Monday, 29 June 2009

Ottawa Ribfest 2009 - Rib-Chicken Reviews

I had very mixed feelings about the event overall. I had read negative press from Ottawa Citizen food editor Ron Eade who said "the travelling rib BBQ road show on Sparks St. is, well, a sham" & "the rib fest is just a travelling show to sell ribs. Chicken done in ovens, only finished on grill." In 2007 he worked behind the scenes and wrote about it, then re-wrote the same article again this year. It seemed like overkill attacking the event. It was a healthy dose of cynicism.





His main beef's as I saw them:


  1. While ribs are smoked, the membrane on the back is not removed due to volume of rib selling.
  2. Chicken is roasted in ovens and tossed onto the grill at the last minute.
  3. Propane is used to cook most of the meats with wood added for smoking or last minute grilling.
  4. Judging isn't professional: there's no how-to's, no criteria, and no drink prohibition to affect flavours.

So were these cursings substantiated or was this the rantings of a BBQ food snob? Let's get to the meat of the issue: the rib tasting.


Make that rib/chicken/pork tasting. We didn't have a lot of time, or money to do a broad sampling as my gang does normally in London. And we were also looking to try more than just pork ribs, as this was a 'Rib-Chicken' cook off. There were several crews that don't visit the Forest City, so narrowing down the list to choose to try was a bit easier. We hit 2 establishments, Camp 31 & Billy Bones BBQ, and got their rib-chicken-pulled pork combo and did some sharing.






CAMP 31
Camp31.com


I've heard a lot about this place and its ribs. And by place, mainly the restaurant in Paris Ontario. You might think, Paris Ontario can do good, Southern BBQ? Well they can, and that's because they are really from Alabama. AND they do some ribfest circuits as well.




By far they had the best looking outfit - with smirking pigs, warning signs, wood motifs; they were a visually interesting booth.


Camp 31 was last years champs, which definitely caused big line-ups waiting for their product. Even when it was empty on Sparks Street on Saturday morning people were still flocking early. I was a little put off when I stopped by at 10:30 and asked what time they opened, and I got a snarky "11:30" by one of the crew. But at 10:55 people were lining up and being served. I got in line and waited for some well sauced meats. Their big feast is known as the "Tree Hugger Special."



RIBS:

The meat was tender, but not quite fall off the bone.


The sauce (the key to this event) was, well, blah. I mean the colour was a cherry red and looked like it would be sweet and bold. In fact, the pork meat flavour came through more than any smoking, sauce or spices.


Maybe the first batch is not the best, but from my sampling I could not understand why people were flocking here. I would much rather try the actually restaurant.



CHICKEN:


They gave the option of light or dark meat, and I went with dark thinking it would be full of flavour. I was wrong. The bird itself was mediocre at best. While it wasn't dried out, it wasn't moist either. Clearly baked and not smoked. The skin wasn't even crispy.


I watched them put the birds on the grill and they looked naked (no spice rub, or very little if any) and then mopped the sauce for the 2 minutes I was in line. So nothing really made its way into the bird.


The sauce was slightly dark and peppery. They used real tomatoes in the sauce (not just ketchup or paste) because you could see the seeds. But totally passable as a dish.



PULLED PORK:


When I saw them spooning the pulled pork into the take-out container, I thought to myself, don't you need to sauce it first? Then I realized it was sauced.


Very dry, and overwhelming pork flavour (I'm saying overwhelming, but I mean dominant). It was slightly sweet, but we boxed this up and sauced it ourselves as leftover sandwiches at home the next day.



BILLY BONES


I know next to nothing about these guys. No website, no info. I did find out via internet research they are from Ontario. What drew me to their booth was their win for best sauce, the delicious aroma from their truck, and the saucy ribs seen from out front.





They have a monster rig for smoking and cooking. And I liked the 50's style advertisements and re-pigged movie posters out front. There was no line up (but really, no one other than Camp 31 had a line up at that hour) and I had our second meal in my hands in seconds.




