I’ve had enough of this winter, and even though it’s still swirling around us in mid-April like vultures around the Maple Leaf’s coaching offices, I’m wrenching a little summer into my day with a barbecue.
I admit I’m a fair-weather barbecuer. I’m not one of the 52 per cent of Canadians who, according to a recent study by Weber, likes to barbecue year round. I won’t even barbecue when it’s drizzling in July. I generally won’t fire up the ‘cue unless I can stand beside it looking cool in shorts with a beer in hand.
But there comes a time each year – usually March, but pretty much everything this season is weeks behind the norm – when the burning need for barbecue outweighs the pressing need to look cool with shorts and a beer. My legs would be just blindingly pale anyway.
And so, at least one more time, I’ll suit up in my warmest boots and trudge through still-foot-deep snow to the shed to rescue the 22-inch Weber Kettle from the cold dark winter hell of my back shed and get back into the charcoal business.
My first barbecue is a simple one this year. A chicken breast, still on the bone. This is a large one that, once infused with the flavours of summer barbecue, will be promptly shipped back to the warmth of indoors to be used in a smokey chicken noodle soup.
Some might say, “what the heck? He’s firing up the barbecue just to make soup?”
That’s correct. That’s how you defeat Mother Nature.
And in a few short months as the temperature roars north of 10 Celsius, the barbecue will once again be a regular part of my weekly meals. It’s always a tasty, convenient, inexpensive way to cook.
I just won’t do it in January. I mean, who are you 52 per centers?
Barbecued Chicken Noodle Soup
1 large chicken breast, bone-in, skin-on
salt and pepper, to taste
barbecue sauce, as needed (I used Peddler’s Creek Hot Louisiana sauce in this case)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 litre chicken stock, preferably homemade or low-sodium
1 cup egg noodles or broken up string pasta
2 bay leaves
¼ cup fresh or frozen corn (optional)
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Barbecue the chicken breast over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, turning often until it’s nicely browned on both sides. Begin basting the breast in barbecue sauce, still turning often to prevent burning. Continue cooking on the grill until the chicken is nicely carmelized and well covered with the sauce. Transfer to a plate and get back inside. It’s still April for goodness sake. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil for a few minutes over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and sauté for five to seven minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook two more minutes. Add the tomato, chicken stock, noodles, bay leaves and corn. Increase heat to bring to a boil. Meanwhile, remove all meat from the chicken breast bone (it’s actually most effective to use your hands). Chop the meat into small dice, including that lovely carmelized skin. Add it to the soup pot as it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for five to 10 minutes for the noodles to cook and flavours to blend. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of barbecue sauce to enhance the flavour. Check seasoning for salt and pepper and serve.