Step Inside

Product InfoDeveloper Clermont
So you’ve not only taken the time to subscribe to this newsletter but now you’ve gone to all the trouble of clicking to reach here. You deserve some real rewards for your effort and here they come! The insider tips. The behind the scenes low down. The scoop. Here are some of our lesser known deals, unsung winners and staff favourites that will make you a Sanagan’s Subscriber Smart Shopper. Picnic Chickens If we didn’t sell all of today’s hot rotisserie chickens, they become tomorrow’s cold Picnic Chickens. Look for them vacuum-packed in the deli department. They’re a steal of a deal. Smoked Pork Chops Cured and cold-smoked, this pork chop thinks it’s a piece of bacon. Fry em, grill em, bake em, broil em, put em under your saddle and ride to Utaanbaatar; these beauties offer endless affordable versatility. Goat One of the most consumed meats around the world, we try to always have some Ontario-raised goat on hand. If you don’t see any in the window please inquire, we may have some shoulder, leg or ribs in the back. Shepherd’s Pie All the convenience of straight from the freezer to the oven to the table with none of the chemicals or industrial flavours of supermarket frozen foods. Featuring equal parts beef, lamb and pork, topped with mashed potatoes enriched with butter and cream, these classics, in small or large, are what wholesome dining is all about. Guaranteed not to contain shepherds. Porchetta I don’t think Peter’s really costed this one out. The butchers put a lot of care into its preparation but it’s definitely on the cheaper side of the window. And a big porchetta is an effortless crowd-pleaser. Pork loin or belly wrapped with more pork belly, layered with Italianate seasonings. Just slow bake it, slice and serve. Così buono! Fats All butchers trim a lot of fat. But do they all melt them into lard, schmaltz and tallow? We do. And we sell them in 250ml tubs for next to nothing. Up your frying and baking game with our all-local fat. Dog Food Made up of ground beef and lamb from the very same meats you see in the window, our dog food will make your pooch happy and healthy. According to the dog owners I talk to, it’s a great deal. Look for it in the freezer. If you don’t see — please ask. Meat Your Salad The Sanagan’s kitchen makes some truly tasty salads that are great on their own but why don’t you do what a lot of staff members do and Meat Your Salad? We can slice you a little bit of salami, roast beef or ham from the deli and you drop it right on the kale, lentils or beets. Meat Your Salad deluxe? Drop some pâté en croute onto your greens. Dry Aged Beef Burgers If you want to sample what time can do to a piece of beef, you can buy our beautiful dry-aged steaks or you can try our dry-aged burgers, at about ¼ the price. Given their popularity, it may seem like a bit of a stretch to describe our D.A.B.’s as an insider product but, as a dry-age gateway, they have a lot of secrets to share. Marinades If you’re a fan of some of our classic marinated preparations like jerk chicken, Cuban bavette or souvlaki skewers, you can now buy just the sauces from our grab and go fridge and do your own marinating on whatever you like. Jerk your pork! Cuban your lamb! Souvlaki your bacon! These are just a few samples of what Sanagan’s has beyond big steaks and chicken breasts. And, of course, there’s more. The best way to find out is to come on in and talk to the staff. We like talking about food almost as much as we like eating it.

