Green Thai Chicken Burgers

As tasty as it looks.
Yum!
Well, hello there. It’s been about nine months since my last post, when Gemma and I completed our 30-barbecue challenge. We’ve barbecued plenty since, but this year there’s no challenge (what with moving house, and a thesis to finish, we’re rather short on time). Nevertheless, there have been some great new recipes for you to try out, and this one is no exception!

Having been inspired by a Thai green curry I had a few weeks ago, I decided to attempt some Thai burgers, along a similar principle. Actually making chicken burgers involves acquiring chicken mince, which is quite difficult to come by (most butchers don’t do it, because it’s too wet). If you can’t find any, mincing your own with a food processor and chicken breasts will do fine, and turkey is perfectly adequate (though will be a little drier). Anyway, it’s barbecue season – give this a try!

Ingredients

Thai food tends to have a few key ingredients which set it apart from, say, Chinese food:

Makes four burgers

  • 300g chicken mince (use turkey mince if you can’t find chicken, and more if you like big burgers. Obviously)
  • Half a red onion or one small shallot, very finely chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, very finely chopped. If you can get its relative galangal, for a more authentic Thai flavour, do so.
  • Two fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce (trust me. It won’t make your burgers fishy)
  • Half a Thai green chilli. These are the hot little chillies you can find in supermarkets. If you can’t find one, use a whole, regular green chilli.
  • A small handful of coriander leaves (cilantro), finely chopped
  • The zest of one lime
  • One stick of lemongrass
  • Natural breadcrumbs, as needed (you may not need any, if you use turkey)

Recipe

Quite a list! Luckily, they’re quite easy to put together. Begin by preparing the lemongrass – it’s rather woody and tough on the outside, so top and tail it, and take the first couple of layers off, discarding them. Chop it as finely as you can, then combine it with the chopped coriander, onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Add the salt and lime zest.

Combine this mix with the chicken, and add the fish sauce. You should have a fairly wet mixture. If so, add breadcrumbs until the mixture can be moulded into burgers easily. Divide the mix into four burgers, make a dimple in the middle on both sides (which stops them rounding out as they cook), and cook for around five minutes per side on the barbecue. Delicious!

Great with a chilli, soy and lime dressing. Oh yeah.

*Drumroll please…* Barbecue 30: September 11!


There were some doubters. Some nay-sayers. But today, my friends, a victory for the small-time griller. Myself, Gemma and Rosie have achieved our 30-barbecue target, and all by September 11 (yes yes, I know it’s September 25 October 2 – so sorry! – as you read this). For the last barbecue of the year, we invited round all of our local friends (I think about 15 people. And we have a small house). Being an evening, we were battling with the light (as well as the weather – see barbecue 29, earlier in the day). In fact, most of the actual cooking was done in the dark! But that’s what a camera with a flash is for, right?

Weather

Challenging! The dark was settling in by the time most of the cooking was in progress, but, this being a special barbecue, I had been using the grill since about 4pm. At that time, there was rather a lot of rain and cloud, leading to drastic measures (see right)! Nevertheless, not to be defeated, we persevered – how could we fall at the last hurdle? At least it was dry for the evening cooking, if a little cold.

Food

Given the huge number of guests, we cooked rather a lot (and had rather little left over – my kind of barbecue). I introduced a new recipe (more on that soon), but decided to cook a few of the things that have been most popular over the past six months. (Six months? Bloody hell). We also went for an alternative cooking strategy – knowing that people like to eat as soon as they arrive, I started the barbecue with indirect coals (i.e., on the sides) at about 4pm. Once ready, I slow-roasted my amazing Dry Rubbed Pork Shoulder. A big (2kg) joint of meat like this needed a good three hours of roasting until perfectly done.

Once 7pm came around, I topped up the barbecue with more coal, and even filled a specially bought bucket barbecue just for Sam, our vegetarian (don’t let it be said that I don’t have a heart somewhere). Turns out that was much better than a disposable thing – money well spent.

