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!

Barbecue 17: June 24

Hot off the heels of our June 23 barbecue, we cooked for Gem’s mum and sister this time. I even made some new beef burgers (I know, you’re excited)!

Yeah, yeah. It's hot, we know.

Weather

The usual gorgeous sunshine. Ah, the perils of barbecuing in summer. But wait – in Barbecue 18, there’s rain!

Food

Enough to feed a small army! But no complaints. We bought some lamb loin steaks from our usual orange-branded-supermarket-where-life-tastes-better, along with some chicken legs and thighs. The lamb can be cooked straight away on the barbecue, and took about six minutes per side for medium rare. Chicken with bones in, however, is a pain on the barbecue, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m willing to bet at least one person reading this has felt the ill-effects of undercooked chicken as a result. So, I’m always careful to precook chicken – I give it about 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees celsius in the oven. This is enough to colour it well, and cook it almost completely. Then it goes on the barbecue for about 8 minutes, turning once – that way, you get the charred meat and smoky flavour (nice), but you lose the salmonella (always good).

And of course, I couldn’t do a barbecue for other people without making some effort. So I came up with Italian Melting Mozzarella Burgers (hardly a genius flash of inspiration, but they tasted bostin’), which were very popular.

We rounded this off with our trademark cous-cous, guacamole (goes great with chicken) and salad. All in all, a really nice afternoon!

Cous-cous, guacamole, and... oh yeah. Great meats :)

Barbecue 16: June 23

Not much to tell here, folks! Barbecue 16 was really just a casual “got home from work and felt like it” thing. We had a few things in the freezer to use up, and a bit of salad to go with it. They don’t all have to be themed and exciting, you know 😉

Weather

Sunny, warm and dry. Perfect barbecuing weather (yes, I haven’t done a rainy one yet – sorry).

Food

Like I said, there wasn’t anything special in this barbecue. We had some rather nice beef and herb (the herbs being coriander, oregano and thyme) burgers from Sainsbury’s, and some chicken breasts, with a couple of sausages we needed to use up. We’ve gone back to using briquettes as opposed to lumpwood, which really works very badly with the Charcoal Chimney. Equates to about £2.50 for two barbecues, which can’t be sniffed at.

Chicken, sausages (one for the dog) and burgers. Simple.
Anyway. I didn’t mess with the food much, but I made a dry rub for the chicken with a teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and tandoori curry powder (cheating, sorry), and half a teaspoon each of powdered ginger and dried garlic. Again, these last two are often seen as cheat ingredients. But when you don’t want something that needs chopping/grating, or you want something that will stick well to wet food, they’re great. The spice rub was left on the chicken for 20 minutes or so, and really permeated the meat.

We served the burgers in pitta breads with the usual salad-and-burger-cheese accompaniments. All good, and it’s onto barbecue 17!


Caribbean Chicken Kebabs

Okay, so I cheat a little in this recipe. It so happens that Levi Roots‘ Reggae-Reggae sauce is (to use his words) fabulocious. It works really well as a marinade, which is quite convenient for this recipe!

Kebabs. Uncooked. Cook before eating.

Recipe

  • 500g pack of diced chicken, or chicken breasts cut into 2-3cm dice

  • Marinade:

  • 1tsp harissa paste
  • 1tbsp dry white wine (believe me, it works!)
  • 1tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Half a large red chilli, finely chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, and 1cm of ginger, crushed/grated
  • 2-3 tablespoons Reggae Reggae Sauce
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Zest and juice of one lime


  • Other kebab ingredients:

  • Pack of Cherry tomatoes
  • One onion, chopped into chunks
  • A bell pepper, chopped into chunks

Recipe

Most of the ingredients above form a marinade for the chicken. Simply combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and add the cubed chicken to it. Leave covered in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The lime juice should cook the chicken slightly, so it will get paler.

Thread and alternate chicken, cherry tomato, bell pepper and onion onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Note that if there’s an ingredient you’d prefer (okra might work), go for it. Aim for 3 pieces of chicken at least on each kebab, and pack quite tightly.

When you’re done, use a silicon brush to paint the remaining marinade over the kebabs. Barbecue for around 8 minutes, turning a couple of times. They’re really rather good when cooked, and go well with my Mango Salsa!

Barbecue 12 – May 26th (I think?), and an honorary 12.5th

I’m afraid it’s been a while since my last post. Not only that, but it’s been a while since this barbecue too – so much so that I don’t remember exactly when it was. Good job I have pictorial evidence, eh? We used up the rest of our first bag of proper briquettes for this in the chimney (still awesome).

