Jenny Burthwright, owner of Calgary-based Jane Bond BBQ, shares her grilling pro tips.
Jenny Burthwright knows her way around a grill: For the past nine years, she’s run Jane Bond BBQ, a Calgary restaurant that blends southern-style barbecue with influences from Burthwright’s own Jamaican roots. Here, she gives us seven hot tips for super easy grilling.
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If the temperature outside remains solidly lodged in “holy @#$ %&” territory, you want to reach for a steak—it’s the cut of meat that’ll allow you to minimize your time hovering in front of a hot grill. “If you like a rare steak, it’s about four to six minutes total, and medium-rare is six to eight minutes,” Burthwright says. Bringing that steak up to room temperature before chucking it on the grill will get you a more even cook.
Mediocre sausages and bland chicken can be improved exponentially with a basic rub: Burthwright suggests playing around with the aromatic spices in her Jamaican mix, like allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and thyme. “Since we can’t travel right now, it’s fun to get international,” she says.
“I’m a big fan of grilling whole fish like tilapia or catfish—it’s an awesome way to present a dish,” Burthwright says. The key is to get your heat high to create a nice sear, and oil your fish to make sure it doesn’t stick. Lightly brushing the fish with mayo before it hits the grill sounds bizarre, but it can absolutely help. “Ever made a grilled cheese sandwich with mayo? Boom. Same concept, and it comes out perfect,” Burthwright says.
Lettuce, meet fire. Burthwright had a grilled Caesar salad on her menu that offered colossal flavour for comparatively little effort. “We cut a head of romaine in half, brushed it with roasted garlic butter and gave it a quick sear on the grill,” she says.
The serious char
If you’re looking for a vegetable that you can stick on your barbecue, completely forget about, char beyond recognition and still devour, look no further than the pepper. “Put it on the grill whole; the blacker it gets, the better,” Burthwright says. “It almost braises itself, so when you open it up, there’s this sweet oil inside.”
Since it looks like socially distanced barbecues will still be a thing this summer—and since you’ve probably got some time on your hands—consider cooking a prime rib roast to feed your guests. “You’ve got to go low and slow,” Burthwright says. “Plan for a good three to five hours, at least.” She cranks all her burners to heat up the grill and then turns off the right side, where she cooks her roast. “You get that high-heat sear, and then you get circulation from the heat on the left side, turning your barbecue into an oven.”
You can throw peaches or pineapples straight on the grill, and everyone will be delighted. Or you can do what Burthwright does—cook those peaches or pineapples on the grill in a skillet seasoned with bacon fat—and everyone will be thrilled.