7 new food ideas for your summer weekend BBQs January 25, 2019
It’s summertime and the weather is fine! And that means we want to be outdoors and move as many activities as possible out there with us, including cooking! Enter our good friend, the barbecue. Synonymous with summer, the barbecue – aka BBQ is a simple cooking tool that elicits a delicious, smoky flavour from all that sit atop its grill.
Unfortunately, some people’s BBQ repertoire is limited to three things: sausages, steak, and maybe some onions. But, as it turns out, the BBQ is actually an extremely versatile device that can cook a whole bevy of different foods to perfection! Or delicious, grill-marked imperfection!
Here are seven foods that can flourish in the outdoor kitchen – some you may not have known!
Corn: Barbecued three different ways
Here’s something: not only can you cook corn on the barbie, but there are actually three different ways you can do it! Whether in the husk, wrapped in foil or naked (the corn; whether you are or not is optional), there’s a way to suit all tastes!
If you like your corn on the huskier side, you’ll be pleased to hear that this method is easy-peasy! Simply pop your husk-wrapped corn cob on the grill, turning when necessary, and when the outside has completely blackened, peel away the husk and silk to reveal a perfectly steamed corn cob! It’s worth noting that this can be a bit messy and won’t really result in much of a charcoal-like BBQ flavour.
“But surely the foil method is basically the same, right?” Technically, yes, but there are some important differences! While you will have to shuck, de-silk and clean the corn before giving a heavy foil coat, you can butter it up, so it’s ready to go once cooked. Not only that, the foil coating is great for entertaining as it’ll keep it hot for a long time prior to unwrapping.
Finally, if you’re after a good char and more smoky flavours, shuck the corn and toss it straight on naked. Though this won’t be quite as juicy as the two prior methods, it is the quickest and most classic way to BBQ corn.
Eggplant: Not as daunting as it seems
Cooking eggplant using any method can seem like a daunting process for some, and a difficult, convoluted one to nail. But barbecuing a plump aubergine is actually a super simple way to pull it off. All you need is an eggplant, olive oil, salt – and a keen attitude! (OK, you don’t need the last one, but it helps).
All you’ve got to do is cut your eggplant into thick, round circles (or lengthways if you prefer), drizzle with olive oil on both sides and season with salt, also on both sides. Then pop them on the grill until grill marks appear, turn them over until marks show again and when the centre is greyed and soft, you’re done! It’s almost too easy…
If you’d like to jazz it up a bit more though, you can roll them around some mozzarella, tomato and basil (as shown below), or simply add a sprinkling of herbed feta cheese to the top, or perhaps a relish. Then you can relish in how easily you’ve made looking like a pro chef seem!
Eggs: Give them a crack on the barbie
Eggs, like eggplant, in what sounds like shouldn’t be a strange coincidence but is, are similarly easy to barbecue. So, whether you’re frying up a brekkie feast with some bacon or just want a burger with the lot, here’s a couple of ways you can, uh, give it a crack.
The first is essentially how you’d cook a fried egg in a pan. If you want to avoid the mess of just cracking them open on the hot plate though (yes, that’s right, don’t crack them open on the grill side), secure some metal rings and then crack them open in there. This will make for a nice, uniform shape and give a bit of thickness to add to the novelty of where you cooked ‘em!
If this method sounds up your alley but you’d rather not have your eggs on the thicker side, another way you can do this is to make your own custom trays or boats from aluminium foil. Fold some foil so the base is thick and circular (around 10-15 cm in diameter) then curl the edges up so the egg won’t spill over the sides. Pop some oil or cooking spray in the middle, chuck them on the BBQ then crack your egg into the tray. Keep the lid down longer for harder yolks.
Another very simple way to BBQ an egg is the following:
- Put a whole egg on the grill
- Wait a few minutes while gently turning the egg
- Remove from the BBQ and get ready to peel
A top tip for this method is once some discolouration or a crack or two appear, your egg is good to go. The egg will come out very much like a hard-boiled egg with a more runny yolk and smokier taste. You know what they say; different yolks for different folks.
Artichoke: Pair with simple sauces or olive oil
We know, we know. It seems crazy to have a food with the word “choke” in it, but here we are and they’re actually really great! Now, if you want to mix it up and add this unique ingredient to your BBQ arsenal (note to self: start a band called BBQ Arsenal) then first you’ll need to know how to peel one. So, before you go any further, please read this article, then we’ll press on.
OK, so now that you know how to peel an artichoke, the rest is easy! Give them a good steam for roughly 45 minutes (sat above water, not in it), season with salt and pepper then – you know it by now – chuck ‘em on the grill!
Once grill marks show up they should be good to go and much like a kind human, the heart’s the best part! Simple sauces or even a drizzle of olive oil are good to pair with these smoky delights, but as you saw in our peeling guide, the world really is your oyster artichokes. Be creative! You could even be arty with your chokes. (Yep, we upset ourselves sometimes too!)
Fennel: You’ll need a squeaky clean bulb
Now, this is a great one. Similar to artichokes but with a few key differences (and if we’re honest, less prep). Once the stork and leafy strands are removed, check for any blemishes and peel those layers away until you’ve got a squeaky clean bulb.
After you’ve sliced it right down the middle leave the core intact, as it will prevent it from falling apart on the barbie, then continue slicing lengthwise (1cm thick slices) until you’re done.
It’ll only take a few minutes to grill through on both sides then squeeze lemon and season with salt and pepper after you’ve taken it off the grill instead of before. Then these bulbous beauties are as good as gold.
Pork Belly: Scoring the skin more finely is the key
Again, we’ve prepared something a little earlier here. First, have a read of this and watch the video. Got it? Great! Because it’s basically the same process but with a few key differences!
For the barbie, you’ll want to score the skin a bit more finely so more smoky flavours enter and it crackles a little quicker. You’ll also want to put your meat on a rack above the tray to avoid it stewing in the juices. Then simply pop it in there on a super high heat (roughly 240℃) and drop it down to about 180℃ when the fat starts bubbling.
After an hour, things should have turned a bit pale and that means it’s ready to take it out, let it sit briefly to cool then serve up for all the nearby watering mouths!
Pineapple: Not for burgers this time!
So you’ve earned your keep as a weird and wonderful BBQ chef at this point, boasting a tremendously varied spread to satisfy all comers. It’s time for dessert! And what’s that? You can cook dessert on the BBQ too?! Darn tootin’!
Now, as I’m sure you’ve seen down the local charcoal chicken shop, you can just pop a slice or two of pineapple on the grill for the aforementioned burger with the lot, but that’s not what we’ve come here to achieve. Look at that punnet of ice cream over there. That’s not going on the burger, is it? Of course not! Although a future experiment awaits…
Anyway! All you’ll need is some sliced pineapple, coconut milk and cinnamon sugar. Simply coat each slice on both sides with the coconut milk, then do the same with the cinnamon sugar. You can then pop them on the grill or hotplate, turning when necessary until browning occurs then with some of that ice cream on top, your barbecued dessert is ready to serve!
Now get out there and get grilling!