For Chopped Canada judge and host of the upcoming Food Network Canada series Great Canadian Cookbook Lynn Crawford, there’s nothing like the sound of steak sizzling over blazing coals. It’s cooking at its most basic and — of course — most delicious. “I do love grilling,” Crawford says. “ Anything that’s put on a hot charcoal grill—that’s magic.” So as Canadians countrywide clear off their decks and prepare for barbecue season, here’s Crawford’s take on how to get the most out of your grill.
1. Going Green
While she’s a fan of the traditional charcoal grill, Crawford has fallen in love with her Green Egg ceramic barbecue. “It’s like an incubator. It retains so much heat. There are a lot of opportunities to do slow cooking, you can grill, you can smoke, you can actually bake. I can reach a really amazing high temperature, which is great for grilling steaks, or you can tone down the airflow and do things like a whole pork shoulder overnight.”
2. Good Wood
If you want to grill right, for Crawford’s money, you’ve got to go charcoal. What gas grills have in ease and speed, they lose in flavour-building and intense heat. “Having good charcoal that’s totally natural without any additives is the way to go. Sure it takes time to fire it up, but anything you cook on charcoal just seems to be better — you get that smoky flavour, the cooking time is faster, it reaches a hotter searing temperature when you’re doing meat for that wonderful exterior.”
3. Time is on your side
There are ways to speed up the process of lighting charcoal — Crawford recommends fire-starting briquettes — but it’s important to remember that part of the joy of grilling is the process itself, and there’s no need to rush. “It takes time, but I mean that’s what cooking is all about. It shouldn’t be about instant gratification.”
4. Grill gadgets
Like with anything to do with cooking, there is a battery of tools to make the job easier. But how many of them are necessary? Crawford identifies a few essentials for the grill master’s arsenal. It starts with a great pair of tongs — “not those really long, six-foot ones” she laughs. Another go-to is a pizza stone. “That allows you to do some fun things like a flatbread, pizzas and I’ve actually made my cheddar biscuits on it.” Finally there’s the grill basket. There’s nothing worse than when “you’ve got the first of Ontario asparagus, you put it on the grill — and it falls through!” A good basket will save all your veggies and your sanity.
Crawford’s final piece of advice is to remember that barbecuing, however you choose to approach it, is a fundamentally simple way to cook. “Barbecue is minimalistic—there’s fire and there’s food,” she says. “You shouldn’t overcomplicate things.”
Chopped Canada airs Saturdays at 9pm ET/PT.
Photography: James Tse. Get the burger recipe.
Get more grilling tips and summer entertaining ideas here: The Kit’s Grill Guide