BRITAIN has been grilling up a storm during lockdown – with backyard barbies one of the few simple pleasures millions can still enjoy.
This week top TV chef Ainsley Harriott is bringing you his best barbecue recipes along with cheats and tricks.
From ribs and burgers to slaws and side salads, the telly favourite serves up everything you need in order to barbecue like a boss.
Ainsley said: “Of course we all love a sausage or a burger.
“But vegetables are another great option — I love chargrilling marinated peppers, aubergines and squash and serving with yoghurt and pomegranate molasses.
“You can also enjoy fruit on the barbecue — chargrilled watermelon is really quite special, and kids love strawberry kebabs and barbecued bananas.
“Barbecuing is pretty healthy, too, because you don’t need to use a lot of fat.
“Most often the unhealthiest part of the barbecue is the side dishes.
“Skip the creamy potato-and-pasta salads and use low-fat yoghurt and olive oil rather than mayonnaise, or serve fresh, vibrant vegetable salads or couscous.”
Here are some more of Ainsley’s great barbecue recipes for you to try.
- Recipes extracted from Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook, (Ebury Press, £20 – available from Amazon now ), Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen: Delicious Feelgood Cooking From The Sunshine Islands (Ebury Press, £20 ) and Ultimate Barbecue Bible (BBC Books, £20 ) – all by Ainsley Harriott.
Ainsley's ultimate jerk chicken
“JERKING” is all about maximising flavour.
The great thing about jerk- cooking is that you can use either a dry rub or a wet marinade, which means you can use the wonderful flavours in such a variety of dishes, from meat and fish to vegetables and grains.
Traditionally, the mix will include allspice and Scotch bonnet chillies, but the spices can be adapted according to taste.
Here’s my ultimate jerk marinade with spatchcocked chicken.
If you prefer, you can use four chicken breasts, with the skin on, and cook on the barbecue for 15–20 minutes.
- 1 x 1.5kg chicken, backbone removed and spatchcocked (ask a butcher to do this); mixed salad or coleslaw to serve.
For the jerk marinade:
- 225g onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 small Scotch bonnet chillies, halved and de-seeded
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3cm piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled and roughly chopped (or use 1 tbsp ground turmeric)
- 1⁄2 tsp ground allspice
- 15g fresh thyme leaves
- 120ml white wine vinegar
- 120ml dark soy sauce
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- First, make the marinade. Place all the ingredients, except the seasoning, into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Cut slashes into the smooth side of the spatchcocked chicken so that the marinade can penetrate the flesh, then place the chicken in a shallow dish.
- Pour over the marinade and rub well into the meat. Cover and chill for at least two to three hours, or preferably over-night, turning every now and then.
- Preheat a barbecue with a lid and take the chicken out of the fridge to bring it up to room temperature.
- Cook the chicken on the hot barbecue, with the lid down, for 40–50 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with any leftover marinade until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a thin metal skewer.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and rest for a few minutes, then serve with a simple mixed salad or a traditional crunchy coleslaw.
Caprese beefburgers with pesto mayo
THESE Italian-style burgers are inspired by the wonderful ingredients in an Italian Caprese salad – fresh tomatoes, basil and creamy mozzarella.
- 4 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 heaped tbsp good-quality basil pesto
- Zest of half a lemon
- 750g good quality minced beef
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped and fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 2 vine tomatoes, sliced
- 1 avocado, stone removed, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 x 125g mozzarella ball, thinly sliced
- 4 ciabatta buns, lightly toasted
- A handful of rocket leaves
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the pesto and lemon zest. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Combine the beef, onion and parsley in a bowl and season well.
- Use your hands to mix until the meat starts to hold together well.
- Divide the mixture into four and shape each piece into a 10cm-wide flat disc, either by hand or by pressing the mixture into a metal pastry-cutter.
- Brush each burger with oil, put on to a plate, then cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Brush the burgers with a little oil and barbecue over medium-hot coals for about five minutes on each side for medium.
- To serve, spread a little of the pesto mayonnaise on the bottom half of each bun, then top with a few rocket leaves.
- Top with the burgers then add the slices of mozzarella.
