Even if the Weather Disappoints your BBQ never Should
People, it may feel like the best of the weather is behind us, but I’ve got hope for a hot August and some tips to make sure you make the most of it. Either way, here in England we BBQ whatever the weather and if you have yours hooked up to gas you have no excuse. Likewise, there’s no excuse for dry frozen burgers, walls sausages and chunks of unseasoned beef or lamb cooked with about the same respect that was shown to it when it was violently penetrated by a metal skewer (that is to say violated and cooked to death). That’s because I’m here with 3 simple recipes to bring some spice and variation to your life. All of them healthy and more importantly tasty and can be found by clicking the links here (Jerk Chicken, Vietnamese Pork Belly Kebabs, Marinated Veg and Halloumi Kebabs).
But don’t skip straight to them as there are still some issues we need to go through!!! The first of which is, for the love of God marinate your meat. Rarely is a BBQ a spontaneous thing, it’s usually preceded by days of anxiously looking at forecasts after you overheard two colleagues talking about this weekend’s heat wave. So, in this time of heightened anticipation, go get everything you need and marinade it. The longer the better frankly. Most recipes will say “overnight” if possible. Well you should really make it possible, because what these recipes are saying is “if you’re the sort of person who has their life in order then you’ll do the smart thing and marinate overnight”. If you aren’t and instead are always happy to coast through life accepting second best then yeah, a couple of hours is fine I guess”. What isn't said is that “if you’re the sort of person who truly loves your mother you’ll have this stuff marinating for days”, honestly, the longer the better. I did a BBQ for 50 people recently and to make sure that I was on top of everything I seasoned the food three days in advance. The difference in flavour was MASSIVE! It makes sense really doesn’t it? At the end of the day what is marinating, its impregnating your meat with extra flavour. During a day’s shift in The Gilbert Scott, a lovely Marcus Wareing owned restaurant in St. Pancras, which you will know all about if you follow me on Twitter (@RobertDAParks) I learnt that most all the meat they cook, be it Steaks, Pork Chops or Barbecued Quail was prepared, vac packed and marinated at least two days in advance. Boy that makes a difference. It’s not only meat that can benefit from marinating before its being cooked as evidenced by my Marinated Vegetable and Halloumi Kebabs. Most Veg won’t soak in flavours, with the exception of things like mushrooms or aubergines, but even these result in a horrible squishy texture. However, dressing your veg in lots of herbs and oils and lemon juice really elevates the flavours to another dimension.
Right, so our food has been marinating and we’re ready to go outside and rock the barbecue. As well as bringing your meat and veg out with you make sure for goodness sake to bring some salt, pepper and possibly even a flavoured oil with you. What for? To season your bloody food of course!! Nothing is more disappointing than under seasoned barbecue. It is the Icarus of the culinary world. It flies so close to the sun but upon tasting it crashes into a sea of disappointment. So season your meat, not only before cooking but also whilst on the grill, maybe every time you turn it. This will ensure that the seasoning sticks to the meat and encrusts it with flavour to ensure that the wax on its wings doesn’t melt (if you don’t understand what I’m saying you desperately need to revisit your Greek mythology).
So our meat is marinated and seasoned and happily cooking away on the barbecue to charred perfection. Or is that burnt to a cinder? This is the only thing that can ruin what you have in place at this moment. I think the universal barbecue rule is that 'flames are good but fire is bad'. How you interpret this is probably the deciding factor in how well you cook on a grill and probably only improves with practice. If you don’t have the occasional lick of flame caressing your kebabs and sausages then you may as well have just put the food under the grill in your oven quite frankly. This is why I suggested you bring flavoured oil to the barbecue with you, just to help things along. Drizzling some of this over your food is the perfect way to get a little flame going and begin to caramelise the fats and sugars in your meats to achieve barbecue perfection. Should this flare up too much and you find yourself fighting a fire and want to calm things down then a vaporizer bottle filled with water will work perfectly. This is more likely to happen when grilling over coals and a spritz of water directly onto the fire should take care of it.
So there you have it, I’ve armed you with some tools to go out and rock a barbecue. Now all you need is some recipes to try out and put my theories to the test. Well, it just so happens I have some lovely recipes of my own for you. By clicking the links you’ll find my recipes for my Vietnamese Pork Belly Kebabs, Jerk Chicken and Marinated Halloumi and Mixed Veg Kebabs.