Dust off the BBQ and embrace the beginnings of summer…
Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one weekend of sunshine doesn’t mean the summer months are opening up in front of us in a blaze of sunshine, Pimms and al fresco dining, however I must confess this influx of Vitamin D has had a profound effect on my happiness and wellbeing – the car has had its roof down, afternoon drinking is not only allowed but encouraged, and we’ve had the first BBQ of the year.
I know this means there will now be no more sunshine for months, and that we’ll fondly remember ‘That Weekend In April’ when it was sunny, but excuse my optimism when I think of all our potential summer days BBQ-ing in the sunshine. Here’s my top tips for turning your BBQ from spring drizzle into summer sunshine
There’s nothing worse than a burnt tasteless burger that you can’t get your teeth into sandwiched between two dry pieces of stale burger buns. As well as the basics of cooking your burger properly how about making it taste that little bit more special – try adding horseradish or mustard into your beef burger make a lamb burger with some fresh mint or mozzarella or mix some blue cheese in with some pork for another tasty alternative. Make sure you’ve got some homemade burger relish, leaves, tomato and thin slices of onion (or even better some slow braised onions) and a fresh brioche roll and you’re good to go – people will be talking about your amazing burgers at every BBQ they go to.
Not your late night kebab
Another BBQ Basic that you shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting with – the key to success, I think is making sure that everything cooks through in the same time – if you want some nice pink beef on your beef, pepper & onion kebabs, make sure you’ve cooked your peppers and onions through a little first – it means you can marinade and season beforehand, and when your beef is rare and at its best, the rest will be charred and perfect to go, no chewing on raw onions at your BBQ. Get some courgettes and tomatoes on with your lamb and make sure you have some of my absolute kebab fave – halloumi – it works wonderfully with loads of veg, cooks like a dream on a BBQ & tastes great after five minutes on the fire – if you haven’t tried it already, make sure it’s the first thing on your next BBQ shopping list.
Never forget how important sides are to any meal. I’ve one friend, who is always more concerned
with what sides he orders that his actual main course. Corn on the cob is a BBQ staple in the Caviar & Chips kitchen, add a good knob of butter, plenty of salt and pepper and finish with some smoked paprika or fresh chillies for a fresh kick – wrap them in foil and pop then on. Turn them a few times and your special Corn will be good to go, just don’t forget the napkins !
Flex your mussels…
People often think BBQ’s are all about a meat feast, but the truth is they can be a whole lot more versatile than that. Yesterday we had a big pan of mussels, which were scrubbed and de-bearded before being put in a heavy pan with garlic, a splash of wine, chilli and peppercorns and stuck on the BBQ for 5 minutes without a lid. The mussels opened up and as well as taking on the fresh flavour of garlic and chilli, soaked up the smoke for a truly different shellfish dish. You could do the same with clams and don’t be afraid to mix in a some different ingredients too, perhaps some ginger and lemongrass, maybe just citrus and seasoning, or what about chorizo and tomatoes….just keep on experimenting, and get some great crusty bread charred as well to soak up all that free soup at the end.
I’m sure we’ve all been round to a BBQ and been offered a nicely charred chicken drumstick, only to take our first bite and find the middle raw, cold and inedible. An easy solution to this is to poach your chicken gently before you introduce it to the flames. The great thing about this is not only do you ensure your chicken is fully cooked all the way through, but you can also get some great flavour into your poaching liquid, whether it’s your basic chicken stock, some fresh lemon and thyme or a spiced mix that packs a bit more of a punch, your chicken will soak up all these flavours. Then simply coat in whatever sauce you fancy and BBQ away. The chicken can be poached and left with a marinade on in the fridge overnight, and you’re all ready for simple and easy BBQ success!
We’ve already mentioned having a great burger relish to hand, but having a cracking BBQ sauce is even more important. There are some great ones out there, but making your own is really easy, and means you can get it, Goldilocks style, just how you want it , not too sweet, not too salty…just right.
Great Grazing under the rays
If ever there was a method of cooking that makes you take your time and eat leisurely for a few
hours then BBQ-ing is it. Don’t try to cook everything at once – let the BBQ do its work, and give it some time, treat it like tapas, with a ‘its ready when its ready’ mentality and enjoy each freshly charred mouthful at its best. Wash it all down with some Pimms, a nice few beers or a glass of rose, and you’ve got a mealtime as it should be; relaxed, drawn out and enjoyable.
Now bring on the sunshine!
If you want any more ideas – have a peruse of our BBQ menu – we change all our menus seasonally as well, so there will be more summer BBQ dishes coming soon !