For Rob Rainford it’s all about taking outdoor cooking to another level, by pushing the envelope and exploiting international flavours.
“I looked at the landscape and I made a conscious decision to do it my way,” says the Toronto chef who has travelled the world to search out unusual ideas to incorporate into a new book released just in time for grilling season.
The sizzling result is “Born To Grill: Over 100 Recipes From My Backyard to Yours” (Random House Canada, $29.95 paperback; photos by Mike McColl).
The cookbook’s unique format also features 20 complete menus for both the gas grill and the charcoal method, which he endorses for its ability to pump up flavour using wood chips to add a smoky essence.
“To get that element into my food I use different chips such as alder which gives the smoke a subtle flavour,” Rainford says. “It is not overpowering as others like mesquite and hickory.”
His book also offers a section on grilling methods and tips and recipes for his signature sauces, jerk marinade and stock.
Readers can revel in the fun of preparing recipes featuring Indonesian, North African, Italian and North American flavours, to name just a few. For example, Southern ribs are teamed with a Peruvian potato salad while Egyptian Lamb Koftas are served with Cinnamon Jasmin Rice.
Rainford, 46, was born in Jamaica. He came to Canada when he was three and later graduated from the chef’s program at George Brown College in Toronto.
He lives in Toronto with his wife Rose and three daughters.
Rainford was host of the Food Network Canada show "Licence to Grill."
The following fish entree from the book is one of his favourite recipes.
Grilled Striped Bass
For a beautiful, simple entree, serve the bass with a seasonal salad and a rice pilaf.
8 skin-on striped bass fillets, each about 250 g (8 oz)
50 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) freshly ground white pepper
2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried chili flakes
Canola oil, for greasing
Fire up your charcoal barbecue or heat a gas grill. If using charcoal, use alder wood chips. You need a medium grilling temperature of around 160 C (325 F). Prep the grill for cooking over direct heat.
Make four slits in the skin of each fillet. Brush the fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and chili flakes.
Grease the grate well with canola oil and place the fish on the grill. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is opaque.
Makes 8 servings.
Tip: Instead of oiling the grill, you can place a piece of foil between the grate and the fish to prevent it from sticking. If sticking becomes an issue, reposition the fillets to a cooler area of the grill to finish cooking.