British summertime is here! PANIC… Everyone BBQ!!!
That seems to be the supermarket's strategy year in year out in this country, it's like end of days every weekend in the aisles with bags of briquettes crammed in every available space and deals on sausages and chicken cuts.
I’ve said for some time now that although I like BBQs, I’ve always just preferred the idea of eating good food outside. The Italians do this right with ‘al fresco’ dining. For a while, I have romanticised of 8-course lunches on white linen tables with seafood, pasta, meats and wine to match. All spread over 4-5 hours in a meadow with friends and family on a hot sunny day. Although admittedly this probably comes from watching too many Godfathers and mafia themed films.
See I find the idea of burnt sausages, chicken cuts and over/under-cooked steaks and a potato salad a little dull to be honest.
However in the past 4-5 years this has all changed over here in Blighty. The continuing popularity of North American BBQing in street food and relaxed dining scene with many small businesses emerging across the UK shows just how serious we are about cooking over coals. And with events like Grillstock (meat, music & Mayhem!) being held throughout the country showcasing not only up and running business but also awards and competitions for amateurs and enthusiasts, BBQing has now been raised to another level. I was lucky enough be invited to be a judge at the Grillstock Manchester in the 'Chefs Choice’ category and over the weekend got to hang with traders, Dr. BBQ and drinking buddy Dr. SweetSmoke.
This is what I learnt, use the right equipment, use the best quality ingredients and don’t rush. The time and passion that goes into BBQ is what makes it so special with most recipes taking between 3-12 hours, low and slow (also giving lots of time to socialise ;) So with a weekend spent asking questions and happily being given answers (thank you guys). I’ve come back with a recipe that is simple but tastes great. I'm using beef short ribs that are for me the 'King of BBQ' meats and has such deep and meaty flavour. I’ve decided not ‘smoke’ them as I find it can be a little too overpowering and by marinating overnight with the dry rub I think it will add more than enough flavour.
The slaw with the creamy blue cheese, sweet pear and crunch from the cabbage works perfectly with the dark, charcoaled ribs. I also served with homemade triple cooked chips making it a special feast. Sautéed new potatoes will work just as well if deep frying is a bit too much. Many thanks to Team Smokin' Penguin for the amazing rub, it packs so much flavour and really made the dish. Also Dr. Sweet Smoke (thanks, Al) for answering all my never ending questions.
Oh, as I got to explain my visions of ‘al fresco’ dining over a late beer or two with Dr. Sweet Smoke to which in a slight southern drawl he replied… “Andy, grow some balls and man up, boy. It's all about BBQ!" Indeed, it is :)