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A NEW FLAME…5 simple tips for the perfect BBQ


“In the flames of the fire lives something that can help ingredients reach their fullest potential.” These are the words of Bittor Arguinzoniz, the chef/owner of an extraordinary restaurant, high in the hills of the Basque country. His rustic restaurant, Asador Etxebarri has revolutionised the simple art of cooking over a flame and has attained a cult-like status, Michelin stars and was recently voted number six in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.   
The barbecue is now fully established as high-end food and Bittor infuses every course with smoke from the homemade goat butter to the caviar-size spring peas to the grass-fed
Galician beef to the apple tart – everything gets hit with smoke from wood the chef chops right outside the back door…even the ice cream, to create one of the world’s most astounding grill shrines. This is the delicate finesse of an artist in full control of every bite that passes into the dining room.

Cooking on coals and fire is much more sensitive and intuitive than a lot of other cooking. You really have to touch and feel the food to know when it’s ready and I think that’s why we chefs enjoy it so much, because it’s not necessarily systemised like so many modern, restaurant kitchens where everything is over controlled using sous vide techniques and temperature controlled water baths.

It’s almost summertime and it’s time to get back to basics and cook outside over a naked flame. So if you’re a little nervous about showing off your barbeque skills this summer, here are a few simple tips to help you along:  

 1. Light your barbeque at least half-an-hour in advance and never start cooking until the coals are a dusty white colour with a reddish glow. 

2. Take your time and cook slowly without flames to cook your meat all the way through with a nice golden brown colour. 

3. Aromatic woods such as olive and bay tree give a delicious aroma and flavour to food and large handfuls of fresh rosemary or thyme can be added near the end of the cooking time to lend their perfume and flavour.

4. Marinating meat and fish prior to grilling is always a good idea as this adds flavour and generally helps to tenderize the meat. 

5. Homemade burgers are better. Even if you make them from nothing but salt and pepper and good-quality meat, they will beat anything you buy in the shops.

   Try these simple recipes and you’ll know what I mean.
         

SPANISH STYLE PORK BURGER

WITH CHORIZO & PIQUILLO PEPPERS


Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10-20 minutes

Ingredients                        serves 4

For the burger:
500g pork shoulder, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
1 free-range egg yolk
25g chopped parsley
2 tsp smoked paprika
Seasoning

To serve:
8 thin slices of chorizo
8 piquillo peppers
1 garlic clove, sliced
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 onion, chopped
4 bread rolls

For the hamburgers, mince all the ingredients in a food processor. Using clean hands, shape the mixture into 4 balls. Using the palm of your hand, flatten them slightly and shape into 4 equal sized patties. Make sure all the burgers are the same thickness so that they will cook evenly. Put on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly brush 1 side of each burger with olive oil. Place the burgers, oil-side down, on the barbecue. Cook for 5 minutes until the meat is lightly charred. Oil the other side, and then turn over using tongs and cook for 3-4 minutes more.
Take the burgers off the barbecue. Leave to rest on a plate so that all the juices can settle inside.
Cook gently the piquillo peppers with the sliced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive to heat through.  Slice each roll in half. Place, cut-side down, on the barbecue rack and toast for 1 minute until they are lightly charred.  On the bottom half of the roll, place a spoonful of mayonnaise and lay the burger on top. Garnish with piquillo peppers and sliced chorizo. Top each burger with the other halves of the roll and serve.

TURKISH STYLE LAMB BURGER WITH SPICED AUBERGINES


Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients                        serves 4

For the lamb burger:
600g lamb shoulder, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
1 free-range egg yolk
25g chopped mint
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp harrisa
Seasoning

To serve:
4 large spoonfuls of spiced aubergines
A few mixed herbs of mint, parsley & coriander
4 bread rolls 

For the hamburgers, mince all the ingredients a food processor. Using clean hands, shape the mixture into 4 balls. Using the palm of your hand, flatten them slightly and shape into 4 equal sized patties. Make sure all the burgers are the same thickness so that they will cook evenly. Put on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly brush 1 side of each burger with olive oil. Place the burgers, oil-side down, on the barbecue. Cook for 5 minutes until the meat is lightly charred. Oil the other side, then turn over using tongs and cook for 5 minutes more.
Take the burgers off the barbecue. Leave to rest on a plate so that all the juices can settle inside.

Spiced Aubergines
2 large aubergines
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ras al hanout
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2tbsp natural yogurt
            
Preheat the grill to high. Prick the aubergines with a fork and grill them, turning occasionally, until the skin blisters and blackens all over. When cool, peel off the skin. Leave the aubergine flesh in a colander for 15 minutes to drain off excess liquid.
Pound the garlic and salt in a food processor. Add the aubergine flesh, lemon juice, spices and yogurt. Blend to a thick purée. Adjust the seasoning.

Slice each roll in half. Place, cut-side down, on the barbecue rack and toast for 1 minute until they are lightly charred. On the bottom half of the roll, place a large spoonful of spiced aubergines and place the lamb burger on top. Garnish with the mixed herbs. Top each burger with the other halves of the roll and serve.



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