Category: Barbecue


Jerk Chicken and Ragamuffins

April 5th, 2014 — 5:44pm

Jerk Chicken and Ragamuffins

Almost looks a bit artfully food styley styley, that photo, doesn’t it? IT’S LIKE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME. Then you clock the gnawed chicken bone on the right, the Iphone slung to the left and you realise, yeah it’s just a genuine mess on my table, actually. Wang it on there and chow down, as I believe they say on Downton Abbey.

I cooked this chicken on the BBQ, which is how I will be cooking all of my food until Monday, since I had what is known to all rational (urgh) and calm people as a GAS CRISIS. The flame in my oven started burning orange instead of the regular, non-panic-making blue, so faster than you could say ‘Google is the first port of call in a potentially serious situation’ I was reading combinations of words like ‘incomplete combustion’ and ‘carbon monoxide production’. It did at least explain why the ragamuffins took 40 minutes longer to cook than they should have done. Mmmm carbon monoxide laced corn muffins. Think I’ll probably need to get back to you with that recipe at a later date. Still ate them. Well, half of one; the rest are still on the balcony.

The chicken however was awesome and I want to tell you two pieces of information with regards to jerk chicken. The first is that this method of soaking bay leaves in water and making a little bed for the chicken with them on the grill is brilliant, and probably the closest we’ll ever get here to replicating the flavour of allspice wood. The second is that my jerk marinade has some new threads, designed by my old roomie, Vicki Brown. I love them. As soon as I get my arse in gear there will be a new shiny website for it too, but you know, I’ve got 99 problems right now, and potentially slipping away in a gas induced coma during the night is one of them*. Might take me a while to get around to that website thing. You can buy the marinade here as before though, in Persepolis in Peckham and possibly maybe shortly in some new exciting new places which I’m too scared to tell you about in case something goes wrong.

Jerk on.

Jerk Chicken and Ragamuffins

Untitled

Untitled
*(MUM, I’VE TURNED IT OFF AT THE WALL, DON’T WORRY)

15 comments » | Barbecue, Caribbean Food, Meat, Peckham Jerk Marinade

Poussin with Pomegranate Molasses, Turkish Chilli & Rose

July 30th, 2013 — 1:33pm

I do love the word ‘spatchcock’. Oh come on. Aside from the juvenile pleasure, the giggles and unnecessary emphasis, it’s just such a satisfying word to say. Go on, say it. Say it out loud like you mean it.

It’s also, handily, a very useful and easy way of prepping a bird in order to ensure even cooking, particularly on the BBQ. I’m sure you already know this, but I had to say something useful and serious, otherwise this is just a post about a word that sounds funny. Here’s a vid if you’re not familiar with how to do it.

I made these three times before I was happy with the marinade. The first time – too orangey, the second time – too meh, the third time however…well if I hadn’t nailed it the third time I would have been worried. Pomegranate molasses makes a wonderfully sticky marinade with its exotic sweet and sour flavour, there’s orange juice too and then plenty of BOOM! spicing in the form of Turkish chilli flakes and cumin. I also used dried rose petals, which have always baffled me. In the bag they just smell kinda dusty. I didn’t get it. When ground up however, they did add a nice floral (duh) flavour, which I’d originally tried to achieve with orange blossom water (didn’t work – just tasted like bubble gum).

These were fabulous served with some grilled spring onions – just oil and sling ‘em on the grill. A cucumber salad was refreshing, made with spring onions, parsley and sour cream. Oh and there was leftover dirty BBQ veg on the side.

The way to get the poussin tasting really good is to reserve half the marinade and brush it on as they are cooking. This makes sure you get plenty of that flavour on there, without it all slipping off a la marinade. Sticky, sweet, charred, spicy. Incredibly good, actually.

Pomegranate Molasses and Turkish Chilli Poussin (serves 2)

2 poussins, spatchcocked

For the marinade:

4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Turkish chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (use a good one)
Juice of 1/2 small orange
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bash up the cumin seeds with the rose petals until you have something resembling a powder, then mix with all the other marinade ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the poussin with half the marinade, reserving the rest for brushing on top during cooking.

Cook on the BBQ until, well, cooked (depends on the size of your poussin really – mine took about 20 minutes), turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.

