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You need to start this the day before but it’s surprisingly easy and the results are amazing. A great barbecue dish to serve a crowd and most of the work is done beforehand. Ours was too big to fit in the oven so we sliced it into two which made it much more manageable.

Wine Suggestion: Quite often we’d suggest a wine with good acidity to cut through the richness of this dish, and we wouldn’t be wrong, with a number od Chardonnays coming to mind. However, instead of cutting through the richness we tried accentuating it and playing with the phenolics (white wine tannins) and drank Jean-Michel Gerin’s La Champine Viognier from the Northern Rhône valley. Grown on vineyards above Condrieu this is accessible and yet still heady, slightly oily and rich with stone fruit flavours and character. It always pays to think outside the box every now and again.

Fennel and ‘Nduja Spiced Porchetta – serves 6 to 8

  • 3kg belly of pork, boned and skin scored and butterflied, your butcher will do this for you

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 50g fennel seeds
  • 25g cracked black pepper
  • 10 sage leaves

FOR THE STUFFING:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted
  • 100g pitted green olives, sliced
  • 175g ‘nduja

Make the sfuffing first as you need to leave it to cool. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions and fennel for about 10 minutes or until softened and golden brown, add the garlic after about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, olives and ‘nduja and warm through briefly. Spoon onto a tray and leave to cool.

Lay the pork skin side down on a board and open up flat.

To make the seasoning, mix the the salt, fennel seeds and cracked pepper together in a bowl. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the pork and scatter the sage leaves on top. Fold the belly over to enclose the seasoning, then cover and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Lay the pork belly back onto the board and open up to expose the seasoning. Spread the stuffing evenly over the surface, leaving a border at the edges.

Roll the meat up tightly and tie with kitchen string at 4cm intervals, starting in the middle. You need to tie it firmly but careful not to squeeze out the stuffing. Put onto a tray and leave overnight in the fridge. If your pork is too big you can carefully slice through the middle to give two pieces.

The next day, take the pork out the fridge at least 1 hour before you want to start cooking.

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3.

Put the pork onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 3½ hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, get your barbecue on and get it ready to cook on. Transfer the pork to the barbecue and cook for another hour. Roll it over onto the fat side at the end to crisp up the crackling. Transfer to a platter and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes, then carve into thick slices.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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Don’t pack the barbecue away yet, you really should make this first. The smoky potato salad is good even if the fish is not your thing.

Wine Suggestion: a new find from Portugal: the Companhia de Vinhos Invencival “Natural Mystic”. An Alvarinho, Arinto, Loureiro blend from the far north, this is light and fresh and yet rounded and full flavoured standing up to the barbecued fish flavours and adding it’s own extra bit of pizzazz for a great combo.

BBQ Bream with Smoked Potato Salad – serves 2 (with salad leftover)

  • 2 whole bream, gutted and fins and other sharp bits removed
  • 1 lemon, halved

SPICE RUB FOR THE FISH:

  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly ground
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

FOR THE SMOKED POTATO SALAD:

  • 800g cooked new potatoes
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 6 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 50g cornichons, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

You will need to get a charcoal barbecue nice and hot to cook on.

Prep the fish first by placing on a board and slashing through the skin a few times on both sides.

Put all of the spice rub ingredients into a shallow dish, big enough to hold the fish, and mix together. Put the fish on top and rub the spice rub all over the fish and and into the cuts you made.

Lay the fish onto a hot barbecue and leave for 5-6 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up. Turn carefully and repeat on the other side.

Carefully remove the fish from the barbecue and leave to rest for a few minutes. Squeeze over the lemon halves.

Put the potatoes directly onto the cooling embers. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the potato salad ingredients together in a a large bowl and season. Add the smoked potatoes and toss to coat.

Serve the fish with the warm potato salad.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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We’ve been cooking from a new book, Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson and Matt Williamson. Every summer we’re usually off camping in a tent in France but not this year unfortunately. Still, we’ve had some amazing Irish sunshine so we’re making a big effort to cook and eat outside as much as possible. These chops were lovely with some flatbreads warmed on the barbecue alongside a herby couscous, and a tomato and cucumber salad.

