Monday, May 29, 2006

Tammy's BBQ IN A BAG

I just met one of my fans – a young woman named Tammy who lives here in Saskatoon. She wrote to my blog and we met for coffee. Since she loves to cook Saskatchewan foods, I thought it would be fun to share some of her recipes with everyone. Here is the first installment. I haven’t tried it yet – but I will as soon as it stops raining!

Tammy writes:
In my humble opinion, BBQ’ing the tender white flesh of the chicken breast produces those nice grill stripes, but an otherwise bland (and often dry) piece of meat. The ‘tin-foil bag’ method is an easy, tasty alternative, with the bonus of virtually no cleanup.

Use a generous length of tinfoil – a good arm’s length is best. Fold the foil back on itself, shiny side in, pinching the bottom and left edges up and in on themselves, a few times to create a seal. This will leave the opening at the top, and room for two to four chicken breasts, depending on how many vegetables you want to include. If you are feeding more than 4, create more than one bag. Preheat the BBQ to a low to mid heat, about 500 F. Lay the chicken breasts flat inside the foil ‘envelope’. There’s no comparison to the taste of a free-range, organically raised Saskatchewan bird, but the main thing is that they are boneless and skinless, trimmed of visible fat. Add one of the following to the chicken:

Mushroom & Wine:
Handful of torn local mushrooms – I used fiddleheads last year, superb. Dried mushrooms create a more pronounced flavor, not as many are required.
Good glass of red or white wine
3 generous spoonfuls of butter
Handful of fresh thyme and/or sage (a teaspoon of each dried will suffice, for those less industrious)
Depending on one’s passion, one or two minced garlic cloves
Few twists of freshly ground black pepper.
Rations of chopped, raw bacon increases the fat but more than accounts for it in taste…

Asian Inspired Version:
Generous handful of fresh cilantro (rolling it in your hands helps release that fantastic aromatic flavor).
Minced hot pepper: amount will depend on one’s tolerance for heat – a sprinkling of dried chili flakes works as well;
Couple good lugs of soy sauce
Heaping spoonful of honey (I’m a fan of any creamed version from Northeast Saskatchewan)
Thumb sized piece of grated fresh ginger
The ever versatile minced garlic cloves.

Finally, add any roughly chopped root vegetables – enough to accompany the chicken as a gloriously marinated and roasted side dish. Carrots and parsnips are a divine combination, or some potato wedges. There’s no need to add any additional oil or moisture to the bags because the natural juices from the meat and vegetables creates an exquisite, healthy sauce. You’re ready for the BBQ, so seal the top edge in on itself, and ever-so-gently tilt and tip the bag to jumble up and mingle all the flavors – but be very careful not to pierce the foil. Place bag sealed side up, directly on the grill – I use the upper shelf of our BBQ because it’s a tad prone to flare-ups, but a more sophisticated griller can likely use the bottom grill. Close the lid and forget about it for half an hour. To serve – place the sealed bag in a deep roaster and carefully slice open the foil, using tongs to pull out the foil from underneath the steaming and fragrant meat and veggies. Serve straight from pan with a big spoon, with a mixed green salad, the perfect baguette and a your favorite bottle of white.

I love this dish in spring because the outdoor cooking provides a hint of the summer meals to come, but you’re using up the last of the previous year’s harvest.

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