Barbecue 20: At long last!

Deary me, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it readers? The weather in Birmingham has been frankly very un-summer-like for quite a while, and both Gemma and I have been busy enough that having a barbecue just hasn’t been practical.

But at last, we’ve done our 20th barbecue. This one was actually a week or so ago; I just haven’t had time to post it. It wasn’t a particularly fancy one – as usual, a spur-of-the-moment thing, but I was so taken with the mushrooms from the last barbecue that I tried a little twist on them. So anyway, onward!

Weather

Not bad! When we left the house it was cold and unpromising – luckily by the time we finished work it was hot and sunny enough to justify at least an attempt at a barbecue. Good times.

Food

Mainly stuff that we bought and stuck on the grill, I’m sorry to say! I amended my Garlic and Chilli Mushroom Burger recipe so that the butter on top of the mushrooms contained coriander, chilli, garlic and a little parsley, finely chopped. This again worked very well, and gave the mushrooms a little eastern twist.

Lamb kebabs (big recipe inspiration there), half a burger and a mushroom.
Other than that, we bought some sirloin steak – just simply salted, and 4 minutes per side on the barbecue for medium – and some lamb kebabs. This sort of kebab just had minced lamb and mint moulded over a skewer, which is of course quite traditional. Very delicious, too, so expect a similar recipe soon.

And of course, we had to have a burger. Just one, that we split between us. You know my feelings on barbecues without burgers.

Mmm, steak...

So that’s it for barbecue 20! Now how about you do some thinking for me? I’m always looking for new ideas, new barbecue themes, new recipe suggestions, and so on. Drop me a comment below if you think of anything, or if you tried anything you liked. Watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives last night I had some inspiration for a stuffed burger, so watch this space for that. See y’all soon, grillers :)

Awesome Sausage Holders!

Well, I received this amazing gift from @redhatman a few days ago. I’ve not had chance to use them yet, but I’m really impressed, and very grateful!

Awesome or what? Thanks @redhatman!

In case you can’t work out from the picture, they’re sausage holders. The sausages go in the *ahem* only unpainted place, and then the whole thing goes on the barbecue, leading to no overcharring. Inspired!

"Is that a nail in your pocket, or are you skewering my sausage?" or such like.

From what I can gather, @redhatman crafted this entirely himself, and shipped them to me, entirely at cost to himself. I’m touched – thanks very much! I’ll post a review once the weather is good enough, and I’ve got some sausages :)

As you were!

Barbecue 19: July 10

Ah, only 11 barbecues to go! Alas, not long to do them in. But we’ll get there. So anyway, this is barbecue 19 of 30. No theme, just good food, good friends and nice beer. Tweeters in attendance this time included James and Jay with Laura, who’s a vegetarian! Given my lacklustre response for vegetarian attendees in the past, I came up with a recipe for vegetarian mushroom burgers this time. Mmm.

Mmm, a little cloudy.

Weather

Not too bad. Sunny in the day time, but pretty overcast when people arrived. It cleared eventually, so we stayed outside for most of the evening.

I love my barbecue :)

Food

Right then. For the non-veggies, a treat was in store. Gemma had suggested a burger involving turkey and sundried tomatoes, so I came up with one involving mozzarella too. Very well received, I must add. Also on the menu were steak kebabs. I’m not going to include a separate recipe as they’re quite similar in preparation to Greek Lamb Kebabs, but instead the steak (simple stewing steak) was marinaded in red wine, red onion, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. We also had a few pork sausages from the freezer.

And now for the veggie stuff! I still haven’t gotten around to buying a separate barbecue for vegetarian guests so I used a disposable one (this one was from Tesco, and behaved rather better than usual). It lasted for quite a while, so if you have to use disposable barbecues, there’s my recommendation.

I only made the kebabs. Sorry.
Apart from the usual veggie fare (potato, cheese and leek sausages – which stick to the grill, and quorn burgers) we did a couple of kebabs minus the meat, drizzled with a bit of oil and lime juice, and some garlic and chilli mushroom burgers. I was pleasantly surprised with how well these came out, even on a cheap grill. Recommended!

Next time I’m planning on coming up with some other veggie burgers. I’ve had a couple of suggestions, but please send them this way if you have more!

Turkey and Sundried Tomato Melting Mozzarella Burgers

I need to work on my burger naming schemes. That much is clear. But I really wanted to sell everything in these burgers, because they’re rather nice! Credit for the idea goes to Gem who thought turkey and sundried tomatoes would go (she’s right)!

Ingredients

Makes 8 large burgers

  • 500g turkey mince
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • Two large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1tsp each fresh oregano and thyme, finely chopped
  • 1tsp rock salt, 1/2tsp black pepper
  • Four large Sundried Tomatoes (I used ones preserved in oil), finely chopped
  • 1tbsp breadcrumbs
  • One fresh mozzarella ball

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients except for the mozzarella. The sundried tomatoes are really the key flavour here, and they’re complimented well by the basil and garlic.

