Weather-proof barbecue food
WITH OUR CHANGEABLE summer weather, it’s good to have food in your repertoire for when the sun doesn’t shine and you can’t cook outdoors. Recipes that fit into this category include meat that can look charred and barbecued, but has been blasted in the oven or under the grill, as well as salads that can survive a couple of days in the fridge. In other words, foods that are weather- and time-proofed.
It’s true that most salads need to be made as close to serving as possible, but this rice salad happily survived two days in the fridge and was fine, probably because there was so much going on in it.
One of my favourite snack foods when the barbecue is out is corn on the cob cooked until nicely – but rather patchily – charred on a good portion of its surface. I serve them on a big platter, ideally with some chunks of miso butter sliding all over them (see my recipe for miso butter online at irishtimes.comif you missed it, from Saturday, May 19th). But again, in bad weather, these can been done on a chargrill pan which I think I will be using a lot this year for a full-on faux-barbecue effect. Just rub the corn with a little oil, season and char. That’s how I would recommend cooking them to use in this rice salad, but you could just slice the kernels off spanking fresh corn and not bother charring or even cooking it at all. If the corn is fresh enough, it doesn’t need to be cooked. But if it’s a little less than perfect, a quick blanch should help re-invigorate any kernels in need of plumping up.
I used a combination of wild rice and some brown rice and chucked in some red Camargue rice, although this can take a bit longer to cook. I’ve often been asked whether or not you can freeze rice and other grains and have never had a good answer to give. Well, now I do. According to Ancient Grains author, Maria Speck, you can cook grains, cool them down and then store in Ziploc freezer bags in the freezer and simply defrost and reheat with about two centimetres of water until piping hot and also reasonably dry.
Both these recipes are perfect for this type of haphazard party. And the yoghurt with a spoonful of good store-bought tomato chutney is a brilliant instant condiment for this type of meat dish. Feel free to mix and match the spices for the pork marinade. Use the recipe here as a guideline, only. A bit of tweaking really won’t matter too much.
Spiced pork skewers
650g pork fillet, trimmed and chopped into decent sized chunks
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp fennel seeds
Good pinch dried chillies
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
Lots of salt and black pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
Whizz all the spice ingredients together with the lemon juice, zest, garlic and olive oil. Put the pork in a shallow dish or bowl and spoon in the spice rub. Mix well and ensure the pork is well coated. Marinate overnight, if you can, or a few hours at least. Then you can either roast it in a hot oven (200 degrees/gas 6 for 18 minutes) or put it under the grill until slightly charred and cooked through. Or you can barbecue them, by threading them onto skewers and cooking till nicely charred on all sides and well cooked. Serve with a big blob of the yoghurt and rice salad (below)
200g Greek yoghurt
1-2 tbsp tomato chutney
Bunch coriander, finely chopped
Mix everything together and taste then season and chill until ready to serve. This sauce can actually woo children away from ketchup. G’s red pepper relish or Ballymaloe tomato relish are both good to use here.
Wild rice and sweet corn salad
150g (approximately) wild rice
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
A few slices of roasted peppers, from a jar, or 1 red pepper, grilled and peeled
Approx 100g feta cheese
Black sesame seeds
Bunch basil, finely chopped
Bunch chives, finely chopped
2 corn on the cob, cooked and kernels removed
Cook the rice in plenty of boiling water with the cinnamon stick and some chilli. Drain and rinse until cold. Leave to really drain well. Add a little olive oil and salt. Mix the mustard and honey together and then slowly add some olive oil to make a dressing. Add the vinegar and season. Add this to the rice and check the seasoning again. Then simply mix with the rest of the ingredients, adjust seasoning and serve.
Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp
Domini recommends: Olvi pizza sauces, sometimes sold alongside the Artisan readymade pizza bases. I know I should be encouraging us all to make our own, but I bought these readymade tomato sauces and made some pizzas and was really impressed with how tasty they were. They contained nothing bad, other than a pinch of sugar, and can be spooned right onto a pizza base, topped with some grated cheese and pesto. Instant and delicious fast food. See olivioils.ie for stockists.