Don’t forget about fish and vegetables when it comes to barbecuing

But if you must have meat, an outdoor pizza oven is a great way to roast chicken, just rub the bird with oil, salt and chopped herbs

Grilled fish on a campfire .

Grilled fish on a campfire .

 

The recent good weather sent me back out to the garden, trying to plant a few new herbs and see what survived the winter. The old barbecue is sitting sadly in the corner, as is the little pizza oven I purchased a few years ago. If I’m being optimistic, I’d say I get to use it twice a year, but who says you can’t barbecue in the summer rain?

The pizza oven is wood-fired and I love to use it to roast chicken. Rub the bird with oil, salt and chopped herbs and put a lemon and a whole head of garlic in its cavity. Roast for about an hour, until nicely charred. In relation to the herbs, I use rosemary, thyme and oregano, all of which are easily grown in your garden (and I am brutal at gardening).

We often forget about the possibilities of fish and vegetables when it comes to an Irish barbecue. Purchasing a fish basket for barbecuing whole fish is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. These baskets are used a lot in the Basque country for grilling whole fish such as turbot. They are metal tools that hold the fish in place, but can be easily lifted off the barbecue, so the fish doesn’t stick, or disintegrate.

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I love buying smaller Irish fish such as mullet, mackerel or gurnard and seasoning them (the same way as the chicken) and then grilling them in the basket. You can grill salmon or cod steaks in them, too.

Vegetables can be an after thought and a sad sight on the Irish barbecue. While I do love a good potato salad (try one made with Pink Fir Apple potatoes from Ballymakenny Farm), there is nothing better than barbecued vegetables – a selection such as asparagus, courgettes, red onions and even peas in their pod.

You can put some cooking oil in a spray bottle and spritz the vegetables before grilling them. Nothing fancy is needed in terms of seasoning (go with lemon, herbs and garlic again). Just load up the barbecue or pizza oven with the seasoned vegetables and roast them until you’re happy with their texture. Don’t forget to include some of the wonderful salad leaves that are growing in Ireland now. 

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