I met Marc in high school. We did a lot of stupid things together, and it’s pretty amazing to think we’ve both grown into relatively normal people with daughters and barbecues. I don’t actually own a barbecue, but we have them at our building. Marc has three, and has become an expert barbecue guy over the last few years. There’s more to it than you’d think. I asked him about it today.
Most people barbecue a few hamburgers and move on. Why did you get so obsessive?
Three years ago a friend gave me a book called How To Grill. I also got the Dinosaur Barbecue book, which is based on this little biker bar in Syracuse. You’ve got to check that place out, I went there after getting the book and took my daughters. It was really rough, the waitress had a shirt that said “Save The Titties.” But I was really excited cause I read the book. I was totally cheesy, I told them how excited I was and that I was really excited to be eating there. But they were totally rude, even when I tried to make conversation. But I tried the sampler of pulled pork, brisket, fried green tomatoes and it was so good.
Why three barbecues?
I also have four at the cottage. I know it’s odd. But it’s like I have three kids, and they are all special in their own way. One is just a propane Weber that I’ll use to grill vegetables or do something quick when I get home from work. My wife will use it, too. Then I have the Big Green Egg, an amazing ceramic grill that is based on ancient Chinese grilling techniques. This makes the best steak you’ve ever tried and it uses all natural charcoal. The most recent is a smoker, it feeds itself wood pellets. I can get up on Sunday morning, turn on the fire, put on a pulled pork and go to church. Nine hours later there’s a finished product.
How much planning is involved?
I spend my weeks thinking about what I’ll make on the weekend.
Do people think you’re crazy?
I get a lot of comments about it, especially because my wife doesn’t eat that much meat. Also, I’ve gained about 40 pounds since I started. Then there’s the neighbours, I think they are sick of me. Every time I fire up a barbecue I can hear windows slamming all around me.
Ever ruin expensive meat or do something stupid?
You have to burp the egg – which means opening it a quarter inch and letting some air in. It gets really hot, like 700 degrees. I was doing work in the backyard and not really paying attention, and when I opened it there was a whoosh. There was a huge flash, I lost all the hair on my face. It’s funny now because nothing all that bad happened.
Where do you get your meat?
I try to experiment a bit. Next weekend I have steak coming from a local farm. I have a butcher who brings in organic beef. If it’s pulled pork or brisket or something I will barbecue a long time then I’ll get something a little cheaper from the grocery store. But you see some of the chicken at the grocery store, it’s huge. I prefer something without a lot of drugs, especially if we’re getting something where you really taste the meat. Every time I’ve bought something on sale, there’s been something off about it. So I don’t rush out if I see a deal.
Last piece of advice before I list two recipes?
I always follow recipes, especially starting out. Way less confusing that way. Otherwise it gets too intimidating.
Says Marc: “Marinade is amazing on beef, chicken and pork. Chicken and pork too, but it’s a really strong flavour and beef stands up to it best.”
1/4 C. chopped garlic
1/2 C. chopped onion
2 C. orange juice
1/2 C. fresh lime juice
1/2 C. olive oil
4 tsp. kosher salt
1 T. black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Mix together garlic, onions, orange and lime juice. Heat oil in large saucepan until almost smoking, now be careful (wear your oven mitts!) and slide the mixture into the hot oil simmer for 5 minutes until garlic and onion are soft. Season marinade with rest of ingredients. Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse three times. Cool to room temperature.
Makes 2 1/2 cups. Keeps for two weeks in fridge – officially. (I usually double the recipe and keep it in mason jars in the beer fridge… lasts a couple of months)
Churrasco Strip Steak with Chimmichurri Sauce
(Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Recipe of the Month June 2007)
4 strip steaks (I don’t like strip steaks myself… the best is to use tenderloin, sliced longways, about 1 1/4inches, grilled quickly to medium rare)
1 c. Mojito Marinade
1 med. Bunch fresh Italian parsley (I use half parsley and half cilantro – really enhances the flavor… if you like cilantro)
10-12 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3-4 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
- Remove bootstrap tendon found on edge of steaks. Marinate then at least 4 hours in the Mojito MarinadeCombine parsley leaves, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, cumin and oregano in a food processor or blender. Process to a paste, scraping down the work bowl several times.
- With the processor still running, slowly dribble in the olive oil until fully blended. Adjust to taste if necessary.
- Fire up the grill. Take the steaks out of the marinade and pat dry. Grill over hot coals to medium-rare.
- Remove from grill while they’re sizzling, spoon chimmichurri sauce over each steak and enjoy!