Welcome back to Edinburgh. The time has come where we can wear one jumper instead of two, hang up the scarf and the long coat and pack up the hats and gloves. Yes, Edinburgh is entering its own unique version of spring! The next few weeks will certainly not make it easy to enjoy the weather but why not make the revision and exam stress just slightly easier by planning a Meadows barbecue. The one-use BBQ’s sold in supermarkets are responsible for the stalwart smog in the Meadows and what a wonderful thing this is! Barbecues are a fantastic way of cooking food: they impart wonderful flavour.
Before we start, a word of warning to all you mavericks; make sure you are responsible with fire. Secondly, ability on the field or in the pub do not equate with ability at the ‘cue. Respect the fire and it will respect you.
Let’s start with the basics. Light your BBQ with plenty of time before you want to eat. 30 minutes should be seen as the absolute minimum, as it allows 20 minutes of burning and ten minutes of cooking. Longer is better. Before lighting try to shake the fuel so that one side has more charcoal than the other- this will give you a ‘sear-zone’ (patent pending) and a ‘rest-zone’ (patent pending).
So what works on the BeeBeeCoo? After lighting it and giving it 20 minutes so the charcoal has turned white and it is uncomfortable to leave your hand on top of it for more than a few seconds, start with the sausages. Put them in the middle zone so they cook through but they don’t burn. Keep turning them every few minutes. When they are almost done, add some bacon to the sear-zone and cook it till crisp. Then pile it up on the rest-zone so it keeps hot but doesn’t burn.
Now we can think about the burgers. When cooking a burger make sure you flip it every minute so it develops a thick meaty crust on the outside but cooks evenly on the inside. If you’re well prepared, when the burger is done, put a slice or two of cheese on top and place a bowl over the top. Leave it for a minute and the cheese will melt all around the burger in a most delightful fashion. Toasting the buns is also a great idea. For the best burger sauce mix together mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.
But what if you don’t want meat? I maintain my favourite BBQ dish is to cook seafood atop grill (go to a fishmonger: there are many reasonably priced ones in Edinburgh). Prawns are classic but also clams and mussels work really well. Put them in a Pyrex bowl with some lemon juice and salt, then put your oven tray from home on top of the bowl and flip it so you can put it over the barbecue. Wait till the clams/mussels pop open from the heat. You will be amazed at how delicious smoky seafood is.
I also love thin strips of courgette, well oiled and seasoned, charred on the barbecue and then placed in a bun with feta or grilled halloumi. Tender stem broccoli is stupidly expensive, but very delicious if you want to be a gourmet meadows eater. Grill it and grate parmesan over the top whilst those around look at you with disdain and jealousy.
In conclusion, go as wild as the cavepeople you now are! Cook a chicken at home and then grill it on demand for a large group! Barbecue a whole fish! Bring marshmallows and be the talk of the town! Benjamin Disraeli once said: ‘Courage is fire and bullying is smoke’. Well, barbecues are both. Enjoy.
Image: Girish Gopi @ Flickr.