It’s midway through summer and while many of us are cooking the majority of our meals at home, it’s a good time to pull the cover off the barbecue—if you haven’t already. To provide some culinary insight and expertise, Celebrity Chef and Fidel Gastro’s founder Matt Basile joined us virtually to provide a walkthrough on cooking an easy, delicious barbecued meal.
Matt’s dish for this virtual session was a spatchcock (aka flattened) chicken with chimichurri sauce and pineapple salsa. While deftly prepping the meal and walking us through his recipe (linked here), Matt gamely answered questions from the audience and offered BBQing tips for budding chefs at home. You’ll find the grillmaster’s insights below, and we hope this helps to spice up your at-home cooking adventures as the season continues.
- Whether cooking on the BBQ or inside the kitchen, always make sure to prepare all the utensils, tools and ingredients you need before starting. Preparing ahead of time helps the process go smoothly and helps ensure success, especially when trying new recipes.
- Be mindful of over-salting when making dishes that call for salting of multiple elements. Salt is a key ingredient for tasty food but it can overwhelm other flavours when several prepared ingredients are combined.
- When barbecuing, resist the urge to open the lid and check the food too often. It will cause the BBQ to lose heat, and risk uneven cooking or drying out the dish as you will need to keep the food on the grill longer.
- On a similar note, invest in a good thermometer to help eliminate the guess factor. Also, try to avoid cutting into the still cooking meat. Making a slice to check if something is cooked all the way through is an easy way to lose juices and end up with inconsistent flavour throughout the meat.
- When cooking chicken, be mindful of having your poultry over direct flames. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to blacken the skin/outside while the inside is only partially done.
- For exciting and delicious roasted vegetables, try treating them like you would a protein. Experiment with adding oil, butter, salt, and garlic. Also, unless you’re specifically trying to caramelize something which normally calls for high heat, cook veggies slowly at a low temp. That will ensure a richer, more complex flavour.
- Is it OK to substitute dry herbs for fresh ones? For most dishes, yes, but not always. Something like the chimichurri sauce of this dish really calls for fresh herbs. Still, don’t be afraid of using dry herbs, especially in the winter months. Just be mindful of those expiry dates!
- If you’re in search of quality meat, consider a local butcher shop. Not only is the product often better but you have a chance to talk to an expert on what kind of meat you might need for a specific dish.
- While a BBQ is ideal for summer cooking, not everyone has access to one. An oven can do in a pinch and also using cast iron pans can be a good substitute, but make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated. Otherwise, try to make friends with someone who has a backyard and a BBQ to share. When it comes to good food, a little creativity is often necessary!
Matt Basile believes food should be fun, and that in the food business you have to do things differently to be memorable. The creator of the Toronto-based street food brand Fidel Gastro’s, Matt started his career in advertising as a copywriter, but when he was just 26 years old, he left it all to host his first underground popup in Toronto. Since then, Fidel Gastro’s has grown from a fold-up table to a food empire receiving national and international attention.
If you’re interested in booking Matt for your virtual event, or have questions about any of our speakers, please contact us for more information.