Pudding club: BBQ special

Pudding club was at our house today as we celebrated the hottest day of the year with a barbecue in our back garden. Which is not looking bad right now, but will look better when a) the Thomson & Morgan “instant cottage garden” bundle arrives and b) when/if the plants grow.

I don’t do barbecues that often, but when I do there’s a few things I always do. Today, I added in a few more things.

The one meaty thing I’ve been doing for ages is a chicken satay. Take mini-breast fillets ((my friends don’t trust me to cook bone-in chicken safely on an open fire, and whilst they’ve all gone for gas barbecues, for me, it’s all about having a fire )) and marinate overnight in chopped ginger, garlic and chillies, with lime juice, sherry, oil and soy sauce helping out with liquid.

Now mostly in years past, I have just bought a pack of satay sauce and that is nice enough. But today my car wouldn’t start, so I couldn’t go to the big supermarket, and so I had to make it out of store cupboard ingredients. Chop a clove of garlic and a chilli and lightly fry. Add in about 6 tbsps chunky peanut butter and enough coconut milk to make it a barely-runny consistency.

Get the chicken out of the marinade, and run skewers through it, then cook on the barbecue until done, and pour the sauce over the top.

There were also burgers and sausages as per norm, without a great deal of thought in them. Just buy burgers, making your own decision about price vs quality and cook until cooked.

This time, I made all the bread: Dan Lepard’s onion hotdog rolls formed into long thin rolls for sausages; and a batch of burger buns made with 700grams breadflour, 350mls milk, yeast, oil, sugar, salt and beaten egg for glazing, based loosely on a recipe found here.

In all the heat, the two batches of bread dough didn’t so much as rise as collapse sideways off the edge of the baking tray, so the resultant cobs were a little on the flat side, and bigger than intended, but all tasted nice enough in the end.

In terms of sides, I made Manda’s delicious tepid salad of mushrooms, lentils and pearl barley in a balsamic reduction; a really sharp coleslaw of red cabbage, apple, carrot with a honey vinaigrette (which could have used more honey, to be honest); and one of our guests brought that day’s harvest of potatoes duly saladed.

But it was the dessert that was really good and definitely something I will do again: Grilled pineapple. After the meat was done and the barbecue was cooling, I took a fresh pineapple and cut it into 6, removing the tough core but leaving the skin and leaves on for decoration. A quick go on the barbecue is enough, cooking all sides until they get a visible griddle pattern, and a bit longer on the skin side, because that’s tough and can take it.

The warm pineapple is delicious enough by itself: all the huge flavour of ordinary fresh pineapple but with with slightly less chewing.

If your barbecue is the sort of affair where you sit around a table with knives and forks, you might like to serve up the bits of pineapple straight from the grill. However, by this point, we were all sitting on the floor in the “glade” bit of my garden (( I have a glade and a fountain. At least that’s what we call it – it’s not nearly so grand as I like to make it sound )) so I chopped the pineapple into chunks, put it in a bowl, and let people help themselves with skewers.

What really made it, though, was an aromatic sugar syrup I had made the night before: 300 grams of sugar in half a litre of water, boiled up with a chopped chilli, a branch of thyme and a finely sliced lime. This, poured over the pineapple bits, was just lush.

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