Wine Suggestion: A barbecue Cotes du Rhone red comes to the rescue here; medium weight with gentle, warming spices. Jean-Paul Daumen’s version in the glass tonight and we can almost picture us sipping this in France.

Lamb Chops with Cumin and Sumac with Tahini Sauce – serves 4

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chill flakes/aleppo chilli flakes/urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 lamb cutlets
  • ½ lemon

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice of ½ lemon

Mix the garlic, cumin, chilli flakes and half the sumac with the oil in a bowl. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then rub them all over with the spicy oil and put them in the fridge. You need to leave them for at least half an hour or longer if you can. Bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

To make the sauce, put the garlic and tahini in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and a splash of cold water, you want a smooth sauce with the consistency of double cream. Season to taste.

Heat a barbecue until very hot and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side or until nicely charred on the outside and however you like them in the middle. Grill the lemon half at the same time. Allow the chops to rest off the heat for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the tahini and sprinkled with the rest of the sumac and a good squeeze of the barbecued lemon.

(Original crecipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson & Matt Williamson,

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These ribs are cooked in the oven before going on the barbecue so they are meltingly tender. They go great with some coleslaw and a jacket potato.

Drink suggestion: As this dish has a sweetness to it we looked to a lager with a bit of bitterness instead. Taking the recommendation by Justin from our local store (Sweeneys D3) of the Samuel Adams Boston Lager, this was deeply smooth and complex, with a well-balanced hoppy bitterness and clean, lingering finish. The hints of malt added a hint of sweetness which helped accentuate the pork flavours, so well suggested. A beer we’d overlooked for no apparent reason, but one we’ll revisit again.

Barbecued pork ribs – serves 4

  • 2 racks of baby back pork ribs, trimmed and sinew removed
  • 330ml can of beer

FOR THE SPICE RUB:

  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paparika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

FOR THE BARBECUE SAUCE:

  • 100ml American mustard
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

Mix the spice rub ingredients together in a bowl, then lay the ribs in a large roasting dish and massage all over with the rub.

Pour the can of beer into the roasing tin and cover with foil. Leave to marinate for an hour or so but make sure they’re back to room temperature before you start cooking.

Preheat your oven to 150C/130C fan, then put the roasting tin with the ribs in to bake for 2 hours. Leave to cool slightly.

Make the sauce by putting the mustard, honey, bourbon, cider vinegar and brown sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir to melt the sugar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

When you’re ready to eat, put the ribs onto a hot barbecue and allow to colour for a couple of minutes on each side. Use a pastry brush to glaze the ribs with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. When the sugar starts to caramelise, brush them again and barbecue for another couple of minutes until thoroughly glazed.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking By Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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This is a nice simple marinade for chicken thighs, perfect for sunny evenings.

Wine Suggestion: A good match with a nice, dry Provençal rosé. Tonight, one Jono’s work has commissioned from Chateau Vignelaure, the “Ode to Joy Rosé”. The name is inspired by Beethoven’s famous symphony which was written to celebrate the end of war and desperation, but with the current pandemic dragging on and effecting all our lives also celebrating hope and better times ahead from this as well. We’ll happily celebrate this with this wine as it’s delicious and tastes of a joyful summer.

Herby lemon chicken thighs – serves 6

  • 12 boneless chicken thighs with the skin on
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Put the chicken thighs into a shallow dish, then add the olive oil, preserved lemon, garlic, herbs and lots of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to coat then cover and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take out of the fridge for 15 minutes before cooking.

Cook on a hot barbecue for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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We’re a bit nervous cooking chicken from raw on the barbecue but it’s fine so long as you take your time. You also need to cook the wings before you brush on the glaze. This is so they don’t burn on the outside before cooking all the way through.

Start a day ahead with the brine and you’ll have the perfect party dish for the barbecue. Oh, and you’ll need napkins.

Wine Suggestion: With such big, burly flavours on the glaze and in the spirit of a fun, messy dish we’d suggest a similar style of red wine to match. Zinfandel, Grenache or similar. Tonight Pikes Los Compañeros, a juicy, Shiraz-Tempranillo blend from the Clare Valley. Brambles and plums with a cool kick of spice on the finish. A new barbecue favourite.

