· The Hot Line - Newsletter
Dec. 2011: Potatoes

December 2011
Welcome You know, not everyone cooks a turkey at Christmas. Some people cook ham. Some people cook a nice plump goose. Why, I've even heard of people who don't eat meat at all - even at Christmas. However, it occurs to me that everyone I know does eat potatoes of some kind at Christmas. Maybe they're mashed potatoes, maybe they're sweet potatoes, maybe they're in a bag and end up with their business end in a vat of French Onion Dip but...everyone eats potatoes. And so, with that in mind, this issue of The Hot Line is dedicated to the noble spud. First, a few fun-facts about our favourite tuber (facts which we have shamelessly stolen from the always 100% accurate information superhighway):
  • In the USA, potato products are the second most consumed food overall, trailing only dairy products.
  • Potato blossoms used to be the hottest royal fashion accessory. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were both known to wear potato blossoms to spiff up their outfits.
  • Potatoes were originally grown in the Andes. The Inca people of Peru were growing them as far back as 200 BC. They were first introduced to Britain and Ireland in the late 1500s. They weren't an immediate hit either, many people blamed them for diseases and railed against them because they weren't mentioned in the Bible.
  • It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize.
  • Greening is a natural process for potatoes that have been over exposed to light on the farm, in the supermarket or in the home storage. It is not normally found in potatoes that have been grown and stored under proper conditions.
  • "Potato" has been statistically verified as the third most naturally funny word in the English language. Lagging only behind "chicken" and "monkey"
  • There are 90 varieties of potatoes grown in Alberta.
  • Refrigerating potatoes is not recommended because this causes potato starches to change to sugar. This increased accumulation of sugar will cause the potato to darken when cooked.
  • It is advisable to buy potatoes packaged in a paper bag. The paper bag prevents light (which causes "greening") from reaching the potatoes and the window in the paper bag allows the potatoes to breathe.
 
  Potatoes from the grill are, of course, the best type of potato. However, as you may have experienced, grilling a potato from start to finish on the barbecue can be tough; the high heat can easily dry out the potato. Wrapping the spud in tinfoil is a solution to this problem. Another way to get around the dryness is to parboil or quickly microwave your potatoes before they hit the grill.
 
As you have no doubt been made aware by countless mentions in the mainstream media, our second annual 'Canada's Worst Firepit Contest' has come to a close. Many thanks to all of our contestants and to our generous suppliers at Urban Fire who make a damn fine firepit. And now, here are this year's winners...  
 
  First Prize The "Schnerch girls" (can that possibly be their real name?) snapped this lovely photo of their current firepit in all its family glory. I'm not sure how they're going to divide the prize but they'll figure out some way to share their new stainless steel Urban Fire 4 with typhoon wind screen.
 
  Second Prize "Oh, Ed honey, would you mind starting a fire in the backyard, putting on those sunglasses that junior bought at Six Flags and then start thrashing out some air guitar on the pruning shears?" "Certainly dear, but why?" "Oh, I'm entering you into a contest at Barbecues Galore and I'm hoping to win an Urban Fire 4 in stainless steel and a typhoon wind screen." "Whatever you say dear."
 
  Third Prize Ken and Carolyn really enjoy their backyard but find it strange that the neighbours don't drop by anymore. Their neighbours might be a bit friendlier when they see Ken and Carolyn's swanky new Urban Fire 4 in hammered bronze.
 
  Fourth Prize Old oil drum? Check. Rusty bed spring? Check. Hot dogs? Check. Dinner is served. Keith and friends have won an Urban Fire 4 in a fetching dark bronze colour.

Barbecue Tipster  
Here's a tip: if you "like" our Facebook page and then print the coupon above, we will present you with a lovely paring knife for free in any one of our stores. Now, I know what you're thinking: you're thinking, "nothing's free, these barbecue charlatans are just out to scam me". Or maybe you're thinking, "Oh sure, they'll give me the knife but they'll spend two hours trying to sell me a timeshare condo before they hand it over." Rest easy dear readers, in this case "free" means "free". No strings attached, no fine print, no bait and switch. And what a piece of knifery this is: fine wood handle, delicately curved blade and, as a bonus, it has an edge. Not just for pears: this little beauty will cut all sorts of fruits. Vegetables too. So, hurry in and get yours today. (Only while supplies last, on presentation of coupon and the offer ends on December 24th). A reminder, we have beautiful gift baskets available in our stores for those folks on your Christmas list who love to cook outside. They're professionally wrapped, they're well priced and they're available without any lineups or parking hassles. So, swing by soon and buy a few hundred of them.  
 