Aaaanyway. On the menu for the evening were:

    Something for the meat-eaters...
  • a sort of cross between MattBurgers and American Stuffed Cheeseburgers, which were very popular, and very quickly demolished
  • a number of other burgers we’ve had in the freezer and wanted to get rid of, including beef and jalapeño chilli burgers, pork, red pepper and coriander burgers and plain old beef burgers
  • some good quality pork sausages and pork and apple sausages
  • my awesome (and quite spicy) Steak Fajitas (which I should have made more of)
  • some corn on the cob, and…
  • what barbecue would be complete without my guacamole with nachos and sour cream?

...and something for the veggies!
That’s a lot of food, folks! Just about enough for fifteen people, when combined with Gemma‘s very delicious banoffee pie.

We went on long into the night. Much beer was consumed, hence the slightly blurred photos (also due to the low light – sheesh, the problems with barbecuing in Autumn)! As a final barbecue, it was a fitting tribute to what has been an enjoyable, and enlightening experience.

That’s Your Lot…

Well, that’s it. 30 barbecues done, as promised. 27 recipes uploaded, and some lovely comments from you, the readers, about both. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog – it makes having written it worthwhile when I receive a nice comment. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as I’ve enjoyed writing.

Stay tuned for a special edition Bearded Barbecuer post sometime in the near future… and maybe we’ll be back with another challenge next year? Until then, see you on twitter!

Cheers,
Matt :)

Dry Rubbed Slow-Roast Pork Shoulder

Oh yeah. This is one of those things that you’ll cook, and go back to again and again. Honestly, one of the nicest things I think I’ve made – so many compliments, and I’m so happy with it. Apologies for being late with the recipe – things have been a little busy, to say the least!

Ingredients

This is a long one…

  • One 2kg pork shoulder joint. Get bone-in if you can – the joint cooks quicker and will be juicier. I couldn’t.
  • 2tbsp sweet smoked paprika. Quite important to get the sweet stuff.
  • 1tbsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 1tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1tbsp garlic powder (really, it’s great)
  • 2tsp ground coriander
  • 1tbsp salt, 1tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp powdered ginger
  • 1tbsp dried mixed Italian herbs. You can get these in one go at the supermarket, but otherwise use a combination of thyme, oregano and rosemary. I’d actually go for dried over fresh in this case.

Recipe

Damn, my mouth is watering already. Like I said, if you can get a shoulder with the bone in, do. I couldn’t find one, so I got a good tied shoulder joint, with the skin already slit (this makes great crackling). Pat the pork dry using kitchen towel. Next, combine all the other ingredients above.

Liberally rub the dry rub onto the pork, making sure every bit is covered well. Some will come off, so rest the meat in a bowl, rolling it around in the other ingredients. Leave this to marinade for at least two hours.

Now for the cooking! As it’s nearly October, I’d understand if you didn’t want to barbecue this. It does work really well, though. In the oven, I’d guess about 3 hours on a slow, long roast at about 160 degrees. The thing with pork shoulder is that you want it really juicy and tender, and to get that, you need a slow roast. Leaving it on for several hours in a low oven is a great way to achieve that.

Soooo goooood...
But… you don’t get the smoky goodness! “Won’t it cook on the outside before on the inside, Matt?” you say. No! Because I used… that’s right… the indirect method. This is the only way to slow-cook pork on the barbecue. Charcoal on either side of the barbecue, leaving the centre charcoal-free. Put the pork in the middle, and leave it. Go out and do something, and come back in 3-4 hours. As long as you don’t open the barbecue, it will still be hot when you get back, and the pork will be deliciously moist and tender.


Don’t forget to (a) make sure the meat is done and (b) rest it wrapped in foil for 20 minutes before serving it! Cut into the deepest part – it’s best served shredded up anyway – to make sure there’s no pink remaining.

Seriously, you’re gonna love this. Give it a try – it’s my last recipe of the year!

Barbecue 29: Our First Breakfast Barbecue!

Despite having been a big barbecue fan for many years, we’ve never done breakfast on the barbecue before. Admittedly, this was partly down to a mix of never being bothered, having a perfectly good frying pan, and preferring cereal for breakfast 😉 But, boy, we were missing out. Barbecue breakfasts are fantastic, and you need to try one now!

This was also the earliest barbecue we’ve ever done (about 9am), and we weren’t convinced the weather would hold. Luckily, the barbecue god (I like to call him Grillor) was smiling down on us.

