The ultimate summer 2020 barbecue guide
Recipes, tips and suggestions for a sizzling barbecue from some of Ireland’s top chefs
Fired up: grilling the steak for Gaz Smith's T-bone with mushroom and tarragon vinaigrette. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
This weekend many of us will be bringing a barbecue out of hibernation, dusting it off and preparing it for what might be its busiest summer ever. Backyard barbecues and garden grills, for those of us lucky enough to be able to access outdoor space, are going to be a big feature of the summer of 2020.
So we have assembled a crack squad of barbecue enthusiasts to share their expertise. Here are their top tips for a sizzling summer of barbecue, and their recipes for the ultimate cheese burger, grilled chicken Caesar salad, whole barbecued fish, T-bone steak with mushroom and tarragon vinaigrette, and fruity chocolate s’mores.
Big Grill Festival co-founder and owner of Foul Play chicken restaurant
“I use a Weber Smokey Mountain for smoking, and for grilling my prized Konro Grill. A digital temperature probe, a good wire grill brush, and a strong and long pair of tongs are essential. Fill an empty spray bottle with cider vinegar and hot sauce to add flavour and moisture to your food.
Don’t be afraid of the fire. Learn how to control and manage your heat and you can cook anything on a grill or in a smoker. Set up your coals so that you have two or three temperature zones. Use the lid on your grill to create an outdoor oven, and if you don’t have a lid, use a large stainless bowl.
This summer I will be barbecuing picanha (rump cap), lamb striploin, lamb legs, lamb sweetbreads, flank steak, beef cheeks, pork knuckles, squid, sea bass, mackerel, shellfish, chicken thighs, wings and hearts.”
Chef, owner of Michael’s and Little Mike’s
“I have a good old trusty Weber kettle and cook over charcoal and cherry wood mainly. I spend as much time choosing tongs as I do a knife. They have to be sturdy, have a good pinch and be the perfect length. If you think about it they’re an extension of your hand, so try several pairs out. A probe is key too, get a digital laser one and you’ll see straight away where to put your meat at which stage.
I used to think barbecuing was about seven different things all lashed onto high flames with no lid. Boy was I wrong. Now I choose one thing and let that be my focus. It is important to learn about having different heat zones on your barbecue. Think of the hot zone as your frying pan, the cool zone as your oven.
Everything tastes better on a barbecue, so don’t be scared to try the cheaper cuts. I did a rump recently that was superb, and fed three of us for €6.”
Chef, restaurateur and fish wholesaler and retailer
“I mainly cook fish and seafood on the barbecue, a small kettle one, and a couple of my top tips would be: Wait till the coals are white hot and there are no flames at all. I oil my hands very lightly and then rub the fish in my hands, so only the smallest amount goes on. I use Achill sea salt. It is brilliant for flavour but also because it helps create a barrier between the skin and the grill.
Fish that I love to cook at this time of year are John Dory and red mullet. Dory has skin that crisps up amazingly on the grill and red mullet when grilled has the most delicate flavour. It is definitely my favourite spring fish.”
Chef, Clanbrassil House, and head of development at Bujo gourmet burgers
“I use a Weber for quick cooking like steaks and burgers and a Big Green Egg for slow smoking, using charcoal and wood. Get a thermapen. It’s a food probe that instantly tells you the internal temperature of your meat, fish, or whatever you are cooking. It’s far more accurate to go by temperature rather than times when barbecuing.
Always have your food at room temperature before you cook, that way the barbecue keeps its heat and you get more even cooking. And always rest your food after cooking, then give it a quick little flash on the grill before serving.
A lot of my favourite suppliers are doing home deliveries at the moment. I’ve already barbecued a few Teeling whiskey côte de beoufs from Higgins butchers.”
“I’m using a Phoenix gas barbecue. The benefit of using gas is the time that’s saved in setting up and cleaning down. I know the flavour is superior when using charcoal, but I overcome this by marinating and getting as much flavour as I can into my food before I cook it.
I invested in a fish basket, which means I can cook whole stuffed fish with ease. I would also say a good basting brush is essential. I have one for garlic butter and a separate one for barbecue sauce. I always have my kitchen oven switched on low, to keep food warm when it comes off the barbecue.
I like to barbecue stone fruit like plums, peaches and damsons, and I also love grilled pineapple wedges. All of these get served with honey and yoghurt. I always keep a small pot of chocolate sauce on the warmer above my grill, it’s perfect for dipping fruit.”