Gotta Have It  
We have a huge supply of twin-head, 1,000 watt, halogen work lights at an obscenely low price. Regularly, you see these listed at about $40 - we're selling them for $18.99. So, now there's NO excuse not to light up your outdoor grilling area during this long, dark winter.  
A reminder: we are the reigning world champion/belt-holder for fireplace accessories. We've got a HUGE selection of toolsets and firescreens and every other kind of fireplace part and widget you can think of. If you're gathering around the fireplace this Christmas, you should probably come and see us first.

Recipe of the Month Planked Beef Tenderloin with Smoky Mashed Potatoes This is one of Ted Reader's recipes. He and his buddy Dave 'invented' it during a warm summer evening that involved a (luckily) non-fatal combination of dark rum, "surplus" prescription medicine and what we now suspect was a carbon monoxide leak. Check out Ted's fine cookbooks for other memorable recipes. 2 regular cedar planks, soaked in water for 4+ hours Smoky Mashed Potatoes ingredients:  
  8 Large Yukon Gold potatoes, Peeled and quartered
  ½ cup Table cream
  2 Tbsp Butter, softened
  ¼ cup Chopped fresh parsley and/or fresh chives
  4 Beef tenderloin fillets - 8 0z (250 g) each
  ¼ cup Sweet Spice Rub
  1 cup Cheese curds, white or yellow
  Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 4 Smoky mashed potatoes: Place potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water: bring to boil. Cook for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain well and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, combine cream and butter in a saucepan and warm slightly. Add warm butter mixture to potatoes and mash, leaving some small lumps. Add chopped parsley or chives and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool potatoes to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Standing orders: let your steaks get up to room temperature before grilling. Season steaks with Sweet Spice Rub, pressing the spices gently into the flesh to adhere.
Preheat grill to high heat. Sear steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on one side. Remove steaks. Reduce heat to medium.
Place the steaks, seared side up, evenly spaced on planks. Mold an equal amount of the mashed potatoes around each steak into a ring approximately 2-inches (5cm) thick, leaving the top of the steaks exposed. Place planks on grill and close lid. Plank roast steak and potatoes for 20 minutes for medium-rare. The potatoes should be golden brown and crisp on the outside.
Open grill lid and top steaks with cheese curds. Close lid and allow cheese to melt. Carefully remove the smoking plank from the grill and allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Ask Dr. McGrillemup Question: Hi Doc, I'm seeing a lot of electric fireplaces at the local stores. Tell me your thoughts? Are they good heaters? Thanks, Elle L'ectreau Answer: Dear Elle, My grandmother used to have an electric fireplace. It was a set of papier-mâché logs with a red lightbulb behind them. It looked about as realistic as a Baywatch casting call. Luckily things have dramatically improved. Now, many electric fireplaces have an attractive, realistic flame pattern. In basic terms, electric fireplaces can be split into three categories: 1.) Mantle - models that include a traditional wood mantle and can be used as a furniture piece in a living area, 2.) Media - this is currently our most popular category and allows you to store televisions and other electronic equipment efficiently and stylishly, and 3.) Wall Mounted - this growing segment feeds into the contemporary trend you're all seeing in TV shows and magazines. In my opinion, an electric fireplace of any kind is not a good choice for you if you're primary concern is heat. While most units have some type of heater in them they are usually only good for taking the chill off the room. On the plus side, they are extremely easy to install into almost any room. Sincerely Doctor McGrillemup

