National BBQ Week runs May 26 – June 2
This sizzling good weather surely can’t last, so make sure you make the most of that barbecue now before it’s too late.
There’s already been a shopping stampede for barbecues, with John Lewis reporting sales up 103% compared to last year, and what better excuse to christen your tongs than to celebrate National BBQ Week which starts on Monday May 26.
But there’s one thing you should avoid – being a ‘barbie bore’ by serving up endless rounds of burgers and sausages.
Instead, extend your repertoire and dish up more tasty fare with a little help from celebrated barbecue chef, Paul Kirk.
If there’s one man guaranteed not to cremate a lamb chop to oblivion, it’s Kirk. He has travelled the world training restaurant chefs in the art of the grill and conducting barbecue seminars, and has written four books on the subject.
Paul says: “There really is a barbecue for every occasion and it’s hard to beat a tasty, flavour-packed meal served in the open.
“Although strictly speaking, barbecuing refers to cooking over an indirect heat under a cover, allowing heat to be conducted around the food as in an oven nowadays, people also grill food. Whichever method you choose it’s just as easy to rustle up a simple fuss-free meal or a feast for family and friends.”
His compendium of recipes, 500 Barbecue Sizzlers, includes meat feasts like Beer-Marinated Peppered T-Bones and Hot Jamaican Jerk Chicken, as well as veggie choices like Creole-Style Stuffed Mushrooms and sweet treats such as Peaches with Blue Cheese and Honey.
We’ve selected a couple of Kirk’s recipes for you to try – Country-Style Pork with Southern Barbecue sauce and Spicy Grilled Aubergine.
COUNTRY STYLE PORK WITH SOUTHERN BARBECUE SAUCE
For the rub:
4tbsp light brown sugar
1tbsp garlic granules
1tbsp chilli powder
1tbsp onion granules
2tsp sea salt
2tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.8 kg (4lbs) pork shoulder
For the barbecue sauce:
225g (8oz) jar tomato sauce
5tbsp black treacle
1tsp garlic granules
1tsp chilli powder
1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper
2tsp sea salt
Mix the brown sugar and all the dry spices to make the rub. Cut the pork into 5cm (2in) chunks and rub each chunk with the rub on both sides. Set aside to rest. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, treacle, vinegar, garlic granules, chilli powder, pepper and salt. Simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the barbecue to medium-hot. Grill the pork for about 20 to 30 minutes or until done, turning as needed to avoid flare-ups and burning. Glaze with the barbecue sauce, and continue to cook until sticky.
SPICY GRILLED AUBERGINE
Fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon make a vibrant partnership with the smoky taste of grilled aubergine.
1 large aubergine, cut into 1.5cm (1 1/2in) thick slices
1 to 2tsp salt, to remove the water from aubergine
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp red wine vinegar
2tsp fresh lemon juice
1tsp pressed garlic
1tsp crushed dried chillies
1tsp herb seasoning mix
2tbsp olive oil, to brush aubergine for barbecuing
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1tbsp chopped fresh mint
Put the aubergine slices in a colander in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for 20 minutes, then turn, sprinkle the other side with salt and leave to drain for 20 minutes more.
While the aubergine drains, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, crushed chillies and herb seasoning. Set the spicy sauce aside.
Preheat the barbecue to medium. Press each aubergine slice between two pieces of kitchen paper to dry them. Brush both sides with olive oil. Place the aubergine on the grill and cook for four to five minutes per side, rotating after a few minutes on each side if you want to get grill marks.
Watch the aubergine slices carefully because they go from gently browned to charred quickly. When the aubergine is cooked, remove from the grill and place in a large bowl. Stir in the spicy sauce to coat. Leave to cool slightly, then sprinkle the parsley and mint over the aubergine and serve warm or at room temperature.
:: CHOOSING THE RIGHT BARBECUE
“Choosing a barbecue can be a difficult decision as so many cooking vessels are included under that term, from a hole in the ground to an elaborate structure that serves effectively as an outdoor kitchen,” says Kirk.
Here is his guide to the most popular types available to help you make up your mind:
:: Charcoal barbecues: These are said by purists to be the only option. They claim that charcoal is the only way to achieve a genuine smoky flavour in the barbecued food and believe the act of stoking and tending a fire to be basic to the age-old experience of outdoor grilling. Operating a charcoal barbecue, though, requires more skill than electric or gas versions.
:: Gas barbecues: These are easier to control and can be made ready for use almost immediately. The lava rocks or flavouring plates that cook the food are heated by propane or natural gas. They are an excellent choice for a barbecue that is going to be used frequently.
:: Electric barbecues: These are available in small portable forms or as large trolley barbecues. They provide a good constant heat source but cannot reach the high temperatures of charcoal. They must be used close to a power source or with a long extension cord.