· The Hot Line - Newsletter
Jun. 2012: Duck and Five Spice

June 2012
Welcome We found ourselves slightly adrift a few weeks ago at The Hot Line. We were without a theme. Themes are important we're told. They provide structure and cohesion. Not wanting to be without either of those things, a few themes were proposed: 'Barbecuing for the NHL Playoffs' – that died with the hopes of the last Canadian team, 'English Grilling' – we all laughed at that one, 'Vegetarianism' – more laughs. After much discussion (not really), we've decided to combine one proposed theme of 'Five-Spice Powder' with another proposed theme of 'Duck' into one, rock-solid "Super Theme". It's kind of like Asia or the Traveling Wilburys except as it pertains to a free, barbecue e-newsletter. I like Chinese Five Spice Powder. Always have. It's complex, flexible and just a teensy bit exotic. To get the skinny on this spice I wandered down to Calgary's The Silk Road in Inglewood. A store that looks gorgeous and smells even better. These folks know a freakish amount about spices. Here's what they told me about Five Spice Powder:
  • There are many variations of Chinese Five spice powder. Most iterations include more than five spices (apparently labelling laws in ancient China were notoriously lax). The five spices that are more or less essential are: star anise (my twelve year old was disappointed to hear that this is pronounced 'a-niece'. Oh well, at least he still has the seventh planet from the sun), cloves, cinnamon (typically the Chinese variety which is ground bark of the cassia tree), fennel seeds and Szechuan pepper. The Szechuan pepper, which looks like a typical peppercorn, has a slight numbing effect on your tongue after you taste the heat of the pepper.
  • There are theories that the Chinese were attempting to produce a "wonder powder" encompassing all of the five elements represented through the five flavours: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. In later years, similar Asian thinking about combining five elements would give rise to the 'Power Rangers' and various headache-inducing Cantopop groups.
  • In China, certain foods are thought to have 'yin' or cooling properties, while others have warm, 'yang' properties. Nearly all spices are considered to be 'yang' and are thought to warm the body. A particular pungent spice mixture like Five-Spice is usually paired with 'yin' or cooling foods such as noodles, fruit, vegetables or, the always cool, duck. Keep reading for more about duck and five-spice...
  Check out this picture of last year's winner of 'Canada's Worst Barbecue Contest'. Don't they look happy? That's because they are happy. They won about $4,600 worth of backyard candy from Napoleon just for sending us a picture. You could too. Check out this year's contest here (and see some hilarious entries from previous year's here.)

Barbecue Tipster  
So, one of the best tips for grilling I've heard in a long time comes from Colin at The Silk Road. He said that, when grilling with spice mixtures with no salt in them (such as curry powder or five-spice) you should add a goodly dose of salt to them before applying to the meat you intend to grill. Otherwise, he told me, they can taste 'flat'. I tried it and he's right – salt really helps to give the spice mixture some punch on the grill.  
  Looking for a bargain? Every week in the summer our four stores have a 'Deal of the Week" where we put an essential barbecue item on offer at a ridiculously low price. A great way to save some barbecue bucks. Come on into one of the stores to see what's new each week (or, check it out on our Facebook Page every Tuesday).

Gotta Have It We do a roaring trade in outdoor coolers. They're just the thing to keep cold drinks close to you when you're an unbearable 30' or more away from your fridge. This year we have a few new colours available. One of the choices is a white body with a red top. Would that be perfect for Canada Day or what? Finally, a truly patriotic way to get hammered in your own backyard. 

Meet the Experts
This June 17th, why not give a tip of the tongs to your very own grilling expert: your poppa. In the next week, we'll be sending out a special issue of The Hot Line with a coupon for a free gift for dad. Watch your inbox.  

