*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!

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 😉

Mexican Pork Steaks

In my never-ending search for new barbecuables, I asked good old Twitter for recommendations. Lauren got back to me with an awesome recipe for Mexican Pork Loin Steaks (thanks Lauren!) and we weren’t disappointed. So, this recipe is mainly Channel Four’s. But I messed around with it a bit, and was pleased with the result.

Ingredients

    For the pork
  • Four boneless pork loin steaks
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp smoked paprika (you can use normal paprika if you can’t get smoked stuff)
  • A handful of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • Zest of one lime, and the juice of half of it
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • One large red chilli, finely chopped
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • For the yogurt side dressing
  • A small pot of natural yoghurt
  • 1/2tsp mild chilli powder
  • The juice from the other half of that lime

Recipe

First, we’ll make the yoghurt dressing, which really calms the heat in the pork. Just combine the yoghurt with the chilli powder and a little of the coriander, and add the half-lime juice. Stir well and refrigerate.

Mexican Pork. ¡Olé!
Next, the pork. You might think it a bit odd to see brown sugar – it’s surprisingly common in meat-based Mexican dishes. Really helps to counter the heat from all the chillies!
Mix together all of the ingredients for the pork (except the pork itself). You should have a fairly thick marinade, but it doesn’t matter if not. Add the pork, a steak at a time, turning well and rubbing in the marinade. Cover with cling film, and put in the fridge, preferably overnight.

On the barbecue, you’re looking at about five minutes per side. This pork is actually a good substitute for the steak in my fajitas, but is great on its own with the yoghurt.

Jamaican Pork Burgers

Again with the Caribbean theme! These spicy little beggers are fantastic with my mango salsa, or with a dollop of yoghurt, or maybe just some extra hot sauce, if you’re nuts.

It's fabulocious, mon! (Note: not fabulocious when raw) (Ignore the kebabs)

Ingredients

Serves four hungry people

  • 500g/1lb of pork mince
  • Zest and juice of a lime
  • 1tsp of fresh thyme and oregano, chopped finely
  • 1/2tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp harissa paste. Harissa is a chilli paste, typically Moroccan. But hey, it really works.
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed
  • One large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 2tsp grated ginger root
  • 1tsp salt, and pepper to taste


Recipe

Ad with an 'action shot' of my Jamaican Pork Burgers.

Again pretty simple – combine the ingredients, and mix well. You may find that the lime juice makes the mixture a little wet – if so, add breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture into four, form a ball from each part, and compress the ball to give you a burger. These are four fairly hefty burgers, so you could potentially make five.

Spicy and fantastic with a cold beer (substitute Red Stripe, or other Caribbean beers!)