Their meal was the "Big Daddy Special." Clearly presentation was not important.




RIBS:


The meat was very tender and it came away easily from the bone. A smoke ring was much more noticeable on these ribs, but I didn't get a strong smoke flavour from these either.


The sauce was subtle, but slightly sweet, slightly peppery. But just slightly. For winning last years best sauce, I was really expecting something bolder.


CHICKEN:


This was a white meat piece, as I really wanted the wings. But the same problems that plagued Camp 31's chicken apply to Billy Bone's: baked chicken with little flavour. No crispy skin. As LJ said, "the chicken was a waste of time."


The chicken sauce was also slightly sweet (in a ketchup sweet way), but everything was so mute that it was really hard to judge personally.



PULLED PORK:


This was it, this was the gold mine. Saucy (if not oily). Moist. Tender. Good.


There was the positive flavour of the pork, but the sauce made a really nice balance. It was BBQ sugary sweet, but far from sickly so, and there was spice that kicked it up. Their pulled pork just melted in my mouth.



==============
CONCLUSIONS
=============

When it came to the event, I wasn't impressed. Sure it was an interesting outing, but it just wasn't that great. That's how the ribs also felt. Looking back at Mr Eade's comments, how do I feel now?



  • Because the event is JUST selling of meat, it wasn't that exciting (that sounds so crazy coming out of my mouth). So your food better be good. And it wasn't.

  • I've always known you can't go by the trophies because everyone seems to win somewhere sometime. There is no professional competition here.

  • The baked chicken is pointless. It's not BBQ, and it doesn't even get on the grill long enough to count.

  • The membrane dealie didn't bother me. The ribs are cooked for so long that you don't taste them, and their texture wasn't terrible. That's not to say I want them on, but it wasn't a deal clencher for me.


So I agree with Mr Eade and have to bow to his experience. People should be aware that this isn't all authentic 'Que. And it wasn't that fun an event to begin with. And the food we tried was really weak. And yet the people keep lining up. I know London's Ribfest may not be light-years ahead in terms of the event, but I just found the food on the whole to be much better there, but then again I have had the opportunity to try more vendors.


As a celebration of ribs and chicken, this was a failed event for me. Billy Bone's pulled pork on the other hand was definitely worth the visit. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a sourpuss or a hater walking around, but for LJ who had never been to such an event, I really had to explain that this was not the same experience for what me and my friends flock to every year. I feel sorry for Ottawaians, this is the best they can get.



Ottawa Ribfest 2009 Event Review

RESULTS OF THE JUDGING for 2009:

Best Chicken: Boss Hogs
Best Ribs: Camp 31
Best Sauce: Camp 31


Either the judging was a sham, or I didn't get the same ribs from Camp 31. Kudos to Boss Hogs, I like their work.

The Invitational International Chicken-Rib Cook-Off ~ Or OTTAWA RIBFEST 2009



International Competition Invitational Chicken-Rib Cook Off.
The International Chicken-Rib Cook Off.
Ottawa Ribfest.
2009.


Call it what you will, but to the office drones and BBQ devoid masses of Ottawa, it is the smell of pork and chicken and fire. There's lots to talk about, so I've broken my discussion into 2 sections: the event itself, and my tasting reviews.








Being exiled in Ottawa, this was going to be a ribfest for just LJ & Me. I wasn't in the Capital last year to go to this event, but experience at London's Ribfest prepared me. Or so I thought.


Lets get the basic details down before I get too far into observations and comments.

For simplicity, I will refer to the event as Ottawa Ribfest, as OICRCO is too much and ORF is too ridiculous.


Every year the event takes place on Sparks Street, a pedestrian outdoor mall just South of the Parliament Buildings. In 2009 it went from Wednesday June 24-Sunday June 28th, from about 11am until Ribs run out about 7 pm-ish. That is all the information that the Sparks Street website advertises for the event (and the time period I got from calling and getting their answering machine).

