My best al fresco dinner yet
One of the things I love about the Stok barbeque I’ve been testing is that the interchangeable grills means you can pretty much cook the whole dinner outdoors, without running in and out of the kitchen. And I’m all for dialing down the stress meter during entertaining which is, after all, supposed to be fun for everybody, right?
I recently wowed a gang (if I do say myself) by starting off an al fresco dinner with Persian flatbread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and Herbes de Provence that I cooked on the pizza stone that comes with the grill. It went beautifully with a melted Brie that I had plopped in a small cast iron pan and topped with Garlic and Hot Pepper jelly from Jelly Boys, a fantastic line of all-natural, home-made jellies that I just discovered at my local farmer’s market.
If you're lucky enough to live near a Longo's, you could also use their house Brie, topped with one of their compotes, which are stellar (see pic below). As a matter of fact, you could do a terrific outdoor party with cheese from Longo's (they have an excellent offering), olives and artisnal breads.
While we chatted and enjoyed the starter, I shoved a second, larger cast iron pan on the grill, closed the lid and let it heat up for about five minutes. Then I stuck a whole chicken in the heated pan, scattered some garlic around it and shoved a lemon cut in half in the cavity, closed the lid and left it alone for just short of an hour. More chatting and laughter and wine (see below). Just before serving, I squeezed the lemon juice and some salt over the bird, (Thank you Mark Bittman for the easiest and BEST roast chicken recipe ever.)
While this was cooking, I gathered cherry tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden, and mixed them with pearl Bocconcini cheese before drizzling the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil and salt.
For dessert, we grilled fresh Ontario (natch) peaches (just skin ‘em, cut in half and brush lightly with melted butter — and grill for a couple of minutes.) Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla-flavoured Greek yogurt from President’s Choice. Next time, I’ll make fresh raspberry ice-cream with my Hamilton Beach ice-cream maker.
My new fave tipple for summer meals is Farnese Monepulciano d”Abruzzo Cerasuolo 2010, a lovely rosé at just $8.95 a bottle. (Thank you, Beppi Crosariol, for the tip. This die-hard rosé lover is so grateful!)