For the 22nd year running 28th May until 3 June is National Barbecue Week, when all will be encouraged to fire up the grill and fill the air with smoky delicious smells and the sounds of summer.
Gone are the days when a few burnt bangers would do, today we want nothing but tasty food grilled to perfection.
Jamie Oliver is the man my family turns to for recipes and ideas. “Ribs are the ultimate in indulgent weekend grub. Cooked low and slow, they’re a bit of a time investment, but trust me, they’re worth every second – if you want out-of-this-world flavour, you can’t rush these things”, says Jamie
His secret weapon is to smoke the ribs for the last 30 minutes. He recommends using wood chips for smoking, which come in lots of different varieties, so do as he suggests, and put them through their paces until you find your favourite
His top burger sauce is a mixture of HP sauce, tomato ketchup, English mustard, Worcestershire sauce, fresh apple juice, some runny honey and a tot of whisky, which is used to coat the ribs whilst they are cooking – check out Jamie-oliver.com.
A barbecue wouldn’t be the same at my house however, without a spatchcock chicken cooked over the coals. I’m going to give a recipe from Tesco a whirl this week from a recipe I picked up in store that uses a mix of coffee, sugar and allspice to coat the meat, giving it a gorgeous charred effect. This marinade is low in salt and suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, so is sure to go down a storm.
You can pick up a ready prepared spatcock chicken in your local supermarket
A barbecue wouldn’t be the same without a burger in a bun though. We’ve tried Mary Berry’s Lamb burgers with mint mayo and tomato relish, which were delicious and end up on every one of our barbecue menus (maryberry.co.uk) and also the Hairy Bikers beef burger, which are made with quality chuck steak and a dash of savoury bone marrow for added flavour (hairy bikers.com).
The Hairy Bikers recommended burger sauce is a mixture of mayo and ketchup with a squeeze of lemon juice, finely chopped gherkin, a teaspoon of garlic powder and a dash of hot sauce
As we have vegan friends, we always aim to make a few meat-free options too. You’ll find 20 exciting recipes that uses vegetarian staples like aubergine, black beans, lentils and chickpeas on theflamingvegan.com website.
My advice is to choose your main to cook on the barbecue and prepare plenty of side dishes, such as grilled avocado, beefsteak tomato and mozzarella salad and barbecued sesame sweet potato chips. We like to make a big bowl of green salad with whatever tender leaves we can pluck from the garden. And if we’re having a party, invite guests to bring along their signature salad for the table.
Over the years we’ve sampled potato salad with bacon bits, a pesto salad with fresh home grown garden peas and asparagus and salad leaves combined with French beans and freshly laid eggs with a Parmesan dressing. Our friend Nancy’s signature dish was always a delicious combo of grated raw carrot, banana and peanuts, so obviously when it comes to side dishes and salads, your imagination is the only thing that limits you.
Cooking over a glowing red flame and smoky embers does, in most peoples’ opinions, make food taste better, although experts will tell you that you can add a smoky taste to your BBQ food by using smoking chips.
Basting is necessary for keeping meats and poultry moist while being cooked. The cooking juices in the pan, melted butter, a marinade, or other sauces should be brushed on the meat, covering the entire surface of the meat with the liquid. Basting helps keep the meat moist, and adds flavour.
Gas-fired barbecues, are at the flick of a switch ready for an impromptu party, so are definitely more convenient, as charcoal barbecues always require more time (around 30-40 minutes) to get going. The charcoal embers need to be piping hot to cook the food properly, although if you invest in a chimney starter you can speed up the process and be cooking within 15 minutes.
A features that’s worth considering when buying a barbecue is a lid. This will help you to control the heat more, cooking food throughout rather than burning the outside and leaving it raw on the inside
Also you might need a large barbecue if you intend to cook plenty of burgers and sausages, so look for one with a bigger grill space and maybe a warming rack, which is useful to keep “ready to eat” food warm while you continuing cooking.
After cooking and the barbecue has cooled down remove the grill rack and scrub with a wire brush to remove any residue left from the food, then wash with a sponge and soapy water. Periodically clean the rest of the barbecue with oven cleaner to remove any burnt-on deposits. To remove the ashes just use a brush, then you can sprinkle this sparingly on the garden as fertiliser since it’s a rich source of potash.
SHARE YOUR CLASSIC BARBECUE RECIPES AND PARTY IDEAS HERE…