Simon Mason, executive chef of Smart Hospitality Manchester, shares his tips and recipes for summer barbecuing.
Experiment with flavours: Flavoured wood chips are a great way to add an extra dimension to meat and fish, creating a wonderfully rich, smokey flavour. Different spices can also be combined to make aromatic, savoury rubs which will penetrate the meat during cooking for mouthwatering results.
Making the most of marinating: For the best results, marinating is essential, it imparts flavour, but most importantly it also tenderises meat, making it more succulent.
The heat is on: Often, would-be grillmasters come unstuck from not preheating the barbecue properly before starting to cook on it. Putting food on too early can result in that old cliché, ‘burnt to a crisp on the outside, raw on the inside’. If cooking over coals (as opposed to gas), wait until the flames have died down to red hot, glowing embers.
Patience is a virtue: It can be very tempting to move food around the grill as you impatiently wait for it to cook, constantly flipping it over in the vain hope it will cook that little bit quicker. However, this is self-defeating, as it prevents meat from caramelising and developing that tantalising crust, or fish and vegetables from obtaining those visually-pleasing grill-marks.
Keep it clean: As with any cookery, good hygiene is a must, it may sound like teaching you to suck eggs but I have been to so many barbecues in the past (as a guest) where the raw and cooked meats are in far too close proximity to each other. It’s a recipe for disaster! I am sure you want your guests to go home with great memories of the day rather than food poisoning.
Cover up: ensure raw meat and fish left outdoors, for any period, is well covered with a damp tea towel or cling film until ready to use.
I love a good marinade, full of robust and complementary flavours, done right they can lift grilled meat to new heights. Here, I give you two of my favourites which you can try for yourself.
My exotic guava BBQ marinade for chicken
150g Guava Jelly
300ml Guava Nectar
65ml Cup of rum
1 fresh naga chilli
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
3 cloves smoked garlic
2 tsp of cumin seeds
- Toast off cumin seeds in hot pan until aroma is released.
- Zest and juice limes, peel and chop garlic.
- Whisk all ingredients together, place in a pan on a low heat to simmer allowing the recipe to reduce to half, and then leave to sit for 1- 2 hours.
- Take chicken and score to allow flavour to penetrate more.
- Cover chicken generously in marinade and leave to 4 – 6 hours.
- Place on BBQ low-burning coals, close lid and re-marinade five minutes before finish for a sticky BBQ glaze.
Smokey BBQ Brisket Marinade
2 kilo piece of kosher beef brisket
2 large cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
4 cloves of smoked garlic
2 tsps pink peppercorns
Healthy pinch of Maldon sea salt
2 tbsp onion powder
2 red chillis
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp of red wine vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil
- Using a pestle and mortar or blender, blitz all dry ingredients to rough powder.
- Whisk powder base with lime juice, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar.
- Score brisket joint one inch deep.
- Massage marinade into brisket joint and leave overnight.
- The brisket should be cooked over glowing coals in a closed BBQ for up to six hours until soft and tender, turning hourly.
Extra cooking tip: try using flavoured wood chips, added to BBQ When turning to add that extra smokey flavour.