National Barbecue Week – The Ultimate Summer Celebration

by tasteteam · 0 comments

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As spring moves into summer and temperatures begin to rise, the sun begins to shine and the rain disappears for a few months – bringing a period of celebration to the UK. Ok, so I’m aware that this is inaccurate… The average temperatures do indeed rise, but that is pretty much the only thing that I can guarantee when it comes to that statement. The weather, in fact, is as inconsistent as it gets. While the rain certainly does not disappear, but merely stays off at different stages throughout the season.


What can be guaranteed however, is that when the sun does come out, all across the land we will be enjoying that which has become synonymous with British summer cooking – the barbecue. Said to be the UK’s number one home leisure activity, the average number of households known to dine in this manner has risen from 2.5 to over nine million in just 10 years, catapulting this great nation to number one in all things barbecue!

The catalyst for this growth is seen by many to be the holiday on which this piece of writing is based, the week that encourages more grill thrills and gastro grilling than any other, that implores for everyone, from friends and family at a gathering to retailers, pubs and clubs, to fully embrace that which has become almost the law in the case of summertime gastronomy. Yes, between the 29th May and the 4th June 2017, the UK will once again be celebrating National Barbecue Week!


Having played a major role in countless events in my life, the barbecue is a cooking method that undoubtedly holds a place in my heart. From flirting with food poisoning when indulging on chicken legs and beef burgers with friends as a teenager, to homely grills at my nanas, with not a piece of meat in sight and where the likes of the mackerel the scallop and the prawn were the stars of the show, my experiences with the barbecue have been perhaps as far-ranging as they come. The yearly bonfire night party hosted by my family growing up was something that I always looked forward to, my over-riding memories of such including roast potatoes that always took far too long to cook and my uncle running for his life every time he lit a firework, and it was at her 26th birthday barbecue that I actually met my now wife’s, family – almost in its entirety – a daunting task indeed.

Now we’re all aware of the food traditionally served when hosting such an affair. The sausage and the burger are generally accepted by the majority as the ideal food to provide at a barbecue, while the likes of the chicken drumstick and beef kebab are seen to be a luxury in many circles, and the baked potatoes are always there for the more herbivorous diners. The purpose of this piece though is to step outside of the box, to get away from the norm, and to detail a few dishes that those set in their ways will merely balk at. So, here are some of the tantalising barbecue numbers that I have come across over the years:


Beer Braised Short Ribs – serves six


8 meaty beef short ribs

100 ml olive oil

4 diced onions

600ml craft beer (my choice would be Samuel Adams or, for something closer to home, a Brewdog IPA)

4 ladles honey

4 ladles tomato ketchup

3 ladles white wine vinegar

4 ladels orange juice

100g mustard

1 tbsp Worcester sauce (increase dosage for bigger kick)



3 tbsp cayenne pepper

3 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds

3 tbsp garlic powder (can be substituted for chopped garlic or garlic paste)

A pinch of cracked black pepper

3 tbsp salt

8 tbsp virgin olive oil

Being a huge fan of dishes that are tantalisingly sweet, this is perhaps my favourite on the list, it is also the one that requires the most preparation, with the process needing to begin the previous day to get the best results. At which time, you’ll pierce a hole in each rib, mixing the spices with the oil until it becomes a paste, before rubbing the marinade into the meat thoroughly, being sure to fill in every hole.

Now comes my favourite part, the making of the beer infused barbecue sauce – albeit after heating the oven at 150C or gas mark 2. To do so, just heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and tip the onions in to fry until they are a deep, rich colour – which should take around 20 minutes. After-which, pour the beer in and boil until it is reduced by half before pouring in the rest of the ingredients, cooking for a further five minutes, pouring the resulting liquid over the marinated ribs and transferring to the oven – where they will stay for a further five hours.

Now I know what you’re thinking, frying? Oven-cooking? I thought this was a barbecue blog? Well, the barbecuing element is the least time-consuming, but most rewarding, part of the whole experience (not least because the barbecuer is the most important member of any barbecue party). All that needs to happen once the coals are ashen, or the gas barbecue has been set to medium, is to leave the ribs on the contraption, turning on occasion, and to wait until the ribs are nicely charred and hot all the way through – basting with any extra sauce that you may have to make them extra sticky and to turn it into a truly sublime plate for one and all to devour.