26 comments » | Barbecue, Main Dishes, Meat

‘Dirty’ BBQ Veg with Queso Fresco

July 26th, 2013 — 8:37am

 

‘Dirty veg’. This isn’t some new dude food trend, but a pretty shit hot way of cooking vegetables on a BBQ. Cooking something ‘dirty’ basically means cooking it directly on the coals. I found this on a blog called Country Wood Smoke, which is written by a guy down in Devon who appears to be married to his BBQ. Actually I have many friends like that. Hang on, actually I’m a bit like that…

Anyway, the idea is simple and brilliant; nothing ground breaking but a real trick up the sleeve nonetheless. Basically, man-down-in-Devon (real name – Marcus) is saying, ‘what the hell y’all doing slinging your vegetables on dat grill when you could be charring em directly in the coals you bunch of absolute fookin’ numpties?’ because in my head Marcus has an accent which is a cross between Southern American, gangsta and Scottish. Wouldn’t that be a thing. Weirdy hybrid accents are cool. I met a man recently who had an accent which was a cross between Georgian (ex-Soviet state Georgian), and cockney. That was hilarious. I really liked him. He didn’t like me because I laughed every time he said something.

Anyhow. Get yourself some hardy-ish veg like peppers and courgettes and some onions, oil them up, salt and pepper them, then stick them directly in the coals once they’re ready for cooking (ie when the flames have died down and they are white/grey). Turn them occasionally until they’re charred in places all over. You think the courgette won’t cook, but it will. It’s also nice to do some more delicate veg, so once you’ve taken peppers et al off the coals and put them aside, get your er, BBQ wok (a wok with holes in) or, if like me, you don’t have one, a metal colander, and put that directly in the coals. Oil and season up some cherry toms and also some baby corn and put them in, tossing them about quite often, until they’re charred in places too. When all veg are done, chop them finely; the smoke and char flavour is just wonderful. What difference does it make cooking them in the coals rather than on the grill? Well they taste smokier, they cook in about 2 minutes flat and above anything else, it’s just really FUN.

Not quite cock rocket veg arrangement

Makeshift BBQ wok. Probably should warn you I can’t really get all the burnt bits off the bottom…

When you first put the vegetables in the coals you will think, ‘I can’t eat it that! It’s all dirty!’ That of course is stupid. They don’t come out covered in ash, just nicely charred and tasting amazing. Woman up.

We ate them wrapped with salsa, and some queso fresco, which is a Mexican cheese in case you don’t know. The idea that you might not know it will sound ridiculous to any American or, indeed, Mexican readers (sure I have loads), but it’s really not a cheese that is available here. And now someone is making it in Peckham. I know. Gringa Dairy is under an arch on the Old Kent Road. This means there are now like, 3 reasons to love the Old Kent Road! There’s Gringa and Shu Castle and also the fireman in the window – you’ll know what the last reference is all about if you know the Old Kent Road. I can hear at least two of you shouting, ‘I know the fireman in the window!’

The cheese is a bit like feta, but less salty, more creamy and a little less crumbly. You could slice it, for example. It’s apparently a right ball-ache to get the cheese tasting the way it does in Mexico due to issues of climate and method. I can’t say I’ve tasted the original to compare but by gum it tastes just perfect with a bit of dirty veg of a summer’s eve. Give it a whirl. We also splodged on some sour cream plus green chillies (note to self – CHAR THOSE TOO). A squeeze of lime caramelised on the grill…

I don’t want to make some cliche about this being the best vegetarian BBQ food as if there’s nothing good for vegetarians to eat from the BBQ. It is, though.

Dirty BBQ Veg  (two of us managed to plough through this – disgraceful)

2 peppers
1 courgette
2 large red onions, peeled and quartered
Handful baby corn
Handful cherry toms
Handful garlic cloves, unpeeled
Green chillies
Olive oil

Oil up the veg and season with salt and pepper. As I said the peppers, courgette and onions can go directly in the coals, just move them around a bit – this is proper instinctive cooking you cavewoman, you. Once done, set aside then do the baby corn, chillies, tomatoes and garlic in a metal colander or BBQ wok, if you’re well organised and er, have one. Move them frequently. When all veg are charred, chop them up. They should still have nice crisp, charred bits on the outside, but will be soft inside.

Serve with tortillas/tacos, sour cream, salsa, queso fresco…wrap em up. The possibilities for variations on garnish are obviously many.

