No Cottage? No Problem! Tips For an At-Home Barbecue

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The long weekend is just around the corner. Though the weather hasn’t really been screaming “cottage weekend” that’s where plenty of people are headed, leaving the rest of us at home wishing we had a cottage to escape to. Sigh. But don’t fret, my cottage-less friend. This is the perfect time to embrace how quiet your neighbourhood will be while everyone else is up north. Plus, you can bring the cottage feel to your very own backyard and gather all of your cottage-free friends for a good time.

Parts & Labour chef Matthew Matheson has a few key tips to make your barbecue a success.

Go Coal: Matheson says the flavour that is developed from cooking with a coal barbecue is worth the extra money.

Tips for cooking with charcoal: leave space between your meats to allow even cooking and smoke penetration, apply sauces with high-sugar content during the last ten minutes to prevent your food from burning and cook foods that take less than 30 minute directly over coals.

Check out coal bbq’s at various price points.


Do It Yourself: When it comes to hamburgers Matheson says to make your own. Even if you’re culinary skills are minimal, it’s not hard to get your favourite spices and mix them with beef. This is a much healthier option and a way to showcase your impressive kitchen talents.

Tips for making your own burgers: – Don’t overwork your meat – Use a thermometer: 120°F and below for rare (red/raw in the center), 130°F for medium-rare (pink and warm), 140°F for medium (totally pink, starting to dry out), 150°F for medium-well (grayish pink, significantly drier), 160°F and above for well done (completely gray, very little moisture)

– Don’t salt your beef until your patties are formed, it will change the texture of the beef and not for the better

– Keep your meat as cold as possible

In Season Side:
“There are a lot of peas and fava beans in season right now so I would probably make a fava bean pea salad with dill, red onion and maybe some boiled eggs in there.” Other seasonal ingredients to consider: asparagus, fiddleheads, rhubarb and arugula.

Don’t Forget the Sangria: Nothing kicks off the summer months with friends and family better than a pitcher of sangria. Mix it up, Matheson recommends throwing in “grapes, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi and grapefruit.” When it comes to sangria – anything goes. Consider using different liquors or white wines for a refreshing take on the classic.

Or the Spiked Watermelon: This treat is something guests will never refuse. Here’s a recipe!

1 bottle of Fireball whiskey or Cinnamon flavored whiskey (or other alcohol of your choice!)
40 watermelon balls

1. Soak watermelon balls in alcohol at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
2. Eat as soaked watermelon balls or make a special shooter! Place a watermelon ball in a shot glass and cover with alcohol of choice.