As temperatures soar, it’s officially time to dust down the barbecue. But if you’re tired of the usual suspects cooking on the grill, don’t be afraid to be a bit more adventurous. There are plenty of other options for delicious barbecue meals — and some of them are quite surprising.
new Irish BBQ school is set to help budding Tony Sopranos here become King of the Grill this summer.
And an increasing number of Carmelas are also signing up to learn how to char like a star.
“We’re getting a surprising amount of women on the course,” says Tim Greenwood, who runs the Weber Grill Academy taking place at Cooks Academy in Dublin 2 throughout the summer. “Although it’s still generally two-thirds men, some classes have been fifty-fifty.“We tend not to go near burgers and sausages because they’re so overdone,” says Tim Greenwood, who runs barbecuing classes at the Weber Grill Academy in Dublin, “but everybody wants to know how to barbecue a steak perfectly.”
Beer-can chicken and charcoal-baked chocolate fondant are just two of the recipes taking the boredom out of barbecuing at the academy.
“When people think of barbecuing, they think of grilling,” tells Tim. “But there are also three other cooking methods on the barbecue: baking, roasting and smoking.
“The key to barbecuing is understanding the difference between direct heat and indirect heat. Once people gain confidence, they can tackle virtually anything on the barbecue.”
Here we reveal 10 other things that are great grilled:
Cheese: Warm, oozy and smoky, this hors d’oeuvre with a difference gives new meaning to ‘grilled cheese’, as our American friends would call it.
Simply brush a wheel of any thick-rinded cheese with a soft centre — Camembert is perfect — with olive oil and chuck it on the barbecue for about two minutes per side until it’s gorgeously gooey. Serve straight away with grilled baguette slices — and sod the bikini diet.
Watermelon: Counterintuitive though it may seem, this refreshing summer fruit can also be enjoyed hot as hell. Not sold? Grill inch-thick slices of the fruit that’s also a vegetable for two or three minutes on each side until the melon is melt-in-the-mouth soft. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar for a mind-bendingly savoury snack, or glaze it with honey first for a sweet barbecue treat.
Lettuce: Not even salad is safe from the open flame as barbecue season hots up. In fact, the world’s most insipid vegetable holds up surprisingly well on the grill. According to experts, the key is to go for a crunchy variety like cos. Just slice a head in half, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before chargrilling for about four minutes per side to see for yourself.
Pizza: Keeping kids and big kids happy at the annual family grill out is a pizza cake this summer. All good fellas — or females, for that matter — have to do is brush a homemade (or sneaky shop-bought) base with olive oil and char until those all-important grill marks show. Then flip it over, slather with toppings like pesto, sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese and wait for the cheese to bubble — bellissimo!
Tofu: From steak to hake, sausages to skewers, barbecues are typically a nightmare for Ireland’s quarter of a million vegetarians. But it is possible to grill with a conscience this summer. Veggie burgers are all well and good. To really impress your green pals though, marinade half-inch thick slices of tofu — firm or extra firm is best as it won’t fall apart — in a favourite sauce for at least thirty minutes and grill until golden.
Brussels sprouts: The festive vegetable is back with a vengeance this barbecue season. Brush the little buggers — whole or halved — with butter, garlic and smidgen of salt and cracked black pepper, grill on a medium-high heat for around 10 minutes until tender — and set your tastebuds to stunned.
Toastie: Reinvent the classic ham and cheese sanger by toasting it al fresco. Merely make the sandwich as usual and grill over a low heat until it’s stripy on both sides. Incidentally, dark chocolate spread and banana make a decadent alternative filling. A nifty tip is to use some food-grade string to stop it from sliding apart.
Potatoes: Fabulously fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, the humble spud makes for an epic summer grill. Simply chop scrubbed, new potatoes into chunky wedges or slices, coat in — you’ve guessed it — olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, or rosemary and garlic if you’re feeling fancy. Speed up the process by parboiling them for a few minutes first.
Berries: Luscious barbecued berries are the perfect way to complete your cookout without leaving the garden. Just pile blackberries, blueberries and anything else ending in ‘berry’ onto tin foil, sprinkle with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, close it up and pop on the grill for about ten minutes. Spill over ice cream or Greek yoghurt while it’s still steaming.
Booze: Okay, so it’s probably not a good idea to put booze on the barbie, but now you can put the barbie in your booze by chargrilling your garnish instead. Just a couple of minutes on a red hot rack transforms the flavour of trimmings like lemons, limes and peaches. Try adding a smoky slice of citrus fruit to a Caipirinha cocktail, for instance, for summer in a tumbler.