Thursday 17 April 2014

Don't let it be a turkey of a Christmas, get a BBQ

NON-TRADITIONAL: Catherine Fulvio in the garden of Ballyknocken House. Catherine recommends two barbecues – one for the turkey, one for the ham. Photo: Tony Gavin

SHOULD the worst happen and the ESB strike plunges the country into darkness at Christmas, top chefs say we should roll out the barbecue.

It sounds like a perfect storyline for The Royle Family Christmas special, beginning with Denise and Dave wondering how best to take the fuss out of cooking dinner on the big day.

"Let's do a barbecue Denise," drawls Dave.

"Aw Dave, you can't do a barbecue at Christmas," says Denise.

"Yes you can, Denise. We did chicken legs on the barbecue in summer, and a turkey is just two turkey legs with more turkey in the middle."

Yet cooking a whole turkey on the barbecue isn't nearly as bonkers as it sounds.

And should the looming electricity strike get legs, it could well mean the difference between a turkey dinner or a tuna sandwich on the Big Day.

"It doesn't get nicer than turkey off the barbecue," assures chef Catherine Fulvio. "The meat falls right off the bones. You can cook a whole Christmas dinner on a barbecue, but I recommend you have two barbecues if you plan on doing the ham as well."

Catherine has supervised winter barbecuing courses at Ballyknocken Cookery School in Wicklow. Students have learnt how to barbie a Christmas dinner.

"You start with the turkey, the breast side down, and you never let the turkey directly touch the heat," she says.

"You cook slowly with the hood down. It's the same for the ham on the second barbecue."

For starters, you can barbie prawns or salmon, she says. Vegetables for the day can also be easily barbecued. Simples, as the meerkats say.

Chef Lilly Higgins is equally encouraging about the prospect of having to barbie on Christmas Day.

"The Australians barbecue their Christmas dinner all the time," she says. "I'm very interested in raw food these days, and you can make raw mince pies, without the pastry and in shapes like bars.

"There's no rule that you have to have turkey on Christmas Day. You could barbecue fish. But if you want, a turkey can be done on a barbecue, but a large barbecue," Lilly says.

You could always invest in a Primus stove – a pressurised-burner run off paraffin – so you could at least have a cuppa. But this isn't going to help restaurateurs out in any way.

Sunday Independent

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