Beef, Pork, and Barley Meatloaf

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
There are not many dishes that shout “COMFORT!” much like meatloaf, are there? When the damp and cool fall weather penetrates your bulkiest sweater and runs a chill down your arms, you know it’s time to eat something warm and nourishing. Hearty soups fit the bill, as does a roast chicken. But meatloaf, that forgotten dish your mom used to make you eat on cool weeknights, can really warm you up, from your tummy all the way down to your toes. I usually make meatloaf with just meat, but I wanted to try something new, inspired slightly by the granddaddy of all meatloaves: the haggis. Much like haggis, I have bulked up this meatloaf with barley, a delicious addition which is rich in nutrients. You can omit it, but I feel like it gives the meatloaf an interesting consistency (not to mention lowering the cost per person)! Ingredients 1 lb ground beef 3/4 lb ground pork 1 cup barley, soaked in water for 2 hours 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 2 slices sandwich bread, diced 1/4 cup milk 1 egg, whisked 2 tbsp HP sauce 2 tbsp Montreal steak spice to taste salt and pepper 1/4 cup BBQ sauce Method: 1) Bring a pot of water to a boil over a high heat. Drain the soaked barley and cook in the booking water until tender and fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Drain and cool. 2) Preheat the oven to 350°F. 3) In a small bowl, toss the bread with the milk. Let the bread soak up the milk (about five minutes), before mashing the bread into a paste. 4) In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the ground beef, ground pork, barley, egg, bread paste, HP Sauce, and Montreal steak spice. Season to taste. To check the flavour, cook a small tablespoon of the mixture in a pan or a microwave. Adjust the seasoning in necessary. 5) Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Fill the loaf pan with the meat and barley mixture. Spoon 2 tbsp of BBQ sauce on the top and spread it over the surface. Cover the loaf with aluminum foil. 6) Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Place the loaf pan into a larger roasting pan, then pour the hot water into the roasting pan. This creates a "water bath", and the meatloaf will cook more evenly because of this. Place the roasting pan in the center of the hot oven, and bake for 1.5 hours or, using an internal thermometer to test, until the center of the loaf is 160°F. Take the loaf out of the oven and turn the heat up to 400°F. 7) Remove the aluminum foil and pour the rest of the BBQ sauce on top of the meat loaf. Spread the sauce to cover the meatloaf, then put it back into the oven for ten minutes, or until the crust is caramelized. 8) Cool slightly, slice, and enjoy!

