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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

The Advantages of a Charcoal Barbecue

There is an on-going battle between the gas and charcoal barbecue – the traditional against the rise of technology. For those who like speed, the gas barbecue is probably your preferred choice. However for the environmentally minded, there are a lot more advantages when you incorporate a charcoal barbecue into your life.

For one, it’s environmentally friendly as you’re only using natural materials and they are generally cheaper to run. The traditional approach also offers a wider pallet of flavours, so if you like to have your meat or chargrilled vegetables packed with all the flavour and aromas possible, a charcoal barbecue is the ideal choice.

I am a big fan of the barbecue season and the barbecue is my domain. I don’t know what it is about it, but there is something manly about cooking on a barbecue grill, perhaps it’s to do with the open fire and having to contend with naked flames!?

During my heyday when I believed that nothing could surpass my barbecuing techniques I not only had a charcoal barbecue, but a gas one as well and by having both I find it much easier to make a fair comparison. I am not going to say that you’re a bad cook if you have one and not the other as the benefits that both possess will attract and suit many different people. However, I have found that gas barbecues are the best for those who love having control and like the fast and easy life, whereas the charcoal barbecue is the ideal companion if you enjoy cooking with the elements and working with whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

Gas Barbecues

  • Easy to start with a simple push of a button
  • No need to use messy charcoal
  • Control the temperature and for a long period of time
  • You don’t have to contend with windy conditions
  • Can use wood to create a smokey flavour



Charcoal Barbecues

  • Can produce more heat, making hotter grills
  • Intense aromas
  • More hands-on approach to cooking outdoors
  • Some barbecues can be packed up, making them easy to store or take with you to a picnic or the beach
  • A lot more flavour is produced when cooking with charcoal
  • Cheaper to run than gas barbecues

Choosing between a charcoal barbecue and a gas barbecue can be a difficult decision to make as both have their advantages and disadvantages. However, if you’re searching for a cooking device that’s kind to the environment, a charcoal barbecue is ideal for you, but if you’re in two minds I would recommend that you look around to see what’s available to you.

Guest blogger:  Mr. McGregor is a gardening enthusiast who commits a lot of time to his garden and allotment, documenting his trials and tribulations by guest writing on the Notcutts blog in the UK.

Caribbean Style Grilled Chicken Recipe

This is a fantastically different way to prepare grilled chicken with a little kick.  My favorite way to make this is on the bbq along with some grilled corn and potatoes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Olive oil
  • 8 Cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Lime juice
  • 1 tsps Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 1½ TBS Cilantro
  • 3 LBS Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

Trim chicken of all extra fat and splint in half. USE CAUTION PREPARING PEPPER!

Combine the oil, juice, pepper and other seasonings. Place the chicken in a glass dish, pour the marinade over , cover and place in refrigerator to marinate 2 to 6 hours.

Preheat grill to medium hot. Remove chicken from marinade and grill for 7 to 9 minutes per side depending on thickness.

Plate and enjoy! You definitely will not find anything like this if you order food online!

Guest blogger:  Ruth Rogers is a freelance writer that loves trying out new recipes and making up her own at the same time.  She believes that cooking at home beats out restaurant online ordering any day!

5 Ways To Smoke Meat

Once upon a time, smoking was used as a way to preserve meat’s freshness. In the years since the invention of the refrigerator, smoking meat has become a favorite past time of expert grillers and backyard barbeque enthusiasts alike. In short, smoking meat is the art of cooking your cut at a relatively low heat (usually between 200 and 250), using just the smoke from your fire source. Different types of meats call for different types of smoking, but when done right, smoking can turn even some of the worst slabs of meat into a tasty meal. The following are the five most common types of smoking today.

1.) Wood Smoker

Without question, smoking meat over a wood fire is the gold standard. Like the wheel, sometimes things last for thousands of years because they work. Wood smokers come in many shapes and sizes, but unless you are cooking for an army, the key thing to remember is that less is more. The biggest mistake first timers make is using too much wood and building too big of a fire. Remember, the smoke is what cooks and flavors the meat, not the fire!

2.) Wood Smoker 2 (Because it really is the best way to do it!)
Cheating a little bit right off the bat, but if you are going to learn how to smoke meat, than you should be willing to at least try the classic way. That said, since a big part of the flavor from this style of cooking comes from the smoke itself, the type of wood you burn can make a huge difference. Most fruit and nut woods can burn without the smoke overpowering the meat flavor. Hickory, apple, and oak are great woods to get you started.

3.) Charcoal Smoker
Charcoal is a great alternative to wood because of its diversity. Although actual charcoal smokers can be found for relatively cheap, you can also experiment with a covered grill by pilling the charcoal on the opposite side of the meat and cooking it “low and slow.”

