Grillin’ and Chillin’
Wow! After a terribly cold and rainy spring, things sure have turned around for us. We’ve been enjoying some fabulous weather this summer. And when the sun’s shining and the tree shade feels good, we love heading out for a picnic. And where there’s a picnic, you can bet Nelson will be grilling… chicken kabobs in this case!
We’ve had several portable grills over the years. One charcoal. The others propane. The propane ones are fine—they heat up quickly and get the job done. But when you’re grilling in the park, there’s something special about the process and experience in using charcoal—not to mention the flavour boost—don’t even get me started!
But our old charcoal bbq was big and awkward ,and messy to transport. It was no fun and caused more than one disagreement (ahem… argument) after the inevitable mess we’d be left to clean up.
We love our Broil King Baron™ 590 and while Nelson would like to take it with us when we picnic, that’s obviously not possible. We just needed to shrink our grill down a wee bit.
Enter the portable grill
We’re proud to be partnering with Broil King again—this time we’re taking our grill to the park. We are now the delighted owners of the best part of any perfect picnic—the GrillPro Stainless Charcoal Portable (by Broil King). This beauty made its debut last weekend at the cousin’s picnic, and it did not disappoint.
Nelson said it took some adjusting to, because it had been years since he’d used charcoal, but he quickly figured it out and we did not go hungry at the park. With charcoal you have to adjust the airflow so that the charcoal burns just right.
While it had been a while since he’d cooked with charcoal, it was sort of like riding a bike. All it took was a little attention—checking and assessing the charcoal situation—then adjusting the vents and lid to let in the right amount of oxygen.
If you open the lid and vents you let in more oxygen and the flames burn stronger. If you close the lid and vents, you remove the oxygen and the flames go out faster. It’s science, but it’s not rocket science. Thankfully the portable grill also has a thermometer, so before and during the grilling, Nelson knew exactly what heat he was working with. I think Nelson felt like a grill-master.
Perfect Picnics are Possible
What an amazing day! It was everything you’d want in a family gathering at the park. It started when Nelson and I arrived on time (if you know me… you know why that’s amazing) and found the perfect picnic spot right away.
We had plenty of tables and space to play. We were under some big trees, and set against a backdrop of trees and native plants. There were swings nearby (which children and adults alike, enjoyed 😉.
We were close to trails and a short walk from the washrooms (real ones with flushing toilets, and sinks with running water). Hey…I like my picnics, but I also like my amenities. This is just enough “enjoying the great outdoors” for this suburbanite.
As they arrived…
As the cousins began to arrive things just fell into place as if we were following a script. Nelson fired up the GrillPro Stainless Charcoal Portable (by Broil King), some of the adults and kids (most of them are adults already…though I continue to call them kids) put on their gloves and tossed a ball around (the baseball game would take place later in the day), and some others (me included) sat in the sun—taking a moment to relax and catch up with each other.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch of wine and garlic marinated chicken kabobs, garden salad, home-made potato salad, and even home-cured meat. Nelson also grilled some Portuguese sausages—because no picnic of ours is complete without it. Then to top off the experience and take advantage of the grill still being hot, Nelson made some espresso in a pot—old-school-style.
We were stuffed. No better time for a friendly game of baseball. While most of the group went off to play, a few of us stayed back (it’s a holding down the fort kind of thing). We cleaned up and got out the fruit and snacks for when the hungry crowd returned.
The rest of the afternoon included card games, more food, frisbee, a game called ‘spike ball’ that was new to me, an interesting game of 2 on 2 baseball with the youngest two (and two of the moms), and lots of chatting and laughter.
We really don’t do that enough—but I’m glad we continue to make the effort to get together throughout the year—and that the ‘kids’, while almost all grown, continue to be a part of these get togethers too.
These are two of Nelson’s first cousins, and their spouses, kids, and now their kids’ partners too; but they’ve been a part of my life now for more than half of my life ,so far, and I cherish them and the time we get to spend together.
We packed up as the sun began to set and we all headed home. I felt tired, but refreshed (if that makes sense). Refreshed by the energy I got from being with family and friends in the sunshine and fresh air. Tired because we squeezed everything we could from the day. It was enough to make me take on the workweek ahead as if I’d just taken a vacation.
You’ve got to try this. Seriously. Pack your picnic basket, go soak up some sunshine and do some grilling before the summer’s over. It’s a pleasant way to destress after a busy work week, and it’s a great way to eat well, friends!
Portuguese-style wine and garlic marinated chicken kabobs – vinha d’alhos
- 3.5 lbs (or 1.59 lbs) skinless boneless chicken breasts , cut roughly in cubes. About one breast per skewer.
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup sweet pimento paste
- 2 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce or other mild hot sauce
- 2 red bell peppers cut in squares
- 7 wooden or metal skewers
- In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, wine, pimento paste and hot sauce.
- place the chicken cubes and bell pepper squares on the skewers. Alternate between chicken and peppers.
- Place all the skewers in a long deep dish.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken skewers, making sure all pieces get some of the marinade.
- Cover and place the dish in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the BBQ to between 400ºF and 450ºF.
- Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for roughly 7 minutes on each side, for a total of about 14 minutes. Note, some pieces may be larger. Make sure the chicken is cooked through. Leave it on the heat longer if needed. The edges of the chicken and peppers will look nicely charred.
- Place the skewers on a dish and serve hot with your favourite sides. Enjoy!