If there’s one thing you can guarantee in life, it is that the barbecue you are invited to next week will have more than enough Doritos. However unique the flavour, whichever dip you have chosen as accompaniment, I promise that someone will have got there first. Likewise, while beer is essential and for the most part, perpetually undersupplied, here are some more inventive things to take with you to shake up your barbecue experience.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
You can judge any barbecue by its condiments, the greater the variety the better the barbecue - this is a law as fundamental as any of Newton’s. But, much like the universe itself, the range of sauces available to the public is ever-expanding. We live in a time of peri peri marinades and reggae reggae sauce - in the 21st century, ketchup on your hot dog no longer cuts the mustard. The only original condiment to bring is one which you created yourself, or failing that – one which you found on a blog:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped/crushed
- 85g brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon malt vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Heat oil in a saucepan and soften (not caramelize) the onion over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients, season and mix. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 mins, until thickened.
- Blend the mixture in a food processor or with a hand blender for a few seconds to produce a smooth sauce (though you may like to keep it textured).
Once upon a time to be ‘a vegetarian at a barbecue’ was an idiom used to describe a situation in which one is left disappointed and hungry, nowadays that expression has fallen into disuse. Culinary advances have opened up a range of meat-free grill dishes, some of them as simple as throwing another shrimp on the barbie - simply take an avocado and cut it in half, sprinkle with olive oil and lime juice, and place face down on the grill for five minutes. Then fill with salsa and sour cream, and sprinkle on a little more lime juice for a mouthwatering treat. But the avocado is no one-trick pony, it is as versatile as it is delicious and while it does makes any number of mains, it also provides the base for the greatest side known to humankind… Guacamole.
- 4 ripe avocados
- 1/2 red onion, small diced
- 3 limes
- 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
- Place avocados, onion and jalapeno pepper in a large bowl, use a fork to mash everything together.
- Squeeze in lime juice and season to taste.
Dare I suggest (however tentatively) that some amongst us are sick of Pimm’s? We can at least all agree that we are tired of industrial scale sex-on-the-beach and other bowls of cheap sugar rush ‘punches’. When it comes to pitchers of drinks, few make as wide a range of people as happy as sangria (not to mention an excellent opportunity to use up that mediocre bottle of wine you were given last Christmas). Sangria, at its best is not horribly sweet, but is swimming with freshly chopped fruit:
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 50ml brandy
- 50ml Triple sec or another orange liqueur
- 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- Sliced peaches, apples, oranges, tossed with a squeeze of lemon juice
- Mix the wine, sugar, brandy, liqueur and orange juice in a large pitcher. Add fruit and let sit in the fridge until needed.
- A slotted spoon will help guests hold back the fruit while pouring their glasses, and spoon some on top if desired.
Set of Horseshoes
From racks of ribs to pulled pork, let’s face it, everything about the barbecue is plagiarised from the yanks. So why not steal one of their backyard games while we’re at it? You can now buy rubber horseshoe sets, which are much more child-friendly than traditional metal horseshoes.
The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association guidelines call for the two stakes to be 40 feet apart, but without a ranch-sized back garden we’ll permit you to scale down a little. Those of drinking age will also appreciate horseshoes’ drinking game potential, providing a pleasant outdoor alternative to beer pong.
The Main Course!
And finally we get to the meat of the matter - Thanks to our competition winner, Heidi Berry, with her BBQ butterflied leg of lamb with greek herbs and homemade Tzatziki!
Moroccan-Style Barbecued Leg of Lamb
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins - 50 mins
Serves 6 – 8
- 50g butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons each ground cumin, coriander and paprika
- 1 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 1 tsp harissa
- 2½ kg leg of lamb, butterflied
- For the sauce
- 1 tsp harissa
- handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 300g Greek yogurt
- Mix the butter and oil in a bowl, then stir in the spices, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Add the harissa, 1 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and mix well.
- Put the butterflied lamb in a large shallow dish and spoon over the marinade. Using your hands, rub it all over the meat. Cover loosely with foil or cling film and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
- Light the barbecue, when it is ready, add the lamb, fat-side down, and cook on a fairly high heat for 5 mins until well browned. Turn the leg over and cook for another 5 mins to brown the other side.
- Move the coals to the sides of the barbecue to reduce the heat under the meat and cook more gently for 30-40 mins, turning occasionally. This timing will give you pink meat.
- Remove the meat to a large board and cover tightly with foil. Leave to rest for 10-15 mins.
- For the sauce, fold the harissa, a little salt and the coriander into the yogurt. Cut the lamb into thick slices and serve with the sauce and couscous.