Monday, 23 June 2008

Mmmm... Savoury Canada.

A taste of Canada. Seems easy enough, what does Canada taste like to me? Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict has posed this most interesting question....

Hmm, Canada is a mosaic, meaning that we embrace and encourage a multitude of distinct cultural groups. I have a feeling that the answer to this question would have a lot to do with where you happen to be living at the time and who your neighbours are, not to mention what season it is. I don't think that there are any wrong answers to this, it is more a paring down of ideas and presenting one dish to represent Canada.

At first we tried to be a little formal and exotic with our answer. Bison with wild blueberry glaze? Sounds pretty Canadian, but not actually anything that we have ever cooked before, never mind eaten.

It is summer, BBQ season. Canadians love to take advantage of our short warm season and cook outside as much as possible. There are more than a few die-hards who will also BBQ in the snow - but they don't do it every night.

I finally decided to feature a basic Canadian classic - Canadian bacon. Also known as back bacon and peameal bacon. It is a cured pork loin, rolled in cornmeal and cut to desired thickness. I once saw an American cooking show that featured Canadian bacon and they held up some strange meat that no Canadian has ever seen before. It looked like processed baloney.

For my savoury Canadian meal, I give you Grilled Canadian Bacon Sandwiches with local greens, Maple Grilled Onions and Maple Mustard Sauce, a Canadian Potato Salad and Beer, just in time for BBQ season. Totally Canadian, eh?

Grilled Canadian Bacon Sandwiches with Maple Onions and a Maple Mustard Sauce.
Makes 2 large sandwiches, multiplies easily.
4 slices Canadian bacon, cut ½ inch thick, lightly drizzled with canola oil and fresh ground pepper.
2 rolls
Fresh lettuce
*Maple grilled onions
*Maple mustard sauce
Grill the bacon on high just to seal each side of the meat, reduce to low and continue to grill until cooked through. Toast the buns and top with sauce, onions and lettuce.

Maple Mustard Sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp good dark maple syrup
Few grinds fresh black pepper
Combine in small bowl.

Maple Grilled Onions
1 large purple onion
Canola oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp good dark maple syrup
Slice onion into ½ inch slices. Drizzle with canola oil and salt and pepper. Grill on perforated vegetable grill pan on BBQ until charred and softened. Toss in small bowl with maple syrup. Return to grill pan to heat through again. Serve.

Canadian Potato Salad
1 red pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
¼ cup parsley leaves
2 lbs. potatoes, cut into ¾ inch cubes, steamed and cooled.
Combine in large bowl and toss with dressing.

½ cup canola oil
1 tbsp dry dill weed
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp honey - local
Combine dressing ingredients, you will likely only need ¾ of the dressing for the salad, save the rest for a future use.

Interesting Facts about some of the ingredients that I have used here today.

Canada is the second largest producer of mustard seed and largest exporter of mustard seed.

Canola oil, which has been lauded for it's health benefits, is a Canadian born crossbreed and represents a major Canadian export bringing in almost 3 billion dollars to the economy.

Yukon Gold potatoes, another Canadian crossbreed, are one of chefs' favourite potatoes to cook with because of their versatility and creamy, gold flesh.
And the beer? Let's just say it's a pretty big part of our national identity. No wonder we're so laid back.
Click here for the Canada Day Savoury round-up! Happy Canada Day!