Turkey and Sundried Tomato Melting Mozzarella Burgers. I should think of a shorter name.
You should find that the mix divides into eight to give generous burgers. But that’s not all! Take your mozzarella, and chop it into cubes about half an inch in diameter. With each eighth of the burger mixture, produce a flattened ball in your hands, pop a couple of mozzarella cubes into the middle, and fold the burger around the cheese, re-forming it into a burger shape. None of the cheese should be showing.

The burgers need the normal five minutes-or-so per side on the barbecue, turning once only. They’re ridiculously good (of course, if they were bad, I wouldn’t post them here)…

Garlic and Chilli Mushroom Burgers

Yes that’s right folks – this recipe is vegetarian! I’ve been getting a few requests to come up with a vegetarian burger recipe, and I’ve done so at last. Strictly speaking, it’s not a burger. But you can eat it like one, and it’s bloody nice.

Ingredients

  • One pack of 3-4 large flat mushrooms. I used field mushrooms; portabella ones would work well too.
  • A quarter of a pack of soft unsalted butter (you can use salted butter; just leave the salt out later)
  • Half a large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Half a small red onion, chopped finely
  • A teaspoon each of fresh thyme and oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe

First off, a couple of important things. Don’t wash the mushrooms! If they’re dirty, brush them dry using a pastry brush, or such. Washing them makes them absorb water, which is a recipe for stewed mushrooms (not good).

Second, make sure your butter is soft. Leave it out of the fridge for a couple of hours. It’ll need to chill again for about an hour after you’re done.

I know, it doesn't look great. But it tastes great.
Right! On with the recipe. Combine all of the ingredients above, except for the mushrooms. That should give you a fairly flavour-packed butter. Now to re-chill it so that it’s easier to use later. Grab yourself some cling film, and dollop all of your butter in the middle. Roll the cling film around the butter, twisting in at the end, so that you can get a rough, thick sausage shape (see mine to the right – it looks rubbish, but you get the idea). Put this in the fridge for an hour or so. When fairly hardened, take off the cling film and slice the butter sausage into between six and eight rounds.

When you’re ready to cook, start by placing the mushrooms on the grill, bottom-side-down, for about five minutes (less if you’re not using a crappy portable barbecue, as I was):

Turn the mushrooms. Put two of those butter slices on each mushroom, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. The butter will melt into the mushroom gills, which absorb the flavour wonderfully.

Garlic Chilli Mushroom Burgers. Yum. Plus veggie bonus points!
You’re pretty much done! Treat the mushroom like a burger and serve it with cheese on a bun. Even for a non-veggie like me, these are fantastic!

Barbecue 18: June 28

Hello, barbecue fans! It’s time for… *drumroll* … another barbecue. This one featuring rain! We haven’t done it for a while, so this time we decided upon a good old roast chicken on the barbecue. Doubters, prepare to have your doubts cast asunder.

A parasol in a plastic chair, at an angle. I know - inspired.

Weather

That’s right: rain! I can’t believe I was a little excited about it. It hasn’t rained for the past 17 barbecues, so we used our ingenuity to shield the barbecue from rain whilst allowing it to continue cooking. They don’t call me ‘bearded’ for nothing, you know. Wait, that doesn’t work…

Anyway, the rain wasn’t bad enough that we were forced to give up, but Gemma did insist on eating inside. Oh well. It still counts.

Food

Usually, when we barbecue it’s just a case of “put the coals in the middle, put the food on top”. However, if you’re going to cook a roast chicken, that won’t work. As you might imagine, the heat from underneath would cook the chicken out before the top was even browned – not good. The solution is to have the heat coming from the sides of the barbecue (in barbecuing terminology, this is known as indirect heat cooking). It so happens that if you use a charcoal chimney, it’s much easier to do this. Most Weber barbecues come with guide rails to fit into the charcoal grate, so that you can keep the charcoal pushed to the sides, as shown in this picture. If you don’t have the rails, it’s not that important – just try to make two even piles either side.

All ye doubting thomases, repent. It's really nice.
Put a tray underneath what you’re cooking (the chicken) – this catches the drips, which stops your barbecue going rusty, and you can add flavours to it (wine or beer are good). Alas, I forgot to do this. Oh well, I’ll have to buy a new Weber… :) Right! Chicken on the cooking grate, in the middle of the charcoal. Lid on! This recipe doesn’t work if you don’t have a kettle barbecue that closes – the charcoal generates an oven. In my experience, a 1kg chicken takes about an hour, and comes out very succulent, and smokey flavoured. This time, I stuffed the cavity with 3 crushed garlic cloves, some oregano, thyme and lemon balm, and just seasoned and oiled the outside of the bird.

Towards the last ten minutes of cooking you can put other things directly onto the heat to cook – we did a few burgers. Of course, we didn’t eat this in one go. For dinner that evening was about half a chicken breast and a burger, with some salad. The rest was spread out over the week for packed lunches. Genius.

If you do have a kettle barbecue, I implore you to try this. You won’t regret doing so!