Thursday, 22 March 2012

027 - Whiskey BBQ Beans

Beans, beans are good for your heart... The more you eat, the more you...

Quite a few ingredients needed for this recipe, and a little bit of prep required. But a great side-dish to throw onto the BBQ if you're already planning to smoke your meal. Number 27 on the list of 100 things to BBQ... Whiskey BBQ beans! :-)

Another recipe from Weber's Foolproof book, this recipe actually starts with Heinz baked beans which are first rinsed from their tomato sauce, before being added back to a rich dark sauce of your own creation. If you wanted to, you could experiment with different types of beans, and I might try that in the future (I'm thinking a mix of cannelini and borlotti...).


Onions and streaky bacon are fried off until crispy before all the other ingredients are added along with a good glug of whiskey (or 2...). This is then simmered for a few minutes before the rinsed beans are added to the mixture. The recipe calls for the use of a Dutch Oven but as I don't have one of these I found that I got good results by just using a disposable foil tray. Using the foil tray also saved me some space on the grill.


I was smoking a sausage-stuffed pork tenderloin, and some peppadew ABTs that day and the tray of beans slotted nicely beside them, ready for a good hour to hour and half of smokin! :-)

If you're wondering what the tray directly above the charcoal is for - it's full of water and creates steam inside the BBQ, helping to control the temperature and keep the meat moist. After about 1 1/2 hours of cooking, they were ready.


These were very very tasty, and I'll definitely be cooking them again! You can certainly taste the whiskey, and the smoke adds a nice deep flavour to the rich and sticky sauce. You'll think you're in the mid-west, tucking in to some cowboy beans fresh from the campfire!


Monday, 19 March 2012

026 - Steak Pizzaiola and Chips

Sometimes, you just can't beat a good steak cooked over flaming coals! And what accompanies a steak better, than chips? This was another weber recipe, from their Foolproof book. The steak is served with a spicy tomato based sauce, and even that is started on the BBQ...

Number 26 in the list of 100 Things to BBQ, Steak Pizzaiola and Chips!

The recipe calls for sirloin, but the butcher I use at my local market had sold out by the time I'd visited them that afternoon. He did offer some lovely slabs of rump steak though - so that is what I used for this recipe. I've absolutely nothing against supermarket meat, I buy a lot of it myself, and some of it is really good - but personally, I enjoy going to the butchers and selecting the cut I want. I like the theatre and the experience that picking up a pre-packed tray can't deliver.


Anyway, back to the subject in hand!

To make the sauce, the tomatoes first need to be peeled. To do this, they are placed over direct heat until the skins start to blacken and blister. Usually I would just blanch them, but this method is much more fun... because it involves fire! :-)


After they have been peeled, de-seeded and chopped, the tomatoes are fried off with some garlic and a little olive oil. Some herbs and chilli flakes are then added to give it a healthy kick.

Onto the steak next, which is very simply seasoned before being grilled over direct high heat for a few minutes with the lid down as much as possible and turning only once. A famous UK TV chef has recently proclaimed that this method is wrong and that the steak should be flipped every 15 seconds to avoid either side getting too cold during the cooking process. My steak tasted great, and I only flipped it once - no faffing required! :-) What I believe is more important than the cooking method itself, and this goes for any meat, is to allow the steak to rest properly before serving.


So while it was resting, lightly covered with foil, I got the chips cooking. The potatoes were sliced into thin french fries, coated with a little olive oil and seasoned lightly with sea salt. These were then cooked over direct heat using a perforated grill pan.


The chips ended up a little under done, and to be honest, whist I'm happy I tried this method, I'm not sure if I'd bother doing chips on the BBQ again when they're so much better either fried or roasted in the oven. The steak was really tasty though and the sauce packs a zingy punch thanks to the chilli - yum! :-)


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

025 - Chicken Salad Pittas

So I'm a few months in to my quest to BBQ 100 things, and I'm already a quarter of the way through. Unusually for the UK at this time of year, the weather has been very mild – making me optimistic for a nice hot summer. This has put me in the mood for something a little fresher tasting, and this recipe fitted the bill perfectly. 

