Barbecue 10: MattFest!

It’s my 26th birthday! Or at least, it was on the 19th (just making sure you don’t forget for next year). Every year, around the time of my birthday, we hold a barbecue with a fancy dress theme – thus the birth of MattFest (home of MattBurgers). This year, the barbecue was on the 22nd, and the theme was America. As usual, people rose to the occasion…

Weather

It turns out (for once) that the 22nd was the hottest day of the year so far, so no rain!

Food

Given that Gem‘s mum bought me the grilling holy grail that is a Charcoal Chimney for my birthday, this was its first outing. We had veggies coming too, so had to resort to using a disposable barbecue for the veggie-only food (more on that shambles later).

Burgers, Chicken and Frankfurters!

The theme was American, so naturally there were MattBurgers! As a twist on the normal sausages, we also went with frankfurters (which barbecue quite well), along with some normal cumberland sausages, chicken with a dry peri-peri rub (confessions: 1. I didn’t make this, 2. It’s not really American. Sorry), and a few other beef/lamb burgers that people bought with them.

Matt's Barbecue Moral #4: Never, ever use disposable barbecues.

For the veggies, the food was handled by Chris. Quorn burgers, quorn sausages, corn on the cob and some quite tasty-looking cheese and leek potato sausages. I’ve got no beef with veggies (ho ho, see what I did there?) but the barbecue we used was, to be honest, dire. It lit easily and was ready to go quickly, but it lasted for no more than half an hour. For an all-evening thing, that’s crappy. It was so bad, in fact, that we lit our Chiminea and used that to cook the food from underneath. Which leads me nicely to a Matt’s Barbecue Moral: never use disposable barbecues. Trust me on this one – just get a cheap non-disposable one if you have to.


Anyway, enough of that. There was one other, special, burger, made by Gem and I:
Don't pretend you don't want a slice.
I know, it’s awesome. But since this is a barbecue blog, I’ll just say that it’s a madeira cake with cream cheese buttercream and coloured icing. Mmm.

The usual suspects went with the food – nachos, salsa, guacamole, and American things like Popcorn and jelly beans. We even had a special guest

MattFest 2010 was a very enjoyable night. Fuelled by beer and such, and of course food. Here’s to the next one.

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.

Barbecue 8: Hot Stuff, Coming Through…

After over a week’s hiatus (adverse weather and poorly dog – sorry), on May 9 we had our 8th barbecue. To be honest the weather’s been fairly rubbish for most of the weekend, so we didn’t expect to be able to get the Weber out at all. I did it for the love. The love of the grill. Only a couple of things cooked, but more than enough.

Cloudy, with a light chance of brrrr

Weather

See above – not promising! A few minutes after we finished we had to retire inside due to rain and cold (sorry @redhatman. But hey, the barbecuing itself was outside).


Food

Just a couple of things cooked this time. We’re on a sort-of-health-kick at the moment, and given the impending annual MattFest (big birthday barbecue on the 22nd, lots of food), we’re upping the salad and reducing the meat. Yeah, I know. Sorry.

Indian Turkey Burger, Sausage and salad. Oh baby.

But what we did have was rather nice. Some good pork and herb sausages (high meat content – yum) and some excessively awesome Indian Turkey Burgers, the highlight of the evening!

Anyway. As delicious as those were, I’m open to challenges from you.
Want me to try cooking something? Have an idea for a barbecue theme (we’re going Caribbean soon)? Let me know in the comments!

Barbecue the 7th: It’s Guacamole Time

Ooh, it’s barbecue seven. April 24, on a sunny but slightly cloudy evening. We’re getting better at this “spur of the moment” thing.

Weather

It had been a rather glorious day, but was starting to cloud over.

Cloudier than it looks

Otherwise no complaints – lit with no issue although we really are craving one of those Charcoal Chimneys – instant charcoal is getting pricey and hard to find (donations are welcome).

Food

We’d already made a rather good salad the night before, and I’d made up some of my extremely tasty (if I do say so) Guacamole. There were some fairly run-of-the-mill lamb and mint burgers in the fridge (really should have made some), and what barbecue is complete without chicken legs?

I always find that chicken (thick chicken, anyway) is a pain on the barbecue. It cooks on the outside before being fully cooked on the inside, unless you cook it slowly, or do what I do, and pre-parcook it. We had two chicken leg/thigh joints, which I brushed with some terrifyingly good tandoori sauce and cooked at 180c for about 20 minutes. This means they’re nearly done, and need another ten minutes or so on the barbecue, turning once. Really rather good with guacamole and perhaps some sour cream or yoghurt.

Yum
Pork steaks, tandoori chicken legs and lamb burgers

The burgers were uneventful. Along with those, we’re getting rather fond of those pork rib steaks – juicy and tender. Yum.

Seven down, 23 to go…

Barbecue the 6th: April 21

Do try this at home
A word to the wise: This is not a good stage to start cooking at

Do you want to look this happy? Get barbecuing!

Anyway, our sixth barbecue was well underway. This one was just Gem and I (and of course, Rosie). As with many of our barbecues, it was somewhat impromptu.

Weather

Sunny, for a change! Cool evening.

