BBQ BATTLE ROYALE: Dry Rub vs. Marinade vs. BBQ Sauce

dry rub vs marinade vs bbq sauceWhether you are dining on meat or vegetables, there are countless ways to season them– especially if they are headed for the grill! Since cooking over open flame is volatile, it is important to seal in flavours as thoroughly as possible. With that in mind, world famous chefs and pitmasters have settled on three methods of preparation: dry rubs, marinades and barbecue sauces. You may know some of the differences, but do you know how each should be used? Read on for D’Arcy’s BBQ Battle Royale and settle the score once and for all!

DRY RUB

The term “dry rub” is simply an umbrella that covers an infinite number of spice blends. These mixtures contain no liquid (“dry”) and they are worked into the raw ingredients by hand (“rub”). The hands-on approach means every crevice is coated with your chosen flavours; keeping the seasoning dry means less liquids will drip onto your cooking surface. An intense first-bite and blackened crust are some of the biggest attractions of meat or veg cooked with a dry rub.

MARINADE

Originally from the Spanish mar for sea, the term “marinade” was introduced into French cuisine at the start of the 18th-century– it meant to be pickled in a salty brine. Since then, marinade has evolved into a modern home cooking term to describe any seasoning (containing at least one liquid ingredient) used to infuse flavours into meat or vegetables. The key behind using a marinade is including a vinegar or another fluid with a chemical property that breaks down and softens food. A well-made marinade will produce fork-tender results while imparting a rich flavour and depth to the dish.

BBQ SAUCE

For many of us, the first time we encountered barbecue sauce may have been as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers… But of course, BBQ sauce is best used: on the barbecue! While suitable for a marinade, BBQ sauce typically has high sugar content– so it can burn easily if left over an open flame for an extended period. Ideally, you should apply your chosen BBQ sauce right at the end of high-temperature grilling. Alternatively, you may use BBQ sauce as a basting liquid if you are cooking for an extended period over a long temperature. Another tip is to boil down or reduce BBQ sauce to create a glaze!

AND THE WINNER IS…

…Your tastebuds! All of these methods are delicious on their own, but they can even be combined for mouthwatering results. The only limits is your imagination and the Laws of Thermodynamics– any questions and concerns can be answered by the experts at D’Arcy’s Meat Market. Contact or visit us today!

BIB-WORTHY: 4 Different Ways to Cook Ribs

4 different ways to cook ribsFor many home cooks, the barbecue is synonymous with ribs! Yet many versions of the “ideal” barbecue ribs exist– especially now that we have unlimited access to food shows, cooking blogs, online recipes and many other sources of inspiration. Here in Alberta, we are fortunate to be exposed to a wide selection of open-flame cuisines that reflects our cultural mosaic. Also, our access to top-quality beef means that beef ribs are just as popular for some dishes as pork ribs, the reigning champ of backyard BBQ.

 

#1: Marinate before grilling.

A technique as old as cooking itself: dressing a cut of meat in bold flavours is a surefire way to infuse taste and tenderness– and the longer it sits… the better! (Within food safety standards, of course). There are as many marinades as your imagination will allow, spanning all cultures and tastes. Certain ingredients can help synthesize the tougher proteins and fats of ribs into a fall-off-the-bone experience. For this reason, always be aware if you are grilling meat that is especially tender or has been marinated for a long time.

#2: Boil or roast, then grill or fry.

Start slow, finish fast– this is a mantra applied to many ways of preparing meat. Whether it be boiling, roasting or anything else, cooking ribs slowly over time will guarantee a fork- or tooth-tender experience. If you bring the ribs to just shy of tenderness, you can finish them on open flame or even deep fry them to perfection. Brush the finished product with its own cooked juices or your favorite sauce.

#3: Apply a dry rub, then grill or smoke.

Many barbecue experts south of the border swear by two concepts: an application of dry seasoning, followed by a day spent cooking over indirect heat. While this process provides an undeniable taste and texture, many Albertans enjoy the results of ribs with a dry rub over open flame. No matter how you cook it, all of the control comes when you choose or create your seasoning. Typical dry rubs feature salt, spice, sweetness with bold amounts of powdered flavours such as garlic and onion. A dry rub is also usually a great base for a barbecue sauce!

#4: Braise in the oven.

Steeping ribs in boldly-flavoured, complementary liquids, then cooking it a long time over a low heat– usually known as braising or stewing, this preparation spans all types of cuisines and cultures. Not only are you left with extremely tender ribs, but the cooking liquid can and is often reduced to an accompanying sauce or glaze. Pressure cookers, dutch ovens and slow-cookers can also offer stove top alternatives for braising ribs.

