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Summary: Everyone can barbecue, right? Well, yes and no. Anyone can blacken a sausage or flip a burger, but if you want to treat your friends and family to the kind of meal that they'll talk about for years to come, then take some time to learn the craft of cooking over flames


Meatball kebabs

This mixture can be used for all sizes of kebab or to make burgers. If you don't have ras el hanout, use 1 tsp ground cumin and a pinch of cinnamon.


1/4 red onion

400g lamb mince

1 tsp ras el hanout

1 tsp harissa (optional)

2 mint sprigs, finely chopped, plus some whole leaves to serve

4 coriander sprigs, finely chopped, plus some whole leaves to serve

1 pack padron peppers or mild green chillies

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, quartered

flatbreads (or gluten-free alternative), to serve

cucumber and carrot matchsticks and red onion slices, all soaked in lemon juice, to serve

chilli flakes, to serve (optional)

For the tahini sauce

3 tbsp natural yogurt

2 tbsp tahini

you will need

metal or soaked wooden skewers

1 Heat your barbecue for cooking over direct heat (see p54). Very finely chop the onion and put it in a bowl with the lamb mince, ras el hanout, harissa (if you want a hit of chilli), coriander and mint, and season. Use your hands to squeeze and mix everything together, then divide the mixture into 12-16 portions and roll each one into a ball. Mix the ingredients for the tahini sauce, adding a splash of water if it's a bit too thick.

2 Thread the meatballs onto skewers, alternating them with padron peppers or chillies. Use two meatballs for short skewers, and three or four for longer ones.

3 The coals are ready when they're ash coloured and glowing red. Cook the meatballs, turning the skewers every now and then so they colour on all sides -- they should take 10 mins at the most. Put the lemon cut-side down on the grill to soften and mark it. When the skewers are cooked, briefly barbecue the flatbreads. Serve the skewers with the flatbreads, sauce, lemon, veg and the coriander, mint and chilli flakes scattered over, if you like.

GOOD TO KNOW folate * vit c * 2 of 5-a-day * gluten free PER SERVING energy 351 kcals * fat 23g * saturates 8g * carbs 8g * sugars 7g * fibre 5g * protein 25g * salt 0.3g

The complete BBQ lowdown

What you need to know to make BBQ-ing a cinch.

Four essential pieces of kit

Proper charcoal Sustainably produced charcoal -- look for charcoal made from coppiced wood or Forestry Commission-approved wood -- lights easily, burns better and won't taint flavour, unlike charcoals containing accelerants.

Chimney starter Using one means you can light charcoal easily with a few sheets of newspaper.

Thermometer Testing the temperature of your food helps to prevent disasters. We like Thermapens, which have a temperature probe that folds away for safe storage in your cutlery drawer.

Long-handled tongs Barbecues are hot and you need to keep your distance -- ordinary tongs are not long enough.

Direct and indirect heat

How you arrange your coals will give you different heat zones and more control over your BBQ

Direct heat

If you think of a BBQ as a stovetop, lighting an even layer of coal is the equivalent of cooking everything on the highest heat in the hottest pan. Although this direct method might be fine for thin cuts of meat that cook quickly, it will cremate anything that needs more time to cook through.

Indirect heat

Push the coals to one side and keep the other side free to get a range of temperatures -- use the coal-free side to cook by indirect heat.

Roasting and smoking

Add a lid to indirect heat to roast and smoke. The heat will be indirect and circulate like an oven.


Rubs are a great way to add flavour, but commercial brands can contain a lot of salt. If you make your own rub you'll be in control of the salt levels. A simple mix of brown sugar, paprika and ground cumin is a Tex-Mex flavoured seasoning that works for nearly everything. You can vary the flavour by adjusting one of the three factors below. Sweet -- the darker the sugar you use in your rub, the more treacly the flavour will be. Sugar also helps the rub to caramelise and form a crust. Change from soft brown sugar to molasses for a really treacly rub. Spicy -- most rubs have an element of heat or warmth to them. Chilli flakes, chilli powder, crushed peppercorns, cayenne pepper and mustard powder all add different degrees of heat and flavour, which you can mix and combine to get the balance you want. Savoury -- these are your aromatics. Garlic, ginger, dried herbs and spices and hard herbs like thyme, bay and rosemary. They give your rub the bulk of its flavour and a sense of the cuisine that may have inspired it.