10 Years On

News & EventsDeveloper Clermont
Ten years ago, I wasn’t sleeping very well. I had just opened Sanagan’s Meat Locker to little fanfare, and I wasn’t sure how well I was doing. The customers were coming in, but I had no idea how to operate a business to make sure I didn’t lose any money. My focus was simply on taking care of my customers and making sure the quality of the product was high. I didn’t think about my prices enough (as it turns out, they were too low), or what kind of people I should be hiring (friends would have to do), or how to file WSIB (which I did a year later). There were many, many things I knew little about, and the thought of what I didn’t know weighed on me. Also, my days started at 7:30 am and I worked until 8 at night, six days a week (I saved the seventh day for banking). So, I wasn’t sleeping very well. Life was going full tilt and I was just trying to hang on, making decisions on the fly that would affect how well the business did that day, that week, or that month. I was scared shitless and didn’t have many people to turn to, and my pride and ego prevented me from asking for help anyways. But, funnily enough, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was a wild time in my life, and the life of the shop. I learned how to run a business, and I did it because of my customers, my staff, and my partner. My pride and ego may have prevented me from asking for help, but I got it anyways, and for that I am forever grateful. Anniversaries are a time for reflection, and I was encouraged (by Claire – Store Manager and long time all star) to format my reflections in a list. Some memories are of difficult times, and some are of funny times. I tend not to remember the “great” times, as I have a weird complex that doesn’t allow me to be satisfied in any achievement for too long. I find the stressful times make for the best stories anyways. So, without further ado, here is a list of a random assortment of memories, in no particular order. 1) The time that the gravity coil on the ceiling of the walk-in refrigerator fell down, overwhelmed by the amount of ice that had built up on the coils. I came into work one morning, opened the walk-in door, and was greeted by too-warm air. The cooling unit had actually fallen right out of the ceiling and landed on a stack of boxes. I lost a bunch of products because the temperatures were too high. That really sucked. 2) That Saturday when I was renovating the larger store before moving in, and overnight some graffiti “artist” bombed the entire front of the store with some garbage tag. I spent the whole day on my hands and knees, cleaning the windows and frames with nail polish remover and a razor blade. I met a lot of people that day, all commenting on “why bother – it’ll just happen again”. It has, but none were that bad. 3) The time when our giant walk-in cooler broke down three days before Christmas, and Alia, Brian, and I had to hand-bomb the entire contents of the fridge down a flight of stairs (at 11pm) to the back-up cooler, which wasn’t big enough but we managed to make it work for the evening while the main fridge was repaired. Did I mention this happened three days before Christmas? Yeah. 4) The time I was at my in-laws for a holiday Monday while the store was closed and I decided that “for once, I’m going to leave my phone in the bedroom while I unplug and go outside”. I forgot that I had a repairman at the shop, who was taking advantage of the fact that the store was closed and no one was there to do some fridge repairs. What he forgot was that the latch on the walk-in cooler door was broken and he locked himself in the fridge. He tried calling me 20 times but, of course, I had “unplugged”. He finally got a hold of his daughter who called the police, and they came and broke into my store to rescue the repairman. When I finally looked at my phone again and found out what I had missed, I realized that he had almost died. So now I don’t “unplug”. It’s not worth it. 5) The time I had ordered 100 turkeys from a farmer for Thanksgiving, pre-sold them all, then found out that a pack of foxes got into the turkey barn a day before they were supposed to go to slaughter and ate them all. Because of this, there were only a few days until Thanksgiving and I had to find another source for turkeys for all of my customers. I ended up meeting a farmer in a parking lot in Mississauga to make the trade off. They were all beautiful organic birds, and almost double the price of what I had promised my customers. Whatcha gonna do? I took a hit, sold them at the quoted price, and put a hex on foxes as a group. 6) The dozens of times my alarm company would wake me up in the middle of the night to say there was a burglary alarm going off at the store, but when I drove to the shop at that hour I would find out it was just the wind blowing a door just enough to jostle the alarm contact. It took me at least 12 times of going to the store for no reason at three am to figure out how to stop that from happening. I started ignoring those three am phone calls. 7) That time I ignored a 3 am phone call from my alarm company, and found out the next day that someone had broken in to the shop, went directly into my office where I kept the safe, and stole the whole thing with about $15,000 inside. It remains a mystery to this day who did it, and unfortunately, I have become less trusting because of that experience. But my new safe is steal-proof! I think. 8) The time water started leaking through the ceiling on the second floor, and we didn’t know where it was coming from, and then the ceiling collapsed because there was so much water coming down from a burst sprinkler pipe on the roof. It was - 25°C outside, and my staff soaked themselves trying to fix the problem. They are all awesome, that day sucked. 9) That time I was bringing food down to the Drake Hotel to host a BBQ on their patio, and when we got there, we realized that the food had all fallen out of the back of the van on the way down because the driver forgot to latch the door properly. We had to change the menu really quickly that night…. 10) I could keep going on with stories about things that didn’t work out so well, but I think I’ll end this list with a positive story. The time Alia and I got the news that we were going to have a son. I was standing in my office at the time, and I immediately teared up. We had been trying to have a child for a really long time, and I hadn’t been sure if we were going to get to be parents. Alia had been pregnant for weeks by the time of this phone call, but it’s almost as if I was in denial. Then, when we got that call, emotions and thoughts of promise flooded over me. Desmond was born a few months later, and after years of working overtime, all the time, I decided to change my daily routine. I decided that I didn’t need to be at the shop for 12 hours each day, or look over my staff’s shoulders to make sure they were doing it “my” way. They were quite excellent at doing it their way, which to be honest was just as good or better than mine 99% of the time. I am now able to focus my energy on how to make their lives better, and the experience of our customers. I am able to be a better business owner because of them, and because of our customers, who continue to enjoy what we do. Here’s to the beginning of the next ten years. We have some exciting projects on the horizon, and I will leave you with a bit of a sneak peek. Thanks for reading this far, and I hope to be writing to you in another decade. On the Horizon: 1) Contest Alert! In celebration of our anniversary, we will be giving away a few valuable gift cards. Look for signs in-store for more details, and follow us on Facebook or Instagram (@sanagansmeatlocker) for upcoming details. 2) We have been slowly, but surely, building a new website. This website will have tons of info on cooking meat, and what cuts to choose. But most importantly, it will be a shopping site, where you can order your favorite cuts and have them delivered straight to your door. Look for this early in the new year. 3) Speaking of delivery, we will be launching our official catering menu at the same time as the website. You can order online or by calling the shop and we can have a party tray delivered to your office or home the very next day! 4) The biggest project of all is the cookbook I have spent the last two years writing. This one is going to be huge. I can’t talk too much about it yet; all I will say is that it will be the only meat cookbook you will ever want. No big deal! We’re shooting for a fall 2020 release, so you have plenty of time to get excited! Thanks again to everyone for helping make Sanagan’s such an awesome part of the Toronto food scene. We’re so happy to be a part of it, and glad you can join us for the ride. See you in the store soon! Peter

