Paul Flynn: Three dishes that will make you a barbecue devotee

This charred pork, juicy escalivada and crisp Little Gems go together like old amigos

Barbecue pork neck with sweet sherry, garlic and rosemary. Photograph: Harry Weir

The May bank holiday weekend has crept up on us. January and February trudged along. We spent a lot of it in front of the fire and there was comfort in that. I came up with a plan to give my 15 year old a stipend to manage my Instagram account so I can stay hip. She takes the money, but eyes me with pity. I even made my first TikTok, but I won’t be going there.

March and April gathered tempo, plans were being hatched. We are looking forward to having the bit between our teeth again, in one way or another. I have butterflies at the thought of it.

The cooking at home continued throughout, giving us focus. I’ve written about my barbecue escapades already this year, so you may know it brings me much joy.

Escalivada. Photograph: Harry Weir

Larger joints of meat are a revelation when cooked on the barbecue, their charred, smoky succulence will make you a devotee as soon as you try them. I was going to cook a pork shoulder, it’s wondrous. However, when I went to my local Polish shop, my source for lesser found pork cuts, I found a hefty pork neck, one of my favourite cuts. A shoulder will be perfect, of course, but if you find one of these, I urge you to try it.


For best results with this recipe you will need a barbecue with a lid and, preferably, a built-in thermometer. Mine is gas, I just find it much easier to use, although the purists might disagree.

These dishes are meant to go together like old pals. Spain has my heart so I’m keeping faithful till I see her again. The pork has a simple marinade, just keep it low and slow and you’ll be grand. The vegetables for the escalivada join the pork for the final 30-40 minutes of cooking.

Little Gems with ajo blanco, grapes and roasted sourdough. Photograph: Harry Weir

At one point I had two Catalan chefs working in our kitchen. That was a fiery but happy time. They showed me how to make escalivada, for which the vegetables are cooked over the flames till charred, then peeled, chopped and seasoned. Like a reverse ratatouille in a way. They wouldn’t be happy with that description. Their chests would proudly puff while they admonished me for my ignorance of Catalan cuisine. Escalivada was created first, of course.

I’m using ajo blanco, that lovely, chilled almond soup, as a dressing for Little Gems. God only knows what they would say about that. It would have caused a full-blown kitchen revolució.

Recipe: Barbecue pork neck with sweet sherry, garlic and rosemary

Recipe: Escalivada

Recipe: Little Gems with ajo blanco, grapes and roasted sourdough