4.) Gas
While many barbeque lovers swear against gas smokers, the fact is they are a great, easy way to begin to learn the craft. With enough practice, you may even be able to start to replicate that wood smoke taste. A lot of practice.

5.) Electric
Convenience is the key to the electric smoker. Simply put, for those of you in an apartment or a place where an open flame is not allowed, an electric smoker offers an easy way to connect with your rugged outdoorsman.

Guest blogger: Mark Lynch is a guest writer for Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools.

Best Barbecue Recipes For This Summer

It is time for the summer sun to shine, and when it does decide to show itself, there is nothing better to do than inviting friends round and getting the barbecue out. When that time comes you need to be prepared to be able to whip up some tasty food for your guests.

It may have been a while since you last cooked on a barbecue: the barbecue itself is no doubt covered in cob webs.  But don’t worry…clean off your grill and get ready to entertain!  Here are some easy recipes you can make on a barbecue for your friends or family.
 

Cheese Burger

This burger is easy to make, and as you probably know burgers are a staple at barbecue events.

Time to prepare: 25 minutes
Time to cook: 10-30 minutes
Serving Number: 4

Ingredients:

  • 700g beef mince/turkey mince/chicken mince (depends on what type of burger you want)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 chillies (depends on how hot you would like your burgers to be)
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Cheese slices
  • 4 buns (buns specially made for burgers are good)

 
Directions:

  1. Light the barbecue.
  2. Heat a frying pan for a few minutes, add the olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Take the pan off the hit an allow the onions to cool down slightly.
  3. Place the mince, chillies, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Once the onions are cooled add them as well, then mix together.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4. Mould the mixture with your hands to form a burger shape.
  5. Add the burgers to the barbecue, cook for 3-6 minutes on each side until the meat is fully cooked. On the last minute add a slice of cheese to each burger.
  6. Place the burger into a bun and enjoy!

 

Sticky Chicken Drummers

This recipe takes no time at all to prepare and will offer all your costs something unique and really tasty.

Time to prepare: 5 minutes
Time to cook: 35 minutes
Serving Number: 8

Ingredients:

  • 16 average size chicken drumsticks
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp pure honey
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

 
Directions:

  1. Light your barbecue.
  2. Add the soy sauce, honey, Dijon mustard, tomato purée and extra virgin olive oil to a bowl and mix well.
  3. Make a few slashes on every drumstick.
  4. Add the mixture to the chicken, make sure that all the chicken drumsticks are coated well.
  5. Leave it to marinate for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the drumsticks to the barbecue and cook for 35 minutes until fully cooked. Make sure to keep turning the drumsticks regularly.

 

Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

This recipe is brilliant as it adds a little fruit to your barbecue, the pineapple and the pork really work well together.

Time to prepare: 12 minutes
Time to cook: 12-14 minutes
Serving Number: 4

Ingredients:

  • 450g boneless pork chops
  • 20 chunks of pineapple cut into 1 inch squares
  • 2 green peppers also chopped into 1 inch squares
  • 1/2 red onion chopped into chunks
  • 400g barbecue sauce
  • Handful of rosemary chopped finely

 
Directions:

  1. Light your barbecue.
  2. Mix the rosemary and roughly 2/3 of the barbecue sauce.
  3. Pour onto the pork chops, ensure that they are covered well.
  4. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinate.
  5. Remove from the fridge, add the chops, pineapple,peppers and onions to 8 skewers.
  6. Put on the barbecue for 12-14 minutes until full cooked.

 

Simple Salad

A barbecue can never be complete until there is a salad on the table here is one you can rustle up in an instant.

Time to prepare: 5 minutes
Serving Number: 4

Ingredients:

  • 450g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g rocket
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 
Directions:

  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and toss with the salt and pepper.
  2. Add the rocket and toss again.
  3. Put the salad in a bowl and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve to your guests.

 
All theses recipes are easy to make and will make your barbecue great. Add the recipes to your cookbook as you can always use them again when the sun decides to shine.
 
 
Guest blogger: This blog is presented by bbqpro.co guest blogger, Victoria Abrams. Vic is writing for Nigella Lawson, an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster. Nigella is the author of 9 best selling cookbooks and featured in several TV shows around the globe.

America: Land of the BBQ

Now we all know that barbeque, or BBQ as it is,  is a big thing in America.  But I am pretty sure a lot of people don’t realize how diverse of a tradition we have in this country.

For some folks there may be knowledge of just a few of the different traditions, and I think that’s just a shame.  So I’m taking this chance to highlight some of the various styles of barbeque we have.  I’ve broken them down by state.

Tennessee

 This is often referred to as “Memphis-style” and focuses slow pit-cooked ribs and barbeque sandwiches.  There are wet ribs (which are sauced) and dry ribs (where a rub is applied) and the sandwiches are made of chopped pork on a bun, and can be served with a variety of sauces depending on the joint you’re eating at, or whose back yard you’re in.

