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.
Any of the small, oily fish – sardines or mackerel are cheap and delicious when grilled. They’re also easy to handle on the barbecue and served with lovely sauces such as salsa verde or aioli to spoon over the top.