Chipotle Mango Barbecue Chicken – serves 6


1 ½ mango

A sprig of coriander

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

4 peeled garlic cloves (4 tsp chopped garlic or garlic powder will suffice)

2 chipotle peppers or 2 tbsp chipotle sauce

2 tsp salt

A pinch of cracked black pepper

2 pounds of chicken thighs and drumsticks.


Another sweet dish, yet this time with a real dark side, chipotle mango barbecue chicken is served to both appease the sweet-tooth and to deliver that burning sensation that any lovers of the spice know and love. Its creation is fairly simple in the fact that you merely add all of the ingredients, bar the chicken of course, to a food processor, turn it on and watch the magic happen.

This again takes a little preparation, as once the mixture has been sufficiently pureed until smooth, you should then adorn the meat with half of the sauce and refrigerate for around six hours, I would advise that this is done in a plastic bowl before covering with cling film, but a zip-lock bag will also suffice. In the meantime, you should simmer the remaining sauce over a low heat until thick, stirring often – this should take around 15 minutes. Once you’re happy with the result, set some aside to serve on the side, and leave the rest for later.

To cook, just arrange the barbecue as above and place the chicken on top to grill, turning and basting every five minutes, until you are confident that it is ready (usually taking around 25 minutes), at which point you will present it to your delighted guests.


Fish Tacos – serves 6


650g cod

Zest of three limes

Juice of 1½ limes

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tsp garlic salt

1½ tsp mild chilli powder

1½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

Being a lover of all things sea food, I couldn’t live with myself if I left this piece of work without including at least one option, though not being able to choose, I ended up going with two – the first of which being these scrumptious fish tacos. This involves mixing the fish with the honey, olive oil and lime components in a shallow dish before leaving in the fridge to marinate for thirty minutes – all the while mixing the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Once the fish is placed in the fridge, it is now prudent to start warming the barbecue up. Once you are confident that it is ready, just place the fish on the direct heat, wait three minutes and turn it over – ensuring that each side feels firm – before relocating it to the warm tortillas. The beauty of this dish is that you can cater it, at least somewhat, to your own tastes, you can eat it plain or you can add whatever you like to the concoction – sweet, spicy, sour, all of the above, it’s entirely up to you.


Ginger-Lime Prawns – serves 6


800g large prawns

A pinch of salt

A pinch of freshly ground pepper

60g unsalted butter

Juice of half a lime.

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp grated lime zest

10 mint leaves

10 basil leaves

Soy sauce (optional)


As promised, here is the second sea food option which, and my favourite when it comes to the food type. The conception of the ginger-lime prawns begins as you season the prawns with salt, pepper and add a teaspoon of butter to an already boiling frying pan until the substance is foaming, at which point you pour the prawns into it – cooking undisturbed for two minutes, or until golden brown. Next, add the rest of the butter to each pan and lose the heat, turning the prawns with tongues, cooking for a further minute and adding half the ginger, the lime elements, mint and basil – shaking to combine.


Halloumi Kebabs – serves 6


2 medium courgettes

1 large red onion

500g halloumi cheese (cut into 30 chunks)

14 cherry tomatoes

3 peppers (in colours of your choosing)

A fantastic alternative for those with particularly herbivorous appetites, or who just want to be that little bit healthier, the halloumi kebab is perhaps the most diverse of the choices. That is because there is only one ingredient that is absolutely necessary – the halloumi, and even then the amount of cheese used is completely up to the consumer. What’s written above is merely a guide as to what I would put on the kebab when hosting (though even in my case I’d remove the tomatoes).


The making is the simplest of the lot, as all you have to do is to cut up the ingredients and add them to the skewer in any order that you like, once they’ve been washed of course. This is to be done before placing on the grill and cooking for around five minutes, turning often, until the cheese begins to golden and the vegetables blacken slightly – a preference of mine is to drizzle it with some lime or lemon juice, but again that is by no means a necessity.


So, I’ve detailed some of my favourite dishes that are just made for the barbecue, but there are also a number of fabulous establishments on the tastecard roster that will supply members with a truly sumptuous dining experience of the barbecue or grill variety. One such can be seen in the form of Coal Grill and Bar, a superb chain that can boast ten extraordinary, each one using produce sourced locally, while the likes of Glasgow’s NY American Grill, Swindon’s The Griddle, London’s Meat House and Toro’s Steakhouse in Bolton are just four of the independent restaurants that accept the card across the UK.


Got your own barbecue recipe, or know of another tastecard restaurant that offers up some truly sumptuous barbecue style fare, why not let us know of Facebook or Twitter?


By Calum Dewsbury

Thanks for reading!

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