Barbecue recipe ideas
Bob Hart's buffalo wings with Roquefort dipping sauce. Photo: Dean Cambray
The Great Aussie Barbecue can be a sordid affair. Mediocre ingredients are routinely overcooked, then shared, charmlessly, among celebrants long past caring. In truth, there has seldom been anything great about it, until food fashions intervened. Dishes such as pulled pork, smoked brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs and smoke-infused chickens have emerged as the stars of the barbecue revolution.
The minimum requirements for slow-smoked and painstakingly roasted dishes are an old-fashioned Weber kettle, a mountain of charcoal or briquettes, lashings of hickory chips and tolerant neighbours.
Heat and Smoke: Mastering the Dark Art of Real Barbecue by Bob Hart.
The following recipes will breathe authentic barbecue personality into dishes unfamiliar to most backyard barbecue vandals - dishes that will help them to return from the dark side and emerge as superheroes of the grill.
Prosciutto-wrapped roasted fig - spiked with blue cheese
Slice about 1 to 2 centimetres from the top (stem end) of a fig and cut a deep cross into the top. Squeeze the bottom of the fig to open up that cross and insert a wedge of the best blue cheese you have to hand - roquefort or gorgonzola are ideal. Then, wrap most of the fig in a strip of good prosciutto, tucking it in, rather than skewering it, and sit the fig on a halo of foil - made by loosely rolling, from corner to corner, a square of foil torn from a standard roll, and twisting into a circle - on a hot gas grill. Drop the lid and cook until the prosciutto crisps, the fig softens and the cheese melts. Eat.
Hervey Bay scallops - in ginger butter
Place a dozen scallops on a wire rack or trivet and drizzle each with a glaze made by melting 80 grams of unsalted butter with about 5 centimetres of fresh ginger crushed in a garlic press. Add a generous dash of Kikkoman sweet soy (or add honey to regular soy) and whisk to emulsify. Place the rack, with the scallops in place, on a hot gas grill (220C) and drop the lid. The thin shells mean they will be cooked in just a couple of minutes. Eat.
Grilled buffalo wings - with roquefort dipping sauce
For the dip, crumble a quantity of blue cheese - ideally roquefort, but gorgonzola also works quite well - into Best Foods or Hellman's bottled mayonnaise. Try two large chunks of blue cheese, each bigger than a golf ball, with a cup of mayonnaise. Use a fork to mash the cheese into the mayonnaise, then thin the mixture with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mix until smooth. Cover and chill.
Prepare a dozen chicken wings (24 segments) by snipping off and discarding the top joints and then dividing them at the main joint. Toss the resulting ''flats and drummies'' in EV olive oil and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook them, covered, on a well-oiled gas grill at a temperature over 200C. Turn them after five minutes and again after another five. They will cook in about 15 minutes.
Ensure that they have cooked evenly and that all sides are crisp and golden with dark char marks.
Prepare a glaze by placing half a stick of butter (125 grams) into a saucepan and squirting Sriracha chilli sauce over it until it is well covered. Heat gently and stir well to emulsify.
Place the hot, cooked wings in a large bowl and pour the butter and chilli sauce over, tossing to coat evenly. Lift on to a platter to drain and cool slightly before serving them alongside the dip.
Cedar-planked salmon - skinless centre fillets, cooked on a soaked cedar plank placed on a covered gas grill, finished with dill butter
Make the dill butter from almost a bunch of fresh dill - washed, picked and finely chopped - blended with 250 grams of unsalted butter, two tablespoons of dijon mustard, three garlic cloves and a squeeze of lemon. Roll, in plastic wrap, into a sausage and keep in the freezer.
Remove the skin from half a dozen centre fillets of salmon - New Zealand King Salmon with its higher oil content works best - and position them on a cedar plank which you have soaked in water for at least an hour. The best planks are the American ones sold in most barbecue shops.
Place the plank on a hot (220C) grill which you have set for semi-indirect cooking - i.e. lower the heat of the burner under the plank to very low, but leave the outer burners on high - and drop the lid. After about 12 minutes, lift the lid and top each fillet with a disc of the dill butter and drop the lid for another three minutes. Carefully slide the plank off the grill and lift each fillet off the plank. Eat.