Roast Turkey with Stuffing

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
Here’s my step-by-step guide to Thanksgiving turkey. Plan ahead, follow these instruction and your friends and family will be giving thanks all night long. And, if you want to make your life easier, pick up some of our housemade stuffing, gravy, and brine kits, available at both locations! Ingredients: 6 quarts water 1 cup salt 1 cup sugar 6 garlic cloves 4 bay leaves 8 thyme sprigs 1 turkey, 15 lbs 1 quart ice Vegetable oil for drizzling Compound Butter: 1 lb unsalted butter 1 bunch sage, leaves picked and chopped 1 bunch thyme, leaves picked and chopped 1 bunch chives, chopped 1 tsp ground allspice ¼ cup Madeira (or port) Salt and pepper to taste Stuffing: ½ lb butter 2 large cooking onions, peeled and diced 2 bay leaves 4 garlic cloves Liver from the turkey, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, diced 1 carrot, peeled and grated ½ tsp grated nutmeg ½ tsp ground allspice 1 bunch sage, leaves picked and sliced Salt and pepper to taste ½ cup Madeira (or port) (optional) 1 cups turkey or Chicken Stock (page xxx) 4 cups diced stale bread (dice it the day before and leave it to dry out) Gravy: 2 cups white wine (divided) 2 Tbsp butter 2 Tbsp cooking fat (from the turkey) 1 turkey neck (from the bird), chopped into smaller chunks Giblets from the turkey 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped ¼ cup all-purpose flour 2 bay leaves 4 thyme sprigs 4 sage sprigs Salt and pepper to taste the drippings from the cooked turkey (should be about 2 cups) 1 cup dark turkey or Chicken Stock (page xxx) Method: 1. The night before you plan to serve the turkey, in a stockpot large enough to hold the turkey, bring the water to a boil with the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. When the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off the heat and add the ice. Allow the brine to cool until you can stick your finger into it, pain free. 2. Remove the giblets, liver, and neck from the turkey (usually these are in the neck or body cavity). Set them in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Place the turkey in the pot with the brine (or place the turkey in the brining bag and add the brine, then place it in a bowl). Refrigerate for at least 12–15 hours (or one hour per pound). 3. To make the compound butter, cut the butter into slices and arrange them on a plate at room temperature to soften. In a small bowl, mix the chopped herbs, allspice, and Madeira with salt and pepper to taste. When the butter is soft, add it to the herb mixture and, using a spatula, fold them all together. Shape the butter into a rectangle on a layer of plastic wrap, roll up, and refrigerate overnight. 4. On the day of the celebration, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine and set the turkey aside while you make the stuffing. 5. To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and the bay leaves, cover, and, stirring frequently, sweat for 15 minutes or until the onions start to change color slightly. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the giblets and liver and cook for another 5 minutes, then add the celery, carrots, allspice, nutmeg, sage, salt, and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium and sauté, stirring frequently until the celery starts to take on a bit of color. 6. Add the Madeira (if using) and reduce by half. Add 1 cup of stock, bring to a simmer, then pour the mixture on top of the diced bread. Mix thoroughly. If you find the mixture too dry, add a little more stock. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside. 7. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Have ready your roasting pan. I like to use a pan with an elevated roasting rack, which allows hot air to circulate around the meat and cook it more evenly. 8. To prepare the turkey, lift the skin at the front of each breast and use your fingers to make a pocket between the skin and the breast meat. Cut the compound butter into ½-inch slices and slide the slices under the skin so they cover the breast. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the bread stuffing. Place the turkey on the rack in your roasting pan (if you don’t have a rack, line the bottom of the roasting pan with large chunks of onion and carrot and set the turkey on top of those.) Season the bird with salt and pepper and drizzle enough vegetable oil to cover the skin. 9. Place the pan on the center rack in the oven and roast for 4½–5 hours, basting every 30 minutes or so with the pan juices, until a thermometer plunged into the thigh of the turkey reads 180°F; the breast or stuffing should read 165°F. Remove from oven and transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Wrap the turkey in aluminum foil, then a tea towel to keep warm while it rests. 10. To make the gravy, pour the drippings and fat into a clear measuring cup (you might need two). The fat will rise above the drippings, spoon off the fat and discard, saving 2 tbsp. Reserve the drippings. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-low heat and add 1 cup of white wine. As it simmers, scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to lift up all of the bits of caramelized roasting juices. Turn the heat off and set aside. 11. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with 2 tbsp of the reserved roasted turkey fat. Add the turkey neck and giblet. Once brown, add the shallots and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the flour and stir vigorously to make an aromatic roux. Add the bay leaves, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper, and then deglaze the pot with the remaining white wine. Turn down the heat and stir constantly for about 5 minutes to cook the alcohol from the sauce. Add the reserved drippings (from both the measuring cup and the deglazed roasting pan) and stock, whisking to incorporate. Simmer for 5 minutes to incorporate the flavors. Strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat. 12. To carve the turkey, use a spoon to remove the stuffing from the cavity. Place some in a bowl and some on the turkey serving platter. Slice the breast meat first using clean long slices on the diagonal through each breast. Remove the whole leg by twisting the thigh away from the backbone. Separate the drumstick from the thigh. Set the drumsticks on the platter leaning against the stuffing. Slice the meat away from the thigh bone and pile it next to the drumsticks. Fan out the breast slices next to that. 13. To serve, present the platter of turkey with the stuffing and gravy to your hungry (and happy) guests.

