Secret Men’s Business
You could happily spend all your dosh on a barbecue and barbecue paraphernalia – and in my opinion it would be money well spent! I think most of us blokes feel that there is something in our blood that draws us to cooking outdoors on barbies – it probably dates back to our cavemen days when we would throw a mammoth steak onto the camp fire.
These days, as you’ll probably know, there are many different barbecue options to choose from. The most popular are the hooded gas-fired barbecues or solid fuel kettle style (such as a Weber). Both will give you hours of fun, but the main difference is that gas barbies cook at a lower temperature than wood, charcoal or briquettes. Barbecue fanatics will also say that wood and charcoal add an incomparable flavour to your food. But on the other hand, most of us find gas barbies are easier to clean and look after – they’re certainly more suited to spur-of-the moment fits of barbecue enthusiasm as you can crank them up and use them within minutes.
As well as the barbecue itself, you’re going to need fuel – a gas bottle, charcoal or briquettes, as appropriate. Try experimenting with woodchips (hickory, mesquite, oak and so on) to add flavour, too. These days there are all manner of different types available that are particularly good if you want to add a smoky American-style flavour to your food.
Additionally, you’ll want a few pairs of long-handled tongs, a carving fork, an oven mitt, a selection of metal or wooden skewers, foil drip trays, a heavy-duty wire brush for cleaning and a fire extinguisher in case it all goes horribly wrong!
I am a bit of a barbecue nut. I have several different barbecues at home – a Weber, a Tuscan grill, a table-top satay-griller and a classic gas-fired barbie – and think it’s a great social way of entertaining. This Portuguese style marinade is one of my favourites and I often use it for a whole chicken, poussins, or even quail, as well as chicken skewers.
For a whole bird, whatever the size, I’ll remove the backbone and flatten it out as outlined on page 156 to remove some of the bones. I then make deep slashes through the skin and flesh, which helps the marinade to penetrate the meat.
You can use metal or wooden skewers for this dish, but if you use wooden ones, remember to soak them for at least 30 minutes before threading on the marinated chicken.
When it comes to using minced beef, I strongly suggest that you don’t buy it ready minced from the supermarket. Go to your butcher and choose the appropriate cut for the dish – for burgers I’d suggest lean rump or topside – and ask him to mince it for you. That way you can be sure you’re getting great quality, as well as correct balance of fat and lean meat. And of course you can always mince it yourself if you’ve got a mincer at home.
It’s best not to make your burgers too far ahead of time. Fry or grill them, depending on how you feel. I like to sling them on the barbie, as I love the smoky, charred flavour, and the way they stay pink and juicy inside. Serve with all or some of the suggested accompaniments and good-quality ovenbaked chips.
This tasty salad is a great way to use up lamb leftovers. I often make it after we have slow-cooked lamb for dinner. You can make a really quick-and-easy meal by using a selection of items from the deli counter and canned chickpeas – just make sure you rinse them very well to get rid of that ‘tinny’ flavour. Serve with lots of warm crusty bread as a lazy lunch or quick weeknight dinner.