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I’m not entirely sure what to call this post as it’s much more than just one recipe. It’s my best barbecue hack, barbecue template, fit both for summer parties and weekend family grilling sessions – just adjust the quantities.
You may well think it’s all wrong – there’s nothing like burnt burgers and undercooked sausages for a successful barbecue. Undoubtedly – if the ratio of beer to food favours beer by far. If you want decent food, don’t go there – unless your barbecue MC is in full control of grilling and cold sober until the embers start dying out.
I’ve thrown all sorts of food on the barbie in my time: shrimp kebabs, whole sweetcorn in husk (success), broad beans in their pods (failure), chicken and beef patties and steaks. The framework below works a treat though – pick whichever meat you want, of course; for vegetarians replace it with thick cubes of haloumi or scamorza; for vegans thread on tofu (though not tested so can’t guarantee success) and serve masses of green salad and pickles. Get some good quality sausages to test the grilling readiness with – and appease the hungry crowd.
And the final tip: paper plates and throwaway platters, or even disposable bowls for ice cream served for afters, are perfectly all right; so limit your washing up to the cutlery as plastic is a no-no until they invent biodegradable forks.
barbecue ideasServings: 4-10, depending how many kebabs you prepareTime: about half an hour, plus marinating
- 1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 medium courgette
- 1 medium aubergine
- 2 onions
- 2 firm peaches
- 250g (8oz.) cup mushrooms
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp. dark soy sauce
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- For the beef kebabs:
- 60ml (¼ cup) light soy sauce
- 1 tsp (2cm) fresh grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 tsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ lime, juice only
- 500g (18oz.) rump steaks
- For the lamb kebabs:
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ lemon, juice only
- 400g (just under a pound) lamb neck fillets, two medium sized
- For the pork kebabs:
- 2 tsp smoked salt
- 4 tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 500g (1 large) pork tenderloin fillet
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon
- For the chicken kebabs:
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 birdseye chilies
- 2 tbsp. yoghurt or buttermilk
- 4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- To serve:
- pita bread
- a large head of iceberg lettuce
1. The meat can be marinated well in advance, even the night before. Trim the excess fat, tendons and any unsightly bits from all the types of meat and cut into 3-5cm (1 ½ - 2 in) chunks.
2. For the beef marinade, mix the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, pepper and lime juice in a bowl and toss the meat in it.
3. For the lamb, mix all the ingredients in another bowl, add the lamb chunks and turn to coat.
4. For the pork kebabs, mix the salt, hoisin sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, add the pork pieces and toss around to coat. Cut the bacon rashers into four each and keep separate.
5. For the chicken, pound the garlic and the chilies (with or without seeds, as desired) to a paste in a mortar and pestle. Stir into the yoghurt or buttermilk in a bowl, add the chicken pieces and turn to coat.
6. About half an hour to an hour before you aim to assemble the kebabs, prepare the vegetables: core the peppers and cut them into eights; you want the vegetable pieces to be similar size to the meat pieces. Halve the courgette lengthwise and cut across into 2 cm chunks. Quarter the aubergine lengthwise and cut into similar chunks, each with skin on if possible. Peel and thickly slice the onions. Stone and quarter the peaches. Trim stalks from the mushrooms and slice bigger ones in half.
7. Toss all the vegetable pieces with the maple syrup, balsamic, say sauce and oil in a large bowl. Prepare 10-12 long metal barbecue skewers or two dozen bamboo skewers soaked in cold water.
8. When the barbecue is lit, start threading the meat onto skewers, alternating each piece with a piece of assorted veg; reserve the peaches for the pork kebabs and thread them on with the bacon.
9. Unless you have masses of space on the bbq, warm up the pita bread in low oven. Tear the lettuce into pieces and place in a large bowl with a teaspoon of salt, a few grindings of pepper, a drizzle of honey, juice from half a lemon and a generous slug of olive oil. Toss and massage it with the seasoning using your hands.
10. When the barbecue is ready to go, place the kebabs on the grill, in batches if necessary. Turn them frequently; the beef will be first to come off, then the lamb, then pork and the chicken at the end when it’s well cooked; use a meat probe if you have one.
11. Serve with the pita bread, salad, pickles and sauces.