BBQ Chicken Wings with Korean Glaze – serves 4-6

  • 20 large chicken wings, jointed in 2 (get your butcher to prep these for you)
  • 200g table salt
  • 2 litres of water
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 80ml rice vinegar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50ml Sriracha hot sauce
  • 50ml tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 20g butter

FOR GARNISH:

  • 2-3 scallions (green parts only), shredded
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

To make the brine, put the salt into a large bowl, then add the water and whisk until the salt disolves. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and chicken wings. Cover the bowl and leave overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to cook, remove the wings from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Make the glaze by putting all of the ingredients into a small pan and bringing to a simmer. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, then set aside until needed.

Put the chicken wings onto a hot barbecue and cook for 10-12 minutes or until browing on both sides. Now coat the chicken wings with the glaze using a pastry brush. Cook for another few minutes, turning, until slightly charred.

Put the chickin wings onto a large warm platter, then brush generously with extra glaze and rest for a minute before serving. Scatter over the shredded scallions and toasted sesame seeds and eat with your hands.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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Barbecued watermelon is a revelation for us as it really intensifies the flavour. This combination with prawns, feta and chilli is total winner! Serve as a starter at your next barbecue. Another fab idea from Chasing Smoke.

Wine Suggestion: This dish has a real affinity with a juicy, youthful Grenache, be it a Rosé or a lightly chilled red like tonight’s Rubus by Jesus Romero. Made at 1000m above sea-level in the rural, far south of Aragon, Spain this is all cherry, blackberry and spice; seriously gluggable.

Grilled watermelon and prawns with feta & chilli – serves 4

  • 12 whole prawns in the shells (buy 16 if they’re small)
  • 2 thick slices from a large watermelon
  • 1 red chilli, sliced into rings (if you cut of the stalk and rub the chilli between your hands the seeds will fall out)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250g feta
  • a small bunch of mint, leave half the leaves whole and chop the rest
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing
  • 1 tsp roughly crushed black pepper

Take a small pointy knife and cut and cut down the back of each prawn, when you see the digestive string gently pull it out with the tip of the knife. Leave the prawns in a bowl in the fridge until ready to cook.

Cut the watermelon into 8 large wedges, leaving the skin on.

Mix the chilli slices with the vinegar and salt and set aside.

Light your barbecue and get it up to a high heat.

Brush the watermelon with some olive oil, then put on the hottest part of the barbecue for 1-2 minutes on each side or until charred. Remove to a platter, then grill the prawns for a 2-3 minutes on each side, depending how big they are.

Add the prawns to the watermelon, crumble over the feta, then scatter with the mint leaves.

Stir the olive oil, black pepper and chopped mint into the marinating chilli and drizzle over the platter.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Aroudn the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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This is pretty much a meal in a brioche bun, don’t skip anything as it all comes together perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: Given the weather and the dish we cracked open a Domaine of the Bee, Bee Pink Rosé from Roussillon. A blend of Grenache and Syrah this had the obligatory red fruit flavours we expected but the thing that made it work so well with the food was the wonderful texture and hints of thyme. An accidental but fortuitous match.

Barbecued Chicken with Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado – serves 4

  • 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

FOR THE MAYONNAISE:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 tsp mild American mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

TO SERVE:

  • 4 large brioche buns
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 little gem lettuces, leaves separated

Bash the chicken thighs between sheets of baking paper or cling film until about 1cm thick.

Put the chicken into a shallow dish with the garlic, rosemary and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss the chicken until coated in the herbs and oil.

Mix all of the mayonnaise ingredients together and sesason to taste.

Cook the chicken on a hot barbecue for a few minutes on each side. Add the bacon to the barbecue and cook until crispy, it will only take a couple of minutes. Once cooked, leave the chicken and bacon aside to rest.

Add the brioche buns to the barbecue and char briefly.

Peel and slice the avocados (don’t do this in advance or they will discolour).

Spread some mayo on the bottom half of each brioche bun and top with 2 chicken thighs. Add layers of tomato, bacon, avocado and lettuce, then spread the top half of the buns with the rest of the mayonnaise, sandwich together and serve.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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These are super tasty, especially with the quick pickled onions and some naan breads from the takeaway.

