Sunday, 28 August 2011

006 - Lamb Loin Chops with Uzbek Marinade

After the dirty burgers during the week, it was back to some more serious grilling on Saturday night. This recipe is from Weber's Complete BBQ Book, and calls for quite a few ingredients in the marinade.

The star of the show though would be some lovely lamb loin chops, fat removed. As I came to write this post, I was wracking my brain trying remember the last time I had cooked with lamb... and I couldn't actually remember ever using it! I don't even remember buying as much as a lamb burger! This is clearly a massive oversight on my part, and something I'll look to remedy as I continue on my quest to barbecue 100 things.
The recipe called for the use of a blender. But, since I don't own a blender at the moment and since most of the marinade is brushed off anyway, I just did the best I could with a knife and chopped everything very finely. I left the meat to marinade for a couple of hours, so the mix of spices and vinegar could work their magic.

Just as I was about to light up the coals, the clouds that had been hanging around all day decided to open up. Last year, I would have given up and turned the grill. But not this year! So up went the table parasol - these chops deserved charcoal and that's what they were going to get! In the reduced light, the briquettes had an even more satisfying glow...

Once the smokey joe was up to temperature, the marinade was brushed off the chops and they were laid on the hot grill with the lid closed.

I gave them roughly 8 minutes, turning a couple of times, which left them medium rare and nice pink and juicy in the middle.

We had them served with cous cous and salad. The chops were lovely - the marinade had definitely done its job, leaving just enough flavour on the outside to leave a mild spicy zing on your tongue, whilst still penetrating the meat, helping it stay juicy and tender. For my first attempt at lamb, I'm calling it a success and I'd certainly recommend the recipe. I'll definitely be trying more cuts of lamb in the future.

Friday, 26 August 2011

005 - Dirty BBQ Burgers!

As much as I love exploring new barbecue food, sometimes I still crave a good old dirty burger! Last night was one of those times when I didn't want to reach into the spice rack, and instead just opened the freezer and searched for that pack of frozen burgers that I knew was in there somewhere.

I decided I wanted a sort of ranch BBQ flavour going on, so I also dug out the bag of battered onion rings and threw a few in the oven. Then, from the fridge, some cheese slices (the sort you'll get in any dirty burger joint) and some cheap BBQ sauce... well I didn't want to waste the good stuff on this!

The Smokey Joe is my grill of choice for these small quick jobs, since it requires far fewer briquettes and can therefore be up to temperature a lot quicker.

While the burgers were sizzling away, I prepped the bread. Taking 2 rolls for each burger, I sliced a couple in half. Then, with the other rolls, I sliced the top and bottom thirds off - leaving only the crustless centre. A slice of cheese was then added to the bottom and centre sections of bread.

When the burgers were cooked, these were added on top of each slice of cheese. And finally a couple of onion rings were added to the top burger with a generous splodge of BBQ sauce.

And there we go, a good combination of grilled meat with the savoury cheese plus sweet onions and sauce. But more importantly, my craving for a dirty burger... satisfied!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

004 - Grilled Bacon Explosion Sandwich

After the success of the Bacon Explosion, we'd only actually managed to eat about half of it. So I was looking for something to do with the remaining half which was wrapped up in foil in my fridge. I happened to stumble across a YouTube video, with the most outrageous looking grilled cheese sandwich I've ever seen!

So, I set about making my own grilled bacon explosion sandwich.

They key to any grilled sandwich is to butter the bread on both sides, so that the outside edge of the bread partially fries rather than toasts and burns. I sliced the remaining bacon explosion into half-inch slices and added three slices to each sandwich.

I decided to have mine with extra BBQ sauce and cheese, while my other half wanted hers plain (not that the bacon explosion could ever be described as "plain" ..!)

My Smokey Joe still had some partially used briquettes in there from the last time I'd used it, so I set about relighting those because I'd only need a low heat for this.

Then I grilled the sandwiches, whole, over direct low heat. I kept the lid down to help raise the temperature of the grill, re-heating the meat and turning the cheese all gooey! In total I think I grilled it for roughly 7-8 minutes, turning once half way through.

The result, a tasty hot snack with a crunchy exterior and a lovely soft gooey interior. It makes me want to cook more meat than I need each time I barbecue, just so that I have some left-overs...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

003 - Bacon Explosion

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew it was something I had to try. I mean, I like bacon... I like sausages... I like barbecue... what's not to like?!

It was invented Jason from BBQ Addicts. Follow him on Twitter here: @BBQAddictsJason

Here is his original post -> Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes

For my attempt, I was going to use Bad Byron's Butt Rub, Weber's original BBQ sauce, 2 packs of unsmoked streaky bacon and 1 pack of sausage meat (I'd bought 2 packs, but only ended up needing 1).

For all those people who were told, "don't play with your food" as a child - this recipe positively encourages it and asks you to "weave" with bacon! I put half of the bacon under the grill to get nice and golden while I got on with making the bacon weave. I think UK bacon might be cut slightly differently to the stuff Jason was using as I needed 7x7 strips to get a square formed:

Then you build up the layers of flavour. A rub is added to the weave, then the sausage meat is layered on top, followed by the cooked bacon bits and BBQ sauce. Until you end up with something looking like this:

The sausage meat is then tightly rolled up - think "swiss roll" with the cooked bacon and BBQ sauce as your filling - you're looking to create a spiral inside. Then the weave is rolled up over the outside and more rub is sprinkled on top.

