Now that autumn is slowly creeping in, a lot of people out there will take this as a signal to quietly cover their barbecues up and consign to their grills and smokers to the shed, or garage, for a well-earned rest. However, there are also plenty of folk who will have other ideas and will crack on straight through. Come wind, rain or snow. The die-hards. The true believers. The um, slightly crazed? Who love BBQ so much, that they will never, ever stop. Ever.
Here at Turner & George, we do keep a beady eye on such proceedings and after following their exploits on social media and via their blogs, we have got to know some of the hardcore fans. The manic denizens out there, who make wood, flame and smoke a firm part of their lives. So we asked them - 'What has been the best BBQ dish you've cooked, or favourite BBQ method that you've used so far this year?'
A fairly simple question but naturally, some of the answers that came back were rather detailed. As you might expect.
So check out what our 'stars' of BBQ have been up to in 2017 and check out their exploits online too. The BBQ year ain't over yet.
Marcus Bawdon – Bone Marrow Basting
We often hear how important it is to rest our meat after cooking it, as it allows the heat to equalise throughout and the juices to be retained within the fibres of the meat. I'm not an advocate of resting for too long though. In fact, I can often barely keep myself from getting stuck in, whenever anything comes hot off the grill as it is! But when meat is rested for too long, you can end up with something less than enjoyable, as the meat is served tepid. I do like my steaks to be hot.
For me, cooking food on or near fire is all about adding layers of flavour that you just can't achieve when cooking indoors. When I cook a steak indoors (it does happen!) and not over hot coals, I feel a little of my soul turning its back on me...
Adding another layer of flavour while the meat is resting is often popular, be it a slither of a compound butter on top of a steak, or a little whipped bone marrow, it all adds an extra dimension.
The British were well known in older times for their love of basting meat with fats to help add these layers of flavours, so we do have some previous skill at this. Larding and basting are all well known techniques and we are seeing some revival, thanks to the likes of Niklas Ekstedt with his flaming Flambadou; Jamie Purviance who places hot coals into butter on top of a resting pork chop; and my own Countrywoodsmoke dirty baste. All are fine examples. Even if I do say so myself. *cough* The bottom line is that basting while resting, is a great technique and better still, the meat seems to draw in some of the flavours of the baste.
A recent technique I have been playing with is placing a basting fat, such as bone marrow, onto a burning piece of wood (silver birch is my favourite). As the fat in the marrow warms up, it melts, burns a little, and drips down the ashy wood and onto the resting meat. You get little fat bombs that add a wonderful smoky, fatty baste to a resting steak. I've also played with doing this with compound butters, with a less explosive but equally delicious result.
There is definitely room for exploring old techniques, and we can often learn a new skill by looking at how they cooked in the past.
Rachel Snelgar – Brisket Chilli
Best dish of the year so far? Well, it has to be my brisket chilli, which is a 48-hour endeavour, and a labour of love. I’ve always been a batch cooker and for something that takes this long, you need to have enough leftovers to make it worthwhile.
The starting point is a 6kg packer brisket from Turner & George (naturally) which I cover with mustard and garlic puree, rubbed with homemade spice mix and leave to relax overnight. The beauty then spends 18 hours on my smoker, at a relatively constant 110C before being wrapped and left for the rest of the night… minus little tasting chunks to make sure he was ready. About half of the brisket usually gets eaten as-is. Then the rest can either be frozen until you’re ready, or kept in the fridge to go straight into the chilli.
The base of the chilli is relatively standard; butter, herbs, onion, celery, carrots (all grated), spices and pastes. I’ve also taken to roasting entire heads of garlic in the oven, slicing off their bottoms and squeezing the entire thing into a dish. Deglazing with a whole bottle of wine (this is batch cooking, after all), then chopped tomatoes and kidney beans.
This sits in the oven overnight at 90C, about 12 hours. The following morning the brisket is added, and the whole thing goes back in the oven for the rest of the day, about 10 hours. It’s finished with an obscene amount of coriander, a heart clogging dose of crème fraiche and grated dark (80%) chocolate.
The chilli also works very well with ox cheeks, rather than brisket. Much easier with someone sans BBQ (or without 18 hours spare to keep an eye on one) as they can be thrown into a slow cooker, left for 12 hours and they’re ready. But to be honest, the brisket is well worth the wait. Patience is a virtue with this one.
Kung Fu BBQ – Monster Chops
A while ago, I bought a book called Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen and it’s got some great recipes in there. As a result, I’ve added a lot to my ‘to do’ list. One that really stood out recently though was his Monster Pork Chops, mainly because the photo looks awesome!
So, I ordered some pork chops from Turner and George. Pork Loin cutlets but I asked them to cut the chops as 2x600g (instead of 4x300g) and when they arrived, they were pretty hefty but looked great.
Now, the first part of the recipe calls for the chops to be brined for 12 hours and I have brined meat before and haven’t ever really noticed a difference, for or against. But this time I followed the recipe to the letter and it definitely made a difference. Hot water, sea salt, sugar and Prague powder #1 stirred until dissolved, then cold water added. You leave the brine to cool to room temperature then pour it over the chops, cover with cling film and stick it in the fridge.