Number 25 of 100 things to BBQ – Chicken Salad Pittas. I found the recipe in Weber's Foolproof recipe book.

The recipe uses chicken thigh fillets, which with the help of the marinade hold up really well to the direct heat of the coals and stay really moist. If you're on a health kick, you could substitute these for chicken breasts, just be careful not to dry them out. Personally, I think thighs are much more flavourful.

The marinade is an tasty mix of lemon juice, olive oil, with a nice selection of fresh herbs and spices. The chicken is then left in the marinade for a few hours in the fridge.

The charcoal I'd used for the Chicken skewers I'd made the previous weekend had only been burning for about an hour, and I'd dutifully extinguished them by closing the air vents. As this recipe also only required a quick grill, I popped the briquettes back in to my starter chimney and re-lit them. 

While the BBQ was getting up to temperature I prepped the other ingredients. The salad is a really simple combination of sliced ripe tomato and a lettuce leaf of your choice. Personally I like the crunch that only an iceberg has, and I prefer mine to be shredded. And as I was cooking – that's what we had! :-)

The pitta breads are halved length ways, and then opened up, ready to receive their filling. 8 thighs will make roughly 8-10 portions, so you'll need 4-5 pittas.

The thighs needed roughly 10 minutes over direct heat, with the lid down of course, turning occasionally. They're done when they're completely opaque, and you can usually tell by their texture as they firm up during cooking.

After they had cooled for a couple of minutes, I sliced them into strips, added them to large bowl and added enough dressing to give the meat a light covering. This was then added to the pitta breads, along with the salad and presented on a serving plate for everyone to tuck in!

A brilliant meal for a long hot summer evening, here's hoping we have some this summer! :-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

024 - Pizza on the BBQ

For Christmas my lovely girlfriend gave me a Weber pizza stone. If you haven't seen these before, it's a flat round tile that can be used on a barbecue's cooking grate and used to bake bread and pizzas. The stone distributes the heat more evenly, giving your dough an even bake and most importantly... a crispier base! :-)
The stone is also supplied with a metal baking sheet, which is useful for moving your raw pizzas to the grill.

However, mine seemed to warp slightly when I placed the 2nd pizza on to the stone so that not all parts of it were touching the stone. It didn't seem to affect the end result, but I'm wondering if using a pizza paddle to place the pizza directly onto the stone might give even better results.

Apologies for the quality of the photos in this post - as much as I enjoy winter night-time BBQs, my camera phone doesn't cope well with the light levels :-)

First things first, the dough. For a previous Christmas, my girlfriend bought me a bread-maker... can you see a theme starting to appear with our present choices? (...we both love food!) It has a pizza dough setting, so it was as simple as adding the ingredients into the mixing bowl and waiting a couple of hours for it to start beeping.

For the sauce, I combined a tin of chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic and oregano with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Then reduced it on the hob until it was the desired consistency. I would say a minimum of 30 minutes on a low rolling simmer, but the longer you leave it, the tastier it will be. And I chose to use mozzarella  as my cheese of choice, tearing it up into small chunks after draining.

The stone is placed directly over the charcoal, and needs to be pre-heated for at least 10 minutes before cooking on it. Weber advised that I should use a whole chimney of briquettes. I made a couple of pizzas on the night. One BBQ chicken, and another Veggie supreme... our favourites from the local Dominos! As you'll see from the photos... my dough rolling skills need a lot of work!

Overall I was really pleased with the results - the bases were nice and crisp, with a fluffy crust and gooey topping.

I did find though that I'd had to leave the pizzas in for longer than expected, mainly because the top of the dough appeared a little pale. So maybe I need to experiment with the position of the coals, and place a few around the outside of the charcoal grate to increase temperature on top of the grill (rather than focussing it all under the stone. Or maybe I hadn't rolled the bases out thin enough... I guess I'll just have to keep eating pizzas until I get it right! :-)