Three tasty ways to pack in serious barbecue flavour
Three recipes that are infused with smoke and fire so you can enjoy outdoor eating
One of Mexico’s best street food offerings, elote is grilled corn coated in mayonnaise, cheese and chilli
I would love to tell you that over the past decade of food writing that I have mastered all things barbecued. Unfortunately this has not been the case as living in Ireland never really allowed for it.
However, a few summers ago I decided enough was enough; my BBQ efforts would no longer be thwarted by our weather. Umbrella on standby, I experimented with cooking vegetables, different cuts of meat, pizza and even desserts on the grill to up my barbecue game.
There are some tricks that can help you perfect your meal: BBQ chimney starters will help light your fuel evenly; a meat thermometer will ensure meat is cooked correctly and safely, and heavy duty BBQ utensils are much better than flimsy ones. The payoff will ultimately be an insatiable appetite for all things barbecue, rain or shine.
Beyond the allure of al fresco summer dining, infusing your food with smoke and fire is a great way to enjoy outdoor eating.
The recipes this week are just three of my favourite ways to pack in serious flavour that is only emphasised by cooking over a hot BBQ. Step away from the cinder-coated sausages and leave the half-eaten hamburgers behind, these recipes are aimed to take your grill skills to the next level.
Cooking over a BBQ lends itself to making the most use of store cupboard staples, and this Asian-inspired steak platter is a perfect example of just that. Skirt steaks marinated in a simple combination of soy, ginger, chilli and sesame oil are charred over heat and served with a crunchy salad of thinly-sliced green peppers and coriander stems – an altogether alternative steak supper.
The recipe for a jerk chicken marinade may look extensive but again makes best use of your spice press and many ingredients you most likely have to hand. The punchy aromatic mix makes for many layers of flavour wrapped around tender chicken portions. Served straight from the BBQ with a mango salsa, it’s total sunshine food.
While traditionally vegetables aren’t always the star of the show when the barbeque is rolled out, anyone who has ever tasted Mexican grilled corn will know just how wrong that is. Unashamedly slathered in mayo and sour cream and generously rolled in cheese and spice, this is likely to be your new guilty pleasure.
This summer take a deep breath to find patience with your BBQ and take the time to experiment beyond the standard fare – it will be worth every minute you stand tending to the grill under the golf umbrella.
Soy ginger BBQ steak with sesame and coriander salad
I’ve used skirt steak here sliced into pieces to allow more opportunity for chargrilled and textured edges. If you choose to use a higher quality steak avoid slicing before you marinade and then once cooked, slice thinly. For best results marinade the meat overnight.
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 small thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
500g skirt steak, sliced into 10cm pieces
For the slaw:
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
2 large green pepper, finely sliced
6 spring onions, finely julienned
A large bunch of coriander, end trimmed
In a bowl combine the dark soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli, sugar and oils. Add the meat to the bowl, tossing to coat completely before covering and allowing to marinade in the fridge over night or for at least 30 minutes.
In a clean bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil and honey until well combined. Add the spring onions and green pepper and toss through. Just before serving toss through the coriander.
Heat a BBQ or griddle pan over a high heat and add the steak pieces cooking for two minutes either side or until lightly charred and crisp at the edges. Remove and sprinkle generously with sea salt.
Serve the steak pieces with the salad.
Mexican grilled corn (elote)
One of Mexico’s best street food offerings, elote is grilled corn coated in mayonnaise, cheese and chilli. It might not sound instantly appealing on paper but to try it is to love it. Any corn on the cob will do, but if you do find them in their husks all the better – the husks allow them to cook slowly until they become dry enough to peel back and expose the cob. If you can’t get your hands on some cotija cheese or ricotta salata (try a specialist cheese shop), you can use Parmesan cheese.
4 corn on the cob, preferably with husks on
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
150g cotija cheese or ricotta salata, finely grated
1 lime, sliced in wedges to serve
Soak the corn in a bucket of cold water for about 2 hours.
Light the barbecue and allow the coals to heat for about 45 minutes to an hour before starting to cook over them.
In a bowl whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream and set aside.
Cook whatever meat you have in the centre of the grill and then place the corn around the edges of the BBQ. Cover and cook the corn on the edges for about 20-25 minutes, turning half way through.
The husks should be slightly charred and dry. When the husks are dry, using a metal tongs, pull back the husks so the corn is exposed. Place in the middle of the grill and allow the cob to char slightly.
Remove from the barbecue and pull away any remaining husks.
Coat each cob with the mayo mix and the sprinkle generously with the grated cheese and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Serve with a squeeze of lime.
Jerk chicken with mango salsa
This Jamaican marinade/rub is guaranteed to make you feel totally tropical and infuse the chicken meat with intense and rounded heat. It’s worth sourcing scotch bonnet chillies for this, their intense heat is what sets this marinade apart. For the salsa make sure to source tender and sweet mangos that just hold their shape.
For the chicken:
1 large free range chicken, cut into breasts, wings and legs
2 scotch bonnet chillis, finely minced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 thumbsized piece of ginger, minced
3 tsp of all spice
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of dried oregano
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp of honey
6 tbsp of tomato ketchup
For the salsa:
2 ripe mangos, peeled, stone removed and roughly chopped in chunks
1/2 cucumber, centre removed and diced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp of olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Place the chicken in a large resealable bag and add in the rest of the chicken ingredients. Seal the bag and give it a good shake until everything is completely combined and the chicken is evenly coated. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours or overnight if you have the time.
Combine all the ingredients for the salsa (except the coriander) in a mixing bowl and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix through the coriander when you’re ready to serve.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. Get the BBQ to a medium high heat and cook the chicken pieces for 15 minutes turning only once during the cooking time, until the chicken is completely cooked through.
The different pieces will take slightly different cooking times so a good way to check if they are cooked is to insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part and check that it registers 82.2C for drumsticks and thighs and 73.9C for breasts. Serve the chicken with the mango salsa.