Sometimes You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I’ve been grilling for about as long as I can remember. Every time I think I have figured out my earliest grilling experience I can remember with tongs and hamburger spatula in-hand, I think of an even earlier one before that. I’ve grilled, I’ve smoked, I’ve rotisseried. I’ve used chunk wood, chips, lump charcoal, gas, and briquettes. I’ve grilled in backyards, snowstorms, parking lots, dense forests, and once in the back of a family station wagon (which sublimely smelled of grilled meats and smoke for years to follow…). I’ve grilled meats, seafood, vegetables, soups, desserts, cheeses and an entire Thanksgiving dinner. So, to call me an ‘old dog’ of the grill would hardly be an insult. However, the magical thing about cooking food is that you can never stop learning. There is always more information, better technique, and more inspiring dishes out there. So when I was invited to check out Weber Canada’s new Weber Grill Academy with a group of bloggers I was all too thrilled to make sure I cleared my calendar to attend.

Visiting Weber’s new facility in Vaughan was a little bit like sending a kid into a candy shop. A big giant candy shop for this big giant kid…


Weber has been reaching out to Canadians this past year. After storming onto the the backyard grilling scene over 60 years ago, Weber-Stephen Products LLC, recently expanded its global operations and opened the first Weber-Stephen Canada office in Vaughan, Ontario. In addition, the company proudly debuted the Weber Grill Academy, Canada’s first and only cooking school dedicated to the art and skill of grilling. As I walked through the doors I felt like I’d walked into my second home. Visitor’s can either sign up for a pre-scheduled class or book the Weber Grilling Academy for corporate events. Grillers of any level can take part in one of Weber’s scheduled classes such as their beginner’s couples class all the way up to more challenging grilling adventures such as smoking and desserts! As Weber Grill Specialist Chef Michael P. Clive will proudly tell you “If you can cook it in your oven, you can grill it.”

Chef Michael clearly has a passion for all things grilled and his smile and ease with guests make the entire experience a real treat. Presented with a slew of recipes at various complexities guests are challenged to stretch their use of the grill and really make full use of the array of Weber products in pulling together delicious dishes during the course of the class.


For this experienced griller it was a great chance to talk with Chef Michael about our shared passion and hear his thoughts on grilling, smoking and their endless possibilities. The versatility of the grill as a mixed-use cooking device is limitless. There are not many appliances that mix conduction, convection and radiation cooking all at one time. The perfect reason for grillers of all levels to head to the Weber Grilling Academy to help hone their skills. It’s not everyday you get to watch dessert slide perfectly out of its pan, still hot off the grill!

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If you want to expand beyond burgers and hot dogs, try out this recipe I learned on my visit to the Weber Grilling Academy for Asparagus and Potato Napoleons with Tarragon Vinaigrette. They were grilled perfection!

Weber’s Asparagus and Potato Napoleans

I had the chance to make this dish with Grill Specialist, Chef Michael P. Clive on a recent trip to the Weber Grill Academy. It’s a great dish with fresh vibrant flavours and colours. And a real eye-opener for guests who are used to only getting protein off the grill. A great recipe to try out as we head towards spring!

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Grilling Time: 6 to 8 minutes


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound asparagus
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers, rinsed


1. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

2. In a medium bowl whisk the lemon juice, tarragon, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. While whisking, gradually add ½ cup oil to make a smooth emulsion.

3. Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus spear by grasping at each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness, usually about two-thirds of the way down the spear.

4. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the bottom off one end of each potato so it can stand vertically on the cutting board without rolling. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch slices. Reserve the twelve largest slices, and discard the remainder or save for another use. Add the potato slices to the water and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer just until almost tender, about 3 minutes (do not overcook). Drain carefully, rinse the potato slices under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil on a sheet pan. Add the potatoes and asparagus to the pan and turn to coat them with the oil; season with salt.

5. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the potatoes and asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the asparagus is browned in spots but not charred and the potatoes are golden brown and tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once after about 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the grill as they are done.
Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.

6. Place one potato slice on each of six dinner plates and build the Napoleons evenly with half of the asparagus, another potato slice, the remaining asparagus, cheese, and capers. Whisk the vinaigrette again and drizzle about 1½ tablespoons on and around each Napoleon. Serve warm.

©2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Recipe from Weber’s Time To Grill™ by Jamie Purviance. Used with permission

Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce Meatball Heroes

Grilling for football fans in the Eastern Market is no easy feat. Every year for the Thanksgiving football game thousands of seasoned tailgater veterans bring their massive grills in trucks, pickups, and hitched trailers. There are also slow cookers, deep fryers, smokers and more. This is a hungry crowd with high expectations. You’ve got to stay pretty inventive to keep everyone satisfied. Hotdogs just aren’t going to cut it.

I generally head out at the crack of dawn and light the grill by 8am. There is no concept of “too early” in the Eastern Market on Thanksgiving. That gives me a solid half day to cook up 3 or 4 great dishes in time to still get everyone to the game for kick-off. I always finish up with massive turkey legs for them to walk to the stadium with. I get so many great compliments as other people gape in awe of the massive drumsticks.


The rest of the offerings I try and mix up every year. This time around I wanted to cook something that people wouldn’t assume you could grill at a tailgate party. A few comments of  “Wow. I didn’t think you could make that on a grill.” can generally make my day. This year I decided to cook up meatball heroes for the gang. To really put my version over the top I added some Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce. There sauces are Texas bold and just a bit was the perfect subtle addition to really push the sandwiches into “ridiculously good” territory. Many happy mouths kept asking how the sauce was so darn good. It doesn’t take a lot of hard work to change the good to the sublime. I’ve adapted the recipe below for you to try them at home. Give it a shot and see how your crowd likes them!


Stubb’s BBQ Sauce Meatball Heroes

Serves: 6

4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces ground beef
12 ounces ground veal or lamb
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt & pepper, to taste

Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 bottle Stubb’s Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

6 crusty hero rolls
Non-stick cooking spray

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well and season with salt & pepper.
Heat your grill over medium-low heat. Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and grill until cooked through using one side of the grill only, turning regularly. Keep the heat low to ensure the meatballs cook through without burning. Remember, a meatball is just a hamburger rolled up. Nothing to be intimidated by, just give them time to cook.

Stubb’s Sweet Heat Tomato Sauce:
Spray a large foil pan with cooking spray and place over the empty side of the grill. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the pureed tomatoes, parsley, Stubb’s BBQ Sauce, salt & pepper and allow it to heat up until steaming hot. Don’t try and rush the sauce or you will burn it on the bottom. Stir regularly.
Reduce the heat and add in the grilled meatballs.

To Plate:
Slice the rolls open from the top. Using tongs stuff with meatballs and then ladle some of that awesome sauce right on top.
Serve and enjoy!

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