When I took the chops out the next day and patted them dry, I could feel from touching them they were a lot softer. All very interesting!
I then got the smoker ready aiming for 225°F and left it a while to settle down, before adding a few chunks of Whisky oak and Pear and then I placed the chops on.
The recipe said to take the pork chops to 145°F (62°C) internal temperature and that it should take 1.5 to 2 hours at 225°F. It was just a case of keeping an eye on things and I kept adding pear chunks, until it hit 63°C after 2 hours and 15m. I used pear wood by the way because I hadn’t tried it before. A lot of people normally use apple and cherry with pork, but I gave pear a whirl and it imbued the meat with a great colour!
Once the temperature approached the target point, I fired up the chimney starter with some Alder wood from Oxford Charcoal. And when the chimney was ready, I poured it into the BBQ, before placing my grill grates on top, leaving them for 15 minutes to get up to heat.
Whilst the BBQ was heating up I took the chops back inside and used my spice shaker to apply a rub I had made the night before - chipotle powder, dark brown sugar and coarse sea salt. I applied this liberally over all sides of the pork and then put them straight back out on the grill.
The result was amazing. A truly great meal and I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed it! I have never eaten pork that was as tender, juicy and full of flavour as this. It really was incredible and quite possibly one of the best things I have cooked so far. With the first bite, I had a bit of a wow moment then waited for look on my wife’s face and she had the same reaction.
I wouldn’t change anything with the recipe or the cooking method, it was spot on!
Benjamin Racey – Dirty Flank Steak, Ember Cooked Spring Onions, Smoked Butter
Cooking steaks the ‘Dirty’ way has to be my favourite way of cooking. It really is a great method of imparting a smoky flavour into steak, as well as getting a good crust on the outside. I often use this approach for cooking thinner steaks rare and medium rare. Whereas for larger, thicker steaks, I usually cook them indirectly and then finish with a ‘dirty sear.’ I have been experimenting with different cuts of steaks cooked this way for some time now and it works especially well with ribeye and T-Bone steaks.
Cut from the lower abdomen of a cow, I find that the flank steak (or bavette) is the perfect steak to cook dirty and quickly, over a high heat to medium rare. The deep, beefy flavours from this cut, really benefit and compliment this style.
To cook or ‘clinch’ the flank steak, I first take the steak out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking. During that time, I light a fire with oak logs and leave it to form a bed of coals. I then season the steak liberally with salt and cook it directly on the coals, for 2-3 minutes each side. The steak then need to be rested for 10 minutes and sliced against the grain and seasoned with some more sea salt.
For the spring onions, I simply coat them in a small amount of oil and salt and put them in the coals along with the steak, until they are nicely charred. I then coated them in some smoked butter.
To make the butter from scratch, I begin by cold smoking cream for 1 1/2 hours and then whisk it until it separates and a butter forms. I then remove the butter from the buttermilk, roll it and leave it to set in the fridge. This butter works fantastically well when put straight onto steaks or vegetables for an extra smoky, buttery flavour.
Bill Gardner - BBQ Whole Picanha with BBQ dry rub
One word - Picanha. It is a Brazilian cut basically and traditionally cooked, purely seasoned with salt, either cut into steak and cooked on a rotisserie, or roasted whole over live fire. When cooked rare, or medium rare, with the fat rendered and crisp, it is probably one of my favourite cuts. From time to time, I do also like to add a twist by using a BBQ rub to further season and flavour, enhancing the smoke the BBQ will naturally add during the cooking. Check out the recipe below and you'll see what I mean. It's beautiful.
1 whole picanha, typically weighing 1.5kg
Homemade bbq rub or T&G Beef rub
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black pepper
2 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Paprika hot or sweet
2 tsp Ancho chilli powder
First, combine all the rub ingredients together to give an even mix and set aside. As an alternative, you can also use Turner & George’s steak rub but I tend grind it further in a pestle and mortar, to get a lighter, finer texture.
Next, take the picanha joint out of the fridge an hour before cooking and allow to come to room temperature. Coat the meat in a thin layer of oil to ensure the rub adheres and then apply the rub in an even layer.
Whilst the meat is resting, set up the BBQ for indirect cooking at around 180-200°C. I use either a ceramic BBQ or wood fired pellet grill.
Place the picanha fat side down towards the heat and insert a temperature probe. Roasting at this temperature will take around 45 minutes when looking for medium rare or a 55°C internal temperature. The fat should be crisp at the end however. If not, place directly over the charcoal for a minute or so, to directly sear the fat. When using the wood pellet grill, the meat is placed fat side down directly above the heat source therefore and the fat will come out all rendered and lovely and crisp.
Rest for 10-15 minutes on a warm plate covered loosely in foil.
Cut across the grain of the meat to serve in long thin slices.
A simple but delicious approach, with an added flavour twist, which I hope you try and enjoy!