Jan Bilton: Barbecue season
The barbecue season is here. We’ve dusted off the cobwebs, wiped down the grill and hot plate and now sizzling sounds and appealing aromas are enjoyed every few days when my man gets creative.
Our first barbecue was a little portable number much like a large bowl with a grill on top. It was ideal for two and could be easily shifted around away from prevailing breezes. Over the years we’ve had various models — coal and gas fuelled, covered and uncovered — and they all lasted just a couple of years. But for nine years now we have enjoyed an expensive, stainless steel model on wheels and I’m convinced that the cost was worth it.
- Always preheat the barbecue before cooking. If you’re using coals they should be burned enough to have a little white ash on them.
- To test for the right heat, hold your hand about 12cm above the heat source. If you can hold it there for six seconds then the heat is low; two seconds and it’s ‘hot as’.
- Choose the right heat for the food to be cooked. Medium-hot is fine for most general cooking. However, large cuts of meat require a longer cook time at a lower temperature so they don’t char too much on the outside.
- Close the lid of the barbecue — or use a metal cover — for a short time during cooking to lock in the flavours.
- Return food — especially meat — to room temperature before barbecuing otherwise it will be tough. Also, while the outside can be charred the inside could still be cold.
Great served with plain yoghurt combined with chopped cucumber and mint, or an apricot sauce. Get the recipe
Guacamole is perfect on the side. Get the recipe
You could substitute the salmon with thick white fish fillets or steaks. Get the recipe
Mediterranean barbecue fennel
This makes a delish accompaniment or for non-meat eaters a main dish with a little crumbled feta added for protein. Ready-made tapenade could replace the finely chopped black olives. Serves 4-6.
2 medium fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives
¼ cup each: finely chopped basil, parsley
- Trim the fennel bulbs then slice lengthways into 1cm-thick pieces. Toss in half the olive oil, ensuring they are well coated.
- Cook on the hot plate or in a frying pan on the grill on medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning often. Cover for about 2 minutes during cooking.
- Combine the remaining oil with the garlic, lemon juice and olives. Mix well.
- Serve the fennel on a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the herbs.