Wine Suggestion: Cline Cellar’s Sonoma Coast Viognier; a wonderfully fresh, stonefruit flavoured wine with a soft acidity. Rich and flavoursome to match the flavour depth of salmon and spices. This is dry with low residual sugar levels, however it has juicy, fruit flavours carrying the chilli and paprika well and complementing the ginger and lime.

Tandoori Fish Skewers – serves 8 (easily halved)

  • 8 salmon fillets, skin removed (about 125g each)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 2.5 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • veg oil for brushing

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS:

  • 2 small red onions
  • 125ml water
  • 125ml white white vinegar
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar

TO SERVE:

  • warm naan breads
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 long green chilli, finely sliced
  • lime halves
  • sweet chilli sauce

You can start the pickled onions about an hour ahead. Slice them finely and put into a bowl.

Put the water, wine vinegar, fennel and cumin seeds, salt and sugar into a small pan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour this hot liquid over the onions and leave to cool, then cover the bowl and leave in the firdge.

Cut the salmon fillets into large chunks. Put into a bowl with the garlic, ginger and lime juice and mix well.

Put the yoghurt into a bowl, then mix in the spices and some seasoning. Add the spiced yoghurt to the salmon and mix gently, then leave to marinate in a cool place for about 20 minutes.

Thread the salmon onto skewers, brush the barbecue witha little veg oil, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly charred.

Serve the skewers on warm naan breads with pickled red onions, coriander and green chilli sprinkled over. Serve with some lime for squeezing over and sweet chilli sauce (we served with our hot pepper jam).

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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This recipe is from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. They have memories of cooking potatoes in bonfires as children and how delicious they tasted. They really are delicious and if you’ve made the effort to light your barbecue you may as well throw a few potatoes in the embers too.

Baked potatoes with charred spring onion sour cream – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, about 250g each

FOR THE SOUR CREAM DRESSING:

  • 8-10 scallions
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • black pepper
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Wrap each potato in tin foil and place in the embers of your barbecue or campfire. Leave there for about 45 minutes or until a metal skewer goes in easily, turn them over a couple of times as they cook.

Meanwhile, char half the scallions on the grill for a few minutes on each side or until charred. Remove from the heat and finely chop.

Finely slice the green parts of the remaining scallions and set aside to sprinkle over at the end. Cut the remaining white parts into small pieces and stir into the sour cream along with the charred scalllions and the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the cooked potatoes from the fire and remove the foil. Cut each one down the middle and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and fill with the sour cream mixture. Spinkle over the green scallions and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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For our wedding anniversary this year we barbecued a whole rib of beef on the bone: consider it a super-rib eye steak. With the bone attached this is much harder to do completely on the barbecue (but not impossible). There is also an easier way if you finish the steak in the oven, which helps to to control the doneness while still getting the lovely barbecue char and flavours.

Wine Suggestion: Given the occasion we opened a bottle of Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2009 from Pessac Leognan. A great vintage with fleshy fruit that at 12 years of age was singing very expressively. Super elegant and refined fruits, perfumed with that slight pencil edge that characterises the appellation and silky tannins that were both powerful and gentle in equal measure. Definitely powerful enough to stand next to the robust steak and then elevate the sum to another level. Well worth cellaring.

Rib of beef with wild mushroom butter – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g mixed wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Madeira
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)
  • 100g butter, diced and softened
  • 1 rib of beef on the bone

First, make the butter. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms with the shallots and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until cooked through but not coloured.

Add the Madeira, cream and herbs to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste and stir in the truffle oil if using. Leave to cool completely.

Put the butter and cooled mushroom mixture into a food processor and purée until smooth. Scrape out onto a piece of non-stick baking paper, then roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends to secure. Chill for at least 2 hours, until hardened.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.

Take your steak out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. Season at this stage too.

Cook over the direct heat on your barbecue for 8-10 minutes, turning to make sure all sides are well browned with a little charring.

Place the barbecued steak onto a preheated ovenproof pan, and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and until done to your liking.

We used a meat thermometer to judge doneness and removed the steak at 55C. While we like our steaks on the rare side we find that medium-rare to medium works best when cooking a rib on the bone. This ensures all the juicy fats are rendered properly. If you’d like it a little rarer cook to 52C. Remember that the steak keeps on cooking while resting too.

