Summer must be finally here, as the food gods have decided that it's National Barbecue Week. Up and down the land we'll be dusting off grills and various BBQ implements in the effort to cook some tasty meat, fish and vegetables outdoors. Great British Chefs blogger Food Urchin aka Danny Kingston, decided to start off this weekend. He doesn't actually own a barbecue proper, so thought it would be fun to show you just how easy it is to make your own. And take a look at the difference between barbuecuing UK style vs US style along the way.
Blog post and photography by Food Urchin aka Danny Kingston
By all accounts it's National Barbecue Week this week and I do believe that as a nation we should get well behind the campaign and celebrate this wonderful way of cooking. Sure, along the way there will be sunburn, liver failure, food poisoning and statistically, at least two fatalities from petrol being thrown on the fire but that shouldn't stop us because something else is at stake here. And that is pride.
You see over the pond, our US counterparts tend to scoff at our interpretation of barbecuing food directly over coals, favouring hot smoking or indirect cooking. Often they will take huge joints, racks of ribs and carcasses, normally from piggies, and place them in cavernous barrels. Barrels that stand 12 feet high in the air. On stilts.
The meat will have been thoroughly rubbed with piquant spices and cooked via said methods for 12 days until the flesh falls off the bone in ribbons, to be collected from the bottom of said barrels, scooped up with "alooominum" buckets. The succulent, tender, beautifully smoked meat will then be slapped onto individual platters, complete with 'slaw, whatever that is, and smothered with a rich vinegary, mustardy, chilli, tomato based sauce. This sauce by the way is normally knocked up by pouring all the industrial sized components into a bath and then a guy called 'Jed' will climb inside and writhe about with no clothes on.
It sounds disgusting doesn't it?
OK, actually, it does sound quite nice and in fact, it tastes great and there are a fair number of proponents who are leading the way with US-style barbecue in this country. Pitt Cue in London is one place that springs to mind.
BUT give me my direct grilling methods of cooking any day of the week. That cursory five minutes of prodding sausages with a fork until they are black on the outside and pink in the middle. I might simultaneously singe the hairs on my eyebrows and knuckles as I bend down to scrutinise the one damn sausage that has dived into the fiery pit. I might decide to pour beer over the BBQ in an effort to quell the inferno that the £1 Iceland burgers have invited. I might, after the event, decide to throw little bits of cardboard onto the charcoals in a vain effort to keep the hypnotic primordial flame alive. I might just go for a sleep under the tree because I've drunk too much cider and my head is pounding. But I don't care because this is the British way dammit. And I can see that National Barbecue Week will lead us neatly into the patriotic fervour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend. For surely, as her Majesty makes her way down the Thames next Sunday, thousands of gardens across the land, will be going up in smoke.
*Salutes, blows kazoo, waves flag*
Except, I don't actually own a barbecue proper. And you might not either, so I thought it would be fun to show you just how easy it is to make your own.
First of all I select a spot.
Then using a cunning array of bricks and a metal grid that I somehow seem to have acquired from somewhere, I assemble a very simple but very effective barbecue.
I then place one of those ready-to-light bags of charcoal in the middle and er, set it alight. And you can get lost all you snobs that complain about meat having a tinge of white spirit. It all er, adds to the flavour.
I then sit back and admire my handy work, with a beer in my hand and hum that classic, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
After a while, I get fed up of the smoke and decide to speed things up with some frantic flapping.
I then bring out the meat and other combustibles that will go on the barbecue. In this case, lamb steaks that have been marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic and thyme and a piece of pork belly that has been rubbed with crushed sea salt, fennel and coriander seed and already slow roasted for a couple of hours. Plus the ubiquitous, squeaky halloumi, which in my opinion, no barbecue should be without. Oh and some pitta bread.
I then cook the meat, trying to keep the lamb a bit pink in the middle but sometimes, hotspots in the coals will dictate that it gets cooked all the way through (see how I blamed 'hotspots' there?) The skin on the pork belly will crisp up wonderfully though.
I then throw on the cheese. Now there are different preferences to grilled halloumi in our household. My wife likes it quite burnt, I like it just nicely browned and the kids couldn't care less.
After quickly toasting the pitta, we then sit down to a feast adding a delicious Greek salad to the mix and Daddy gets to sup some beer, smelling faintly of solvents and with tears running down his eyes.
Barbecuing the British way, there's nothing to it really.
Blog post and photography by Food Urchin aka Danny Kingston
How often do you have BBQ's at home? What are some of your tips for getting a barbecue off to a great start? Let us know your secrets to BBQ success over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.
Top blogging *Food Urchin. An interesting read and especially for me as i am currently working on a yacht where BBQ's are expected on a regular basis so i am always trying to find new ideas to keep the guests happy and surprise them with offerings other than the usual burgers and sausages. I will definately be trying your pork belly idea next time. I have recently been playing around with my new toys in the galley which are a water bath and an industrial vacuum packing machine. Have been trying to find ways to make the most of them and came up with a similar idea to your pork belly (i.e. slow cooking before hand) which has gone down a treat. I vacuum seal a hole leg of lamb with some rosemary and garlic, salt and pepper, then put it in the bath for anything between 24 and 48 hours, depending on when the BBQ is due to take place, at 56.5 degrees celsius. This process does incredible things to the meat and leaves you with a beautifully medium rare piece of lamb that you can cut through with a spoon as it is so tender. Then i throw the whole thing on the BBQ to sear the outside to a lovely golden brown crispy finish. The fat dripping into the coals creates a lot of flames and is spectacular for the guests to watch. it is then presented to the table on a cutting board with a knife for people to carve their own meat. To attempt this at home without the equipment i have would be easy enough, just braise the lamb in some stock in the oven over night at a low temp and it should have a similar effect.
I have blogged myself about the awesomeness of the yachty BBQ at achefabroad.com if you are interested.
Loving your work and also the greatbritishchef site as a whole is great, with many of the recipes reaching my guests mouths.
29 May 2012