Food

One of our favourite things to cook on the barbecue is rump steak. In this case we went for sirloin, but I’d recommend rump – much juicier, and tender if not overcooked (note that the picture on the right does not represent cooked meat. Don’t try that at home).

Steak and Salmon.
Surf and Turf or what?
Steak. Mmm.
The hashtag is #omnomnom, I believe

Apart from a couple of sausages, we went for some salmon, which we keep having, because it’s so good on the barbecue. Gem isn’t a fan of spicy food, but I am, so I gave mine a rather nice curry-spice seasoning.

Served with a dressed salad, and some houmous. If there’s demand, I’ll post a houmous recipe which is really good. Comment if you wish!

So, this was superb. Try it!

Barbecue the 5th: April 17

Our fifth barbecue was the first with our friends, James, Alison, Ad (pictured, looking suave), Jay and Ross. I’m sure you’re

Looking good, eh?
Ad, posing with the Weber (everyone wants to)

thinking “who cares? Move onto the food!”. Okay then.

Weather

Sunny. I’m almost getting bored of saying ‘sunny’. Soon it will be ‘thunderstorm’, I’m sure. Anyway, it was evening, and still quite warm.

Food

We had some of the usual standard fare… rather nice chilli sausages (see right) plus tasty MattBurgers. They always go down well, they’re really cheap to prepare, and they’re full of much better stuff than some burgers you can buy.

Chilli and Pork sausages
Chilli, and plain pork, sausages. Not made by me. Sorry.

On top of all of that, pork rib steaks (seasoned with rosemary, salt and pepper), garlic mushrooms on the barbecue (recipe soon…), and some really, really good sea bass. Done in the same way as the trout mentioned in Barbecues 1-4, it had a lovely, mild, trout-like flavour. Well recommended. (Sorry there are no pictures of that; I guess my mind was on something else).

Five down, 25 to go…

Barbecues 1-4 (An Abstract)

Due to the lack of existence of this blog during barbecues 1-4, here’s a synopsis of the first four barbecues. You’ll just have to take my word for it that they happened. For each of the posts on the way to 30 barbecues, I’ll give a short description of what we had, the weather, and such. If you’d like to see something else, let me know. Recipes will appear in the Recipes section, and I’ll link to them from here. So here ya go:

Barbecue the 1st: April 8

The first barbecue of the year! We’d not long got back from Michigan, so were still a little jetlagged.

Mmmmmm
The first barbecue (that I took a picture of). Rosie looking on longingly.

Weather

Sunny! Evening, no rain, it’s all good. Oh and a little windy. Sometimes an issue, but not today.

Food

See the image! We cooked a couple of Kebabs (though these were with turkey – similar recipe, similar time to cook), a beefburger (not a MattBurger yet, sorry) and two rump steaks, simply prepared with a brush of oil, and some salt and pepper. For medium rare, these take 4 minutes or so per side.

With barbecue one complete, we resolved our target: thirty by the end of September. It’s on.

Barbecue the 2nd: April 10

Only two days after, we were at the grill again, this time with Gemma’s mum and sister.

Weather

Scorchingly hot, dry, low wind. Good barbecuing conditions. Evening time, so it was starting to cool.

Food

This time we did a little of the regular fare – some shop-bought, organic sausages and some burgers. My general feeling on sausages is that they should be at least 70% meat or more. You need some fat in there, because it helps the barbecue to continue cooking, and adds a lovely smokiness to the overall flavour (if you’ve had any good sausage experiences [ahem], drop me a comment).

The burgers were standard supermarket good quarter pounders. I’d usually go with MattBurgers, but it wasn’t worth the impromptu effort.

The other meat was Rainbow Trout – if you haven’t tried this on a barbecue, I recommend you do. Put it on some oiled foil to prevent it sticking to the bars, and season it. Takes about 5 minutes.

I also quite like to do vegetables on the barbecue. My favourite is garlic tomatoes (recipe coming soon), but we had garlic mushrooms too. Yum. First family barbecue of the year = a success.

Barbecue the 3rd: April 11

Hot off the trail of the second barbecue, we were onto our third. It was a Sunday

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

(and that means Sunday dinner). What better than a whole chicken, roasted on the barbecue?

Weather

Hot, midday sun.

Food

There’s a separate recipe for it so I won’t go into much detail here, but we only cooked the chicken, and had it with a simple salad, dressed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. If you haven’t tried barbecue-roasted chicken, do it now!

Barbecue the 4th: April 16

Ah, the last of this post. Here we experimented with a couple of meats: pork rib steaks and salmon.

Weather

Sunny, cool evening.

Food

The salmon was done in the same way as the trout – on top of some oiled foil, and seasoned. Because it’s thicker it takes a little longer – 7-8 minutes.

We also tried pork rib steaks. These don’t look that appetising when you buy them – they’re not expensive, and have fat running through them. But that makes them ridiculously juicy and tender when cooked. I seasoned the steaks on both sides with salt, pepper and chopped rosemary, and a brush of oil. Seriously, seriously good.

That’s all for now, but as I write this (while sitting in the garden in the sun, tempted to barbecue again), we’ve actually already done barbecues 5 and 6. They’ll be posted soon.