Good Food Blog
July tips from our test kitchen- BBQ specialPosted at 10:02AM, 24 July 2012 by Sarah Cook - Food editor, Good Food magazine
As the inclement summer season rolls on, the optimistic among us still have our barbecue tongs on standby. If lack of practice has left you feeling a little rusty, our July test kitchen tips will boost your barbecuing confidence and help you get the best from this month's al fresco recipes.
You'll love James Martin's veggie burgers, cleverly cooked in a pan so they don't come into contact with any meat or fish. But if you're serving up something that could benefit from a hint of smoky charring, such as veggie kebabs or corn on the cob, why not pick up a disposable barbecue and use that for the vegetarian food? They're great value, and although they only burn for a short time, most veggie choices don't take long to cook. Don't use indoors and dispose of your barbecue sensibly.
We have plenty more meat-free options in our vegetarian barbecue recipe collection.
If you're looking for an alternative to plain bamboo and wooden skewers, try skewers.co.uk. It only sells in large quantities, so find a like-minded friend and share an order. Just remember, if you're cooking with non-metal skewers, give them a good soak first to prevent them from burning.
Hone your threading skills by trying out some of our skewer recipes.
Learn to love aubergines
Come summer, aubergines are one of my favourite vegetables to cook with. If you've been put off by recipes that call for salting and draining to draw off the bitter liquid- think again.
Modern varieties of aubergine no longer need this time-consuming prep, but they still require clever cooking to get the best from them- and the barbecue is perfect. Cooking on the grill means the aubergine takes on a lovely smoky flavour, and a dry cooking style like this keeps the texture soft and creamy. You will need oil though, to stop the tender flesh sticking. If you're put off by how much their spongy insides suck up when drizzling or brushing, use an olive oil spray instead.
These griddled aubergines with sesame dressing will inspire you to grab some next time you're in the veg aisle, or take a look through our aubergine recipe collection.
Add flavour fast with a special butter
If you haven't had time to marinate your meat, fish and veggies first, add some oomph at the end instead- a flavoured butter takes only minutes to make.
You simply add a dollop to your food to serve. Any leftovers can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for more barbecues over the next few weeks. Try John Torode's chilli, lime and coriander butter, or one of these:
Garlic & herb butter: Mash 100g softened butter with 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp snipped chives, 2 crushed garlic cloves and some seasoning. Great on charred bread, prawns and corn cobs.
Italian butter: Mash 100g softened butter, zest 1 lemon, 4 tbsp grated Parmesan, 10 shredded basil leaves and 1 tbsp finely chopped sundried tomatoes. Brush over barbecued chicken, aubergine or pork chops.
Horseradish butter: Mash 100g softened butter with 2 tbsp horseradish cream and a good grinding of black pepper. Use to top steaks, jacket potatoes and salmon fillets.
Don't panic- it's cooked
I know from your calls and emails that many of you worry about how to tell when barbecued meat is properly cooked. That's why you'll love this pulled pork recipe. It's cooked in the oven first, so it's completely prepare-ahead and worry-free. You give it that smoky finish when you reheat it on the barbecue.
The same will work with sausages, chicken drumsticks and ribs. First, cook gently in a little stock on the oven until safely cooked through. Cool quickly, then keep marinated in the fridge for up to 24 hours before throwing on the barbecue to reheat until piping hot in the centre and crisp on the outside.
Feel ready to face the flames? We have plenty of recipe collections for the occasion, including barbecue favourites, barbecue chicken and, to counter the ever-present threat of the dreaded raindrop, a collection of recipes that can be cooked on the barbecue or in the oven. Enjoy!