19 comments » | Barbecue, Cheese, Mexican Food, Vegetables

Tacos: BBQ Onglet with Scotch Bonnet, Grapefruit & Mango

July 23rd, 2013 — 1:50pm

Onglet, or skirt steak, is a great cut of beef to cook on the BBQ; it has so much flavour and just needs a really quick grilling over high heat. Over cook it and you’ll find dinner now has the texture of a flip flop, but get it right and you’ll cut into juicy meat with a texture like butter. I gave it a bathing in a spicy, fruit based marinade which was pretty damn fine when slung into tacos. Here’s what to do:

1. Meet @markymarket at Chancery Lane tube to take receipt of a kg of onglet. You can’t miss him – he’ll stick out like a sore thumb wearing a white butcher’s coat and lugging a cool box. Contact him via his website or Twitter to place an order.

2. Gather some mates together for a hot and sticky summer evening BBQ. They will bring loads of interesting wine because they are ace.

3. Make the fruit marinade. I was originally going to use papaya; a great meat tenderiser. I didn’t though because I didn’t have one and also, papayas are expensive. SO expensive. What I did have was 1 very ripe mango and 3 apricots, the flesh of which was whizzed with grapefruit juice, garlic and scotch bonnet chilli. This makes a great table sauce too, so reserve some for later. Pour the sauce over the onglet and marinate for an hour. It will look like it’s covered in sick. It isn’t; that’s your delicious mango sauce, silly.

4. Grill the meat. Rest the meat. Slice the meat. Eat the meat. We piled it into tacos and topped with guacamole, salsa, and onions quick pickled in lime and orange juice.

A dollop of that mango sauce on top is most excellent, too…

Mango and Scotch Bonnet Marinated Onglet (Tacos) (serves 4)

1 kg onglet (skirt steak)

For the marinade:

4 cloves garlic, peeled
Flesh of 1 ripe mango
Flesh of 3 apricots
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded or not is up to you
Splash olive oil
Salt and pepper

Get the onglet out of the fridge about 2 hours before you want to cook it. Whizz all the marinade ingredients in a blender and pour 3/4 over the onglet, reserving the other 1/4 for serving. Light your BBQ and wait until the flames have died down and the coals are nice and grey/white all over, you want the BBQ as hot as possible and that doesn’t mean flames. By which point your onglet should be ready.

Brush off excess marinade and season well on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 minutes, then flip and grill a further 2 minutes. Repeat this – so a further 2 minutes each side. This should give you pretty rare steak, but of course it depends on the thickness (you could also brush a little of the reserved marinade on while cooking, if you like. Don’t double dip the brush into the sauce you’re going to serve at the table, though). Let the meat rest for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready, then slice and serve with extras below.

For the guacamole:

I steal a trick from Thomasina Miers here and bash up a little onion and chilli first in the pestle and mortar, as well as mixing some in, which gives a really nice overall savoury flavour. Mix with the flesh of 2 avocados (roughly mashed, you want some texture), juice of 1-2 limes and a little more finely chopped onion and chilli. Finish with salt, pepper and coriander.

For the salsa:

Make a basic tomato salsa by seeding and finely chopping really ripe tomatoes, about 6, and mixing with half a small finely chopped red onion, a squeeze of lime juice, small handful chopped coriander leaves, and salt and pepper.

For the pickled onions:

Another trick nicked from Thomasina Miers, whose book ‘Mexican Cooking Made Simple’ is actually really bloody good. Cover finely sliced red onions with boiling water for ten minutes then drain. Squeeze in lime and orange juice, plus a finely chopped scotch bonnet chilli. Leave for a couple of hours. Makes a great condiment on loads of things, actually.

Tortilla/taco note: I have been e-mailed by a reader who pointed out I have ‘misrepresented’ tacos as I have actually used tortillas. Fact is, tacos are impossible to get hold of for me and also, I don’t like them. Too tough. So yes, I used tortillas and cut taco shapes from them. Apologies if this has offended anyone else. 