Thanks

GeneralDeveloper Clermont

October is both the month of Thanksgiving but it’s also the anniversary of my start at Sanagan’s. And for that I’m thankful.

When I started at Sanagan’s seven years ago, I was looking for predictable, painless work that would allow me to write a book. After years of gratifying yet financially precarious freelance writing I wanted to write a novel. And I did, writing early in the mornings before heading out to sell meat. In that seven years, some other things happened: my brother had a massive stroke; my dad went into rapid old-age decline, requiring ongoing, sometimes emergency care from me; I had a hip replacement; and I’ve had cancer twice, both times involving major surgery.

So, yeah, an eventful seven years. And throughout it all, Peter, Brian, store manager Claire and all my co-workers have been unfailingly accommodating and supportive in helping me deal with these various crapwiches. To know my employer had my back throughout it all has made some difficult situations so much easier to deal with.

And over the seven years, it’s been an immense pleasure to get to know so many of our customers, many of whom note my absences and welcome my return. You can’t have too many friends.

At Sanagan’s I’m able to sell products of quality in good conscience, knowing that my efforts will contribute to the family farms of Ontario and sustainable agricultural practices. I’m treated with respect and Peter’s a genuinely good guy who cares about his business and the people who work for him.

And I get an employee discount on all that excellent meat.

So, again, thanks.

Let’s Talk Turkey (and all the other wonderful things Sanagan’s has to offer!)

Producer InfoDeveloper Clermont

Make Sanagan’s your holiday destination this year! We have everything you’ll need to create a successful feast for your family and friends, so join us at either location and get your harvest feast on!

To place your order, either call us at 416-593-9747, or email us at (Kensington) info@sanagansmeatlocker.com, or (Gerrard) gerrard@sanagansmeatlocker.com.

TURKEYS

We source our birds from two different farms; Shady Grove (Guelph, ON), and Elm Creek (Grand Valley, ON). If the former sounds familiar, that’s because it’s where we get our maple syrup from! Both farms adhere to our standards of antibiotic & hormone-free, and free-run meat. The turkeys come in a variety of weight ranges, and as much as we sincerely try to get everyone EXACTLY what they ask for, there is sometimes a variance (on the heavy end). For example, if you want a 16 lb bird, your order goes in the 16-18 lb range, and it’s possible that the birds dress out on the heavy end, so you might have to take a 18lber. But that’s ok, just more turkey sandwiches in your future!

As for Heritage Turkeys, we’ll be getting some in from The Packing House, one of our preferred suppliers who sources game birds, specialty beef, and other great items like these Orlopp Bronze birds from a farm near Meaford. These are beautiful, pasture-raised birds, and I can say from personal experience that they’re some of the tastiest turkeys around! These birds will be coming in between 15 and 20 lbs – we have a limited supply so get your orders in early!

As well as fresh turkeys, we will be getting in whole Smoked Turkeys from Metzger Meats.

NOT TURKEY

Are you one of the few people who don’t like turkey? No worries, we have you covered!