Oil and season the cleaned fish, slipping a couple of thin lemon slices into the body cavities. Clamp them into the oiled fish basket (a Weber product, widely available) and grill, covered, for about three minutes a side for smallish fish. Lift from the grill and serve, one per person, with melted butter and lemon juice, or the sauce of your choice.
Cut with kitchen scissors, either side of the backbone. This will allow you to pull out the backbone and, with it, the neck and pope's nose. Discard this. Open up the split birds and press down to flatten. Oil and season, adding finely chopped rosemary and, if you like a bit of heat, a sprinkle of chilli flakes. Cook the birds, covered, for four minutes a side on a very hot grill, turning through 90 degrees after two minutes on each side to impart grill marks.
Cider-brined pork cutlets - on maple-syrup sweet potato mash with redcurrant jelly
Make a brine by stirring half a cup of sea salt into a small bottle of cider and adding whatever fresh herbs you have to hand. Place the brine in a resealable plastic bag, add the cutlets and refrigerate for at least four hours, but not more than six. Wipe the cutlets with paper kitchen towels, oil and pepper them (no more salt) and grill them on a very hot, oiled grill for two minutes. Lift the lid and move through 90 degrees. Repeat on the second side, lift off the grill and rest, loosely tented with foil, on a warm plate.
Serve on sweet potato mash made with unsalted butter, a dash of maple syrup and a light glaze of melted redcurrant jelly.
Chipotle mushroom burger - with chipotle mayonnaise, sliced salad onion and parmesan
Wipe clean half a dozen large, flat mushrooms, trim off the flap around the mushroom to stop it from charring on the grill, remove most of each stem, oil and season both sides of each mushroom and place them, gill sides down, on a hot grill. After 90 seconds, turn them through 90 degrees. After another 90 seconds, flip them over. After 90 seconds, place half a tablespoon of parsley butter (unsalted butter, chopped parsley, dijon mustard, garlic and lemon juice, combined to taste) in each mushroom, turn them through 90 degrees, and lower the hood. They will be cooked in 90 seconds and the butter will have begun to melt into them. Lift off the grill on to a platter and place to one side.
Prepare a small ciabatta roll for each mushroom by splitting and warming them on the grill for 20 seconds, crust sides down and another 20 seconds cut sides down. Lift them off and spread the cut sides with chipotle mayonnaise (good bottled mayonnaise such as Best Foods or Hellman's blended with chipotle peppers in adobo, available in specialty food shops). Place a mushroom, gill sides up, on each base, top with slices of salad onion and sprinkle generously with grated parmesan. Replace the top of each bun. Eat.
Asian pears - a modern twist on a French classic from the Belle Epoque - stuffed packham pears with honey and ginger syrup
Take four packham pears, leave unpeeled but slice off a cap about 2 centimetres down from the stem of each and, using a melon-baller, dig out the core and seeds, and some of the surrounding flesh, taking care not to break through the sides or bottoms.
Chop a handful of sultanas with a handful of pine nuts and warm four tablespoons of honey so that it runs easily. Stuff the pears loosely with the sultana mixture and drizzle in the honey, dividing the fillings between the four pears.
Now, take a quantity of the syrup from a jar of ginger in syrup and drizzle about one teaspoon into each pear. Replace the caps.
Sit the pears on foil halos, just likes the ones used for the figs (above), on a hot (200C) grill. Roast the pears until they become tender, which will take about 20 to 30 minutes, depending upon the ripeness of the fruit.
Using tongs, lift the pears off the grill and lower each into a small serving bowl. Tip the caps to one side and top each pear with a generous dollop of creme fraiche. Eat.
Roasted nectarines - with creme fraiche and chopped nuts or smashed Maltesers
Cut two nectarines in half, removing the seeds. Sit each half on a foil halo, spoon in raw sugar (the Costa Rican Dulce is best) and place on the grill. The sugar will melt and combine with the juices to form a syrup as the fruit cooks. Times can vary from 20 to 40 minutes, according to the ripeness of the fruit. Lift into bowls, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle with either chopped, sugared nuts or the aforementioned Maltesers, ruthlessly bashed before you open the bag.
Now, that's a great Aussie Barbecue.
Heat and Smoke: Mastering the Dark Art of Real Barbecue, by Bob Hart, Hartbeat Media, $24.95. Bookshops or through heatandsmoke.com.