When your steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and sit it on a rack set over a tray. Cut the butter into slices and arrange on top of the steak. Set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving the steak from the bone and slicing. Serve with the buttery mushrooms spooned over.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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We served this with sticky rice and some quick cucumber kimchi but it would also work perfectly as a starter.  If you want to serve to start a meal, just slice the chicken thighs when they’re cooked and serve in lettuce leaves with some kimchi.

Wine Suggestion: this goes great with lighter red wines with high acidity but lower tannins. A youthful Chianti with lower extraction, like the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo which was our choice tonight. Made for youthful consumption as opposed to some of their more serious Chianti Classico’s this was a delight.

Korean Spice-Rubbed Chicken for the BBQ – serves 4

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets (if they are tiny just get some extra)
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Make the marinade by whisking the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the chicken to the marinade and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the brown sugar, gochugaru, salt, pepper and sesame seeds in a bowl. Drain the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels, then rub the dry spice mix evenly over the chicken.

Heat a barbecue and cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. If you don’t want to barbecue you can heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook them on the hob.

Rest in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016)

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We were offered two dead wild ducks a few weeks ago, feathers and all. Our friend Niall kindly dealt with the feathers and delivered a bag of fresh duck breasts and legs to our door. Lucky us! We minced the duck meat with a bit of pork fat (you could use duck skin too if you have it) and made these burgers seasoned with Rick Stein’s pepper mix, which we’re looking forward to seasoning all sorts of things with. We bought the dried chillies in a Mexican food shop but you should be able to get them online too. Best served with fries.

Wine Suggestion: Choose a medium bodied red with refined tannins for this dish. Despite the Mexican chillies in the spice mix this is a very French inspired meal, one you might easily find on holiday there. So for this we chose our favourite, the Chateau du Hureau Saumur-Champigny “Tuffe”. Cabernet Franc from the Loire at it’s best and a good match.

Duck burgers – serves 4

  • 800 duck meat (breast, leg or both), plus about 100-150g fat and skin if you have it, or some pork fat
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Rick’s peppermix (see below)
  • 80g cheese e.g. Comté or Gruyère, cut into slices
  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 2-3 tsp grainy mustard
  • a large handful of rocket
  • 1 tsp walnut oil (or just use good olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced (we’re not so keen on raw onion in our burgers so we cut the onion into chunky slices, rub with some seasoning a little oil and barbecue on soft and charred)
  • 1 dill pickle, sliced (we used cornichons)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 2 tbsp mustard mayonnaise (mix a little Dijon mustard into good-quality mayonnaise)

FOR THE PEPPERMIX:

  • 1 chipotle chilli, seeds removed
  • 1 pasilla chilli, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp salt

Make the peppermix by blitzing all of the ingredients together in a spice grinder. Store in a jar and use to season other things, it’s great on a steak.

If there is fat on the duck, pull it off and mince the meat with about 100-150g of fat and the skin (we didn’t have fat and skin so we added a bit of pork fat instead). Season the mince with the salt and 1 tsp of the peppermix. Damp your hands a bit and make four burgers. Cover and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.

You can cook the burgers on a hot barbecue or if you prefer to cook indoors a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cook the burgers for a few minutes on each side, then add a slice of cheese to each, turn of the heat and leave to sit for a minute to let the cheese melt.

Lightly toast the buns and spread the cut surfaces with grainy mustard. Dress the rocket with a little walnut oil or good olive oil.

Serve the burgers on a bun topped with onion, cornichon/dill pickle, tomato, mustard mayonnaise and rocket. Serve with fries.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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This is the sort of lunch our daughter likes after she’s run around a Camogie pitch for a couple of hours. It’s also good if you’ve been standing in the cold at the side of the pitch!

Honey-mustard hot dogs – serves 4

  • 50g grated emmental
  • 50g grated cheddar
  • 3 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 sausages
  • 4 brioche hot dog buns

Cook the sausages, we do them on the barbecue but whatever way you like will be fine.

Meanwhile put the emmental, cheddar, mustard and honey in a bowl and stir to combine.

Heat the grill to high.