**TIP: When cooking over an open flame, whether it is smoking or grilling, your dish can change wildly just by choosing a different heat source. Cooking with smoke may be indirect, but the food is infused with the odor of the burning wood. Varietals such as mesquite, hickory, apple and countless others are widely available and each boasts their own subtle differences. If you are grilling, opting for a tasteless gas like propane or natural gas is a good way to highlight the taste of the food. Instead, burning wood or charcoal under a grill can add the sear and char unique to that type of open flame.

Of course there are dozens of other ways to cook ribs, if not hundreds. If you want to try a new recipe or method for pork or beef ribs, contact or visit D’Arcy’s today! Our helpful staff is always happy to offer advice and guidance for your next backyard barbecue project.

LOCAL LUXURY: What Makes Alberta Beef Unique?

what makes alberta beef unique

 

Lifelong Albertans may take it for granted, but the beef produced in this province is recognized around the world for its rich taste and consistent quality. Of course, beef does not start at the butcher’s counter– all meat begins as an animal raised with care by a rancher on Mother Nature’s land. There is more to Alberta beef than just taste and quality, keep reading to find out more!

 

WHERE, WHY & COW

As with most of the world, cows are not native to North America– they were spread by European settlers as they colonized the West. To encourage settlement in Alberta and elsewhere, large parcels of land were given to ranchers and cattle was allowed to be imported without taxation. Innovations in irrigation and animal welfare were all fully developing as many Albertan cattle ranchers were established. By standing on the shoulders of those before them, the Alberta beef industry made the most out of an already advantageous climate and geographic location.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Many rural regions could support a large agricultural industry like Alberta’s, but it would take a lot to match the province’s commitment to developing its own strengths. The oil industry is the main source of this advantage, because there is little financial pressure on agriculture to be our main export. Reinvestment in the farming world exists as subsidization, research and education, so Alberta also enjoys the benefits of being a leader in technological innovation in this discipline.

FEED & FINISH

So now that we understand how Alberta came to be a powerhouse in cattle production, how does our product differ from other types of beef? Alberta’s beef products boast rich taste, even fat distribution and consistent quality– but it’s no secret: the answer lies in the diet of our cows. Major cattle producing areas (like Ontario or the US) often rely on corn for feed, but Alberta is too far north to grow enough to support our herds. Instead, ranches in our part of the world usually feed and “finish” cattle with resilient grains like barley and rye. Combined with Alberta’s other advantages, this unique diet is just the final touch our high quality product needs to help it stand out from the herd.

**NOTE: “Finishing” is the process of changing a cow’s feed as they transition to slaughtering age and size. Outside of Alberta, cattle is typically raised on corn and grass or grain is only introduced in the finishing stage.

D’Arcy’s Meat Market is proud to carry top grade, local beef because we understand that quality food starts with quality producers. From fresh ground chuck to a dry aged porterhouse; from sustainably grass-fed to traditionally grain-fed– D’Arcy’s has everything you need and can always provide custom orders with enough notice. Contact or visit us today!

PATTY PARTY: 5 Burger Ideas, from Classics to Instant-Classics

5 burger ideas from classic to instant classicAh, the humble hamburger– a North American innovation that has since taken the world by storm. Once strictly the realm of the eaters of red flesh, a burger’s golden ratio of carbs, condiments, veggies and protein has been championed by all cuisines and diets. Whether you enjoy a grilled chicken breast on a multigrain bun or you stack up multiple beef patties smothered in cheese or even if you eat cruelty- and gluten-free… There is a burger for you! D’Arcy’s Meat Market is proud to present our five burger ideas for the summer, from classics to instant-classics!

#1: We heart Alberta beef.

Since we all live in the heart of cattle country, we believe it is our duty to support the ranchers around us. Considering the quality we have access to in exchange, it is hardly a fair deal! Alberta beef is used in elite kitchens worldwide, but it is just as at home sizzling on your grill. The classic burger is made of ground chuck with relatively high fat content, something D’Arcy’s carries daily– but we can always grind a custom mix tailored to your needs. Consider combining three parts ground beef with one part ground veal; the added fat and flavour will give your backyard burgers a gourmet flair!

#2: Shades of red.

Alberta’s agricultural economy supports a huge diversity of livestock, which is also supplemented by legal hunting: bison; mutton and lamb; venison, elk, boar and other “game” meat; and even rarer delicacies, such as hare or horse. While most of these meats are too lean to form a juicy burger on their own, adding in a portion of fattier ground chuck will have your diners asking for your secret ingredient. D’Arcy’s carries many of these varieties regularly, but we can also handle special orders– hunters: we are happy to butcher your latest catch or kill.

#3: Plant-based patties.