North and South Carolina

This is another pork tradition, which sometimes even goes “whole hog” and lets none go to waste. Barbeque in this region can be coated with vinegar-based marinades that include loads of spices, or are sometimes drenched with ketchup or mustard-based sauces as they’re cooked.  Some people call this “Low Country” style.

Kansas

Usually referred to as “Kansas City-style”, this tradition has spawned the biggest competitive barbequing organization in the nation.  Fortunately, they aren’t to snobby, and every style of barbeque is judged at their competitions!

The actual KC-style consists of, as you might imagine, a lot of emphasis on sauce served as a condiment, as well as the dry rub used on the meat.  Speaking of meat, they tend to use just about everything they can get their hands on in KC style!

Texas

Texas is big, and it has a lot of influence.  The variety of barbeque in Texas is impressive, and you can see a number of different meats used (though beef remains the signature Texas meat of course), as well as sauces, rubs, and more.

The type of wood used in different parts of Texas also has a big influence on the taste. Mesquite, hickory, pecan, and oak all have their places.  Down towards Mexico way there’s of course a lot of interesting influences, with barbacoa adding in a lot of goat and sheep, as well as using an underground oven.

California

With a tradition of large pit barbeques and a beef base which arises from the days of cattlemen in the state, Californian barbeque also involves a lot of towed trailers which can be found at events across the state.

Virginia

Pork and chicken dominate the Virginian scene, with heavy influences from both the Carolinas and Tennessee meaning there’s a lot of vinegar involved, but also bourbon, and tomato-based sauces, and it tends to be quite smoky. In Virginia you can sometimes find game animals being barbequed as well, which is quite a treat.

Hawaii

This one sure is a special part of America. The Polynesian roots of the native Hawaiians have given us one of the most fantastic experiences available in event barbeque. The luau is a whole evening of entertainment and food which features kalua pig, a whole swine cooked in an underground oven pit. If you ever go to Hawaii, this is not to be missed as it is absolutely unique among all American barbeque.

So there you have it. A great variety of barbeque traditions from all across the nation. If you’re passing through a region, try and make sure to sample some of the local flavor. You’re bound to find something worthwhile!

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Chasing the Ring: Ideas for Getting a Great Smoke Ring

BBQ enthusiasts chase many things when they are engaging in their hobby, but perhaps one of the most elusive and highly prized is the smoke ring. Some of you are no doubt shaking your heads and saying “that’s simple, you just use Tender Quick”…so maybe I should clarify.

The smoke ring is something people chase because it is a beautiful addition to meat, and a nice challenge to strive for.  Some people will “cheat” to get there (and that’s all Tender Quick is), but many are searching for different methods that don’t involve directly treating the meat.

Judging the Ring

There was a time when a lot of competitive BBQ  judging took the smoke ring into account.  Now many competitions disallow judgment of this element of the meat.  But even with judges at many venues barred from basing any scores off of the appearance of a ring, that doesn’t stop many people from pursuing a nice looking smoke ring during the contests.

For many enthusiasts who compete it is still a point of pride for them to deliver a piece of meat that has a beautiful ring. And certainly for people in their own day to day cooking it is a lovely addition to the final product.

Science of The Smoke Ring

Before we go any further I should get the general science out of the way.  I know it doesn’t really interest everyone, but for those who do get a kick out of knowing how stuff works, here you go.

A smoke ring is caused by the interaction of nitric oxide and myoglobin inside the meat.  Which is why coating a piece of meat in Tender Quick works to cause an artificial ring: you’re directly adding nitrates to the meat, causing the reaction of myoglobin and nitric oxide to happen by brute force.

How to Achieve a Smoke Ring

Now, instead of taking shortcuts, there are some good ways to get an attractive smoke ring in your meats.  Some of these ways work better than others depending on different styles of barbeque, and some people find that they have more success than others using various methods.  The key is to find what works for you and makes you happy.  So don’t hesitate to experiment with some of these methods:

  • Use green wood. Many people find that the smoke given off by wood that has been freshly cut and not given time to season will produce a better smoke ring.
  • Soak your wood in water. While similar to green wood (since it has higher moisture content) the act of soaking already seasoned wood does give off a different type of smoke. If you experiment with this, try changing how long you soak the wood for and see if it effects your end result.
  • Keep your meat cool until it is time to go into the smoker. Many people find that starting with the meat a cooler temperature they get a better ring than when they start from room temperature.
  • Related to the last point, some people keep the meat they are going to be smoking in ice water. This won’t freeze the meat, but it will keep it both colder and wetter. You may find that this combination gives you a better ring.

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