Time to smoke! This is where my attempy went a little wrong. I had the kettle BBQ set up at way too high a temperature. I'd added too many coals to start off with, and then didn't let them cool down first... I was just way to eager to get that bacon on the grill!

I added a handful of soaked wood chips to the coals every half hour. In the end, I'd achieved the internal temperature I was looking for after about 1.5 hours when it really should have taken atleast 2 and possibly longer. The outside was a little scorched - although it didn't seem to affect the flavour and the inside was still nice and moist. It was my first attempt at anything "low and slow"... so I'll know better for next time! :-) I then glazed the cooked bacon explosion with some of the BBQ sauce, mixed with a little honey.

It tasted lovely - similar in texture to a meatloaf, but with all those sweet bacon and smokey BBQ notes as well. I served it with a ranch salad and some baked potatoes (that I'd also cooked on the smokey BBQ). It's probably not something you want to be eating every week - your heart won't thank you! But on the other hand, I don't want to wait too long before I try it again!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

002 - Chipolata Catherine Wheels

Hello again barbecue fans :-) Number 2 on the list of 100 things to barbecue is really simple, but oh so tasty. The perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken - chipolata sausages, done on the barbecue. 

As you'll see from the photo below, I did these sausages as a little extra when I was doing one of my favourites... beer can chicken. Another blog coming up soon on that soon. But first, the sausages.

My tip of the day with these this sausages would be to curl them up into a wheel ,about six at a time, and skewer them with 1 or 2 bamboo skewers (be sure to soak the skewers in water first). This helps with two things:

  1. They won't fall through your cooking grate (chipolata sausages are very thin)
  2. It becomes a lot easier to turn them over very quickly all at once.
When I cook beer can chicken, I arrange the coals at either side of the barbecue. Which means after about an hour, I have two zones of low direct heat - the  perfect space to put a few sausages to go with the chicken!

Although not pictured, these go really well with a lovely glaze. Mix equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and runny honey and baste the sausage wheels in-between turns. It gives them an amazing, sweet and sticky crust that really compliments the mild spicy taste inside.

Please try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

001 - Soy Glazed Chicken Thighs on a Grilling Plank

I've been enjoying cooking and finding new recipes for a number of years now. But this summer really has been all about the BBQ for me!

My barbecue attempts in previous years have mainly consisted of shop-bought burgers, hot dogs in buns and pre-marinated cuts of chick and pork. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that! But, I was looking for new tastes and challenges. This year, I finally invested in a BBQ with a lid (I can't believe how much difference that makes), some decent tools and have been searching out new recipes to try outdoors. 

The first recipe in the list of 100 Things to BBQ, is from Weber's Complete BBQ Book. I'd tried smoking with some wood chips last weekend and was really impressed with the results, so the idea of grilling on top of a plank really appealed

Firstly, the plank needs to be soaked in liquid so that you can bring it up to a high enough temperature to start smoking without it actually igniting! As this was my first time using a plank, I chose to simply use water so that I could benchmark the flavour against any future mix of beer, wine or juice that I might use. 

The recipe called for the chicken thighs to be marinated first in a combination of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger and garlic. I've got to say, it's worth making a batch of this glaze up even if you're not planning to grill anything because the smell of it simmering on the hob was amazing! As usual, I fired up the coals using my trusty chimney. Then it's time to get the plank smoking! The plank is put over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, for about 5-10 minutes until you see smoke start to appear from the air vents. At this point, the plank is flipped over and moved to indirect heat.

The chicken is then placed on the smouldering surface of the plank... cue a satisfying sizzle... Aaah :-)

After about 40 minutes of indirect heat, with occasional basting, the chicken turned out a wonderfully deep mahogany brown. As you'll see from the photo below, it looked so appetizing that my family had already nicked a couple of pieces before I had a reach for my camera!

The chicken was very flavourful, and moist - but to be honest, I couldn't really taste any "smokiness" from the plank. Having said that, that might have been because the glaze was quite strong and possibly overpowered the effect of the smoke. 

I'll try it with a simpler marinade next time. Lots of fun to try though and really tasty - it received rave reviews from all that had a piece :-)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Smoking Planks

I'm a self-confessed gadget addict, so if I'm at a garden centre I just can't resist browsing through all the shiny barbecue accessories! Last week I stumbled across a grilling plank in my local Homebase.

I'd seen recipes that required a plank to smoke on, but had no idea where to buy one from. I thought I would have to go to the timber section and end up sawing and sanding a piece down myself. As it turns out, they're readily available... who knew?!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying it out this weekend. I'll be grilling cedar planked chicken thighs with soy-ginger glaze recipe from Weber's Ultimate Barbecue Guide. I'll be sure to post some photos and write about how it goes.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Weber Starter Chimney

It took me a while to decide what I should write about first. But it seemed right that I should kick things off with the starter chimney. It is after all, the first thing I always use before I start cooking..

I really can't rave about these things enough. I always struggled to get coals to light in the past, so in the end I resorted to those pre-soaked bags of charcoal that burn for about 10 minutes before giving up all of their heat. The end result was pretty rubbish barbecue food that usually tasted of paraffin.

Now, I've switched to buying charcoal briquettes and use the chimney above to light them. All you do is fill the chimney with as much or as little charcoal as you need, sit the whole thing over a couple of lit fire-starters, wait 20-30 minutes and... hey presto! Perfectly lit coals that will stay really hot for a very long time.

If there is one barbecue gadget that I would urge everyone to go out and buy, it would be one of these chimneys.