9 teams 'competed' in the event:

  • Bibbs BBQ
  • Boss Hogs
  • Uncle Sam
  • Camp 31
  • Silver Bullet BBQ
  • Billy Bones
  • Gator BBQ
  • Blazin BBQ
  • Texas Outlaws

Unfortunately some stands were isolated on the far left or far right from the 'main' action. I didn't even get down to Bibbs or Boss Hoggs neck of the woods.



Map found by someone on Red Flag Deals who found it somewhere on the net



Unlike other Ribfests, this Spark's Street affair is not attached to any charity. So the price of this event feels very steep. Unlike London's, there isn't a central menu, although all the stands are relatively standardized:



$20 for a full rack
$13 for a half rack
$9 for a third rack
$10 for a half chicken
$15 for a ribs+chicken combo
$20 for a ribs+chicken+ pulled pork combo

$6 for a pulled-pork sandwich
$2 for beans, potatoes






Most of these are part of the traveling ribfest circuit across the province, and makes it over to my very own London Ribfest.




We went first thing Saturday morning to beat the crowds. Where the London event is mostly a weekend thing, Ottawa's Ribfest is a huge weekday deal. Sparks Street is at the peak of the business district, and apparently the office workers fill the streets at lunch trying to get some ribs. One guy reported waiting 45 minutes in long lines to get food!


Saturday morning wasn't dead, but it wasn't alive either. At 10:30 the booths were still setting up, and the various BBQ pit crews looked like they were waking up at 5:30 am instead of close to noon.


I'm sorry, but I have to go back to compare it to London again. Unlike Victoria Park where the Forrest City's event occurs with stages, vendors and other activities, Spark Street is pretty bare. There just isn't much room for anything. Well, there was room for a horse and buggy.


There were about 10 picnic tables for people to sit at (about 1 per booth) however some of the restaurant patio's do open their seating to Ribfesters if they purchase a drink. I also didn't see anywhere to buy drinks (pop or alcohol) other than the permanent establishments, and a single lemonade stand.






I saw 1 port-a-potty, but there were a bank of hand washing stations. And while the event does not contribute to a charity, the Ottawa Children's Wish Foundation sell wetnaps to stained grub grabbers, calling themselves "The Sticky Fingers Brigade."





While we were eating, PETA showed up protesting eating pigs. This huge protest was 3 teenage girls and an older woman, all quite shy, with one coming up to our table and meekly asking if we would like a free magazine. We took it, and I will talk about PETA's contributions in a later post.





As we were leaving the event, the Dr Pepper truck showed up. They were unloading and just before we walked by I lamented to LJ how I wish they had showed up earlier. Just then the female customer rep turned around from the back of the truck and cheerfully asked "would you like a free Dr Pepper?". Would I ever! It wasn't cold (it was right on top, the rest were nestled in ice) but it was free, and Dr Pepper.




Wait, what about the food? Well, I'm going to write about that in the next post. Let down I know.




OTTAWA RIBFEST 2009 CONCLUSIONS


Well, lots of Ottawians flock for the taste of meat, but like the experience of many eateries in the capital, people just don't seem to know what the good stuff can be.


Here are some things that need to be improved:



  • Better advertisement! I only heard about this through word of mouth
  • The Sparks Street website needs WAAAAAAAY more info. Who's there, when is the event, when is judging, what are prices - so much to improve on.
  • More tables. 10 picnic table for hundreds to possibly thousands is not enough.
  • Maybe it was just early on a Saturday, but some buskers or some sort of entertainment would be nice.
  • Compost would also have been nice too.
  • Keep all the vendors closer together so that no one is left sepperated from the end.

Here are some things that were done well:



  • Ok you don't have much space, so kudos on the 1 bathroom and 1 bank of hand washing stations.
  • Enviro friendly take-out containers. No more Styrofoam is a good thing.



So I wasn't really impressed with the 'event' itself. Maybe I missed some info about things going on, but it didn't feel like an important event I would go out of my way to go to in the future. And the fact that there was no charity attached made it seem like a bigger rip off. Also, calling it an 'invitational international' makes it sound like a professional event, but it is not. Really it was pretty ho-hum event. But the masses love it, and its good for the area. I guess.




