Charred chipolatas, tasteless white bread and undercooked chicken are all — thankfully — off the menu at the modern BBQ.
Nowadays – with your wine list already sorted by Berry Bros – any gentleman worth his (Himalayan Pink) salt is out to up his grilling game and who better to turn to for tips, hints and the odd hack than some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs?
We asked this top culinary crew what they like to put on the coals to impress their guests and taste buds alike…
Cherry-wood smoked hispi cabbage and caramelised peaches
Suggested by: Steve Horrell, executive chef of Roth Bar & Grill, Somerset
Apple or cherry wood are two underrated secret weapons when it comes to BBQing.
Smoking either “gives off a unique flavour and characterises any food cooked over the fire from meat to veggies” says Horrell who pairs the cherry wood scent with a sweet, hispi cabbage.
And for afters? “People forget you can use the BBQ to make a dessert”. Horrell halves ripe peaches before caramelising them on the grill with a sprinkling of soft brown sugar, and a drizzle of amaretto, finished off with a generous dollop of mascarpone cream.
Washed down with: Aperol Spritz
Sticky (and simple) Char Siu pork
Suggested by: Gareth Ward, chef patron at Ynyshir, Mid-Wales
“Pork is a really underrated meat” says the Michelin-starred chef, “and this Char Siu marinade will make it epic”. Gareth has spent months perfecting his marinade recipe but you can try by combining a few spoonfuls of golden brown sugar, a drizzle of honey, a little hoisin and soy sauce, Chinese five spice and pouring of oil. Then it’s all in his Big Green Egg for a distinctive charred flavour.
A top tip? “Cook the meat in the oven or in a water bath if you have one and then finish by blackening on the barbecue to bring out the flavour.”
Washed down with: Chilled orange wine, preferably Chillion by Ruth Lewandowski
Fire grilled oysters
Suggested by: Brett Redman, chef and owner of Neptune, Bloomsbury
When he’s not running the show at the new and celebrated Neptune restaurant, this Australian chef likes to keep it salty with oysters on the barbie. Make sure they’re flat side up, before putting an upturned metal mixing bowl on top for two minutes.
“The oyster will steam and the lid will pop open like a mussel when it’s ready” says Brett. “Remove the lid and eat it straight off the grill’.
Washed down with: Gut Oggau’s Theodora, a low-sulphur wine from Austria
Punchy miso marinated Tebaski
Suggested by: Hideki Hiwatashi, executive head chef of Sake no Hana, St James’ London
Trained by the seven-Michelin-starred Yoshihiro Murata, Hideki swears by this marinade with its “amazing miso caramelised flavour”. The ingredients: Korean Chile miso, sesame oil, Mirin, Soy sauce, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, salt and a crushed garlic clove. Mix together, smother on scared chicken wings, and grill on a medium heat.
Washed down with: Asahi draft beer and Gurepu Furut Chu Hai (shochu spirit with soda and fresh squeeze grape fruit juice)
Scorched Cobia Collar with brown butter ponzu
Suggested by: Hamish Brown, group executive chef of Inko Nito, Soho
Cobia fish collar is the “hidden pearl of the sea” according to Brown, with its “rich and meaty texture making it perfect for the BBQ”. He puts this on the griddle, Robatayaki style over hot charcoal, until the skin goes crisp before coating with a tart, citrusy ponzu butter.
“If you’re looking for a more ‘meaty dish, try a beef cheek. The thick seam of collagen that runs through the middle provides you with that sticky, sumptuous taste with every bite”.
Washed down with: Kirin Ichiban draft beer or the Takara Collins Vodka, Inko Nito’s signature cocktail, made up of vodka, shisho shochu, citrus cordial and soda.
Applewood smoked turbot with fennel two ways
Suggested by: Phil Carmichael, head chef of Berner’s Tavern, Fitzrovia
Having trained with Michel Roux and as executive chef of this London EDITION’s Berner’s Tavern, it should come as no surprise that Carmichael is a master of flavours at his own BBQ. He grills a whole turbot fish over a sweet, light applewood with baked and pickled fennel on the side. “I like to use the same ingredient in a couple of different ways to showcase its versatility – in this case, of a single vegetable”.
“Slice the fennel very finely on a mandolin or with a knife, salt it to remove excess water, then pickle using a 3:2:1 method (3 parts vinegar, 2 parts water, one part sugar)”.
Washed down with: Dark Horse Chardonnay
A fragrant Cornish, bruised-garlic brined meat-on-the-bone
Suggested by: Paul Ainsworth, chef-patron of Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow
Ainsworth keeps it simple when it comes down to his own BBQ feast, giving meat on the bone or larger cuts “a light brine beforehand”. His favourite seasoning? A sprinkling of Cornish sea salt, water “and perhaps a few aromatics depending on the meat you are using, for example thyme, bruised garlic, cracked bay leaves and crushed peppercorns are a great foundation”.
He leaves it for one hour to marinate the meat, before rinsing it, patting dry and grilling.
Washed down with: Pamperol Spritz, made by combining 100 ml Pampelle Ruby Apero, soda water, Prosecco and garnished with a wedge of pink grapefruit. Or, Ainsworth’s very own No.6 Homemade Lemonade which involves making your own lemongrass syrup with sugar, lemon zest and lemongrass stocks on the hob and mixing with squeezed lemons and still water.
Griddled, boozy beer can chicken and corn with chorizo butter
Suggested by: Lisa Goodwin-Allen executive head chef of Northcote, Blackburn
The Michelin-starred Goodwin-Allen is a fan of the classic beer can chicken. “The beer streams through the inside of the chicken to give it great flavour and keep it moist,” she tells the GJ.
Her best tip? “Make the most out of direct and indirect cooking. The latter is when the coals are along the edge of the barbecue and you cook the meat or vegetables in the middle on a grill. Direct is cooking directly over the coals, which you tend to use to finish the meat or vegetables to add flavour and colour”.
The chicken is served with a corn on the cob slathered with chorizo butter (stuffed under the husk before grilling). Position them on the indirect heat for steaming and then direct for a delicious charred flavour.
Washed down with: A blonde beer or a Viognier from Yves Cuilleron for the chicken, and a white Rioja from Marques de Murieta for the corn.