Break out the barbecue, summer is here!

By Elizabeth Atia

When you think of barbecuing, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?

(After the increased likelihood of inclement weather, that is!)

Typical UK barbecues tend to involve the same dishes: beef burgers, pork sausages, chicken kebabs and a selection of side salads and bread.

Here are a few other options to choose from, hopefully giving you a little inspiration to help spice up your barbecue this summer. If you're looking to step up your BBQ game this year, why not join Gill Meller in his outdoor cooking class today to practise with pizza, slow roast meat, fish, vegetables and bread – you’ll even be equipped with the skills to cook a leg of venison in your own earth oven.

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River Cottage on Fire taught by Gill Meller

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Fruit

Barbecued fruit is absolutely incredible. The natural sweet flavours in fruit intensify as the sugars in the caramelise, and juicy fruits get even juicier. Combine that with the natural smoke flavour and you’re on to an effortless dessert that is sure to impress. Bananas can be cooked in their skin, apple slices, halved peaches or how about a bbq fruit kebab for dessert? Choose fruits which are fairly firm but not overripe for best results.

You could even try fresh pineapple wedges marinaded in cinnamon and brown sugar (with perhaps a little splash of bourbon for extra flavour?). See recipe below.

Seafood

Mussels, whole trout, salmon fillets in parcels with baby new potatoes and asparagus, fresh scallops cooked directly in their shells, the possibilities are endless. Seafood lends itself well to being barbecued as it is quick to cook. When choosing fish to grill, opt for thick fillets with the skin still on. Barbecue them skin side down, as the skin will protect the flesh from the heat and will help hold it all together.

Tofu

A non-meat option for potential veggie guests which takes on flavours well. When barbecuing tofu, use firm or extra-firm and keep the chunks fairly large so they don’t fall apart. Marinade in advance (for at least 30 minutes), and make sure you use a non-stick grill. Tofu, with its lower fat content, has a tendency to stick to barbecue grills. Alternatively, brush the tofu with oil before grilling.

Vegetables

Corn on the cob, courgettes, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, even pak choi, cabbage and leeks – vegetables, like fruit, can go next level when they’re grilled. There’s no need to brush them with oil either. Simply thinly slice, grill right away until lightly blistered and charred and serve on their own with a light dressing or in a couscous or bulghar wheat salad.

Lamb

Like beef, lamb can be served rare, and so it’s well suited for barbecuing. The unique, gamey flavour of lamb holds up well with a variety of marinades too. Lamb chops, kebabs, burgers and leg steaks only take a matter of minutes to cook. Try switching your usual beef barbecue recipes for lamb this summer and see what you think.

Flatbread

Why not cook your carbohydrate accompaniment on the barbecue too? This is a new-to-me this year recipe, learned from the Spice It Up course by Gelf Alderson. Simply make your flatbread dough, leave it to rise and when you’re ready to serve, roll your dough out into individual portions and cook for a few minutes on either side on the hot grill. See recipe, below.

If you’d like to learn more about barbecuing, why not try the River Cottage On Fire cookery course taught by Gill Mellor. You’ll learn tips and techniques to take your outdoor cooking skills to the next level.

See you in the classroom!

BBQ’d Pineapple

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large fresh pineapple
  • 150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

METHOD

    1. Peel, core and cut your pineapple into thick 1.5-inch wedges.
    2. Place the pineapple wedges a freezer bag along with the sugar and cinnamon and shake to coat well.
    3. If you’ve got the time, leave the pineapple to marinade for several hours.
    4. Place pineapple on BBQ and cook until caramelized and browned all over, turning frequently.
    5. Eat on its own, or serve with vanilla ice cream.

BBQ’d Flatbread

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 grams strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • ½ tsp black onion seeds
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 grams butter, melted
  • 50 grams plain, natural yogurt
  • 60 ml lukewarm water

METHOD

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, seeds, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add the butter, yogurt and water and mix until it begins to form a dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball.
  4. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover. Leave to rise for 2-3 hours.
  5. Divide the dough into six even pieces.
  6. Roll each piece out as thinly as possible with a rolling pin.
  7. Cook for 3 minutes on each side on your hot grill.
  8. Serve!

Elizabeth Atia

Mum, daydream adventurer, ex-pat Canadian & quite possibly Britain's most northerly award-winning food blogger. Calls Shetland home. https://www.elizabethskitchendiary.co.uk/

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