You may be a vegan or vegetarian that cooks for meat-eaters, you may be an omnivore that cooks for a herbivore… No matter the situation, D’Arcy’s cares about you too! Portobello mushroom caps, grain-based patties (store-bought or made from scratch), falafels, cauliflower or sweet potato “cakes,” even a hefty pineapple ring are all great options to grill and serve on a bun. Feel free to browse our wide selection of seasonings and sauces– it doesn’t have to taste like meat, but it does have to taste good!

#4: Sustainable sandwiches.

Whether you are looking for a healthier or more sustainable option, many people enjoy building a burger around grilled poultry, pork or seafood. These meats are leaner in fat and still go well with many of the classic hamburger toppings and condiments. Further to that, they can be customized to their own flavour in innovative ways! Try a grilled pork patty on french bread, topped with bahn mi fixings like cilantro and hoisin sauce. Expand your horizons with a Tex-Mex inspired chicken bacon ranch burger or dive into flavour with a salmon steak burger dressed with tartar sauce and seaweed salad.

#5: Grill like a gourmet.

If you have tried all of the above and you still crave fresh options, D’Arcy’s can help! Why not try a cheeseburger? Oh, not just a slice of cheddar on beef– try grating it and packing it inside your patty… when the molten cheese oozes out: it’s ready! From herbed butter to habanero peppers, there’s no limit to what can be mixed into a ground meat patty. If you are using a chop, steak or other thick cuts of meat and vegetable, do not underestimate the power of marinating it overnight in bold flavours. Finally, always experiment by completing your burgers with new sauces, in-season fruits or veggies, sour or sweet pickles and any variety of bread (as long as it’s fresh).

The five ideas above are only a sampling of the infinite varieties of burgers you can create– the sky’s the limit! D’Arcy’s is ready to help you craft your perfect burger, no matter your tastes or dietary needs. Contact or visit us today with any questions you might have… Then get grilling!

What Types of Meat Can I Cook on a Smoker?

what types of meat can you cook in a smokerFor a long time, a backyard smoker was viewed purely as a luxury item for the obsessed gourmand or the bored retiree. Thanks to heightened public awareness of smoking food, everyone and their neighbour fancies themselves as a down-home, slow-cooking pit boss! Access to both high- and low-end smokers has increased, as well as a desire to cook with fresh, locally sourced meat, seafood and produce. If you want to know what is best to cook on a smoker, read D’Arcy’s short guide below and visit or contact us with your questions today!

PORK.

Pork is undeniably the most popular meat when it comes to cooking with smoke. Smokers are often said to be the only way to get truly tender yet flavourful pork ribs, commonly referred to as “falling off the bone.” The fat content and marbling of a pork shoulder makes it both an affordable and ideal cut perfect pulled pork on the smoker. Also, home smokers can make their own woodchip blend and customize a signature bacon that will beat anything from the supermarket.

POULTRY.

Chicken, turkey, duck, game hens– almost any poultry or fowl can be done to juicy perfection in a smoker. With leaner or smaller birds, smoke them whole and watch their temperatures closely so they do not dry out. Fattier and larger birds can be halved or even quartered with more confidence, as they will retain juiciness when cooked long over low temperatures.

BEEF.

If your smoking beef: brisket is king! There are few cuts of any smoked meat that are as prized as a perfectly-done beef brisket. Originating from the chest of the cow, brisket meat is tough and nearly inedible unless cooked at minimal temperatures over as long a period as possible. This is why you do not brisket served any other way than smoked or braised. After your cookout, sliced brisket is the key ingredient in the ever-popular Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

SAUSAGE & SEAFOOD.

While seemingly different, sausages and seafood options are a great choice to cook together on a home smoker, especially as an appetizer course. Sausages are usually pre-cooked and only need a short time to be brought up to temperature– plus they are available in a wide range of local meat sources and bold flavours (even custom blends). Similarly, most seafood only needs a few minutes on a cooker to achieve proper doneness– oysters, shrimp and salmon are all popular choices.

FRUIT, VEGETABLES & MORE.

A cookout with a smoker often features one or more meats as the main dish, sometimes with even more meat as an accompaniment. Take a cue from professional barbecue restaurants and add some plant-based sides to the menu, but don’t be afraid to try smoking your favourite vegetables and fruit– pineapples, peaches, tomatoes and potatoes are good options. Additionally, many people enjoy smoked cheeses, olives, nuts and even hard boiled eggs!

The above article is only scratching the surface of the diverse and delicious world of cooking with smoke. For a full rundown of all our smoking favourites, contact or visit D’Arcy’s Meat Market today! Our friendly staff can offer advice, whether you are a smoker newbie or a down-home, slow-cooking pit boss!