The World of Barbecue Pablo is a friend of ours that is spending some time in Chile this year. He graciously offered to send us a primer on grilling in Chile and here it is...(by the way if anyone else out there wants to send us some information on grilling around the world, we'd be happy to hear about it). Content warning: the word "thymus" is used in the following article - you've been warned.
BBQ lessons from Chile - courtesy of Pablo I was born in Chile, have lived in Canada most of my life, but I'm back in Chile for a few months. I love barbecuing, and I've learned that there are some differences between Canadian BBQs and Chilean grills, or "parrillas" (pah-REEH-yahs):
  1. No gas. Ever. A parrilla is an almost sacred space, to be honoured with charcoal or wood. Gas is an abomination. It's slower, but the whole point is to linger and enjoy the experience.
  2. Open fires. Even charcoal BBQs in Canada are often closed with a lid. A parrilla here means an open fire.
  3. A lot more charcoal. An open fire loses more heat, so it needs more fuel to get to the right temperature. Trained on closed-lid BBQs in Canada, this was my big "aha!" realization.
  4. No briquettes. Another abomination. Chileans use only good quality hardwood charcoal. Or they use real wood.
  5. Two fires. Another aha! moment. Good Chilean "parrilleros" actually manage two fires. They pile most of the charcoal or wood to one side: the hot fire makes the coals, which the parrillero moves to the other side to cook the meat over. Clever.
  6. "Al palo". The custom in the south of Chile, where I'm living, is to cook meats on a long skewer (or "palo"). In October I cooked a Canadian Thanksgiving turkey al palo, possibly a world first. (Another realization: use a cross-stick, to keep the turkey in place.)
  7. Hamburgers and hotdogs. Are for fast food joints, not the parrilla. Chileans honour the parrilla only with real meat, including beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. The closest they come to hot dogs is chorizo sausages, which are cooked as appetizers and served with bread, to make a "choripan". But don't even think of asking for ketchup or relish.
  8. Salt. Chileans are definitely minimalists when it comes to seasonings. The secret? Top-quality meats over slow coals, seasoned with sea salt. BBQ sauce is unheard of.
  9. No guts. Argentineans and Uruguayans eat more parts of the cow than North Americans, including the guts, kidneys and "sweetbreads" (or thymus), which are actually tasty when well prepared. But Chileans are more conservative and stick to the same parts as North Americans. (With seafood, though, it's a different story. Ever tried sea urchin?)
Mostly, I've learned that the process in Chile—from tending the fire to cooking the meat—is at least as important as the final product. Lubricated with good conversation and plenty of wine, a "parrillada" is a special occasion to linger a few hours with family and friends. The results are delicious.
 
 
  Dave got himself a fancy-shmancy, new Weber Summit barbecue and sent us this action shot.
Be like Dave! Send us a picture of you using your barbecue and we'll send you a gift certificate for $25 that you can use in any of the stores in our massive, world dominating retail chain. That's like….free money.

This Month's Winners  
Every single month, we randomly draw four winning names (one per store) from our newsletter mailing list. We only post the winning names below so you've got to keep your eyes peeled each month. If you win, you can claim your prize by stopping by the Barbecues Galore in your area with your photo identification. Congratulations to this month's winners of a potato grilling prize pack: Dan St. Pierre (Calgary South) Marlene Turner (Calgary North) Roy Mason (Burlington) Beth Draper (Oakville)  

Next Month's Issue To be honest, we don't have a theme picked yet for January's issue. You'll just have to wait until next month to find out what we've come up with.

Contact Us  
We're in the service business and we genuinely want to hear your experiences so we can continue to improve. If you've got a problem or concern please contact us at query@barbecuesgalore.ca. If you've had a positive experience and want to tell others about it please tell others using this Google page (this stuff is important to us Canadian retailers in the digital age as we battle the big, bad, box stores). Remember, an archive of our past newsletters can be found at www.barbecuesgalore.ca  

North Calgary 3505 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, Alberta 403-250-1558 South Calgary 5875 9th Street SE, Calgary, Alberta 403-258-4440 Burlington #1 3100 Harvester Road Burlington, Ontario 905-639-5952 Oakville 490 Speers Road Oakville, Ontario 905-844-3224

 
 
   
All Rights Reserved Copyright 2011 ©