There is no reason not to enjoy the aroma of grilled meat all year round
It always makes me smile in this country when there’s the merest hint of sunshine – it’s usually accompanied by the smell of grilled meat in the air.
And rightly so, but there’s no reason not to enjoy that great aroma all year round. Something magical happens to a steak or sausage when you put it in contact with charcoal – deep, smokiness envelopes the meat. Brush with a glaze and you have something sublime.
For a barbecue to be at its most flavoursome, it’s good to think ahead. Marinating meat before cooking will help tenderise it and having a simple glaze on hand to brush while grilling, adds a caramelized juicy lacquer to your meats and vegetables. A basic marinade should include oil, an acid and some aromatic herbs and garlic. Leave for a couple of hours for an extra tender result. Brining is a clever way of getting both taste and moisture into your meat. Water, salt, sugar and aromatics are simmered and then cold poultry, meat or oily fish can be submerged. Leave for a day and the magic will have happened.
Lamb is an underused meat in this country. We should celebrated this natural product and brining and grilling it is the perfect way to bring out its natural sweetness. The recipe here calls for brined rumps of lamb – it’s a cut from the end of the leg. It’s the ideal portion size for one person and that way you can cook them the way everyone likes. Brush with a honey and ale glaze to make them shine.
Grilling vegetables really allows their flavours to come to the fore. Cabbage is especially good cooked this way. Cut into wedges and place directly over heat. Top with bacon that’s been glazed with maple, sugar and vinegar and some grilled onions. Add some potatoes and its Sunday lunch on the barbecue.
Shirley Conran once said life is too short to stuff a mushroom but if it tastes good surely it’s worth the effort? To accompany the lamb I’ve added a recipe for stuffed baby potatoes. The spuds are boiled, flesh scooped out and mixed with cheese and herbs and then placed back in and topped with more cheese and butter before baking until golden and bubbly. Worth every second and delicious with the lamb.
Many fruits are suited to be cooked on the barbecue. There’s about a month in the summer when peaches are perfectly ripe and juicy and that time is now. Cut them in half, remove the stone and place on the grill to caramelize their natural sugars. The recipe here calls for a smoked salt and whiskey sauce. You can buy North Coast Smokehouse smoked salt in good delis and the smoky saltiness brings out the sweetness of the fruit even more. The whiskey adds a spicy note. Serve them hot with vanilla mascarpone and some crumbled amaretti biscuits for a crunch.