Canadian BBQ specialties
“O Canada! Our home and native land! …of the BBQ.”
It goes something like that anyway.
With such a wide range of food specialties, distinctive ingredients, regional specialized harvests, and a broad cultural diversity, Canada has all the requirements needed to leave a mark on the industry and be home to its own BBQ classics.
United-States, Australia, Brazil. Those are the 3 countries that come to mind when you’re talking about BBQ. Each of them has had a tremendous impact on the rise of barbecuing in recent years.
While there’s a lot of runner-ups in line trying to secure a place at the table, Canada’s got rockets strapped on its back to be at the front of that line and has nothing to envy to its southern neighbor anymore. Am I right, or am I right, eh?
Without even thinking about it, you can already write down a list of different things that are Canadian must-haves: maple syrup, cheese curds, Nova Scotia’s lobsters, etc.
To take you around the country and expose you to everything that’s great about Canada, here’s a list of my most favorite BBQ specialties and classics.
Maple Syrup and Bourbon Baby Back Ribs
Meat is meat. What makes it a regional specialty is what you do with it. I can promise you, however, that these baby back ribs will seduce you right away as they are pretty much “maple everything”.
Smoked low and slow with sugar maple wood, you can pull these using the 3-2-1 method. After the 3 hours mark, coat these ribs with some butter, maple syrup, and House of BBQ Experts’ Maple Bourbon BBQ sauce and add another layer of sauce at the very end to turn these into finger-licking, fall off the bone, candy-coated, baby back ribs.
Mustard and Maple Glazed Double Smoked Ham
Double smoked ham is a common holiday classic. Usually made using brown sugar, the Canadian version replaces its key ingredient with maple syrup and brings out a deep tangy touch with the addition of mustard.
In order to make a nice double smoked ham, the stickier, the better.
Slicing up a bone-in ham in a spiral motion will allow you to create a lot of surface area to play with. Once that’s done, rub the ham slices with some S.J.B.’s All-Purpose dry rub. This rub has a nice sweet and savory profile that will blend in well with the glaze later on.
When prepping a double smoked ham, the intent is to slowly braise the ham and add layers upon layers of flavor. The highlight will be coming from the glaze, which is the signature of the meal.
To create the glaze, I suggest mixing together maple syrup, corn syrup, House of BBQ Experts’ Colonel Mustard sauce, and a bit of S.J.B.’s All-Purpose dry rub. Using maple syrup alone would not work as the glaze would run too thin. By adding corn syrup as well, you are not altering the taste while ensuring that the glaze runs thick.
By the end of the cooking process, you’ll get a very glossy ham that will be rich, tender, juicy, and very flavorful. Serve it with a nice side of split pea soup, another Canadian classic, and you should be all set!
Maple and Soy Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon is always a BBQ classic, wherever you’re from.
What’s different about this Canadian version is the sweet and salty taste that comes from the perfectly balanced lacquer that it served with. This lacquer is a delicious combination of soy sauce and, you guessed it, maple syrup.
To get the full Canadian flavor, you must prepare the basting syrup 24 to 48 hours before the actual barbecuing session. Bring 1 cup of maple syrup to a slow simmer, add soy sauce, lemon juice, and some garlic, and let everything boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Let it cool down afterward.
For a quick and easy meal, using a multi-function topper, you can smoke a nice slab of salmon alongside asparagus in no time.
Montreal-Style Smoked Meat
Texas has its brisket, Canada’s got its Montreal-style smoked meat.
This signature meat slab is a big part of our Canadian BBQ heritage. Montreal-style smoked meat is a hybrid between corned beef and pastrami, using the entire brisket rather than just the flat.
What makes it stand out is its curing process, which sometimes will span up to 1 month, and its bold seasoning made with peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed, and garlic.
Making smoked meat is easier than it sounds, although it does require some time and effort. You can make your own at home in under 7 days using nitrates and other curing agents. Using a pellet grill will also help you get more consistent results and ease the smoking process. Believe me, after 7 to 10 days of work, you’ll be looking at any options to get perfect results without any more hassle. The good news is, it’s all worth it.
Once the meat is ready, slice it thinly, throw it in a bun, and sauce it up with a nice coat of House of BBQ Experts’ Colonel Mustard sauce for a taste of home.
Pulled Pork Poutine
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that you can’t talk about Canadian food culture without talking about poutine. French fries, cheese curds, gravy, and pulled pork. What’s not to like, right, eh?
To piggyback on the previous item on our list, this is one of the best side dishes you can pair it up with if you’re looking to put together the most Canadian BBQ menu.
The catch here is to use a savory gravy for the fries and to add an extra layer of sauce on the pork, but this time, you will be using House of BBQ Experts’ Sweet Dream sauce. It will blend in perfectly with the rest of the dish and result in a fatty, sweet, and savory bite, every time.
Garlic Grilled Lobster
While Maine may come to mind if we’re talking about lobsters, Nova Scotia is Canada’s pride in this sector. Rather than traditionally boiling the lobsters for rolls, a good Canadian classic is to grill lobster tails for a very different taste and texture than what you’re used to.
Grilling lobster is nothing to be intimidated by. All you need to know is that you can’t grill it whole if you want everything to be perfectly cooked. Simply split its tail and crack the claws before throwing everything on the grill for about 8 minutes, or until the shell is starting to char up and the meat is firm and opaque. Using a brush, you can baste the tail and the claws with a mixture of melted butter, garlic, and House of BBQ Experts’ California spice mix and rub.
And… that’s it! Those are just some of my own personal favorites. The actual list could go on and on, but the takeaway from this is that Canada’s signature profile is a perfectly balanced maple-based sweetness, with a nice touch of smoke and salt on fatty, yet hearty, meals.
Canadian BBQ specialties draw the best out of Kansas-style BBQ, but with a sweeter touch, all while staying somewhat distinguishable from those coming from other countries by the quality of the key ingredients in their recipes.