Gourmet BBQ inspiration from the Boss
Philip Cranston our MD knows a thing or two about great barbecue meat, here he gives his top recommendations for things to cook up on the BBQ this spring and summer.
Outdoor dining has come a long way in the last few decades. There’s nothing wrong with the simple burger or sausage in a bun with a dollop of ketchup we enjoyed as kids but barbecue food has a lot more to offer.
A quick google of ‘best barbecues for sale’ will highlight the myriad of cooking options ; charcoal, gas, electric or hybrid? Kettle, Barrel or even ceramic Egg ? Should you opt for a beech or oak woodchip? It can all feel a little overwhelming but fear not , when it comes to the food we think the end results can be just as good with a low cost traditional charcoal barbecue than the posh high tech several hundred pound models.
Here are our five best things to cook on a barbecue…..
1/ Tomahawk Steaks. An impressive bone-in chunky rib eye steak. This cut has a mellow sweetness and amazing succulence due to both its fat marbling and the flavour imparted by the bone during cooking. Simply place on the barbecue when the coals are at their hottest, sear on both sides to your steak cooking preference, rest for a good 5 minutes then slice into thin slithers and share. If the steak is good quality and expertly dry aged it will be mouth wateringly tender and full of flavour.
2/ Traditional Cumberland Sausage served in a big whole coil– ok, it’s a predictable recommendation but deservedly so. Traditional thick Cumberland sausage with its high meat content and tasty spices cooks brilliantly on the barbecue. Make sure you prick the sausages well before placing them on the heat so the natural skins don’t burst open. Cooking a whole big coil of sausage makes it a great sharing option, place the cooked ring in the centre of the table, slice it up and serve it with a local cheeseboard and some tangy local relishes, we are spoilt for choice in Cumbria.
3/ A simple home-made beef burger– Although we produce lots of great burgers (the 8 oz. gourmet topside and cheddar burger which combines prime beef with tangy cheddar and rich tomato chutney is a firm customer favourite) I still enjoy making my own very simple beef patties. I don’t think you can get better than a simple pure beef burger with very little or no seasoning. The key to a great burger is to use the right quality steak mince. You want mince with as little connective tissue as possible, it can make a burger ‘chewy, but up to 20% fat, the fat adds greatly to the flavour and stops the burger being too dry. Once you have the mince then simply form into a burger and cook, taking care not to flip it too much- they are quite fragile.
4/ Whole Butterflied Garlic and Herb Chicken– you will find lots of great quality marinated chicken kebabs in your local butchers counter this summer but if you are looking for something different you might consider cooking a whole butterflied chicken, ask your butcher to do the work of butterflying the bird so you can concentrate on the marinade, a simple home-made garlic, herb, lemon and oil dressing left on the chicken overnight works well. Don’t’ forget to throw the half lemons on the barbecue with the chicken, once cooked they are really sweet and juicy and can be squeezed over the cooked meat to make it even more succulent.
5/ A whole joint of lamb – slow- cooking whole joints on the barbecue is a great option if you want a centre-piece you can carve up, plonk in the middle of the table and feast from. Depending on the size of the joint (a 2kg joint will easily feed 6-8 people) you’ll need to allow over an hour for cooking and you’ll want to marinade the joint well in advance, whether that’s simply with salt, pepper and olive oil or with some middle eastern spices. I like to stud the leg with shards of garlic and rosemary from the garden. In Cumbria our own fantastic new season local lamb will be readily available from May onwards. In my opinion new season lamb is just as tasty as the best quality beef steaks.
I should say that number one rule of barbecuing is to keep the charcoal in the barbecue …. we all have that one friend who is so scared of food poisoning that they cook the lot until charred and black! It’s a crime to good food. A digital thermometer is worth investing in (they only cost a few pounds) to ensure your food is cooked through and avoid over cooking it.
Whatever is on your barbecue this summer we hope you enjoy sharing great food with good friends.