Colour guide to when your coals are ready

If you try to cook something when the coals aren't ready, it may overcook or burn -- it's not a risk worth taking.

Black or grey with flames -- not ready yet. Step away, have a drink and relax.

Glowing white hot with red centres (blow very gently to check) -- ready for direct heat.

Ashy white but still very hot -- ready for indirect heat or cooking in the coals.

How to stack your coals

Get more control over your cooking by arranging the coals in the best way to suit your food

Direct heat

A single layer of coals at the same level provides a direct heat source -- ideal for searing burgers, thin-cut steaks, or any foods that need a quick charring.

Indirect heat

Hot coals on just one side enable you to cook on one half and keep food warm on the other. If you have a kettle BBQ, this is the set-up for indirect low-and-slow cooking of large pieces of meat.

A little of each

By sloping the coals you get a gradient of heat from searing hot to sizzling gently. This is useful when barbecuing for a crowd -- you can keep things ticking over at one end while cooking at full pelt at the other.

Three tips for barbecuing meat

Keep half an eye on the barbecue at all times -- if the coals flare up when fat drips on them, move the food that's directly over the flames away, unless burnt is the flavour you're after.

Meat will release itself from the grill when it's ready -- if you can't lift it off, wait until you can. Don't worry about neat grill-marks -- a nice crust is better than even marks and uneven cooking.

To get the best flavour possible, season both sides of the meat. When it has finished cooking, let it rest so that the juices settle back into the meat.

Lemongrass-skewered Thai chicken

Gai yang, the Thai BBQ dish this is based on, is little more than chicken marinated in garlic, pepper, fish sauce and coriander. In this version, we've used lemongrass stalks to hold a spatchcocked chicken together, and added lime to balance the flavours.

SERVES 4 PREP 30 mins plus marinating COOK 1 hr plus resting MORE EFFORT INDIRECT HEAT

medium chicken (about 1.5kg), spatchcocked

2 stalks lemongrass, kept whole

for the marinade

1 tsp black peppercorns

8 garlic cloves

large handful coriander stalks

1 stalk lemongrass, chopped

1 lime, juiced

3 tbsp thai fish sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

you will need

1 metal skewer

1 Crush the peppercorns using a pestle and mortar, then add the garlic and crush again. Add the coriander stalks and chopped lemongrass, and bash to a rough paste. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and mix until the sugar dissolves. Poke a metal skewer through the leg and breast on either side of the chicken, then replace with a lemongrass stalk. Sit the chicken in a dish and pour over the marinade -- squelch it around so the bird is completely coated, then cover and chill in the fridge for as long as possible or overnight.

2 Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking. Set a lidded barbecue up for indirect cooking with a foil drip tray on the coal-free side. When the coals are very hot, lay the chicken, bone-side down, over the coal-free side, with the legs closest to the coals.

3 Cover with the lid and arrange the vents for maximum air circulation. Cook the chicken for 50 mins-1 hr until a thermometer reads 70C (or a little higher) when stuck into the thickest part of the thigh or the juices run clear. Poke the coals about so they flare up again, then, using a pair of tongs, carefully flip the chicken, so it's skin-side down over the coals. Cook until the skin has browned and the thermometer reads 75C. Lift onto a board, leave to rest for 10 mins, then remove the lemongrass and carve.

GOOD TO KNOW gluten free PER SERVING energy 441 kcals * fat 22 * saturates 6g * carbs 12g * sugars 10g * fibre 1g * protein 48g * salt 2.6g

BBQ wisdom

Richard Turner, founder of Meatopia UK and lord of the barbecue, shares some of his knowhow

Temperature control is key to BBQing and comes with practice: with time, you'll figure out hot and cool spots, how long coals take to get hot enough, and how long a load of charcoal lasts. When you put meat on the grill, leave for a few minutes before turning, then turn every few minutes to avoid burning. Move the meat if you see yellow flames -- this means that fat has caught fire, which makes meat taste too smoky. Leave plenty of space between each piece of meat.

