Celebrate the holiday season with a five-course BBQ meal!
Once the holiday season starts, everything goes by really fast. You have to think of what to get your family and friends, find a time and date that suits everyone to gather on, and, of course, in cases like mine, figure out what you’ll be serving at the table. Whether your party is intimate or large, it is always good to be prepared and, as we all know, food always tastes better when it’s homemade.
This year, I will only be celebrating with my immediate family, but it is not because we are only a small number of people that our dinner should be simple and/or boring. Hence, I will treat my wife and kids to a five-course meal; and not only will my meal consist of five-courses, everything will be cooked on the BBQ!
I figured that many of you would also like to try their hand at a full-on BBQ menu, so here is all of the amazing food that I will be cooking, presented with simple how-to steps. Each of these courses, however, are there to serve as inspiration and are not detailed recipes. Feel free to adapt them all to your taste and to pair them with the ingredients of your choice.
To work up anyone’s appetite, there is nothing better than slices of smoked salmon! This first item on the menu needs to be tackled a few days ahead… Keep an eye on it once finished to make sure that you still have some to serve when time for THE dinner comes. It’s funny, sometimes food mysteriously disappears from my fridge, and I’ve been trying to know why for years… 😉
The first step of this recipe is to let your salmon marinate in the refrigerator in a brine that is half salt, half sugar for 24 hours. For the sweet part of the brine, a great combo that I like to do is mixing my brown sugar with a pinch of both the House of BBQ Experts’ Cake seasoning, and Montreal spice mix and rub; if you do not have these spice mixes handy, the House of BBQ Experts’ Sweet Kansas BBQ seasoning works as wonderfully. Once time is up, wash away the surplus of brine and rinse the fish. After that, all there is left to do is to smoke the salmon!
To do so, you must start by filling the pellet holder of your choice with enough pellets (House of BBQ Experts’ Cherry or Maple Wood Pellets are great options), to fulfill an 8-12 hour smoking session (all depending on how much you like the taste of smoke in your food), light it up, and once a few centimetres of the pellets have burned, blow the flame off to keep the smoke going. Once that is done, put your pellet holder onto your BBQ’s grate, and place the salmon next to it. Close your BBQ’s lid and let your BBQ work its magic for the duration of your smoking session. As an FYI, for a smoked salmon, 135 °F is the magic number to remember when it comes to internal temperature.
Finally, once your salmon is well-cooked, let it cool for a bit, and refrigerate it for another 24 hours. After that, it’ll be ready to eat; you’ll only need to cut it into thin slices before serving it.
Up next is the entrée. For this meal, I figured that the only way to top a grilled vegetable soup was to make it with vegetables grilled on the BBQ to infuse a bit of that fire flavour that we all know and love! As for the soup itself, you can use your favorite recipe, but here is how I suggest you grill the vegetables and blend them up:
Season your butternut squash with House of BBQ Experts’ California spice mix and rub and grill it on your BBQ in indirect heat for approximately 40 minutes, turning it around halfway through. Meanwhile the squash is being grilled, insert slices of bell peppers on the House of BBQ Experts’ Veggie Rack. After you’ve turned the squash around the first time, place the veggie rack in the BBQ and leave it to cook in indirect heat for the remaining 20 minutes.
Once the veggies are cooked to perfection, cut the squash into pieces and blend them up with the bell peppers to make a purée. In order to reduce the thickness of it all, dilute the purée with either chicken or vegetable broth until you get your desired consistency. To add a hint of sweetness to this dish, I recommend pouring a little bit of apple juice in the mix; it can help you out if you’ve got picky eaters at home. 😉
Lastly, if you want to add a little more flavour to your soup, you can add a spoonful of sour cream in the middle when it’s time to serve it. As simple as this trick is, it always makes my kids enjoy their soup even more; they even ask for a second serving!
In order to eat something a little different than the traditional holiday turkey, I chose duck magret instead as the star of the main course. The flesh of a duck breast is red, so when it comes to cooking, it is better to treat this protein the same way that you would cook red meats and not poultry. With its layer of fat, this is a perfect piece of meat to cook on the BBQ! Indeed, instead of removing the fat, it is better to make checkered incisions on it, all while trying not to touch the flesh, in order to make every bite of the duck magret tender and juicy.
Pair this meat with potatoes and asparagus grilled on the BBQ for a delicious main course that will leave you wanting some more. You can even squeeze out a bit of lemon juice over your asparagus and season them with the House of BBQ Experts’ Explorer spice mix and rub to add a little kick of flavor to their taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment… Both the House of BBQ Experts’ Jamaican Jerk and the New Delhi style spice mixes and rubs are also great ways to replace the salt seasoning on your potatoes, and make every bite interesting–your family will want to try out all of the different combinations possible!
Before dessert, a little snack is always welcomed, and I don’t recall anyone ever turning down a cheese platter, even less so if the cheese was melted! So for this second-to-last course, bring out your House of BBQ Experts’ Himalayan Salt Block, preheat it and let your brie melt over it until it is soft and a bit runny. To make this even more of a delicacy, sprinkle some cranberries and pecans on the top and drizzle the whole thing with maple syrup.
If your kids are saving their appetite for dessert, you can also treat yourself and try a few slices topped with the House of BBQ Experts’ Funky Chili sauce. With its lime undertaste and just a little heat, it’s a very interesting bite you don’t want to be missing on!
Whether you prefer to eat your piece of cheese as is, with or without sauce, or on top of a slice of baguette, this melted brie recipe is sure to always taste amazing!
Now for the grand finale, let’s go with a dessert that is close to the heart of many of us: a holiday Yule log cake! Yes, that is right, it is possible to bake a cake on the BBQ!
Although the thought of baking on the BBQ might be intimidating, it is really simple and this recipe is not complicated at all. However, to know more about this, you will need to stay tuned, as you will find all of the ingredients and steps of this recipe in my next article!
I hope that I was able to inspire you to get creative this holiday season and to give you more reasons (not that you need any ;)) to use your BBQ! What is fun too about cooking on the BBQ is that it always brings people together, so even if your party does not have a huge amount of guests, everyone will enjoy helping out and devouring all of the delicious food you’ll have cooked! There is also something magical about barbecuing outside when it is snowing during the holiday season that you just can’t replicate at any other time of the year… So, from my family to yours, I wish you all a happy holiday and BBQ season!