze on top.
A Mexican street market classic that pairs perfectly with late-summer heat.
1. Coat lean cod, halibut, or mahi mahi fillets in olive oil. Sprinkle with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook over med-high heat for 4 min per side, until they flake easily with a fork.
2. Stir together 1/2 cup each of mayo and Greek yogurt with garlic and lime juice.
3. Grill corn tortillas and use as base to assemble tacos with fish, shaved cabbage, diced tomatoes and avocado, cojito cheese, mayo sauce, and hot sauce. (Our favourite: Heartbeat’s red harbernero.)
Technique to master: The assembly line. Building a taco is a DIY activity, so arrange an easy-to-navigate spread of all possible toppings. Find a colourful tablecloth. Instagrams will ensue.
Advanced flavour move: Grill some watermelon and pineapple for a salsa.
Meatheads can get pretty passionate about their preferred type of grill. But as far as we’re concerned, you can’t go wrong with any of the three models we’ve flagged here.
+ Better for slow cooking
– Ash can be messy
Our pick: Weber’s Summit Charcoal is a smoker-grill hybrid with gas ignition.
+ Fastest to heat up
– Less smoky flavour
Our pick: Broil King’s Imperial 590 has a rear rotisserie burner for up to three chickens.
+ Temp stays most consistent
– Not hot enough to sear
Our pick: Traeger’s Ironwood Series 885 adds taste by burning hardwood pellets.