I can't give exact cooking times, as they depend on the type, cut and thickness of the meat and the grill's temperature. Take meat off the BBQ just before you think it's ready and let it rest before serving.

By controlling the temperature with air vents, you can cook that could ruin something special.

Cooking with two different zones means you can move items at risk of burning out of the line of fire. To achieve this set-up, wait until the coals are white hot, then push them to one side and put the lid on, keeping the vents slightly open. This makes the barbecue cook like a convection oven, with heat diffused evenly, cook almost larger cuts. This set-up also works well if you have a fatty piece of meat and want to avoid flare-ups allowing you to everything you can cook in a conventional oven.

Cooking on the coals

Cooking directly on coals, referred to as 'dirty BBQ-ing', is a great way to give your dish BBQ flavour. We've used foil to wrap the mussels, but you can whack meat or veg right on the coals if you like -- just make sure you're using high- quality coals and no chemical lighter fuels. It's also a great way to get the most out of your BBQ, as you can use the coals' heat even when they've

cooled too much to grill properly.

Mussels on the barbie

Serve this rustic take on moules mariniAaAaAeA?re at the table still in i foil package. Partner with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.

SERVES 2 PREP 5 mins COOK 15 mins EASY


50g butter, softened

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 shallots, halved and finely sliced

1 kg mussels

1 small pack parsley, roughly chopped

125ml white grape

100ml double cream

crusty bread, to serve

1 Mix the butter and garlic with a big pinch of salt. Heat the barbecue until the coals are ashy white (p54). Lay a sheet of tin foil about 60cm long on the kitchen counter, put another sheet of the same size on top, then add a third sheet about 30cm long across the middle of the other sheets to make a cross shape. Spread the shallots in the middle of the foil, pile the mussels on top, dot the garlic butter all over, then scatter over half the parsley. Season, then fold the foil in at the sides to create an oval bowl shape.

2 Pour the grape into the foil bowl and then seal it by scrunching the foil together at the top. Make sure that it's well sealed so that the mussels can steam - use an extra sheet of foil to wrap the whole parcel if necessary. Carefully place the parcel on the barbecue coals and cook for 10 mins. Open the parcel and check the mussels have opened up -- hot steam will billow out, so be careful. Pour in the cream, cover if your barbecue has one and allow to cook for a few mins longer, so the smoky scents of the barbecue can get in.

3 Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with warm crusty bread. GOOD TO KNOW iron * folate * vit c * gluten free

PER SERVING energy 629 kcals * fat 51g * saturates 30g * carbs 5g * sugars 4g * fibre 2g * protein 27g * salt 1.9g

BBQ sardines with chermoula sauce


8 whole sardines, gutted

2 tbsp olive oil

For the chermoula sauce

1 large pack coriander

1 small pack parsley

2 garlic cloves

1 preserved lemon, skin only

1 tsp ground cumin

AaAaAeAa' tsp smoked papri

AaAaAeAa- tsp chilli flak

75ml extra virgin olive oil

You will need

8 metal skewers

1 Blitz all the ingredients for the chermoula sauce in a food processor (or finely chop) with a generous pinch of seasoning, then set aside. Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

2 Heat the barbecue for direct cooking (see p54). Rub the oil over the sardines and season well. Thread each fish from head to tail onto a skewer, making a few slashes with a knife to each if you like.

3 Cook the sardines over the glowing coals for 2-3 mins each side until cooked through and nicely charred. Drizzle over the chermoula sauce to serve.

GOOD TO KNOW iron * omega-3 * gluten free PER SERVING energy 661 kcals * fat 55g * saturates 10g * carbs 1g * sugars 1g * fibre 2g * protein 39g * salt 0.7g

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Publication:BBC GoodFood Middle East
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Nov 30, 2017
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