Do your Sausages Suck? Are You Bored with Burgers?
When it comes to barbecues I think we are all guilty of being a little bit boring. If we live in colder climes then we wait all year for that first flicker of sunshine, we race off to the supermarket in shorts and T-shirts, stubbornly ignore the distinct Spring chill, stock up on flavourless pre-packed sausages and burgers filled with who only knows what cuts of meat, roll up our sleeves and stoke up the coals for the annual challenge of cooking something that is actually edible. And of course we get our beer and wine stash chilling in the token ice bucket… which is usually an inflatable paddling pool, or the bath. But the whole thing is more often that not, one underwhelming flop of chargrilled, cremated disappointment; the highlight being the tomato ketchup dolloped on top of the overdone onions. And if we live in warmer places, well, we take it for granted that we can have a barbie whenever we want… and come the end of the summer we realise we have notched up less than a handful, which were average at best.
So I’m here to shake, spice and sizzle things up in everybody’s garden with 5 of The Best BBQ Cookbooks. Because let’s face it, cookbooks on outdoor grilling are hardly the top of any bookshop’s bestseller list, yet when you consider how many of us could use their infinite wisdom and inspiration, it’s about time all of that changed!
And not only am I here to improve your BBQ experience, but Myleene Klass is here too, fronting the brand new TV show BBQ Champ alongside judges Adam Richman and Mark Blatchford in a much-needed 5 part ITV series starting Friday 31st July at 9pm. Myleene, Adam and Mark: Do you know how much you have changed the Great British BBQ already? Contestants stand to win £25,000… and the intriguing Challenge Number 1 is entitled ‘Personality on a Plate’. Now if that doesn’t inspire the rest of us to pull up our BBQing socks and swot up so we too can be conjuring up such delights as Brixton Jerk Chicken and Pink Himalayan Salt-Encrusted Sea Bass (swoon, my beloved Pink Himalayan Salt is finally in a mainstream recipe!), then I don’t know what it will take…
1) Let There Be Meat: The Ultimate Barbecue Bible, by James Douglas and Scott Munro
Okay, so this is definitely one for the carnivores. THE BBQ BOOK for summer 2015 will delight and intrigue garden grilling aficionados in equal measure with its treasure trove of outdoor recipes. Douglas and Munro are the British chefs behind the uniquely quirky barbecue restaurant, Red’s True Barbecue, which first opened its doors in Leeds,UK in 2012. You could say they are basically on a mission to rescue the nation from endless servings of charred food. Featuring delicious ideas and introducing the ‘novelty’ of crusts and rubs to maximise flavour (you’ve so gotta try the Bay Poultry Rub next time you are barbecuing some chicken!), this really is quite a revolutionary read. This culinary duo very definitely bring an American South inspired background to the patio table and chairs (coming from several years of U.S travel) to create a punchy fusion with the more traditional British barbecue. Expect to discover Turkey Jerky, Saddlebag Pancakes (for a really meaty breakfast treat), Doughnut Burgers, North Carolina Mopping Sauce and the quintessential Pulled Pork – done real good. Now couple that with stunning full page photography and a truly sleek cover, and you have a book that would make a fantastic gift for anybody who likes to stoke up the coals…
2) Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube BBQ Book, by DJ BBQ (Christian Stevenson)
Let’s just get one thing straight, this book is NOT by Jamie Oliver… a little misleading, or a marketing ploy? Whatever. Jamie snapped up ‘DJ BBQ’ to front his Food Tube television show on the merit of his legendary barbecuing skills. And this is one fabulous book which has earned itself quite a barbie following. DJ BBQ’s Deep South American influence spans the various chapters in this book which range from ‘Party Food’ and ‘Slow and Low’, to ‘Rubs, Dips, Salsas and Sauces’. With a little creative input from this cooking ally, your garden eating experiences will never be the same… and I promise you that’s a good thing. A very good thing. The Candied Pork is a knockout. The Bodacious Burgers take the humble round of beef to a whole new level of juiciness and succulence. The Kick-Ass Fish Tacos and Sweet Potato Quesadillas will go down a storm with those at your ‘event’ who are not fans of meat. And OMG to the Pulled Beef with Grandpa’s Sauce. Add Rainbow Slaw and Mix of Awesomeness to the mix, and you get something of an idea of the sheer variety of taste in this epic read. There simply are no words. Then there’s the helpful advice on the different ways to prepare your bbq coals depending on cooking technique, making this not only a mouthwatering title, but a really practical guide to improving upon your own culinary skills.