Capons (usually range from about 8 to 10 lbs)

Quails

Cornish Hens

City Ham (smoked, bone-in hams) We get them whole, so we can cut them to size.

Baseball hams (small, boneless smoked hams, better for a small number of people)

Breakfast Sausage Stuffing (loose breakfast sausage mix to put in your stuffing)

SIDES

As well as these “main event” items, Anne and her team in the kitchen will be making up some lovely sides to accompany everyone’s turkey dinners. Here’s what we’ll be offering:

Cranberry Sauce

Turkey Gravy

Turkey Stock

Bread Stuffing

Brine Bags

Brining Kits (includes a brine bag and the brine mix – just add water!)

CHARCUTERIE

It wouldn’t be a feast if you didn’t start with the perfect charcuterie board! Come down and see what Scott has made for the occasion. No one else in the city has the selection of house made pâtés, rillettes, and mousses that your friends here at Sanagan’s have! Impress your friends and your taste buds!

Sanagan's TV Dinners

GeneralDeveloper Clermont
September already. It’s back to school. The days grow shorter. You can’t just walk around all the time in shorts and a T-shirt. Yeah, summer’s over. But there is some consolation — the sun’s setting earlier so there’s less glare on the TV screen! Whether it’s network, Netflix, box-set binging or sports, September is the beginning of TV season. Just wait until October when there’s hockey, basketball, football (round and oval), and the World Series all happening at once. Obviously, nobody’s got time to cook anything. But that’s okay because Sanagan’s provides any number of low-effort, high-flavour, flat-screen compatible snacks and meals. All you have to do is find the remote control. Please keep in mind, some of these items are only available at our Kensington Market location. To be sure if we have it, call us at 416-593-9747! JERKY: Chips are for kids. Up your snack game with our great selection of meat sticks, jerky and biltong. Serve these to your TV party guests and there will be no quibbles with your nibbles. COLD CUTS: Normally we call this stuff charcuterie but for the purposes of TVing, let’s go with cold cuts. We slice ‘em, you like ‘em; salamis, mortadella, capocollo and especially suitable, our dried sausages like kabanos or cacciatore. And while you’re at it, cube up some of our all-Ontario cheese, throw it on some crackers and you’ve got a lot of the food groups covered right there. CHILI: If you manage to hit us on one of the days we’ve got chili in the Grab and Go fridge, your weekend football party just got a lot better. PIES: Don’t let the wholesome, house-made, nutritious quality of Sanagan’s savoury pies throw you off. They’re perfect for the screening room. Just heat and serve. SALADS: We put the vegetable back in vegging out. Lentil and pear, kale and quinoa, beet and other seasonal favourites. Heck, even vegans watch TV. ROTISSERIE CHICKENS: Straight out of the heated display and onto your fold out TV tray. It’s the same high quality chicken we sell in the store, roasted with Sanagan’s bbq rub. Finger licking… FREEZER ITEMS: Mac and cheese, Shepherd’s pie, pasta sauce. We’ve done the cooking so you can keep on looking.

