I’ve already made it known that I’m not summer’s number one fan. I can’t deal with the heat, I have no sunshine-appropriate clothes and insects thinking they’re allowed to take up residence in my room are the WORST. But there’s one thing I do love about summer: al fresco eating and drinking. Sadly I don’t have a garden at my flat, so whenever I’m at home and the sun is shining I like to take advantage of all the wine and barbecue food available. I’m not a food snob by any means – I’ll scoff beans on toast with the rest of them – but you won’t catch a soggy burger or burnt sausage anywhere near the barbecue in this household. Whenver I see people in the park with those tiny disposable barbecues it makes me want to cry a little bit inside: if you’re going to barbecue, you might as well do it properly, eh? We’re having yet another barbecue for tea tonight, so I thought I’d finally get round to sharing some pictures of one we had during last week’s heatwave.
First, you’ve got to start off with a cold drink to sustain you whilst you’re waiting for your food. A nice wee Kopparberg or glass of fizzy wine always goes down a treat whilst sitting in the garden, or rosé wine is always a failsafe barbecue favourite. My mum’s barbecue wine of choice at the moment is this Chilean Shiraz Cabernet Rosé, which is only a fiver from Asda at the moment. I can’t say I know a huge deal about wine, but a chilled glass or four of this one certainly seem to go down well! Whilst mum and I are relaxing with our wine in hand, it’s always left to my dad, the self-proclaimed “Barbecue King”, to get the coals fired up. Gas barbecues certainly get the job of cooking the food done, but you don’t really get much of a smokey barbecue flavour, so father dearest always recommends using a charcoal-fired barbecue with some Heat Beads briquettes. Again, I haven’t got much of a clue, but apparently they’re easy to light and burn well. As for the actual barbecue, for as long as I can remember we’ve had Weber barbecues. At the moment, we have three – yes, three, the BBQ King doesn’t do things by halves…! There’s a Smokey Joe which is reserved for camping holidays, a Smokey Mountain Cooker for, erm, smoking stuff, and a Performer Deluxe which is the main barbecue that gets used most often. It has some kind of fancy gas ignition to make lighting it quicker and easier, but it still uses charcoal for that barbecuey flavour.
Now, on to the best bit: the food. Instead of trying to get everything ready at the same time, we always just do lots of mini-courses and have plenty salady things to pick at inbetween. We usually start off with some homemade garlic and chilli ciabatta, and this time it was topped with a little bit of smoked mackerel. Other favourite toppings include smoked herring, barbecued langoustines or some cold salami/meats etc. Another fish course usually comes next, and this time we had some cajun sea bass served with some homemade guacamole and a selection of grilled vegetables. My favourites are sweet potatoes and courgettes, but carrots, peppers, chillies and mushrooms also work really well. To have along with the barbecued stuff, we usually always have some green leafy salad and potato salad, and depending if my mum can be bothered making any more stuff, some carrot and peanut salad or come cucumber and mint raita. It’s always a “help yourself” kind of deal, so you can just pick and choose whichever bits you fancy.
There are always some potatoes on the barbecue as well, and these usually end up being ready around the same time as the meaty courses. I think just about the only thing in this whole barbecue that’s not homemade (not by me, I hasten to add – far too busy drinking wine 😉 !) are the chicken wings. These are usually bought and then extra spices are added to them. If there are no chicken wings on the go, there’s usually chicken breast strips marinated in a variety of sauces – Thai red curry, teriyaki, silken chicken and so on. A barbecue wouldn’t be complete with a nice big slab of beef (sorry vegetarians!), and on this occasion we had some rib-eye beef marinated in fajita spices. This went well with the guac from earlier and some more grilled vegetables. I believe tonight’s barbecue is going to feature a piece of venison fillet, and earlier in the week we had a barbecued fillet of beef marinated in Thai spices and served in homemade pitta breads with a “Crying Tiger” sauce. When I was younger we always used to finish off a barbecue with bananas stuffed with Mars Bars, wrapped in foil and baked in the coals until nice and gooey, but these days dessert is usually just some Barra Berries strawberries and yet more wine!
As much as I love a good burger and fries now and again, when it comes to barbecues I’m definitely a convert to the “gourmet” (lol) way. What are your favourite barbecue foods?