Split the hot dog buns and fill with a sausage, then top with the cheesy mixture. Put on a baking sheet and flash under the grill for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Turmeric Chicken KebabsWe’re total suckers for a new cookbook and therefore just couldn’t live without Simply by Sabrina Ghayour. We cooked a few dishes last weekend and they were all great. It’s an Indian summer in Ireland too, so it was great to do barbecue and drinks in the sunshine. We’re now on the hunt for more recipes using fresh turmeric.

Wine Suggestion: This works perfectly with a goood Rioja Reserva, especially if it has a few extra years in the bottle. There is something about how Tempranillo becomes all velvety and aromatic with a few years aged in oak, plus a few extra in the bottle that really works for warm spices and smoky barbecue flavours. Our treat was the Muga Reserva from 2001 which was excellent but it doesn’t need as much age as this, just nice fruit so choose what is at hand.

Turmeric Chicken Kebabs – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • sweet chilli sauce, to serve

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 5cm piece of fresh turmeric, scrubbed and grated (wear gloves!)
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 generous tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Put all the of the ingredients for the marinade in a container and mix together. Do be careful as the turmeric is bright yellow and will stain anything it comes in contact with.

Cut the chicken breasts lengthways into 3 long strips. Stir into the marinade, then cover the container with a lid and put into the fridge. We did this in the morning and the chicken was really delicious by the time we cooked it that evening. Sabrina suggests 30 minutes to an hour or overnight, so no panic if you’re short on time or want to get ahead.

Get your barbecue going and get it nice and hot.

Thread the chicken onto kebab skewers, we prefer to use metal ones but wooden ones are fine, just make sure you soak them for 20 minutes before using. You can thread individual pieces onto short skewers or put a few onto a longer skewer.

Cook the chicken over a high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through (alternatively you can cook these in the oven on a tray lined with baking paper at the highest setting for 10-12 minutes or until cooked). Serve with the sweet chilli sauce on the side.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

 

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Barbecued Prawns with Chilli, Lime & Coriander Butter

Messy but oh so good! Treat your friends to a pile of these at your next barbecue and you will be very popular. Napkins, finger bowls, baby wipes etc., essential!

Wine Suggestion:  we think this needs an uncomplicated and fun white like a Picpoul de Pinet, Muscadet or Albariño, or going up a gear we chose the Bodegas Katxina Txakoli from near San Sebastien in Spain … tapas, sun, seafood and socialising. Happy days.

Barbecued prawns with chilli, lime & coriander butter – serves 4

  • 1kg large raw tiger prawns with the shell on, remove the heads before cooking

FOR THE BUTTER:

  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
  • 200g butter, softened

Make the butter by putting the garlic, coriander, chilli and lime juice into a food processor and pulse until chopped.

Toss 1 tbsp of the flavoured butter with prawns and leave in the fridge until ready to cook.

Put the rest onto a piece of tin foil and roll into a sausage shape. Put into the freezer to harden.

Preheat the barbecue, then cook the prawns for a few minutes on each side until pink. Serve on a platter and melt thin slices of the butter over the top. You can also melt some extra butter and serve on the side if you want. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Barbecued Pork Chops with Mustardy Greens

The veg really make this dish and all in season right now. Blanch all the vegetables individually before you get going with everything else and cook them until just done, then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop them cooking further.

Wine Suggestion: chosen for no other reason than it was in the fridge –  a bottle of Olim Bauda Gavi di Gavi which we found a little fuller than other Gavi we’ve had recently and a good match. A fortuitous choice.

Barbecued pork chops with mustardy greens – serves 2

  • a knob of butter
  • a small onion, sliced
  • 75ml white wine
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • 2 thick-cut pork chops
  • 75g mangetout, blanched
  • 75g green beans, blanched
  • a handful of peas, blanched

When you get home from the butchers, take the pork chops out of their wrapping and season all over with fine sea salt (we use kosher salt). Leave in the fridge but take them out a good half hour or more before you want to cook them.

Heat the knob of butter in a frying pan, then cook the onion until soft. Add the wine and simmer for a minute before adding the mustard and cream. Simmer for another few minutes.

Heat a barbecue to very hot. Rub the chops with oil and season generously. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Turn on the side and sear the fat also. Rest for a few minutes while you finish the veg.

