Some of my favourite summer memories are of the big cook outs my Dad used to have for the neighbourhood; albeit living in the country the neighbours were really anyone within a few kilometer radius. My father is famous in these parts for his chicken rub which has clad not only your average bird, but on a few occasions, a turkey or two. Those hens would be lined up on a local farmer’s outdoor rotisserie unit, customized to fit about 20 birds. Most of us couldn’t resist but to check in periodically to see how close they were to being done, in anticipation of the crispy salty bites of skin, fresh and hot off the coals. The flavour of the outdoor rotisserie chicken in combination with his secret spice was something to not only taste, but dream about.
Luckily our family did not have to always wait for a big get-together, our small rotisserie barbecue was just the right size for two small chickens. We were one of those families that barbecued year-round, dusting off the snow when required, and using it almost daily throughout the summer. And when it came to cooking, my Mom could take it or leave it, so it was usually my Dad and I ‘manning’ the grill. I soon learned that it was important to bring the grill heat up to a high temperature to sear the meat, and that closing the lid helped to retain that heat. I was also instructed to never salt steaks too early as it can dry out the meat and, of course, to let it ‘rest’ before slicing and serving.
Over the years I have come up with my own preferences for grilling and, of course, these always lead to heated, but friendly ‘debates’ with my father. Each year, celebrating my small claim to fame of having two children born on the same date two years apart, at my son and daughter’s annual birthday cook out, we’d have an annual sausage debate! I have been ordering mine with onion from the butcher for the past 15 years, yet he still tries to convince me that his original recipe with garlic is better. This question is usually followed by the discussion of whether or not his Broil King or my Weber reigns supreme!
Summer grilling brings together food, wine, family, friends and if you are looking for inspiration on what wines to enjoy this season look no further than your backyard. The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake bring it all together with the SIP AND SIZZLE touring pass to kick off the season. They are firing up the heat this May to grill up some tasty treats matched with their favourite barbecue wines. So get your grilling on by visiting wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com for information and tickets.
Niagara Flavours by Andrea Kaiser. Instagram @dreawine