 

17 comments » | Barbecue, Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican Food

Watermelon Salad with Labneh

July 12th, 2013 — 11:48am

Don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat arghhhhh it’s just been so freakin HOT. All the time I’m walking around in a fug of lethargy and sweat thinking, ‘be grateful it’s sunny be grateful it’s sunny be grateful be grateful be grateful’. It’s been really hot though. I haven’t had the oven on. At least not every day. What I did manage was to strain some yoghurt and chop a watermelon; a watermelon that had been in the fridge and so made a glorious respite in the form of my lunch. The cool, sweet melon on top of creamy labneh, tickled through with a little red onion and mint. A lazy trickle of olive oil. I managed to toast the pittas, by slotting them into the toaster and backing the hell away for 2 minutes.

I’d eat this again and again. It’s a lovely thing to have around at BBQs too; a good little starter or side with grilled meats. It’s actually really damn good wrapped up in a kebab.

Watermelon Salad with Labneh (serves 4 as a side dish, or two as a starter)

500g full fat natural yoghurt
Salt
1 chunk watermelon, about 1.2-1.5kg (that’s not actually very big – heavy, innit)
1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
Handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Squeeze of lime juice
Toasted pitta, to serve

Make labneh as per this recipe.

Skin, seed and finely chop the watermelon flesh. Mix it with the finely chopped onion, mint and a squeeze of lime juice. Spread the labneh on a serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Pile the watermelon salad on top and add a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with toasted pitta.

17 comments » | Barbecue, Salads, Salsa, Side Dishes, Snacks

Suya: Nigerian BBQ

May 29th, 2013 — 9:38am

Suya started to occupy my thoughts a few years ago when I noticed a takeaway place in Peckham: Obalende Suya Express on the high street. To say the place looks ramshackle is putting it mildly – the sign is caked in pigeon shit and interior design consists of a few stick-legged metal chairs with  scraps of fabric hanging off them. Obviously I went in, and I caught them on a good day; the suya was tender, smoky and like nothing I’d tasted before. Sadly the quality isn’t consistent. Boo. Thoughts turned to making my own.

A colleague of mine regularly travels to Nigeria and once, very kindly, she brought me back a package of suya spice. It came wrapped in someone’s bank statement. I tried it out at a friend’s BBQ but the results were a bit weird; the meat released a musty fug that smelled like Peckham down wind on a bad day. Rotting yams with a hint of fish and the dusty corners of an African back alley. That was several years ago, but recently I decided to have another crack at it.

Basically suya is either sliced beef, chicken or fish, rubbed in a mixture of (crucially) ground peanuts and a mixture of flavourings including paprika, onion powder and ginger, amongst others. This is called tankora. The meat is threaded onto skewers and cooked and as far as I can tell, the smoke flavour is essential. It is served with a pile of tankora at the side plus some sliced onions and tomatoes.

Cracking the BBQ out again this weekend seemed like a balls out banger opportunity to salve some psychological wounds and get back down with the suya. Obviously there’s no point doing things by halves so we decided upon a suya three way cook off: a home made version, vs. the scary Nigerian must-in-a-jar vs. a packet of ready made mix picked up on Rye Lane.

Suya spice from Nigeria…mild but musty 

The Peckham blend…spicy 

Home made version mixed with the peanuts

Making your own tankora is basically a case of grinding up the nuts but stopping before they become peanut butter, then mixing with the other flavours and smearing onto the meat. We did this right before cooking which worked very well; the meat is sliced so thinly that to marinate it seems less necessary.

Really tasty sirloin from Flock and Herd in Peckham 

Skewered

Three way taste off

As we were grinding up the nuts to make the home made marinade it occurred to me what had gone wrong with my first attempt – the spice mixes are sold to be mixed with peanuts, not used neat. No wonder it was a little *cough* intense. It turns out that the home made version was the most vibrant, as you would expect. Handy really, considering not everyone can get bank statement wrapped packages from Nigeria, or nip down to the local African shop.

It’s hot, this recipe, humming with chilli and ginger. The ground nuts add buttery textural intensity, which made the gloriously tender sirloin seem even more so. In short, it was bloody tasty. A new BBQ favourite.

Suya 

600g sirloin steak, cut into slices about a cm thick (get the butcher to do this as it can be a bit tricky)
50g peanuts (salted is fine, just don’t add any extra salt to the mixture)
1 teaspoon chilli (grind up whatever you have, or use chilli powder)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder OR you can be a fly beeatch like me and use 1 teaspoon ground up crispy fried onions from a bag

Grind up the peanuts in a spice grinder or blender. Stop before they become peanut butter. Add all the other spices and smother with the paste. Grill over the direct heat on a BBQ, leaving the inside slightly pink. Serve with a pile of the spice mixture if you like, and some sliced tomatoes and onions.