Reheat the sauce and stir in the blanched vegetables until piping hot. Season, then spoon the veg onto warm plates and top with a chop.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2013)

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Lamb kebabs with cumin & coriander

Delicious Indian kebabs cooked over charcoal. We’ve had an Indian theme going on all week at our house. Serve these with raita and naan breads.

Wine Suggestion: a juicy, easy red with an open texture and something with Syrah/Shiraz and or Grenache strikes a good balance with spices that match the smokey, warmly spiced kebabs. Tonight was the Secateurs Red, a Cinsault Shiraz Grenache blend from Swartland which we’ve not had for a while and I’m not sure why, it was delicious.

Lamb kebabs with cumin & coriander – serves 4

  • 600g lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3½ cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Bash the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt to make a paste.

In another bowl mix the oil with the ginger and garlic paste, the spices, 1 tsp of salt and the lemon zest and juice. Pour this marinade over the lamb and mix well.

Thread the lamb onto skewers and barbecue for about 10-12 minutes. Rest for a few minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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Barbecued Prawn Kebabs with Harissa & Couscous

A healthy, weeknight dish with lovely flavours. Another recipe for using up bits and bobs you may already have which is our primary motivation for cooking mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: a fresh white or a crisp, dry rosé would be our choice for this dish. We had a glass of the Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Rosé from Ventoux (and quite Provençal in style) and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Barbecued prawn kebabs with harissa & couscous – serves 4

  • 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved lengthways, then each half quartered into 4 chunks
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 200g couscous
  • 400g raw prawns
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • juice ½ lemon, plus wedges, to serve
  • handful mint leaves, roughly chopped

Put 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil into a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured, they’ll fall apart and that’s fine. Scoop them out of the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in the same pan, add the cumin seeds and toast for a few minutes until they smell good. Tip the carrots into the pan and season, then cook for a few minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl, then pour over the couscous and 400ml hot water. Cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, get your barbecue going. Put the prawns, cherry tomatoes and softened onions in another bowl, season, then stir in the harissa. Thread the prawns, tomatoes and onions onto metal skewers (you can use wooden ones either but you need to soak in water for 20 minutes first). Barbecue the kebabs for a couple of minutes on each side, or until the prawns are cooked through.

Mix the tahini, yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and seasoning to make a sauce. Fork the mint though the couscous, transfer to a platter and place the skewers on top. Serve with the sauce and lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spiced Salmon Skewers with Parsley Oil

We started these kebabs from the Falastin cookbook on the barbecue and then finished in the oven. Oh my goodness, they’re delicious. This is the best cookbook we’ve bought in ages!! You can make the parsley oil and marinade the salmon well in advance.

Wine Suggestion: to avoid fighting the spices we opened a La Source de Chateau Vignelaure Blanc from Provence. A blend of Vermentino, Semillon and Sauvignon it was uncomplicated joy in a glass; pure freshness with light fruits and a textured core.

Spiced salmon skewers with parsley oil – serves 4

  • 800g salmon fillet (no skin & bones), cut into 4cm chunks
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 3½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, halved lengthways, then each half quartered into 4 chunks
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, quartered into wedges, to serve

PARSLEY OIL:

  • 40g parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 90ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut off the ends, then remove the skin and cut between the membranes to release the segments

Put the chunks of salmon into a large bowl with the cardamom, cumin, paprika, turmeric, sumac, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, ¾ tsp salt and plenty of black pepper. Mix to coat the fish, then leave in the fridge for at least an hour but it will be fine made earlier in the day and cooked when you need.

Put 1½ tbsp of olive oil into a large sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured, they’ll fall apart and that’s fine. Scoop them out of the pan and set aside.

To make the parsley oil whizz the parsley, garlic, oil, ¼ tsp of salt and plenty of pepper in the small bowl of a food processor for about a minute, or until, smooth. Add the lemon segments and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 230ºC and get your barbecue going (if you don’t want to barbecue you can use a well-greased griddle pan).

Put a tomato onto 4 long metal skewers, then alternate chunks of salmon with pieces of onion. Finish with another tomato at the end.

When the barbecue (or griddle) is smoking hot, add the skewers and grill for 3-4 minutes, turning so they’re charred on all sides. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment and put into the preheated oven for 6-7 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked.

Drizzle over the parsley oil and serve the lemon wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020)

 

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