The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.14.04


To grill, perchance to feast

"In the barbecue is any four-footed animal - be it mouse or mastodon - whose dressed carcass is roasted whole . . . at its best it is a fat steer, and must be eaten within an hour of when it is cooked. For if ever the sun rises upon barbecue, its flavour vanishes like Cinderella's silks, and it becomes cold baked beef - staler in the chill dawn than illicit love." -- -William Allen White (1868-1944)

"I'm a man. Men cook outside. Women make the three-bean salad. That's the way it is and always has been, since the first settlers of Levittown. That outdoor grilling is a manly pursuit has long been beyond question. If this wasn't firmly understood, you'd never get grown men to put on those aprons with pictures of dancing weinies and things on the front . . ." -- - William Geist, New York Times Magazine

I know I've provided a recipe or two for meals on the barbecue already this season, but as you know, the weather hasn't been all that great. It has been a great season for mosquitoes and some in the area have been large enough to be grilled on their own with a baked potato on the side. I will not even mention the plump and juicy giant spiders that crawl from eve to eve as possible accompaniments. Be thankful that we in Canada have a steady supply of hoofed creatures to feast on.

It seems the scare on beef has subsided and news reports say that folks are buying beef more then they were before. Whether this has anything to do with the fact that many of us laid off the moo last year because of fright or because many of us exercised caution and switched over to white meats, it appears that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

There is an endless supply of steaks displayed in each grocery and as usual at this time of year, they're pricey, as retailers capitalize on our urge to grill. While it is perfectly acceptable to pay $10 to $12 a steak if you wish, you can always use a cheaper cut of beef to stretch a dollar and feed a crowd.

The thing is, you must prepare these cheaper cuts with care. I'm providing a recipe here that makes use of flank steak.

This forgotten cut is flavourful and, when done right, oh-so-tasty. You rarely find it on display, so you will more than likely have to ask your butcher for a nice piece. I get mine at an oriental market, as Asians have known for centuries that flank steak is ideal for grilling.

Prices for flank are far lower at an Asian grocery and the quality is high. Serve these impressive skewers with the accompanying peanut dipping sauce.

Beef satay grill


3/4 cups soy sauce
1/4 cups fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. honey
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until dissolved.
1 1/2 lbs. Flank steak

Cut flank into thin strips that are 3 inches by a half-inch by one-quarter inches. Add to marinade and marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Soak eight to 10 six-inch bamboo skewers in warm water. After marinating flank, thread the beef on the skewer. Preheat grill to high.

Cook quickly about two minutes per side. Serve with dipping sauce.

Peanut dipping sauce

1 tomato peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves minced
3 scallions
1 to 4 jalapenos or Thai chili peppers seeded and minced
1/4 cups cilantro chopped
1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
1/2 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp. lime juice
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Place tomato, garlic, scallions, jalapeno and cilantro into a food processor and process into a fine paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and process to a sauce. The sauce should be pourable - if not, add a little more broth. This sauce will keep three to four days.