Weather

Breezy!
We’d been planning for about a week to hold our 30th barbecue on September 11, and invite our local friends over. This would have been fine, except for persistent rain for most of the week. So, we weren’t hopeful that we’d be able to do this breakfast thing at all. Luckily, as you can see, despite a few spots of rain we had no problems.

Well, I say “no problems”. It was really windy, and (as mentioned in barbecue 28’s post) we had no firelighters, so had to bank on the chimney working with newspaper. Thankfully it did, else we would have been moving our final barbecue past the mid-September point! It was strangely challenging to light a barbecue at 9am, though – perhaps it was just in my head 😉

Food

It’s an English Breakfast – what do you think?

There were some interesting challenges here. Foremost was the fried egg (we’ll get to that). Otherwise, bacon, sausage, and half a beef tomato each, all piled onto a lovely sandwich.

So anyway, back to that egg. Gemma had requested that her egg be poached (!). Having been informed that the addition of water to the barbecue could have adversely affected cooking, she declined to have an egg. I went for the standard fried option. “But didn’t the egg fall through the grate, Matt?” I hear you cry. “No!” I defiantly return, “thanks to my trusty barbecue egg pan!”

I know you're impressed. But don't get too egg-cited.
Really it was just some foil, raised and folded over into an oblong pan shape, doubled at the bottom, and oiled to allow the egg to come out. I cracked the egg in, seasoned it and it was done in 5 minutes. Of course, given the difficulty of turning such a fried egg, this only really works if you like yours over easy.

So anyway. That was the only difficulty really – the bacon was fine, and took about the same time as the egg, being turned once. The sausage and tomato took a little longer (7-8) minutes to be cooked through.

And then, piled onto a sandwich… oh, piled onto a sandwich. The best breakfast sandwich you could imagine. Seriously, try it. If you’ve put your barbecue away for the year, resurrect it just for this. Go on! I mean, look!

YES. It's that good.

Go on. It reaches the parts other breakfasts can’t reach (TM) :) See you at barbecue 30! Woo!

Barbecue 28: A Rush on September 8!

…aaaand we’re getting closer to mid-September! But we’re on target. Having just been away for the weekend, Gem and I pressed on with barbecuing once the weather had cleared up enough to do so. But with little time to prepare, I’m afraid there are no new recipes here. New ideas aplenty, though.

Weather

Like I said, it had been horrible for a few days, but picked up just enough for a barbecue on the 8th. Light winds, which are no match for the Weber. Good times.

Food

We’ll start with the small stuff first. Of course, the normal salad that we have with every barbecue. We’d also purchased some delicious (and idea-inspiring) pork, coriander and red pepper burgers (they turned out really well, so stay tuned for a recipe next summer, kids ;)) and a rather expensive but tasty-looking Sweet Chilli and Lime Spatchcock Chicken. If you’re wondering what a spatchcock chicken is, it’s basically a chicken that’s had some of its bones removed in order to flatten it. Typically the breast bone is removed, and sometimes the chicken is held flat with skewers.

(Not burned. That's the coating caramelising. Honest)
Either way, this needed precooking, and a different barbecue method. I gave it 25 minutes at 180 to cook the deeper parts of the bird well, and the transferred to the barbecue on an indirect heat: that means putting the charcoal at the sides of the grill, preferably behind rails. The indirect heat means that the barbecue acts more like a smoky oven, and prevents the meat closest to the skin burning before the rest is cooked through. Without an hour to spare, though (we were hungry), precooking was a quick method to get most of the way there.


The chicken turned out moist and delicious, and the chilli and lime sauce was perfect – again, look out for a recipe next summer. So, we were pretty pleased with this one considering the little work we did for it – and now we’re into the final two barbecues!
We didn't eat all the chicken. It was big enough for two meals after!

Barbecue 27: September 2

Ohhh deary me. I’ve been falling behind with this again. I have had a rather good excuse, though :)

So anyway, this is barbecue 27 of 30, and it happened over two weeks ago. An early evening job like most of them, with some brand new burgers!

Weather

More sun? Yes, you guessed it.
Rather nice! Given it’s now September, we’d better get a move on before it’s too cold to light the barbecue. We’d rather unfortunately run out of firelighters for this one, so it was newspaper to the rescue.