Quick and Easy Dinners for People on the Go Go Go

RecipesDeveloper Clermont
Oh boy! Do you smell that? That aroma of fresh pencil case? C’mon, you know what I’m talking about – that smell that brings you right back to grade five, when you were nervous and excited to start classes again. Would this year be different than the last? Who would you sit next to? What did everyone do over the summer? I hope mom doesn’t make me wear that stupid sweat-shirt with my cousin’s rock band on it – no one even knows who they are! Yes, school is back in session and for many of our customers that means getting back into the habit of rushing everyone out of the house by eight, just to rush back home by six to get dinner on the table. A feat that is difficult at the best of times, and damn near impossible all of the time. Let’s face it – most of us don’t have the luxury of shopping at the market every day, sniffing at the peach bin for the best one, or sharing an espresso with the fishmonger and discussing the virtues of Ontario-farmed shrimp. Most of us are happy to get to the market once or twice a week with meal-plan in hand, getting a haul and making it home in good time to put your groceries away and share a conversation with your partner. With that in mind, I’m here to help with that meal-planning list. Let’s assume that you didn’t have time to batch cook a stew or a roast chicken on the Sunday before the beginning of the week. Here are five easy and quick dinners that can be on the table within 30 minutes of getting in the door. Relax, it’s been a stressful day. Throw on some smooth 70s pop-rock (Fleetwood Mac, I’m looking at you), fire up the essential oil diffuser, and get cracking at one of these recipes. _______________________________ Smoked Pork Chops with Green Beans, Mini Potatoes, and Dill Serves 4 Ingredient List 2 cups of green beans (about 2 handfuls), tops removed 1 cup mini red potatoes, cut in half 1 tbsp vegetable oil 4 smoked pork chops ½ red onion, sliced 2-3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped 2 tbsp mayonnaise Your favorite mustard to serve. Method 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over a high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes. Add the green beans to the pot and cook for another 6-8 minutes, or until both the green beans and the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside. 2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the smoked pork chops, and sprinkle the red onion on top of the chops. Brown on one side, then turn the chops over and lower the heat to medium low, and cover the pan. Cook for an additional five minutes, or until the chops are hot all the way through and the onions are cooked through and slightly golden. Take the pan off the heat. 3. Take the chops out of the pan and keep warm. Add the potatoes and the green beans to the pan. Add the mayonnaise and the dill and stir well to coat the vegetables. Place the potato and green bean mixture into a serving dish and top with the smoked chops. Serve immediately with some mustard. _______________________________ Sausage and Peppers on Cous Cous Serves 4 Ingredient List 2 tbsp olive oil, divided 4 Italian sausages 1 red onion, sliced 2 red peppers, cored and sliced 2 garlic cloves, minced salt and pepper to taste 1 can (2 cups) of pureed tomatoes 6 fresh basil leaves 1 cup cous cous Method 1. Pour 1 tbsp of the oil into a large sauté pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, place the sausages in the pan and brown on one side, about five minutes. Turn the sausages over and add the onions, garlic, and peppers to the pan. Reduce the heat to a medium low, season with salt and pepper, stir well, and cover. Cook for ten minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, turn the heat back up to medium, and cover. Cook for an additional ten minutes, then add the basil and stir well. 2. While the sausages are cooking, cook the cous cous. In a pot, bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil, and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and a tsp of salt. Put the cous cous in a large bowl. When the water comes to a boil, pour it into the bowl with the cous cous, stir once, and cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for fifteen minutes. Remove the plastic and fluff the cous cous with a fork, then place it in a large serving dish. 3. Place the sausages on top of the cous cous, then pour the tomato sauce and peppers all over the sausages and serve. _______________________________ Seared Tofu with Peanut Sauce, Roasted Broccoli, and Rice Serves 4 Ingredients 1 cup jasmine rice 1 pinch salt 1 tbsp butter 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets 2 cloves of garlic, minced 2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided salt and pepper to taste 1 block of firm tofu, cut into four even slabs, about ¾ inch each 2 tbsp peanut butter 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar 2 tsp sesame oil 2 tbsp toasted salted peanuts 2 tbsp green onions, sliced and divided 2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp butter Method 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 2. Rinse the jasmine rice by running it under cold water in a bowl, and shaking the grains with your fingers to release the starch. Rinse and repeat two more times. Strain the rice, and put it in a pot. Add 1.5 cups of water, the tsp of salt and the tbsp of butter. Bring the water to a boil over a high heat, stir the rice, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the temperature to a low heat. Cook for fifteen minutes, then take the pot off the heat and let sit for ten minutes before taking the lid off and fluffing the rice with a fork. 2. While the rice is cooking, make the broccoli. In a mixing bowl, toss the florets in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Lay on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and roast in the oven until golden, about fifteen minutes. Take the broccoli out of the oven and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the soy sauce and butter and mix well to incorporate. Keep warm. 3. Pour 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet on a medium high heat. When hot, carefully lay the tofu in the oil and sear for five minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm. 4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, vinegar, and sesame oil. If too viscous, add a tbsp of warm water. Stir in the roasted peanuts and green onions. 5. To serve, arrange the broccoli on a platter and top it with the seared tofu. Drizzle with the peanut sauce, and serve with the rice in a bowl on the side. _______________________________ Broiled Salmon with Mushroom Trifolati and Polenta Serves 4 Ingredients List 2 tbsp vegetable oil 4 filets of salmon, 5-6 oz each, boneless salt and pepper to taste 2 tbsp butter, melted 2 cups instant polenta 2 cups chicken stock 2 tbsp grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese 1 tbsp butter 2 tbsp olive oil 3-4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (cremini, button, shiitake, oyster, portobello) 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 tbsp parsley, chopped 1 tbsp chives, chopped Method 1. Turn your broiler on a low setting. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, then spread the vegetable oil over the foil. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and brush them with the melted butter. Place in the oven on the second highest rack to broil. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the salmon becomes firm. Remove from the oven and keep warm. 2. Make the instant polenta using the package instructions, using the two cups of chicken stock as the re-hydrating liquid. Once cooked, vigorously stir in the cheese and the 1 tbsp of cold butter and set aside, keeping warm. 3. Meanwhile, make the mushrooms. In a large mixing bowl, toss the mushrooms and the garlic with the olive oil. Season to taste. Preheat a large sauté pan over a high heat, then add the mushroom mixture to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have softened and start to glisten, about ten minutes. Stir in the parsley, then take off the heat and set aside to stay warm. 4. Pour the polenta on the bottom of a large platter. Top with the mushrooms, then lay the four salmon filets on top. Sprinkle the chives on top and serve. _______________________________ Top Sirloin Steaks with Blue Cheese, Fries, and Green Salad Serves 4 Ingredients frozen French fries 4 top sirloin steaks, 6 oz each salt and pepper to taste 2 tbsp olive oil 4 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled 3 tbsp red wine vinegar 4 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp chopped tarragon (optional) 1 head green lettuce, roughly chopped and washed 1 carrot, peeled and grated ½ cup sliced cucumber 4 radishes, sliced thinly 1 green apple, sliced thinly Method 1. Preheat the oven and cook the French fries as per the package directions. 2. Turn the broiler to a high setting. Preheat a large sauté pan over a medium high heat. Season the steaks with the salt and pepper and rub them with the olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the steaks on each side until the desired internal temperature is met. For medium, cook for about five minutes per side. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Once cooked, place the steaks on the tray. Divide the blue cheese between the four steaks. Place the steaks in the oven on the highest rack and melt the cheese until golden, about 2 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside, keeping warm. 3. Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, oil, mustard, and tarragon (if using). Season with salt and pepper, then dress the lettuce, carrots, cucumber, radish, and apple. 4. Serve the steaks on a platter, with the fries and the salad on the side.