18 comments » | African food, Barbecue, Meat

Yoghurt Love and Labneh

May 21st, 2013 — 2:02pm

In his excellent book, ‘The Yoghurt Cookbook‘, Arto der Haroutunian talks about the health promoting properties of the white stuff, and its supposedly life lengthening power. By my reckoning I should live until at least 180, providing the yoghurt can counteract a history of fags, booze and fast livin’.

Cultures which consume a lot of yoghurt, such as the Georgians, are huge believers in its supposed powers, and have used it as a cure for…well, pretty much everything actually, for centuries. I can’t vouch for the validity of those claims, but I can vouch for the taste, and its hangover curing properties. This buffalo yoghurt made in a traditional clay pot brought me back from the brink; I’m talking nausea, shakes, the creeping doom…not a whisker of it after I’d gobbled this lot down at the side of a rocky road in Georgia.

Yoghurt in Georgia 

The yoghurt I tried in Ethiopia recently was a little more…challenging. I asked the lady we were visiting how she made it, and she replied ‘well I just put the milk in this bucket (straight from the cow in the back yard) and leave it on the shelf for three days.’ That’s one approach, although it is of course really just curdled milk and not ‘proper’ yoghurt. The taste was very sour and it had a loose wobbly texture. The Ethiopians often mix it with chilli powder and drink the whole glass like a shot, and I can see why. I spent the next three hours concerned about potential gastrointestinal payback.

Yoghurt in Ethiopia

Mixed with chilli powder

Labneh, then, is basically yoghurt that’s been strained of its whey. Of course I adore it because, well it’s like yoghurt to the power of ten. Once strained, the resulting substance is more akin to cream cheese, but with the obvious tartness of yoghurt; that sour freshness that yoghurt-lovers crave.

I’ve found that the best brand by far for making yoghurt is Total. It’s even better than the mega expensive stuff I bought from the farmers’ market, which relinquished hardly any liquid. It is thick and creamy before straining  which is a good thing if you’re eating it straight up, but with labneh you want some residual sourness.

To make labneh, mix the yoghurt with a large pinch of salt, then wrap in muslin, or as I have done, a clean/brand new dishcloth. Hang in the fridge (to be honest I used to just hang it in a cool place but now I have a very hot kitchen so the fridge it is) and allow the whey to strain away for about 5 to 6 hours. The longer the strain, the thicker the labneh, obviously.

After this time it is ready, and can be used or preserved in a number of ways.

Try rolling in herbs and preserving in olive oil…it’s then lovely just spread on bread. It’s also delicious rolled in dukkah, or za’atar. Straight up it’s best topped with punchy flavours like anchovy and chilli, or dolloped onto salads as you would use a goat’s curd for example.

My favourite way to use it right now however is to stuff it into Turkish peppers before slinging them on the BBQ. They are lovely when wrapped up inside a flat bread with a kebab, oozing their creamy centres against the sizzling meat. If you’re up for it, you fly bastards, stuff some green chillies instead.

Labneh Stuffed Peppers

1 x 500g tub Total yoghurt
Large pinch of salt
About 5 mild green Turkish pepper for stuffing (you could also use the long red Romero peppers if you can’t find the Turkish ones)
Oil
Muslin or a dishcloth for straining

In a bowl mix the yoghurt with the salt. Line a bowl with the muslin or cloth and scrape the yoghurt into it. Tie the top with string or whatever you have and suspend it from something. I used to use a cupboard handle but now I have a very sun filled, hot kitchen and so I hung it in the fridge. Set a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Leave for 5 or so hours. It will be usable but soft after 3. If you want to make balls with it and preserve them in oil then the longer the better as the labneh will need to be fairly firm for rolling.

Cut the tops off the peppers and de-seed them without cutting the sides. Stuff with labneh. Rub with oil, salt and pepper and either grill on a BBQ or underneath a hot grill until charred in places and soft. Serve either in kebabs, or on toast, in pittas…

38 comments » | Barbecue, Cheese, Uncategorized, Vegetables

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