Grainne O’Keefe’s ultimate beef burger with crispy onion rings and rarebit cheese sauce
800g high quality grass fed beef mince (high fat percentage)
1 large Spanish onion
2tbsp plain flour
1 large egg
100g panko breadcrumbs
250g Cheddar cheese, grated
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
25g Dijon mustard
4 dill pickles
4 brioche buns
Pressing the patties:
1 Place greaseproof paper on a designated raw meat board. Lightly spray/rub oil on the sheet.
2 Place a 100g patty of mince on one side of the sheet and fold the other half on top of the patty.
3 Use the palm of your hand to gently flatten until even, thin and round, (approximately 12cm in diameter and 0.5cm thick). Refrigerate after pressing, if not using straight away. Repeat eight times.
Cooking the patties:
1 Season the patty with a little salt and pepper on both sides.
2 Cook the patty for four minutes each side (until the juices run clear).
3 If you are using a food probe, make sure the centre of the patty reaches 75 degrees Celsius for at least two minutes.
Onions and sauce:
1 For the onion rings, cut the onion into large rings and separate the layers. Coat the onions in flour, then in a mix of egg and milk (1 egg mixed with 10ml milk) and then coat in panko breadcrumbs. Fry at 180 degrees for three minutes, until golden and crispy.
2 For the cheese sauce, on a low heat, melt the cheese with the remaining milk then add the beer and Worcestershire sauce and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir until melted and creamy.
1 Lightly toast the buns, under a grill, or on your barbecue, and keep them warm. Place Dijon mustard and sliced pickles on the base bun. Stack two patties with onion rings and cheese sauce on top. Add the top bun.
Niall Sabongi’s barbecued fish with sauce vierge and grandma’s Egyptian dressing
The Matilda dressing can be used as both a rub inside the cavity of the fish before cooking or, if you add extra oil, it makes a great after cooking dressing. It is named after my Egyptian grandmother.
2 whole fish, mackerel or red mullet are good cboices
2tsp rapeseed oil
Sea salt, for seasoning
Boiled baby potatoes and salad, to serve
For the sauce vierge:
100g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
2tsp small capers
Juice of ½ lemon
1 shallot, finely chopped
100ml rapeseed oil
Handful torn basil leaves and chopped chives
1tbsp roasted coriander seeds (a lovely add in, but can be omitted)
Sea salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of chilli powder
6-10 tbsp rapeseed oil, to loosen
1 Fire up your barbeque and while it is heating, make the sauces. For the sauce vierge mix everything together in a bowl. For the Matilda dressing, add all the dry ingredients to a mortar and pestle and give it a good bash, then add the lemon, slowly drizzle in the oil and stir till it all comes together.
2 When the coals are white, oil your fish with rapeseed oil – but be very sparing – and season generously with high quality sea salt.
3 Place your fish on the grill in one smooth movement, and this is the important part: leave it alone, don’t move the fish around.
4 After approximately four minutes, your fish should be ready to turn and not sticking to the grill. You can test that it is not stuck by giving it a little lift with your thumb or a spoon.
5 Using a spatula, flip your fish in one swift movement. The skin should be charred and crispy, and sitting on the fish, not on the grill.
6 Again, leave the fish to cook on the other side for four minutes.
7 Remove and place directly onto a serving dish. Add a knob of butter and allow it to melt on top. Top with the sauce vierge and a drizzle of the dressing.
Andy Noonan’s barbecued chicken Caesar salad
Serves two as a main course, or four as a side
500g boneless, skinless free range chicken thighs
2-3 heads of Baby Gem lettuce, halved lengthways and washed
Parmesan, pecorino or manchego cheese
For the chicken marinade:
2 cloves garlic, grated or mashed into a puree
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp fine sea salt
1tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp demerara sugar
1tsp chilli flakes
For the sauce:
500ml good quality free range mayonnaise
300ml organic cider vinegar
Thumb-sized piece of grated horseradish (or a small jar of creamed horseradish)
100ml- 200ml approximately of good quality cloudy apple juice
3tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1tbsp sweet paprika
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 Combine the chicken marinade ingredients in a deep bowl or ziplock bag, add chicken thighs, mix to coat and leave to marinate for two to three hours.
2 For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, it should be tangy and heavy on the pepper. The consistency should be loose but not runny. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes; making it up to a day in advance is ideal, to let the flavours develop.