3) Weber’s Barbecue Anytime, by Jamie Purviance
What’s particularly endearing about this book is it really does cater for the barbecuing novice. From easy-peasy style recipes to teach beginners the ropes to full scale meals that will test even the most experienced grilling chefs, this is the perfect go-to for inspiration… as well as answers on everything from fuel to upkeep of your barbie. Featuring everyday meals made in under 20 minutes and slightly more challenging creations to wow the guests, there is something here for absolutely everyone. In fact over 150 recipes! The New Orleans Barbecue Rub, Sweet Bourbon Marinade, Portobello Mushroom Burgers, Gammon Steaks with Grilled Pears and Vinegar Glaze and Salmon with Chipotle Butter were such instant hits in our backyard last month that I find myself flicking through the delectable pages to conjure up another shopping list for THIS weekend!
4) Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, by John Currence
Fancy presentation is traded in for rustic flair in this gorgeous shabby-chic-cum-homestead read. John’s approach is all about the flavours packing a punch, personal stories and history, which are peppered throughout the book… excuse the pun. And he truly delivers. The Lemon Sherry Vinaigrette and Creole Seasoning were out of this world, proving that such simple additions really can transform our summer salad and grilling escapades. The Coal Roasted Sweet Potatoes make me never want to go back to the bland world of oven baking my tubular veggies again, and the Pan Roasted Soft Shells with Roasted Tomato Vermouth Pan Butter were something else! Whilst in no way, shape or form billed as a barbecue book, the Deep Southern influence pervades, many of this chef’s tasty ideas can easily be transported to the barbecue, and there is a distinctly upbeat and summery feel throughout. Then we get to John’s drinks! Who’s for the Rosemary-Cherry Lemonade? And who’s for the City Grocery Bloody Mary in the morning to mop up last night’s beer…?
5) Fired Up Vegetarian: No Nonsense Barbecuing, by Ross Dobson
Finally, and definitely last but not least, something for the Veggies! I myself used to be a Veggie… and to this day eat little meat, but when it comes to a barbecue I find I just can’t help myself, chiefly because there ain’t usually a whole lot else on the cards unless I want a bread roll… That was until I discovered this cherry tomato of a book. Ross Dobson completely blitzes the myth that barbecues are simply for carnivores with a title full of innovative and tasty grill-able treats. How do Potatoes or Bread on an outside grill grab you for starters? This book will give you tips and recipe ideas which make both possible with the addition of a hotplate – and the added bonus there is you can be outdoors and mingling with your guests as you knock up your jacket potatoes with a Middle-Eastern twist, Patatas Bravas, Flat Breads, Naans and Pitta. Then there’s the Baba ganoush, Chimichurri, Jalapeno Jam and Arabian Spice Mix, all of which can be used to accompany all kinds of vegetable yummies on your barbecue, whilst pairing equally well with some of the meat-eaters’ dishes too. Far from being an exception to the rule, Ross’s book is actually a great all-rounder for bringing families together and ensuring everyone is being catered for at exactly the same time, bringing with it an end to every vegetarian’s role as ‘poor cousin’.
Well I don’t know about you, but I’m cranking up the stereo, filling the bath with ice cubes (for my Gin and Tonic, I don’t ‘do’ beer and I definitely don’t ‘do’ wine) and checking out the contents of my spice rack. Because summer is well and truly here and ’tis well and truly the season for some barbecue folly…