Monday, May 25, 2015

Guide to light summer fare on the BBQ: Part 1

No one likes a massive meat fest more then the guys at Smoke Salt and Fire, but every meal can't be gigantic steaks and whole pigs, sometimes you just feel like something a little lighter. Whether you need a quick lunch or a light summer supper on the barbecue your first stop should be your local butchers shop or meat counter. Most butcher offer all kinds of fantastic light summer options.
Hot Macedonian Sausage with olives, feta, green onions and Bordeaux mustard 
Sausages are a summer favorite, with classics like brats and hot Italian available in most grocery stores, but your butcher may  be able to offer you some more creative options.  In the past few weeks our butchers have set us up with wild boar sausage, spicy chorizo sausage and hot Macedonian sausage and we didn't even have to say pretty please.
Of course just having great sausage doesn't make the meal, you have to dress them up. Let's start with the bun, first off stay away from standard grocery store hot dog buns if at all possible, I mean your not a kid anymore, get an adult bun. Head over to your grocery store bakery section, or even better your local bakery, and see if they have something a little better. Recently we picked up some amazing baguette buns at our local bakery, but we've wrapped beautiful sausage in everything from croissants to naan.
Now you're going to need some toppings, get creative here, we went mostly Mediterranean with the toppings for our Macedonian sausage, but then we threw in a Bordeaux mustard twist. We went a completely different direction with our Chorizo, pairing it with some red wine cheddar, an Old Smokey mustard and cilantro. The point is to get creative and make something fun.
Chorizo sausage, on baguette bun.
Burgers and Sliders
Burgers and their smaller cousins sliders are another great summer favorite that's easy to get creative with. Let's start with the meat, first of all you don't need pre-formed frozen patties, making a hamburger patty is the easiest thing in the world, if you ever used Play-doh as a kid you already know the technique. Anybody can make burgers or sliders using grocery store ground beef, but if you want something really special why not ask your butcher to grind some of your favorite cut of beef for you, at SS & F we tend to go for a mix of chuck and brisket, but skirt, flap, rump, short rib and even oxtail can be ground for delicious burgers.
Sliders with a chuck/rump mix by chef Dominic
Kangaroo on top emu on the bottom
Of course you don't have to use beef at all, ground pork, lamb or chicken can also be used for burgers and sliders or you can get even more creative, not long ago Dominic graced us with some fantastic kangaroo and emu sliders. If you have access to it game meat can be another great option for burgers, I've had the opportunity to try, moose, venison and wild duck burgers and they were all fantastic. 
Now for the bun and toppings, as with hot dog buns grocery store burger buns tend to suck so be prepared to get creative bun wise. Kaisers are a great option for burgers, they tend to have more substance and flavour then grocery store burger buns. An even more fun option can be cheese and/or onion buns from your grocery store bakery department or local bakery.  If you don't mind you burger patty hanging out a bit around the edges croissants can be another flakey, buttery delicious bun option for burgers. There are bun options for sliders to, the bakery near me does some fantastic Italian dinner rolls, or why not combined the best parts of breakfast and dinner by serving up some sliders on english muffins? This breakfast staple is excellent for soaking up all that yummy meat juice from a nice juicy slider. 
At Smoke Salt and Fire we believe great cheese is almost a necessity on an amazing burger. While it's important not to feel limited in the types of cheese you can use we recommend staying away from processed cheese slices unless you're specifically going for a very old style burger. That said there are literally hundreds of amazing cheese options, if you want to keep it classic you can go with an old cheddar or a nice jack, but there are other ways to go to. Blue cheeses can be a nice option that often gets overlooked for burgers, Stilton is my personal favorite for burgers. Smoke mozzarella is also great on burgers and a bit out of the ordinary or why not try the mix of gruyere and parmigiano Dominic uses for his sliders.
 Another favorite way to dress up a burger is with bacon, why not see if your butcher has something special put aside bacon wise or even better make up a batch of your own bacon, we have great recipe for red wine bacon or go all out and make you own "King Bacon" to put on your burgers.  
Any way you slice it these barbecue ideas should help to heat up your summer barbecues. Keep and eye out for part 2 of our light summer barbecue guide coming soon, when we'll be looking at how to spice up some more summer barbecue favorites.

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