I’ve always admired handy people. I use the term handy in a very broad sense. To me, it means anyone who works in a profession that requires a hands-on approach. So I’m talking chefs, carpenters, hairstylists, cobblers, gardeners and the list goes on. When we started to talk about having Chris from Chris’ Country Cuts facilitate our Summer BBQ Sizzler, I knew it was going to be a super informative workshop, and I would probably leave wishing I became a butcher. Chris’ easy-going personality and eloquence would be perfect to lead a casual summer BBQ workshop on grilling.

Our goal was to demonstrate the versatility of the BBQ and any leftover meat (as a result of a BBQ). The bbq is a handy appliance, especially when it’s hot out and the last thing you want to do is turn the stove or oven on.  There was a big menu, including a bbq chicken pizza, a fresh vegetable and pesto pizza, quesadillas, and grilled plums. Chris started by sharpening his knives, an important practice when it came time to butterflying the chicken breast on the grill.chris lyons

Chris Lyons of Chris’ Country Cuts: the meat professional

He explained it’s best to cook meat in whole pieces if possible before slicing to retain the juices. I compare this to cooking a turkey. Usually you would cook the whole bird then slice it up, it is not as common to cut the whole bird up into pieces then cook. Another practice he explained was resting the meat. I’ve had a hard time convincing certain family members to do this because they prefer to eat their food as hot as possible, but the expert butcher says resting is important to let the juices soak back in, otherwise cutting a hot piece of meat releases all the deliciousness (which can be used to make gravy. Hot sandwich anyone??).

bbq meat

The goods.

I think the greatest tip I took away from the evening was BBQing takes practice. It may take a couple over or undercooked steaks to figure out the touch of a medium-rare steak. In terms of chicken, I prefer to use a thermometer to make sure it reaches the correct internal temperature.

The same goes for anything cooked on the grill; vegetables, fruit, sausages, etc. It all takes practice. What’s the worse that can happen? Put it back on the grill for a bit longer, or add some extra sauce? We learned firsthand to blacken a pepper takes longer than cooking steak and chicken, and zucchini cooks faster than onion. I’m sure anyone who attended or participated last night will remember that the next time they fire up the grill.

To demonstrate the versatility of the BBQ, we prepared two pizzas and a few quesadillas. We used pre-baked pizza crusts for the workshop, but fresh dough or other substitutes like pita or naan bread can be used as well. These types of breads, as well as brick cheese can be purchased and frozen. The cheese comes out a little crumbly after defrosting, but that makes it perfect for pizza or quesadillas. Save yourself the grating! Then we used our simulated leftover steak, chicken, and vegetables to top our pizzas and stuff our quesadillas. You can use pretty much any meat or vegetable leftovers you have; eggplant, zucchini, sausage, shrimp, etc.


BBQ chicken pizza anyone? 

It was refreshing to see participants trying grilled fruit for the first time and how much they enjoyed it. The plums by themselves are sweet, the grilling enhanced this making them that much sweeter. Local peaches can be used as as they become available in the next couple weeks.

plum with whipped cream

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The Covent Garden Market Square was a wonderful setting for our Summer BBQ Sizzler as the sun was setting and passerby’s stopped in for a peek. Thanks go out to Chris for being our guest fascilitator and sharing his wealth of knowledge. I know I’ll be using his tips the next time my little charcoal BBQ comes out.