An Entertaining Menu

Brad Smoliak, Kitchen by Brad Smoliak

Cast iron scallops with Drambuie butter

This dish is perfect for the side burner on your barbecue, or those Bunsen burners, on Canada Day, with scallops from the east coast.

  • 2 lb 10/20 scallops (10/20 meaning they are roughly 10-20 per pound). They are quite large, and that is what you want.
  • 2 T canola oil
  • ¼ c butter
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T Drambuie or Scotch
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

The first thing that you want to do is heat your cast iron skillet on the burner over high heat. It will need a good 10-15 minutes to get white hot. While the skillet is getting hot, dry the scallops, so that there is no moisture on them.

Next, dip the flat surface of the scallops in the canola oil making sure to cover evenly — do all of the scallops on both sides at one time. One at a time, place the scallops in the cast iron pan — do in small batches, flat side down, and gently push on them till they are flat against the cast iron pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, just until the one side has formed a crust.

Do the other side for one minute, until the scallop is just cooked, remove and place on a warm plate, then do another batch of scallops.

Once all the scallops are done, add the butter, Drambuie and maple syrup and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat — the pan will be quite hot — add the scallops back to the pan to coat with the sauce.

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer.

Camping Steak

Any cut will do — a simple top sirloin, or even a blade has tons of flavour. Remember, you are camping, and you can camp in your own
back yard.

Per steak

  • 1 8-10 oz sirloin steak
  • ½ T (1 fl oz) Sriracha hot sauce, more if you like
  • ½ can beer — the top half, and drink the rest

Simply place the steak in a Ziploc bag, add the Sriracha sauce and marinate for 24 hours. You can even freeze the steak, it can act as a freezer pack in your cooler.

To cook:

Heat a cast iron skillet to smoking hot, add 1 T canola oil, add steak. Sear on one side for 3-5 minutes, turn steak and sear for 3 minutes. Add the beer to deglaze the pan and baste the steak with the liquid until a nice saucy glaze forms. Let rest 10 minutes, slice on the bias and enjoy.

Grilled peaches with Riesling and black pepper

Summer time and juicy peaches brings you back to when you were a kid. Peaches are great on their own, even better with some coconut ice cream from Pinocchio. Keys to this dish: use a good quality Riesling, ripe peaches and cracked black pepper — not the stuff out of the shaker — and the grill must be clean and well oiled.

  • 4 ripe BC peaches, halved
  • ½ c Riesling (Ex Nihilo is my personal favourite)
  • 2 t cracked black pepper (more if you like)
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 T liquid honey
  • Pinocchio Coconut ice cream (or your favourite)

Place the peaches in a bowl and toss with the wine and fresh ginger. Let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to medium high, making sure it is well greased.

Place peach halves flat side down on the grill and cook until there are nice grill marks (about 3 minutes) Meanwhile, discard ginger and whisk the honey into the wine mixture. Turn the peaches, brush with honey/wine mixture and sprinkle with pepper. Serve hot or room temperature with ice cream.

Serves 4-8 depending on size of the peaches.

Brad Smoliak’s approach to cooking outdoors is relaxed and fun, yet his flavours are sophisticated, balanced and drawn from many cultures. He’s also our go-to guy when it comes to cooking on a grill. Brad shares pointers for successful grilling every time.

Explore less popular cuts. “I prefer more flavourful cuts like sirloin or blade steak to filet. Flat iron, hangar and skirt steak are terms used more in the USA and are hard to find here. Flank is popular, so it’s expensive — I use sirloin instead. The best thing is: get to know your butcher and your rancher.”

Season! “Let steaks sit in the fridge for a few days to age. Season the day before, which brings out the moisture, leaving you with a nice dry surface which browns better and you’ll get nice grill marks. Use kosher salt, the big crystals bring out the moisture best. Bring meats to room temperature when possible — at least take them out of the fridge when you start to preheat your grill.”

Always cook on a clean, well-lubricated grill. “I clean right after cooking — when it’s still hot — then oil.”

Pre-heat the grill. “At least 20 minutes — a beer’s worth.”

Use an instant read probe thermometer. “The ambient temperature affects how long things take to cook on the grill. Use timing as a guide, but always check your internal temperatures, especially for large cuts and chicken and pork. The hand method is fine for a few steaks but not burgers or chicken.”

Use a timer. “People get talking… a timer is more for the cook. It will help you remember to pull things off the grill when you are supposed to, before accidents happen.”

Barbecue sauce goes on at the end. “There’s a lot of sugar in most barbecue sauces. All it will do is burn if you put it on early.”

Season well. “With salt and pepper beforehand.”

Meat needs to relax. “Let steaks relax on a rack or layer of chopsticks — not on a plate, just like cookies. The juices that remain after resting? Pour them over the meat, or put them in your caesar!”