Thursday, May 26, 2011

Montreal Grillfest

The people of Canada are extremely hospitable. They really like to roll out the red carpet for their guests, and that includes plenty of good food and excellent drink.

A Canadian will do anything to make someone feel right at home, even if that means allowing one of their guests to commandeer their backyard and convert it into a sprawling grilling pavilion.

When my boss (who is based in Montreal) asked me to orchestrate a couple of team-building cook-outs to add some fun to our multi-day strategy session, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately started thinking about menu items. After I shared my plans with my boss, he was so intrigued that he bought a new grill for the occasion.

Since I would be driving on this trip rather than flying, I told my boss that I would bring my pop-up canopy to shield us from the non-stop rain that was in forecast. In addition to my suitcase for the hotel and my laptop for business, I also packed my portable work table, an assortment of grilling tools, and other cook-out essentials.

My boss (shown with me in this picture) hosted the meetings at his house, which was super convenient for planning a cook-out. I arrived early on the first day so that we could set up the canopy and get our outdoor kitchen fully configured.

On the first night I made something basic to break in the new grill and become familiar with its cooking characteristics. To keep things simple we grilled up some fat, juicy burgers that I formed by hand only moments before throwing them on the grill. I applied just salt, pepper, and a kiss of Italian seasoning. They were so good that each of us ate two. Super delicious!

The following night's menu was a little more elaborate because we expected some more guests. I thought we should start things off with some stuffed jalapeños. My Canadian colleagues had never heard of this spicy item, so I knew they would be in for a treat. I decided to make a buffalo chicken-style filling because it's the best for first-timers.


I prepped and stuffed two dozen peppers and grilled them over medium-high indirect heat for about 50 minutes. Every single one of the guys was blown away by the taste, and they all agreed that these Mexican jalapeños paired quite well with Canadian beer. That's NAFTA in action!

We had a two-meat main course: marinated flank steak and Caribbean-style chicken.

The recipe for the incredibly awesome flank steak marinade was provided courtesy of my team member, Dwayne. It has ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a very special ingredient: just a touch of Galliano liqueur. The key element of the Caribbean chicken is a wet jerk seasoning that I smuggled over the border. I cooked up about 2.5kg of flank steak and 9 chicken breasts. Oh, man... these meats were delicious!!

I chargrilled some red bell peppers and red onions to accompany the flank steak and chicken, and we served up all the deliciousness on little ciabatta buns from Costco. (BTW, the Costco in Montreal was just like any Costco in the States, except that everything was in French.) I also prepared roasted potatoes with yellow onions and green peppers as a side dish (foil packets in the picture above).

The bottom line is that everyone was delighted by the food, and we had a grand time socializing in the backyard, drinking beers, and eating stuff right as it came off the grill. It's the way all parties should be.

Now I need to convince my boss to buy a smoker so that we can do some real BBQ the next time I visit. I would like to make some pulled pork – or porc effiloché – for my Canadian friends. Sounds like a good idea, eh?

No comments:

Post a Comment