Thursday, 25 June 2009

RECIPE - Bobby Flay's Chicken Wings with Red Hot Honey Glaze and Blue Cheese-Celery Dipping Sauce

Food Network on my radar again. But I'll be honest, I'm feeling pretty lazy on this post. Bobby Flay was grilling on his envious patio, making pub food. It was Boy Meets Grill, and I wasn't too keen on watching, but again I heard the word "wings" and was glued.





Chicken Wings with Red Hot Honey Glaze and Blue Cheese-Celery Dipping Sauce
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2007


Ingredients

For the wings:

  • 1 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 chicken wings, tips removed

For the blue cheese-celery dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (recommended: Cabrales)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


For the wings:
Directions
  1. Heat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the hot sauce, honey and butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture comes together, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the sauce in a bowl and keep the remaining sauce in the pan, warm over low heat.
  3. Season the wings on both sides with the salt and pepper. Brush the wings with the reserved sauce in the bowl and place on the grill. Grill on each side for 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove wings from the grill and toss with the warm hot sauce. Transfer to a platter and serve with the blue cheese sauce on the side for dipping.

For the blue cheese-celery dipping sauce:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.



Nothing new or two exciting here. Grilled wings painted in hot sauce, then tossed in hot sauce. I really don't have much to say about these.
Go over to Nibble Me This, he made way better looking wings.

Monday, 22 June 2009

THE JAMES STREET PUB ~ Ottawa, On

I'm a fairly forgiving person. Sure I have an enemies list (who doesn't?), but when it comes down to it, I generally believe in giving people a second chance. And restaurants are not exempt from this personal rule.





Way back in 2007 (wow how time flies) I didn't do an official review of The James Street Pub (JSP), but I did a rant because I did not have a good experience. Here's the problems I had:




  • The Internet and various websites told me that the place was called The James Street Feed Company, and that wing night was the night I went, when it wasn't. This is not the restaurants fault, I blame websites that didn't update their info.

  • The wings were small and expensive.

  • The hot wings were weak in flavour and heat.

  • My waitress was a bitch.


That's right, I was not happy with her because:



  • She kept calling me "Sir." Not in a respectful way, but in a snide, mocking way. She didn't do this with other customers.

  • She lied to me about the Pop: I asked for a Coke. She brought me a Pepsi. I don't mind drinking Pepsi, but if I had ordered a Labatts Blue, you wouldn't bring me a Bud.

  • She was not attentive, and was busy socializing with other staff instead of costumers.

  • She did not bring me the side of sauce I requested. Nor a second beverage.


That really poisoned my experience there. On restaurant review sites and even when you talk to people, one bad experience will ruin a place. An anonymous commenter disagreed with me on the wings and on putting down the restaurant. Well despite me saying "terrible service, expensive/tiny wings, I would NOT recommend this place to anyone " I was willing to go back and see if I had just hit a bad waitress that soured me on the whole experience.





I can't start over, as a fresh review. I was on guard for everything that might prove to be a negative experience. Unfortunately, that meant JSP was going to have to work hard to win me over.




The James Street Pub was originally called The James Street Feed Company, until it was bought by the Ottawa franchisee known as the Irish Village and re branded JSP in 2007, just before I visited there. But even to this day sites like restaurantica and yelp still refer to it as the previous establishment.



The JSP is now a sports pub, boasting the biggest patio on Bank street (they sit at the intersection of Bank and James). Unfortunately for them, construction has torn up Bank Street, making it vehicle inaccessible, and what view one would normally have from the patio is just ditch, dirt and fencing. That didn't stop the neighbourhood, who filled the outside completely, forcing this reviewer indoors.





I also have something to confess: I wasn't just coming back to re-review the pub. I'm a sucker for AYCE wings, and this was AYCE Monday night for $10. How can you turn that up? Or more importantly, how can I?