3 When you have your barbecue ready to cook, grill the chicken for three to four minutes, gently, until you have good colour, but the chicken thighs are not burned.
4 Flip the chicken and brush the cooked side with a little marinade, cook for a further two minutes, and move to the hot side of the grill for a quick flash on each side to add some nice colour.
5 If you have any flare ups while grilling, move the chicken to a cooler zone or turn the flame down. If you have a digital temperature probe, it should read 74 degrees Celsius. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken thighs. Once the chicken is fully cooked through, set it aside on a warm plate to rest.
6 Brush the lettuces with a little oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. On the hottest part of your grill, place them flat side down for two to three minutes; you’re looking for a nice golden colour with slightly charred edges. Flip and cook for a further one to two minutes. The lettuce should be a little charred on the outside while retaining a good crunch. Set it aside to cool.
7 To assemble, put the lettuce on a plate and drizzle with a little of the sauce. Slice the chicken thighs on the diagonal and roughly arrange over the lettuce. Drizzle more sauce over the top and add some manchego, Parmesan or pecorino shavings. Serve lukewarm or cold. Don’t dress the salad with the sauce until serving it.
Gaz Smith’s ultimate T-bone steak with mushroom and tarragon vinaigrette
Serves three to four
1 large T-bone steak, about 2kg
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 onion, cut into rings
Side salad, to serve
For the vinaigrette:
60g dried mushrooms (cep is the best)
65ml vegetable oil
Big pinch salt
30ml extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of tarragon, around 20 leaves
25ml red wine vinegar
5tbsp fish sauce
1 shallot, finely diced
1 First make the vinaigrette. Heat the vegetable oil and mushrooms together slowly for 10-15 minutes, never boiling, just releasing flavour into the oil and softening the mushrooms. Strain the oil into a jug, and once the mushrooms have cooled, chop them coarsely. Add the rest of the ingredients. We want this dressing to stand up to the beef, so it should taste too strong when you taste it by itself.
2 Season the steak, which should be at room temperature, with salt and black pepper.
3 Wait for the coals to go white, then divide up the barbecue into heat zones. I take the hottest coals and spread them on my “hot zone”. This is the area to sear the meat on. Leave the other half of your grill space as a “slow zone”.
4 Sear the steak for four to five minutes on both sides, then cook it for a further seven to 10 minutes in the “slow zone”, with the lid on the barbecue.
5 Take the meat off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
6 Give the rested steak a blast of heat again before serving. This is my favourite part, watching those juices caramelise up and getting that perfect char.
7 Char the onion rings on both sides on the barbecue (you can also do this earlier and keep them warm.)
8 Carve the steak and serve with the onion rings, liberally drizzled with the vinaigrette, accompanied by a side salad.
Shane Smith’s ultimate s’mores berry parcels
For the shortcrust pastry:
250g plain flour
110g butter (cold)
4-6tbsp cold water
2 egg whites (for the egg wash)
Raspberry and chocolate filling:
100g chopped dark chocolate
20-25 fresh raspberries
Marshmallows (7 large or 20 mini)
Chocolate dipping sauce:
150g 70% dark chocolate
250ml single cream
Pinch sea salt
1 To make the pastry, in a mixing bowl add the flour, salt and cold butter. With your fingertips mix until a sandy texture is reached. Add the cold water and mix to form a smooth dough.
2 Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill it for 25 minutes.
3 Once the dough is rested, roll it out on a floured surface until it is 2mm in thickness. Using a small bowl, cut out 7 x 6-inch round discs. You may need to re-roll the trimmings to get seven discs.
4 Place some chocolate, marshmallows, berries into the centre of the disc.
5 Dip a pastry brush in water and brush the edge of the disc. Fold over, creating a half-moon shape, and pinch the edges to seal fully. Chill the pastries for 20 minutes.
6 Lightly whisk the egg whites and brush this over the parcels. Bake in a preheated oven set at 180 degrees Celsius/160 degrees Celsius fan, for 10 minutes.
7 The parcels should be still very pale when you taken them out of the oven. Carefully place them over a low/medium heat on your barbecue and allow to them to char and take on a beautiful golden brown colour. Turn and repeat on the other side.
8 For the chocolate dipping sauce, heat the cream and pour it over the chopped chocolate and stir to melt. Once melted, add a pinch of sea salt.
9 As a variation you can fill the pastry parcels with blueberries and white chocolate.