Recipe of the Month  
"You think with a financial statement like zis, you can have ze duck?!"
~ From LA Story
A Duck Race I've never cooked duck before. I like it when I eat it but, for whatever reason, never tried cooking it. That is, until Leslie's husband had some frozen ducks available on the same day I bought a new bottle of Five-Spice powder. That, dear readers, is a classic case of barbecue kismet in action. I had two ducks. And what does any reasonable person do when presented with two nearly identical objects at the same time? That's right - you race them. One duck I set up on the rotisserie on the Summerset gas barbecue. The other was destined for the Broil King Keg on a beer-can roaster.  
Gentleman, start your engines.
Rinse and pat dry your birds. I rubbed one with curry powder (with some added salt – see tip above).
The other bird got the five-spice powder and a bit of Scandia honey.
Remember, when you're using a rotisserie rod, tighten the thumb screws with more than just your thumbs. You don't want anything coming loose during the cooking process.
With a sharp knife make small incisions through the skin and the layer of fat (but not into the meat). This will help some of the fat drain out of the bird while cooking.
And they're off. On the far track, we've got curried duck on a gas barbecue using a state of the art, infrared rotisserie burner. On the near side, we've got a five-spice duck on a Broil King keg. Powered by all-natural hardwood charcoal. Both machines were kept at about 350 degrees.
As with any race, an impartial referee is essential.
A tie: both birds reached 170 degrees at just about the same time.
A prodigious amount of fat drained from the birds in both barbecues – a drip pan is a necessity.
The results? Meh – I wasn't thrilled. The meat tasted fine but, despite my efforts, there was a layer of fat between the skin and meat that took a lot of effort to remove. (I now understand completely how these critters float so well. NO idea how they manage to fly.) On the plus side, I retained the duck fat and roasted some potatoes in it the following day. They were duckin' fantastic – I've resolved to keep a jar of duck fat within arm's reach at all times from now on.
Post race roundup: I was whining about this problematic layer of duck fat to Marnie and Thierry (well known Calgary gourmands and Saluki breeders). Thierry, a chef, grew up in France and knows his way around a duck. He had this advice for me next time I try this:  
These two know their stuff. Check out their culinary tours to France at www.cuisineandchateau.com
"One thing that can help in the process is to brine the birds first, then to cook them on low heat for a longer time. I personally would split the bird open from the back and in the process, after removing the backbone, I would cut off the excess fat around the butt. Rinse them first, remove any guts and blood, and dry them. Make a simple brine and soak the duck in it for 3 hours (if whole) and 1-1/2 hour if split open. Cook them on a preheated BBQ at 290F for about 2 1/2 hour or until centre reach 155F max. Turn off the BBQ and let them rest for another 20 minutes before carving. You will still have the fat melting so you may want to have a drip tray. However, the slow cooking process will prevent the heavy dripping and will keep the meat juicy."

Ask Dr. McGrillemup Question: Hi Doc, Seems like every gas barbecue I see these days has a rear rotisserie burner at the back. If I'm going to buy a new barbecue is this something I need? Signed, R. Otashion Answer: Dear R, If you really love to use a rotisserie then this is a good thing to have. With the heat coming solely from the rear, any drippings from your food do not come into contact with open flame. So, you can leave your dinner unattended without worrying about a fire. However, don't forget that getting your food properly placed and balanced on the rotisserie rod takes a bit of effort. Also, cleaning up the rotisserie hardware and dealing with the electricity for the rotisserie motor takes some time. In my opinion, using a multi-burner barbecue and the indirect cooking method is far easier and produces equal results. Consider how much easier the beer-can method in the above pictures is to prep and organize. Sincerely, Doctor McGrillemup

The World of Barbecue  
  In what is, admittedly, not a very crowded field, the duo of Rhett and Link have captured the 'Best Song Describing Regional Variations of Barbecue' prize. They are likely to retain it for a LONG time. Definitely worth a watch.
Dave in Calgary sent us pictures of his yummy ribs cooking on his Broil King Keg.
Another Dave (this one in Burlington) proves that a little rain shouldn't get in the way of grilling a few amoeba burgers on your Weber. We salute you Dave.
Shirley from Calgary breaks every guideline, rule and convention known to photography and provides us with a piece we know around the office as "Woman and Barbecue – A Voyage to the Shadow Realm."
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 Poultry and Spice Package: Brenda Morgan (Calgary South) Judy Watson (Calgary North) Victoria Chauvin (Burlington) Helena Gillan (Oakville)  

Next Month's Issue  
Next month we'll be gorging ourselves on steak, beer and flapjacks in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Stay tuned.

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  

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