- Finish with slices of avocado and tomato and a good dollop of the pesto mayonnaise before putting on the top half of the bun.
- Enjoy with a side salad or fries.
The best traditional garlic butter bread
IT is best to use long or thin crusty breads such as French sticks or ciabatta so that the heat can get through to the middle and melt the butter before they burn on the outside.
- 1 long, fat French stick
- 3 garlic cloves
- 75g (3oz) slightly salted butter, softened
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the bread diagonally into 2.5cm (1in) slices without cutting right through, keeping the loaf in shape as you go. Peel the garlic, place it on a chopping board and lightly crush cloves with the blade of a large knife.
- Sprinkle them with a little salt and continue to crush using the side of the knife until they form a smooth paste.
- Mix butter with garlic, parsley and some pepper.
- Spread both sides of each bread slice with a thin layer of garlic butter and reassemble the loaf on a sheet or two of extra-thick foil.
- Pleat the edges of the foil together well and leave the parcel on the side of BBQ for ten to 12 minutes, turning regularly.
How to clean a grill
WITH a charcoal barbecue, remove the cooking rack once cold, and scrub off as much residue as you can with a wire brush or crumpled sheet of foil.
Then wash it with an abrasive, soap-filled scouring pad. If you look after the rack, it will give you better service and last for much longer.
Remove the cold ashes and brush out the dust. Occasionally, clean the rest of the barbecue with an oven cleaner to get rid of accumulated grease and dirt.
With a gas barbecue, always clean the rack, lid, any drip trays, gas burners, etc.
before putting away.
Lava rocks can be cleaned a couple of times during their life to get rid of cooking fat and juices. Wash them in hot soapy water then rinse.
Watercress, cashew and coconut salad
THIS is such a simple salad to make, yet it’s so tasty with a lovely crunch.
If you like, you can use a combination of rocket and watercress – both are readily available in salad bags and both have a wonderful peppery flavour that goes perfectly with the sweet dressing.
- 200g fresh coconut
- 100g (about 1 large bag) watercress, washed
- 75g cashew nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- A pinch of salt
- Coarsely grate the fresh coconut into a large bowl, add the watercress and cashews and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt.
- Drizzle the dressing over the watercress, coconut and cashews, toss together and place in a serving bowl.
Boss barbecue bangers
HERE is a simple but very tasty way of turning barbecued sausages into something different.
The sausages are started off under the grill before they are stuffed so that they only take a few minutes to cook through when you are ready.
- 900g (2lb) good quality, meaty pork sausages or jumbo frankfurters
- 75g (3oz) cheese such as Cheddar, Gouda or Gruyere
- 8 no-need-to-soak prunes
- 225g (8oz) rindless streaky bacon
- Lightly brown the sausages under the grill, turning now and then, for about five minutes until half-cooked. Set aside and leave to go cold.
- Cut a slit in each sausage and stuff half of them with the cheese and the other half with the prunes. The frankfurters taste best with just the cheese.
- Stretch the rashers of bacon on a chopping board with the back of a knife then wind one rasher around each sausage, leaving gaps in between so that the filling shows through.
- These can now be set aside until you are ready to cook them. Barbecue the bangers over medium-hot coals for about seven minutes, turning now and then, until the bacon is crisp and the cheese has melted.
Fried strawberries and cream
They’re delicious, especially served with a good dollop of clotted cream.
Go on, fire up those tastebuds.
- 450g strawberries
- 4 tbsp white rum, Cointreau or Kirsch
- 4 tbsp light muscovado sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into short pieces
- 225g tub of clotted cream or 300ml extra-thick double cream to serve
- Hull the strawberries, cut them in half and place into a large bowl.
- Mix the rum, Cointreau or Kirsch with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved, then stir it into the strawberries.
- Shape 4x30cm squares of extra-thick foil into little bowls and divide the strawberries and the juice between them.
- Add a piece of cinnamon stick to each one, bring the edges of the foil together and scrunch the edges together to seal.
- Place the parcels on to the side of the barbecue and cook over medium-hot coals for
four to five minutes until heated through.
- Lift them on to serving plates, open them up and serve with a spoonful of clotted or thick double cream.
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