Now that summer’s officially in full swing, it’s time to enjoy these long warm evenings with some backyard fun—and what could be more fun than getting high with some of your friends while enjoying a great meal? But while we’ve all grown up with the idea of a backyard cookout as a place for crushing some burgers and beers, what might a cannabis barbecue look like instead?
To get some insight and inspiration, we caught up with Jordan Wagman, a James Beard Award-winning chef who’s known for his work crafting health-focused cannabis-infused dishes for private events across North America. And although Canadian-born, Wagman assures that he’s got what it takes to put together the ultimate Fourth of July cannabis barbecue. “This is one of those moments I’m proud to pull out my US passport,” he says, laughing.
It’s The Sauce
No matter where the barbecue, the most exciting action happens on the grill, churning out an array of burgers, hot dogs, veggies and other plant-based foods. “The trick is always going to be in the sauce,” Wagman says. “When you’re working with a hot grill, you wouldn’t necessarily start basting your ribs or vegan burger at the beginning. By the time it’d charred there would be no cannabis left,” he says, alluding to the fact that cannabis infusions are temperature-sensitive and that cannabinoids will denature at around 250 degrees.
Wagman’s solution is to use a regular non-infused sauce throughout the marinating and cooking process, saving the addition of any cannabis-infused sauces as a finish. “I’ll use an infused barbecue sauce as a glaze at the end, smothering it all over,” he says.
Wagman applies a similar science-backed approach to serving cannabis infused sides and salads. “The most important thing is to make sure any dressings or vinaigrettes are really well emulsified, so all that cannabis is really evenly distributed,” he says.
Vigorously shaking or blending oil-based cannabis infusions in with the other dressing ingredients is the best way to achieve emulsification. With an infused dressing on the side, Wagman says that salads are also great to prepare in advance of your cannabis barbecue, making hosting duties easy. “Salads can be made the night before by putting a lot of the wet ingredients on the bottom, and some lettuce on topo. All you’re doing is dressing it in the moment,” he says.
That’s So Sweet
Grilled desserts are another surprise guest at Wagman’s cannabis barbecue, with so many creative and versatile options such as grilled dessert pizza. “This is one of my favorite things to do during grilling season,” he says.
The celebrated chef also offers advice to simplify the process for the baking averse. “Here’s a great kitchen hack,” Wagman says. “Don’t worry about making your own pizza dough; go buy raw dough at the grocery store, and when you’re working it, instead of flour, use oil. Get your grill smoking hot, roll the dough out with your hand and place the dough right on the grill. You can use anything as a topping—marshmallow, almond butter, infused chocolates—just be creative! One of my favorites is to take some brie cheese, melt it down, put it in the blender with warm dairy and puree with cannabis oil. Top with sliced apples or pears for a cheese-and-fruit pairing on a grilled pizza!”
But of course, no cannabis barbecue is complete without some ice-cold beverages, and while there are many great RTD cannabis-infused beverages available in the marketplace, Wagman recommends playing with terpenes if you’re looking to make your own drinks at home. “Drinks can be very terpene heavy, and there are a lot of different directions you can go in,” Wagman says. He describes a peach-mango fizz that’s a current favorite featuring a mango and basil coconut vinegar puree, topped with a peach-terpene infused puree, lime juice and a dried mango garnish.
But no matter what you infuse, the most important thing, according to Wagman, is keeping you and your guests comfortable, and making sure no one gets too high. “It’s always safety first,” he says. “If I’m ever hosting anyone, whether they’re a paying guest or a friend in my home, I always use something I’ve purchased through the legal channels. It’s best to be able to use a product that’s tested and has efficacy behind it so you can dose down to the milligram.”
Wagman also emphasizes the importance of well-dispersed emulsions. An improperly emulsified brownie batter, for example, may yield inconsistent dosing throughout the pan, and even brownie-to-brownie. “But as long as you’re able to ensure your cannabis has been equally distributed, you can very quickly do simple math: The amount of cannabis, divided by yield equals potency per portion.”
So, what to cook at the cannabis barbecue? Chef Wagman gave us a recipe that’s perfect for an infused barbecue. While the grill is busy with your burgers and brats, roast a whole fish in the oven to serve family style, and top with Jordan’s famous infused hot sauce. Delish.
Roasted Whole Fish
Infused Hot Sauce
- ½ cup (125 mL) cherry tomatoes
- 6 each basil leaves
- ¼ cup (60 mL) chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) coconut or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) cannabis oil or tincture
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) sea salt
- ¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 mL) coconut or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup (60 mL) basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 each green onion
- ½ tsp (2 mL) sea salt
- ½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- 4 each whole fish, cleaned and scaled, about 16 oz (1lb) (see tips)
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- ½ tsp (2 mL) sea salt
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- In a blender, combine cherry tomatoes, basil, chipotle, vinegar, cannabis oil and salt and puree until smooth. Transfer to a boil and set aside.
- In a blender, combine, olive oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, green onion, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 F
- Using a sharp knife, make three cuts into both sides of the fish, about an inch apart, from the fin to belly.
- Season fish evenly with olive oil and salt and set aside.
- Crumple parchment paper into a ball and place the paper into the cavity of the fish. Place fish onto a baking sheet, pressing down to flatten the bottom of the paper, enabling the fish to stand on its own. Repeat so all fish are sitting on their pedestal of parchment paper and transfer to a preheated oven.
- Roast until eyes are white and flesh is opaque, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To serve, evenly divide hot sauce and place in the center of a plate. Place fish on top of the hot sauce and, using a spoon, drizzle basil puree on top of the fish.
- Serve immediately.
Chef Jordan’s Tips
“Striped bass, yellowtail snapper and pickerel are my favorite fish to use, but use your favorite.”
Learn more about Chef Jordan in the next issue of Cannabis Now magazine.