Arguably Canada’s most famous celebrity chef, who better to provide us with some top tips to kick off this summer grilling season than Top Chef head judge himself, Mark McEwan?
Before hitting the small screen as the tough judge to impress on Top Chef Canada, McEwan soared to foodie fame with his innovative culinary creativity in the Toronto restaurant scene.
All of McEwan’s restaurants are perennial Toronto hot-spots: North 44, Bymark, ONE and Fabbrica– all well known for their upscale, contemporary cool, and groundbreaking menus.
So read on for Mark McEwan’s favourite summer recipes featuring the flavours of the season and some grilling tips for the perfect backyard BBQ fare.
How To Perfectly Grill Chicken by Mark McEwan
There’s something about BBQ that gets people in Canada excited for summer and I’m definitely one of those people too. Summer cooking is light, quick and full of flavour which is why I think we all like to gather together on patios, at cottages and backyards to celebrate the season.
As much fun as a good BBQ is, we’ve all been in those situations when grilling has gone wrong. So while we’re still at the beginning of the grilling season I thought I would offer some tips on how to grill chicken to perfection.
Let’s start with cooking a whole chicken on your grill. For this technique it’s best to go to a butcher since you can ask them to remove the backbone of the chicken and flatten it. This will do two things:
1. control the internal cooking temperature
2. insure the skin won’t burn.
Heat your grill to a medium temperature and then check your tools:
a pair of tongs,
a cloth dampened with vegetable oil
and a squirt bottle of water to tame the flames.
Once the grill has heated up scrape it down so it’s clean, turn off one burner and rub the bars of the grill with your vegetable oil rag to get it shiny and slick. Now place your whole flattened chicken skin side down over the flame. Allow skin to crisp up without burning or having your BBQ erupt in flame; if it does this is where your squirt bottle comes in handy.
Let the chicken cook like this for 7 – 8 minutes before flipping it over to cook bone side down. When you flip it move it closer to the side of the grill that you earlier turned off and then partially close the lid – if you close the lid on your tongs this works best to keep some air circulating. The chicken should cook like this for one hour or until its cooked through so keep a close eye on it.
Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to move the chicken a lot or flip it more than once per side. Let stand a few minutes before carving and serve with your favourite side dishes.
For a dish that’s a little faster and easier to master on the BBQ consider grilling skinless and boneless chicken breasts. Marinate them for between 1 and 3 hours before grilling for maximum flavour and texture. Heat your grill to a medium-high heat and have the same tools on hand as the whole chicken. Again you’ll want to scrape down and clean your grill before running your rag with vegetable oil over it.
Place the chicken breasts at a 45 degree angle on the bars of your grill to create perfect grill marks.
Cook the chicken 4 – 5 minutes per side flipping only once. To test , touch the meat, if it feels squishy then it still needs to cook, however if it feels like a flexed muscle it can be removed from the heat.
Use your common sense when grilling chicken breasts, smaller ones will require a shorter cook time while large ones will be the last to leave the grill.
The BBQ season is fairly short here in Canada so make the most of it by choosing good quality meat, a flavourful dry rub or marinade and pair your meal with a nice glass of wine.
- 6 chicken breasts
- 2c grainy mustard
- 1c extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2c prepared horseradish
- 1/2 bunch of thyme, picked and finely chopped
- 1 tsp cracked pepper
Mix all ingredients together.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a re-sealable bag.
Pour marinade inside bag and leave for 1 – 3 hours.
Heat the grill to medium high and cook 4 -5 minutes per side.
Check for doneness or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees celsius.