*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 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 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!

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 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!


Barbecue 13: Unlucky for some…

…well, I had to call it that, didn’t I?

Just a simple one, this: we went for a couple of good meat dishes on the barbecue, and learned important things about the fuel you should use with a charcoal chimney.

Weather

Sunny, the end of another warm day. Sometimes I think I only write this part of each post to show off my twilight-picture-taking skills…


Mmm, spicy beef...

Food

We had some minced beef left over, and some sausages in the freezer from earlier barbecues. That led rather conveniently to Spicy Beef Burgers and sausages. Not much to it, but hey, it still counts 😉

However, I have a cautionary tale! We used some of the lumpwood charcoal we’ve accumulated over the years with our charcoal chimney. Not recommended! On the good side, it works really well with newspaper, sets fire almost instantly and is ready to cook with quicker than briquettes. But… it’s rubbish. It lasts nowhere near as long as briquettes, and (more importantly) it falls through the cone grate in the chimney, meaning a good heat can’t be sustained (and also meaning if you have to light a second batch over on your patio, you need a spade to carry the coals over. Nightmare.

So, a word to the wise: use briquettes if you have a charcoal chimney!

Barbecue 11: The afternoon after

We hastened on with barbecue 11 on the Sunday after MattFest 2010, to use up a few of the spare ingredients we had. A simple affair (so much so that I forgot to take enough pictures, d’oh!), but a tasty one.

I'm really loving this thing.

Weather

Swelteringly hot, which is nice. We had the gazebo up to cool down underneath, and Gem’s mum and sister around to gobble up remaining food.

Food

On the menu this time was whatever was left! Two beef burgers, two lamb and mint burgers, and four cumberland sausages (time for a Top Matt Tip: don’t prick sausages on the barbecue. They lose all of their juices, and the fat makes the charcoal flare up). We also had some very tasty garlic tomatoes with the burgers – yum.

Cream. Cheese. Frosting. Need I say more?
Being as there was plenty of American-themed dessert going spare, there were even cupcakes! You don’t need to comment saying how jealous you are of these cupcakes. But you could if you want.

That’s it for eleven… simple stuff. Often, the best barbecues are the quickest!

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 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!