Thinking about arranging a barbeque party? Michael Strohecker can be reached at phone number 041 444 1966 or through his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FinnBBQgrilling/

The dream of many Finns is to escape the grey short days of December by jetting off to the Canary Islands where temperatures can average 20 degrees Celsius and there’s likely to be more sunshine. Sun, sand and sea for Christmas is normal in Australia but such a long way to travel. Then again, what’s wrong with a covering of snow, blue skies and crisp cold days? Many folks do appreciate a Christmas at home in Finland with family and friends and the blues skies with snow can be the icing on the Christmas festivities.

In our Espoo neighborhood, the traditional big ham joints have been in the shops since October ready for consumption on Christmas Eve. The central Europeans like a fresh carp that they keep swimming in fresh water in the bath for a couple of days before their big day. The British traditional Christmas dinner consists of an enormous turkey—sometimes too large to fit in the oven—Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and parsnips. Of course, the turkey lasts for nearly a week of meals, so by New Year the Brits are fed-up with turkey recipes and looking forward to an alternative.

Why not try a barbeque or a joint of meat a little different to the standard ham or turkey?

Finns might remember the smoked hams from the old days. Older houses had a bread oven where the fire was lit inside the oven and kept going until the oven bricks were hot enough to bake the bread. The fire and ash were raked out before the baking commenced. The same oven became an excellent way to slow cook the Christmas ham and the remnants of the fire gave a slightly smoked flavor to the meat.

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Difficult to replicate in a modern oven but Michael Strohecker, our friendly BBQ Guru using his grills, is able to provide deliciously smoked hams cooked to order. Lightly or strongly smoked? The choice is yours.

Lightly or strongly smoked? The choice is yours.

Fed up with ham, then what about a round beef joint of sirloin or brisket? These smoked roasts can be made as small as half a kilogram and are cooked really slowly to enhance flavor and develop a nice dark surface encapsulating the beautiful moist meat inside.

Both the smoked roasts and the smoked hams have an excellent shelf life when refrigerated but beware that they will become hard and dry if left at room temperature for too long. If you are looking for a gift to present for Christmas, then these smoked meats may be a great alternative to booze or smellies.

In Finland, at the end of November, we start the season of the “pikkujoulut” (a small Christmas celebration with friends or work colleagues). Michael reminded me that he’s quite happy to provide his party BBQ service even if the temperature falls 20 degrees below freezing. Pork ribs and smoked nuts make a lovely alternative to ham, and one of Michael’s Christmas favorites is steak accompanied by lobster tails. Even in a Finnish winter, anything barbeque-wise is possible with good planning.

As the song goes: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” it could come true this year and you can add a splendid twist to the traditional festivities with a BBQ Guru roast or grill party.

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