Top Chef Canadajudge Chris Nuttall-Smith shares his best crowd-pleasing barbecue recipes.
“Friends of my parents threw a pig roast when I was a kid. It was the exact opposite of fancy: a barrel barbecue, leashless, flappy-tongued dogs and a cooler full of frost-rimed stubby beer bottles. I remember piling a flimsy cardboard plate far higher than I had any business piling it — ‘Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, kid’ — and the unmistakable smell of charcoal briquettes in my hair and clothes as I drifted off on the car ride home. Yet what’s stuck with me most of all, even all these years later, is the look people had when that dinner was ready: overjoyed and feral and more grateful than I knew was possible. There was strange power, I realized, in grilling for a crowd. Pretty much everything I know about backyard barbecue parties I learned on that single summer’s day.
And I guess I’ve been trying to create that same feeling ever since I moved out on my own. I’ve always been the guy who invites everyone over. And I’ve been known to shovel a three-foot-deep path through the snow from the patio steps to the barbecue. The sudden quiet as the patio door slips shut; the crackle and smell of charcoal embers; the close conversations with the few early outdoor joiners, tongs and (unstubby) beers in hand. Summer, winter or anytime in between, it’s a matter of minutes until the party relocates to the grill.”