Inside the place is unremarkable. Flat screens showings Sportsnet, sports jerseys in frames, and booths. Inside was pretty empty, and I was sat in a booth near the corner. Shortly I was joined by Allie, my waitress. This was going to be the true test: what kind of service was I going to get?

Well, the best darned service one could get, that's what. Allie was fabulous. First, she asked if I was there for the wings (good guess, but everyone that sat in earshot of me also got AYCE wings). She passed the first test, she was friendly. Then she took my drink order; "A Coke?" I asked. "We have Pepsi, is that alright?" Perfect. She understands the importance of correct drink identification.


When she came back, she went over the 'rules' of AYCE, the wings and any other questions I had. Drinks were not free refills (at least not on wing night) but she was more than willing to oblige me for refill requests. At the end of my meal she even brought me water to cleanse my palate! Within 5 minutes of ordering, without exaggerating, my first order of wings arrived.


The AYCE special is $10 with a drink purchase. The first order is 20 wings, no splitting, and after that each order is 10 wings. Sauces cannot be split, but you can combine sauces (like hot and bbq, or Cajun dusted and 911).


You are also offered your choice of dipping sauce. That's right, a bar in Ottawa where you have the choice of Bleu Cheese, Ranch or Sour Cream. I really should have asked what people picked most often to see if Ottawaians really choose sour cream, or if they are just ignorant to chicken wing tradition.



The quality of the wings really fluctuated throughout the orders, and I will go into specifics with each of my 3 sauced orders. Some wings were small (most of them), but some were medium. They were all pretty meaty wings though, which was good. But I'm pretty sure they are frozen stock, which is bad. I also think that they were cooking wings in big batches and keeping them warm until served.

HOT

The hot came out and they looked good. Small but they glistened with sauce. 20 small wings piled up look good and I dove right in. But I was not impressed. This chicken batch was soggy. There was some crispy wings, but I really think the hot wings had been sitting in a tray and just dished out.



The hot was not hot at all. I had a hard time trying to identify what kind of sauce it was, but the spice flavours were really weak. The sourness of vinegar in the sauce was there, but it wasn't really there either. Get it? I actually ate a lot of wings dipped in bleu cheese, and I rarely dip my wings. Hot was a definite pass. And I had 20 to eat through.




911

My second order. These wings came out hot and crispy. Like they were made fresh to order. But they were on the border of being over fried. I asked Allie if the 911 sauce was just hot that was spicier, or if it was its own sauce. She said it was made in house and was, she assured, HOT. Homemade suicide can be good, but it can also be bad. When they arrived at my table, the smell made me turn up my nose, repulsed. I was not going to like these.

But I was wrong.

Another waitress brought me the wings, and this is what she said: "you ordered the suicide wings? Here they are, you are crazy, and enjoy!" I laughed because she slipped in the crazy comment that someone else might have missed. After taking a few photos (the lighting in this place made photos very hard) I had my first wing, but no heat. I was disappointed. Allie came by and asked how I was doing and was surprised to see me not suffering. But wing after wing, the heat really kicked in.

It was a slow dry burn. It started in the back of my throat. Then the mouth. My nose started to run just a little. My heart had little spikes of flames. My lips felt like pins and needles. I needed a drink. This was good stuff!

I could see chili flakes, and detect cayenne pepper. But the only secret I could get out of Allie in its recipe was Dave's Insanity Sauce, which has about a 180 000 Scoville rating. I felt this heat for a while, and it is clear I am a bit out of practice with spice because I had to reach for my drink several times.


Guinness BBQ

There were two BBQ sauces to choose from, and I didn't know which way to go. Guinness sounded more interesting, but I have had many bad experiences with alcohol based bbq sauces. I asked Allie what the difference was and her recommendation. She said the Guinness BBQ had a smoked hickory flavour to it. So that's what I got.


This was a very mild sauce. And the hickory smoke? Well that was just liquid smoke dumped in. It wasn't bad, but I wonder if the difference between the two sauces was just adding the smoked additive.



