*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 :)

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!

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!

Barbecue 24: August 28

Onward! We’re rather running out of time now – half a month to go, and seven barbecues to do. “Mid-September”… that’s a range of dates, right? 😉

Weather

Ominous!
Ominously cloudy! Luckily the rain mostly stayed off (a few spats, but hey) and the barbecue was a success (isn’t it always?).

Food

It’s new recipe time! As usual, we went with the standard things – burgers and sausages. These sausages were Gem’s “I’ll only eat these ones” type: pancetta and parmesan. I must say, they’re great.


Burgers, Parmesan and Pancetta Sausages, and Bacon-wrapped Roquefort Chicken.
Anyway, the main event was stuffed chicken breast – in this case, Bacon-Wrapped Roquefort Chicken. I’m a big fan of blue cheese, but if you’re not, manchego, cheddar, or mozzarella would work equally well. With a little care to prevent cheese leakage, the chicken was awesome.


24: done. 25: coming your way any minute now!

Barbecue 23 (we’re flying): August 17

Woo-hoo, I’m up to date! Barbecue 23 was just last night. Another impromptu one, since the weather turned out nice after all, and there’s a target to reach, folks! I should add that we were spurred on by the smells of our neighbours’ barbecue action.

Ooh, atmospheric.

Weather

Cloudy but warm, which is always nice, but a little worrying. Good job I have rain contingency plans, eh?

Food

We had already planned Milano Chicken (which is chicken with a basil pesto marinade, in this case), and it turns out that it tastes even better when cooked on the barbecue.
Other than that, burgers! I saw some rather tasty looking venison burgers in our supermarket of choice, and we had some frozen beef burgers (Gemma isn’t a fan of game).

Don’t worry, health-crazed folk. We didn’t eat everything you see in the picture – cold barbecued food for lunch the next day = awesome.

Anyway, onward and upward with less than a month to go!

Barbecue 22: August 16

Barbecues 22 and 23 were very spur-of-the-moment (when you’re going for 30 barbecues by October, it’s hard to plan these things, given the British weather). After a rainy week, we cracked out the Weber on two consecutive evenings.

Weather

See the image on the right, which I’m rather pleased with. A bit of HDR gives the tree a rather ethereal look. Anyway, it was warm and sunny. Perfect!

Food

Before the whole impromptu hey-let’s-have-a-barbecue thing, we were just having grilled salmon with a bit of salad. But you wouldn’t think much of that, would you? We grabbed a couple of lamb, spinach and sundried tomato burgers from the supermarket (they were awesome. I think I’ll nick that one), and I went for an Asian-style spicy salmon coating. For me, a light sprinkle of olive oil, followed by half a teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, cumin, ground coriander, and garlic granules; a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Gem isn’t a big fan of spice, so I omitted the cayenne and cumin for her.

What really added the flavour was some loosely chopped coriander leaves on the top of each salmon steak. I cooked them in my usual fashion on oiled foil, and they were <insert superlative here> really quite nice.


Barbecue 22: done *slaps hand, Ramsay-style*.

Barbecue 21: August 8

My my, it’s been a while. This is the first of three barbecue updates that I’ll be posting today. We’ve got about one month, one week to get to barbecue 30 – 23 was done yesterday. That’s right, barbecue fans: 7 barbecues, 5 weeks. Will we succeed? Stay tuned!

Weather

A typical sunny affair. See the picture on the left: I’m afraid I didn’t rotate it. I’m sure you’ll cope. Early evening.

I forgot to rotate this. You get the idea.

Food

Now for the fun bit!


Mmm. Oozy.
We bought a couple of chicken legs, which were marinaded in Levi Roots’ Reggae-Reggae sauce, with a few chilli flakes, lime juice, paprika, garlic granules and a touch of soy sauce added (don’t worry, we didn’t eat them all at once).

With that, a couple of thin sausages (more on those later), and my delicious American Stuffed Cheeseburgers (I’ve already been asked if they’re stuffed with Americans. No). Look at them. Don’t you want to try one? Then get that recipe and get on it!


Anyway, this barbecue provided the perfect opportunity to test out the awesome Sausage Holders I received from @redhatman last month. They did me proud:

To readers of a sensitive or prudish disposition, I apologise.



Right then, lots to do – on to barbecue 22!