Burger on the Grill - © maudehunterspub ca

Labour Day Traditions: Last Gasp (Bite) Of Summer?

Labour Day marks many changes and turnovers in our modern world. The new school year begins. Business activity ramps back up to ‘normal’ after a summer slowdown. And we all switch back from lazy, loose summer agendas to tight daily schedules and more-formal dining routines…

Sausages and Burgers on the Grill - © Wild Idea Buffalo CompanySausages and Burgers on the Grill: A common sight
here in Canada on Labour Day Weekend!

At my house, we don’t stick rigidly to our established daily activity or dining routines during the summer. That has a lot to do with accommodating visits from friends and relatives who come to the Capital on their annual vacations and want to be shown the sights. Meal times and set, weekly menu landmarks go out the window. Take Dim Sum Tuesdays, for instance. We never subject visitors to our otherwise religiously observed menu tradition of Asian dumplings for Tuesday supper, preferring instead to poll the populace, as it were, and do a takeout meal we can all agree on. It’s a treat for everyone involved. Same with Italian Night and Fish on Fridays.

Seems like only last week…

It seems like it was only last week that I was sharing start-of-Grilling-Season tips in this space. But it was, in fact, back on the doorstep of the summer, in late May and early June, that we began our traditional focus on the BBQ and outdoors living – the unofficial start of Summer. Now, it’s the unofficial end of the season and we’re heading back to the so-called grind.

But our outdoor activities will persist through the middle of October at least, weather permitting (longer depending on how addicted you are to your Grill!) and only the foods we choose to grill will change. That’s because the harvest season brings us a natural bounty on the locally grown Produce front.

What are you grilling for the Labour Day holiday?

At my house, we all look forward to Grilling Skewers featuring fresh, crisp locally grown Veggies and simple, hearty fare such as Hamburgers and Sausages, along side Fresh Summer Salads. For some reason, fancier stuff like Marinated Chicken Pieces and Salmon Steaks and so on just don’t seem appropriate with the return to ‘Business’ looming.

I like to make as much use as possible of fresh, local Sweet Corn On The Cob during its short, delicious season, which usually corresponds to Labour Day, here. There are many ways to Grill Corn and all serious Grillers have their favourite. But I prefer to shuck the Cobs and dress the bare kernels with Salt, Pepper and Spiced Butter. My favourite addition is Nutmeg. Other Grill aficionados swear by Sweet Paprika. To Garlic or not to Garlic is entirely up to you – but try it once just to be sure you are not dismissing something wonderful out-of-hand! Wrap the dressed Cobs tightly in foil, and grill on indirect heat for at least an hour to avoid burning.

Baked Potatoes are also common on Labour Day Grills here in my part of the world. Here’s the ideal time and place to give them jackets: Wash thoroughly using a Vegetable Brush to remove all dirt and sand. Do not peel! Puncture all over with a fork to allow excess steam to escape. Then, dress with Butter, Salt and Pepper and wrap tightly in foil. Like Corn, you should put your Potatoes on indirect heat so the skins don’t burn before the Spuds cook through. That should take around an hour and a half, so your Potatoes should be probably be the first items that go onto the heat.

Quick tips re.- Burgers and Sausages

  • Make your Burgers nice and thick so they don’t get tough and dry on the grill. But don’t forget to make sure they’re cooked through, to at least 165 F, to ensure nobody gets sick.
  • Get a package of regular Hot Dogs for any kids in the crowd. They probably won’t appreciate the nuances and niceties of the Brats and Polskis you provide for the adults, and Hot Dogs are probably more their size.
  • Puncture your Sausages all over with a fork to allow steam and rendered Fat to escape. You want nice, plump Sausages, not blown-out ‘bangers’ to show off on your Premium Buns.
  • Don’t press on your Burgers (or Sausages, for that matter). That will just make them dry and tough. If you’re concerned about excess Fat, remember that you’re cooking on a Grill where rendered Fat will just drip off harmlessly.

Above all else…

Have fun! Let everyone pitch in on prepping the Corn, Potatoes and Skewers for the Grill. It’ll give folks something to do, a chance to chew the fat, and an opportunity to get a mouthwatering  preview of what’s to come for supper!

~ Maggie J.