FINAL SCORE:

Well, my experience with Allie as an excellent waitress definitely affected my feelings on the place. She made my time there and changed me around on the place itself.
The wings on the other hand were nothing special. I hope that the small and colder wings were the result of wing night, rather than the usual product. But they have a top notch suicide.
5/10


The James Street Pub
390 Bank St, Ottawa, On
irishvillage.ca/james

Friday, 19 June 2009

Unwrapped - "Full of Flavor" ~ CWOS review



Another exciting edition of the Chicken Wings on Screen!






If I'm home on weekday, I usually have the Food Network (Canada) on. A lot of the time its just background noise depending on the show. Unwrapped is one of those shows. Several years ago I did a post on an episode of Marc Summers show, the precursor to CWOS. Well today while I was doing some cleaning, the word "Buffalo" and "Hot Wing" came up on Unwrapped, and I dropped everything and headed to the screen. The episode was "Full of Flavor" which is pretty self explanatory.



In the U.S. there's a popcorn company called Dale & Thomas Popcorn and according to the episode, they have, possibly the world's first popcorn chef working for them: Ed Doyle. He created a popcorn flavour known as "Buffalo Dale's Hot Wing Popcorn." Now chicken wing popcorn is nothing new to the Wing King (see Kernals review), but Dale did some interesting research:





A few observations from the above video from the Dale & Thomas website:

Take 1: A hot wing, not a Buffalo Wing (you can tell from the breading).

Take 7: Um, that's not a wing at all. That's why you might be having some trouble.

Take 15: See, we have the same problem. That's not a wing.

Take 23: Correct me if I'm wrong, but your standing in front of Cheers. Cheers is in Boston. Does Boston know how to make good wings? Did Cheers ever serve food, let alone wings? To be fair, you, Chef Ed, did say "finally, the real taste of Buffalo Wings" but it helps if you actually try Buffalo Wings. Cute video though. But it makes me question if your popcorn actually captures the right flavour.


But let's see how you do it:









  • ED: "Very secret Buffalo Spices" - I want to know the secret
  • ED: "Different chilies; We use vinegar in there; Some garlic." - oh, thanks for the secret. Good flavours in there so far.
  • Marc adds "And what are hot wings, without the blue cheese?" - that's right. Ottawa, pay attention. Blue Cheese, not sour cream.
  • ED: "We make it with real blue cheese" - Good.
  • Then they combine the two flavours together so you get Hot Wing and Blue Cheese.
  • ED: "We've been trying to figure out how to get celery in there, but you know, we haven't got that quite yet" - Liar. I don't think you have. I would try celery salt.


So despite my jests, this looks really tasty. And I would love to try it.


Oh wait, I can't.


Why?



Baaahhhh! On vacation? You tell that SOB flavour to get back to work! And no I won't enjoy Blue Ribbon Chili and Sour Cream instead. This is Lord of the Wings, not Lord of the Chili and Sour Cream Popcorn! That's way too long to put as a blog name.

Oh well, it was interesting videos anyway. Now I'm hungry for chicken wing popcorn. Or just chicken wings. Or even popcorn. Damn you Food Network, always makin' me hungry.


Click HERE for more Chicken Wings on Screen Reviews.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Getting better @ Que: Husker Chicken and Sweet Potato Coins

Oh man, I am loving 2009, culinarily speaking. Why? Cooking on the BBQ Pit. Yes, I cooked on the grill last year when I first arrived to Ottawa, but this year is different. My education is booming.





I grew up with my Pa' cooking on a gas grill, with Kraft sauces and calling that BBQ. It was good, but I didn't know better. Then I lived in downtown Toronto with no grilling access. When I arrived in O-Town, I finally could cook with charcoal on my own. I learned from the Food Network and trial and error. Oh man there were trials and tribulations. But things got better.

This year, I've been following 'real people'. DivaQ, Chris @ Nibble Me This, and most recently JB to name a few. I learned that its not just about heat and cooking. And I've noticed a big change in my food lately. Last week I made what I call 'Husker' Chicken. Husker, for those not in the know, was the call sign for William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. I didn't name it in honour of him, but the flavour of the chicken was kind of, husky, smokey and had authority which reminded me of him.