Glorious!

Weather

Warm and sunny, at the end of a long day. I note that I’ve yet to barbecue in heavy rain yet…

Salmon and Chicken with Peri-Peri rub

Food

Quite low in volume! Plenty of salad and my very tasty couscous (recipe available upon request ;), but you’re not here for the low-fat stuff, are you? The food we actually cooked was pretty simple – some salmon steaks, rubbed with oil and cooked as usual, and some chicken legs. I used up the rest of the peri-peri rub I’d acquired (I’ve resolved to come up with a recipe for that, too), and we were done. You don’t need me to tell you it was nice.

That rub really goes with anything...

Honorary Barbecue 12.5

While I was away over the past weekend, Gem held a barbecue for the family in my absence. I was tempted to count it… but I’m not sure if she took pictures. If so, I’ll try to acquire them :)

Barbecue Nine: May 17

Well, we’re drifting closer towards a third of the way to our target of 30 barbecues this year. As I write this, it’s my birthday (hooray!) and I received (amongst many other things) a Weber barbecuing cookbook, and a charcoal chimney (more on that soon). This particular barbecue was a couple of days ago, and took the form of “whatever is left in the kitchen plus some salmon and steak” 😉

Weather

Mmm, sun.

Glorious! Hot day, cooling down slightly, with lashings of sunshine.

Food

Fairly simple fare, with a few added extras. We’re trying to cut back on carbs, but you can’t have a burger without a bun, can you?

Anyway, we had a couple of lamb and mint burgers going spare, and a bit of left over chicken in the fridge. Couple those with some salmon steaks from the freezer, and a lil’ piece of steak, and now you’re talking. (Now I mention it, that sounds like a lot of meat. Oh well, we went for a long walk afterwards. And had salad with it. That balances out, right?)

Burgers, chicken, steak and salmon? Are you nuts?

I decided to experiment a little with the steak. The Argentinians (food geniuses that they are) came up with Chimichurri Sauce eons ago. It’s a sharp, slightly spicy parsley-based sauce which cuts through the richness of meat like rump steak, and through the oiliness of fish like salmon or mackerel. It needs to be prepared well in advance (about a day before), and left to mingle in the fridge. I served the meat with the sauce on top of it. Yum.

Roast Chicken (No, Really)

If you get yourself a good barbecue, you can cook a lot more than burgers. In fact, you can even roast a chicken. Ya see, normally with a barbecue, you have your coals directly under where you cook. With an open barbecue, this is pretty much your only option – the heat comes from below, and you turn the food.

If you buy a good closable barbecue, you can cook indirectly – i.e., your food isn’t in direct contact with the searing heat from the coals. The way to do this (summarised here) is to get the coals ready (the normal light -> wait half an hour thing) then move them to either side of the barbecue, leaving a gap in the middle. Put a tray in the middle to catch the drips, then put whatever you’re cooking on top, and leave the lid on. The barbecue then works like a conventional oven (mine was up to 230c), which is great for roasting meat.

Anyway, on with the show.

Ingredients

  • One good barbecue, prepared as above
  • A medium free-range chicken
  • Either
    • A can of lager (go with me on this), or
    • Half a lemon, cut into wedges, A few cloves of garlic, and a bunch of thyme
  • 1tsp salt, 1/2tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1tbsp non-virgin olive oil

Recipe

See the “can of lager” thing above? Ah, well that’s for beer can chicken . The idea is that you pour away half the can, cut the can to about half height, stuff it into the (upright) chicken, and then just put the

Barbecue-roasted chicken
Yum. Note the position of the charcoal, and the tray underneath

chicken on the grill. This gives a lovely moist, malty-tasting chicken (it doesn’t taste of beer). However, it didn’t fit in the grill for me. Oh well. An alternative is to season the bird using oil, salt and pepper, then pour the beer into the tray underneath – it evaporates and flavours the chicken. Trust me, it’s really nice.

For the example in the picture, though, I used the second method. Quite simply, put the sliced lemon into the cavity of the bird, with the thyme and the garlic (crush the cloves lightly, but don’t peel or chop them). Rub the oil over the outside, then sprinkle the salt and pepper over.

You’re ready to cook. Put the chicken above the drip-tray on the barbecue, put the lid on (vents open), and leave it to do its thing. This took about 1 1/2 hours for me with a chicken just over 1kg. But always check if your chicken is cooked – the juices should run clear if you stick a skewer in the thickest part (between thigh and breast).

Before you eat, rest your meat! Put it on a warm plate, cover with foil and leave for 20 minutes or so. This makes it juicier. Enjoy.