I’m loving the sun and weather this last couple of weeks. Suddenly I’ve been craving different foods, and my barbecues are now dusted off and ready for the season.
Slowly smoked pork shoulder, coleslaw, cornbread – I can imagine just about anything on the grill.
When most Canadians think of barbecue, the first thing that comes to mind is wieners, ball park mustard, ketchup, relish and a freakishly soft, white, mechanically-made bun to stuff it in.
Although a softball BBQ would not be the same without this combination of condiments, southern BBQ is a different story. It’s a pretty basic concept, but takes years to figure out. All you need is a nice airtight steel container with vents for airflow; hardwood to burn; and meat.
Usually large joints such as whole hogs, picnics, legs and bellies are used, but beef clods (the shoulder), briskets, chickens, turkeys, ducks or just about anything you can imagine can be cooked this way.
The crucial step to keeping the meat moist is building and maintaining a very low-temperature fire. Time takes care of the rest, slowly turning tough collagen into mouth watering gelatine.
The moist, tender smoky goodness that results is worth the wait. I will get into more of the actual logistics of BBQ in another issue, but for now I would like to focus on the time you will spend waiting for your meat to finish smoking. It can be up to 12 or 14 hours depending on what you’re cooking.
During the wait, you’ll have plenty of time to graze on other items and make some BBQ sauce.
Pull out your beer, sparkling wine or homebrew and fry up some south Asian street snacks, and forget about the meat. The recipe that follows is a knockout that really sticks to your ribs (and it’s even vegan!)
And if chickpea flour isn’t already in your pantry, it can be found in Whitehorse at Extra Foods and Superstore.
Morel Mushroom and Cauliflower Pakoras
Pakoras are basically vegetable fritters with Asian flavour accents. They are quick and easy to prepare and will not disappoint.
The ultimate in munchies, these are the types of things you crave at 2:30 am stumbling home from one of the many fine watering holes the territory has to offer.
1-1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
1-1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder (I use hot Indian chillies)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 cup water
3 cups chopped cauliflower (or veg of choice)
1 cup of potato, cooked and cubed
1 cup of dried morel mushrooms, soaked in water and sliced (save water)
Oil for frying
Mix the batter ingredients together in a bowl.
Gradually add the water to make a thick batter. Include the morel water as part of the 1-1/2 cups, for flavour. The batter should be quite thick, but manageable (see next step about consistency).
Add vegetable portion to the batter, beat well. To check for consistency, drop a two-inch piece of batter from a spoon back into the bowl. The batter should hold together. If you batter is too runny, add a bit more chickpea flour.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot to 350F. Drop in pakoras by the spoonful. When golden brown on both sides, lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Serve with yogurt and chopped mint, or your favourite chutney.