Anyways, this chicken breast came out so good, it really made me reflect on the things that I have learned that made it taste so much better. And here's why, in bullet form:


  • When I was away for 3 weeks, LJ bought some Kingsford Charwood charcoal. I normally bought the cheapest briquettes because, well I was cheap. I can't go back. The Charwood is so much better and I prefer the smokey taste it creates compared to the old briquettes.
  • I stopped using lighter fluid and finally figured out how to successfully use my DIY Charcoal Chimney Starter. I have hot coals in a fraction of the time. Goodbye chemical heat.
  • I used a brine on the chicken breast. Last year I did not believe this really did anything. Now I know better. My brine was really weak on adding any flavour, but the breast meat was so moist I know it made a difference.
  • The Rub: nothing new here, but it was flavourful.
  • Understanding the heat: I can't control the heat on the BBQ pit (there's no vents, no lid, there's not even 4 walls) but I have learned how to use what I do have. The charcoal burns hot, so I put them on direct heat just to give a crisp to the skin and outside, then moved them to the outside of the grill to get away from the charcoal. This allowed the poultry to cook on indirect heat.
  • Sauce: It wasn't homemade exactly, but I combined a few condiment sauces with a spice mixture that made for a great taste.
  • Applying the Sauce: Done in the last staging of the grilling to prevent the sugars of the sauce from burning.
  • Resting: I can't help but do this, because we weren't eating on the patio, so the 5 minute trip after cleaning the grill, going through 2 sets of doors, an elevator ride, then getting the table ready means whatever I cook is going to rest and the juices redistribute.

This may seem simple and straightforward to some, but for me its all new. It is really simple when you think it all through and work the science into the art.

But enough philosophy, lets get to what you all came to see: Hard Core Chicken. I'm not really doing a recipe here, just showing some food porn.



Chicken breast bought on sale, bone in and skin on. They were put in a simple brine for about an hour or so. Then, hand rubbed in a wet rub for at least another hour. Then onto the grill.






Here the chicken is cooking with the 'in-direct' heat. Ok not really indirect, but you have to understand that I'm using a building public grill and I have to carry all my food and equipment every time I cook. The only tools provided is a grill scraper for cleaning. There is an abandoned small saw blade which is used to move the charcoal around. That's right, I have to use an abandoned saw blade to move the charcoal.



Fast forward in time to near the end of grilling and the applying of the BBQ Sauce. You can kind of see how the coals were scrapped to the far left to create the indirect heating.



I like taking pictures from below the grill. That is all.


That is just beautiful to me. I love saucy chicken.



The same.






Oh ya, I made some sweet potato coins. Just cut, tossed with salt and pepper and oil. They charred a little (others more so). See, very quickly, the charcoal burned hot. REALLY hot. It was so hot that my stomach started to burn. It was then I realized I had a slinky in the front pocket of my apron (long story) and it conducted the heat like an oven element. Wowzers. Anyway, I had problems flipping the coins and couldn't save them all.



The finished product. I started out with a fork and knife, but honestly, I abandoned that within a minute of sitting down and went for the hands. The only REAL way to eat chicken from the grill.


If you look at that picture, you can see flavour in many forms:
  1. The sauce itself
  2. The spices (see the little flecks?)
  3. The crispy skin


LJ really liked this too. She was really impressed how moist the white meat was, but that the skin was still crispy. Welcome to flavour country.




I'm not trying to say I'm an amazing cook or how awesome I am (you already know that :p) but I feel like I just got my first A of the season. This summer you will probably see most posts on grilling and BBQ as I learn more and want to share what I've learned.

Like my quest to educate people about Chicken Wings and the proper language, the general public here in Ontario (and elsewhere I'm sure) are uneducated to what BBQ means. The culinary zeitgeist, on TV, in print, on the Net seems to all be turning to the BBQ and I'm swept up in it, as best I can, with what I have.



To culinary truth!
Huzzah!
So Say We All!