Summer barbecues open up a wealth of opportunity for culinary exploration. Here are four tips for taking your barbecuing to the next level, followed by three of my recipes to try for yourself: lamb cutlets with asparagus, garlicky prawns and the delightfully colourful Pepper Piedmontese. Each of these dishes have been paired with wine chosen by Andrew Peace so that you can bring out the very best of those barbecue flavours.
Choose your charcoal wisely
Food cooked over an open fire has a different flavour altogether than food cooked on the stove or in the oven. For the best flavour use sustainably sourced British charcoal which burns longer so you’ll use less and isn’t packed with chemicals like mass-produced charcoal.
Make sure your meat is at room temperature before you cook it - meat cooked straight from the fridge will take a lot longer. It’s really important to allow meat to rest once it is cooked; this will improve the texture and flavour.
Mix it up
All manner of things can be cooked on a barbecue– not just sausages and burgers but all the lovely, robust summer vegetables such as aubergines and red peppers. One thing that you can try quite easily, and that is really different, is to grill little game birds. Things such as quail are fantastic because they are naturally so tender and succulent. First, you need to spatchcock them, which you do by taking the backbone out (or ask your butcher to do it for you). This leaves them flat and easy to cook. Season them the day before, then put them in a hot oven for about eight minutes and grill them on the barbecue on both sides for about two to three minutes.
Finally, the key to a successful barbecue with friends or family is to do as much of the prep as you can, such as marinating and seasoning, in advance so you're not dashing in and out of the kitchen, but free to sit back and relax with a glass of wine.
Why not try these recipes to start you off?
Garlicky prawns with parsley, lemon and radicchio
With all the flavours of the summer, these juicy prawns drizzled in butter and topped with fresh herbs and leaves make an impressive centrepiece without being difficult to make. It can be prepared ahead leaving you to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with your guests. Served with crusty bread that can be griddled on the barbecue for a smoky flavour – they're a real showstopper dish for outdoor entertaining.
2kg fresh raw prawns
Crusty bread, torn or thickly sliced
3. Once the butter is melted and beginning to foam add the prawn heads. When they are bright red squeeze the juice from the heads into the pan (the easiest way to do this is by using tongs).
4. Remove the heads and discard. You will be left with a beautiful, flavourful sauce that will really enhance the flavour of the final dish. Add the chilli and garlic, reduce the heat slightly and cook for 30 seconds or so, being careful that the garlic does not burn.
5. Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute or until just translucent.
6. Squeeze over the lemon juice, add the sherry and parsley and stir well to combine.
7. Finally add the radicchio.
8. Meanwhile, griddle on the barbecue or lightly toast chunks of the bread until slightly charred / browned.
Enjoy al fresco, by spooning onto a warm sharing plate and serving immediately with crusty bread.
You don’t need to pair with expensive wines; serve with a fresh white wine such as Andrew Peace Signature Chardonnay. It’s seriously refreshing and rich white with subtle flavours of tropical fruit and a splash of delicate citrus. And it’s £5.50 from in selected Co-op stores
If radicchio isn’t available substitute with any fresh greens and it will be equally delicious.
Don’t skip cooking the prawn heads as they add so much flavour to this dish.
This colourful dish screams summer and can be prepared ahead so it’s ideal for entertaining in the garden with friends or family. A classic Mediterranean recipe, it can be served as a starter, as a light lunch or side dish or on a bed of lentils to make a more substantial meal.
It can easily be adapted for vegetarians by leaving out the anchovies and for vegans without the cheese.
Mozzerella or goat’s cheese (optional)
1. Place a large pot of salted water onto boil. Using a small paring knife, remove the core from each tomato and mark a small cross on the base. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. The skin will quickly curl back at which point remove them from the water and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.
To make the basil oil
Simply arrange the peppers on a big serving plate and spoon over the basil oil. For a heartier dish, serve the peppers on a bed of lentils.
Choose a full-bodied red to complement the sweetness of the peppers and the aromas of the basil. Blended from Shiraz with a touch of Tempranillo, the Andrew Peace Signature Shiraz is smooth, with typical ripe black fruit flavours with a hint of cherry. And it’s £5.50 from in selected Co-op stores
These peppers are great as part of a larger meal, especially a barbecue but can also be served on their own. I often add a little mozzarella or goat's cheese.
Grilled lamb cutlets with asparagus, horseradish and salsa verde
Little lamb cutlets are delicious griddled or barbecued and cooked on the barbecue they are packed with flavour. Here they’re served with asparagus that can also be griddled over the coals. All the preparation can be done ahead and then it’s just a few minutes on the barbecue to create a stunning dish.
Place the grated horseradish into a bowl and pour over the red wine vinegar. Season with salt. Stir in the creme fraîche and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Place a large pot of well salted water on to boil. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus.
To make the lamb
Lay the lamb cutlets on a board. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and brush with oil. Heat the barbecue or a griddle pan until smoking, and cook the cutlets 1-2 mins per side.
This is a real star of a dish so invest in the prep so you can simply griddle the lamb and serve on the day.
Arrange the cutlets and asparagus on a serving plate, spoon over the salsa verde and serve the horseradish cream alongside.
Choose a red that works in summer and well placed for lamb; The Unexpected Red is an offbeat blend of three classics; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo with Sagrantino, which work together to create a smooth and full-bodied wine that is a rich, deep blood-red garnet colour with flavours of blackcurrant, bright cherry and hints of spice and violet. It’s in selected Co-op stores and inexpensive at £6.75
Make sure your meat is room temperature before you cook it - meat cooked straight from the fridge will take a lot longer.