Smoking, Simplified

Producer InfoDeveloper Clermont

If late 90's TV sitcoms (Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond) have taught me anything, it's that most men/fathers are essentially cavemen. I wouldn't generally agree with that assessment of myself, with the notable exception of my burning desire to cook meat over fire.

Although I've been using a propane (and very occasionally a charcoal) grill since I was in my early teens, it's only in the last year or so that I've developed a fascination with American Barbecue.

The romantic vision I have in my head involves long, possibly overnight, cooks of full briskets, pork butts and ribs, using an offset stick burner. This would mean constantly monitoring temperatures, adding wood, controlling the fire, etc. etc. As much fun as I think this would be (and I do plan on moving in this direction at some point), with two kids 6 and under, I know that it's a very unrealistic view of how to make it work.

The compromise I arrived at was a pellet grill. Pellet grills have been growing in popularity and the simplicity of it is what really sold me. Essentially, they work electrically to create a consistent environment with temperature and smoke using pure hardwood pellets. It gives me a chance to focus on building flavours that I like and getting rough guidelines for time and temperature, without dominating my time managing the fire.

I went with a slightly larger model than I probably needed and picked it up on the Saturday before Canada Day with 20+ people booked for a BBQ the following day. For my first run through I decided to smoke a pork shoulder and a couple of boneless turkey breasts. I knew that if I ran into issues with my cook I'd be able to take steps to salvage them no matter how the smoker performed.

I needn't have worried. The pellet grill worked like a charm, and with just a simple rub (salt and pepper only for the turkey, a few more spices for the pork butt), smoke and time, we easily fed 20 guests without having to neglect them to prepare the meal. Two days later, I smoked a couple of tri tips low and slow (225 F for approx. 2 hours), rested them for 30 minutes, and finished them off on a hot propane barbecue, in what amounted to essentially a reverse sear. It was a delicious dinner for six that required almost no effort on my part. At this point in my caveman existence, that's about all I can ask for.