Food

Well, the main event for this one was the new burgers: Pork and Fennel burgers to be precise. Poached and altered from my good chum Mark, they’re pretty simple but very delicious.

These pork burgers. Are. Awesome.
Having decided (as is our wont) that this wasn’t enough, we also went for a couple of chicken breasts (salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cumin and coriander powder), some guacamole (must be my most popular recipe by far) and some corn on the cob which we needed to use up. All in all, a swift one, but really rather nice! See you at 28!

Pork and Fennel Burgers

It’s new recipe time, barbecue fans. This one is for some burgers whose recipe I’ve poached from my good friend Mark and modified to suit me. I think you’ll rather enjoy them. It turns out that fennel is very good friends with pork…

Ingredients

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • Half a green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • One medium egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1/4tsp fennel seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar

The amount of fennel seems too low to call these burgers “Pork and Fennel”, but you’ll see. It has a very dominating flavour, so you have to be careful not to use too much. But if you think you’d like more, be my guest. Just make sure it’s nearly powdered in your pestle and mortar.

Oh yeah, they're as good as they look.

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients! As usual, don’t add the egg and breadcrumbs until last, and breadcrumbs first – you don’t know how much egg you’re going to need for the burger to form easily and not break apart. You should get four large burgers, or five normal-sized burgers, out of this mixture. Use the normal method – roll each portion into a ball, and then flatten the ball into a burger.

On the barbecue, about five minutes per side, to ensure they’re cooked through. Great with the normal burger accompaniments!

Barbecue 26: August 31

Right! Out with the slight failure of a part of Barbecue 25, and on with the entirely successful barbecues 😉 Barbecue 26 was where I finally got around to making the lamb kofta kebabs I’ve been on about. Worth. The. Wait.

Weather

A lovely late summer’s evening. The last day of August… hopefully my September barbecues won’t be entirely blighted by rain!

Food

Right then, we’ll start with the simple stuff. Pork chops are fantastic on the barbecue – they cook well because they’re thick, and they end up juicy and tender. Plus, the bone helps to provide flavour to the meat (don’t take it off). So, we went for a couple of those. The only other thing was my fantalicious (new word. Like it?) Minced Lamb Kofta Kebabs. I promised a while ago I’d do them, so here they are. I grabbed some minced lamb from the supermarket, mixed it with a few herbs and an egg, and formed the mixture around wet kebabs (except I forgot to wet them. You shouldn’t). Really delicious, and perhaps even a contender to my original Greek lamb kebabs. Go try them out before the summer leaves! Great with the cous-cous and salad we had, but also nice on a pitta with a little tzatziki.


So, barbecue 26 was a tasty, but short affair. Join us again for another barbecuing adventure :)

P.S.: that burger in the picture? It’s left over kofta mixture. Also great as a burger 😉

Barbecue 25: August 30

I’ve really been rather slack with this blogging lark of late. I can see how blogs fall by the wayside. But not mine! Oh no. Here’s barbecue 25, for your viewing pleasure.

Weather

A little dark, but still perfect for grilling :)
Lovely! It’s getting a little late into August now, so by the time we’re both back from work, it’s getting darker, and a little colder. But that’s never stopped us before.

Food

Ah. Well, the food tonight was interesting. Both good and bad in places (yes that’s right folks – a bearded barbecuer failure. I’m so ashamed). On the menu there wasn’t anything particular out-of-the-ordinary:
So we’ve got… a couple of Gemma’s favourite parmesan and pancetta sausages, some Chinese Chicken legs and thighs, and some fish. Ah, the fish.

Gemma sensibly opted for a tuna steak. This was delicious – lightly doused in a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper, and cooked for 2-3 minutes per side so just a little pink remains in the middle (seriously, folks – this is the way to cook tuna steaks). However, I went for sardines. I know that they’re really good on the barbecue, so I picked a couple up from the store. I forgot to ask the fishmonger to gut them… and I didn’t do a good enough job doing so myself! Either that or the fish just wasn’t fresh enough, because some of it didn’t taste good. One of the pair of sardines was delicious with a little squeeze of lemon juice, but full of bones – alas, being sardines, there’s not much you can do.

Determined to improve on my sardine cooking ability – watch this space! That aside, though, another tasty barbecue, done!