Wednesday, 29 June 2016

BBQ Bavette and friends

I'm trying to expand my cooking on fire repertoire; so I took the opportunity to try a few new things recently, on a short break in the Lake District. Fire makes me a bit more apprehensive than the safety of an oven, but it also allows you to be outdoors, and is a lot more exciting... I'd always be outdoors if I could choose... if only the weather was a bit better...


I've been watching the new series of Chef's Table on Netflix, I love it, one of my favourite episodes is from the first series about Francis Mallman, he has a restaurant in Argentina that focuses on Patagonian cuisine. When he's not there he seems to wander the country cooking outdoors in the most remote and beautiful spots. At one point Francis and his team are out in the snow on the edge of the forest, they had dug a fire pit that morning and set up whole lambs cantilevered over it, cooking all day. They set up a full table, rugs, furs, chairs, giant bottles of red wine; and laughed and feasted in the snow, it looked perfect. He has a small fishing boat, that has a little BBQ attached to the side of it so he can float around on the beautiful lakes of Argentina, catching fish, putting them straight on the coals, relaxing in the boat, drinking red wine. So that's where I'd like to get to, set ups like these one day... out in the quiet, fresh air, water, nature, fire, cooking and wine, that's my idea of a good life...

But for now I've just got a small BBQ, and I'm thinking about where to dig the fire pit... but there's always the future. It's not all about huge chunks of meat either, so let's start very small... with BBQ pea pods.



Peas are in season right now, so get some fresh peas in their pods. You can put them on very early while you're still waiting for the coals to all turn white, when it's still a bit too hot for the meat. Lay out a layer of pea pods over the grill, turning them around now and again, until you get a good char on the outside, then take them all off into a big bowl. The peas will have steamed cooked inside their pods. Sprinkle with lots of salt and suck the peas out of their pods, a lovely snack while you wait.


BBQ New Potato Skewers are a good new discovery I've found. Par boil your new potatoes, about 3 per skewer, depending on how big they are. They should be almost done. Drain then, leave them to dry in their own steam, then toss them in olive oil and salt. Thread 3 or 4 onto wooden skewers and place them on the BBQ, leave them for a minute on one side, then turn, a minute on the other, depending how hot your fire is, they should take on a deep golden skin. Take them off when they are ready and serve with lots of cold butter or a really good aioli.


Then to the BBQ Bavette Steak. I used a 2kg piece of bavette, which is also known as the flank steak. This was for 6-8 people and was plenty. It is marinated, cooked quite quickly so it stays pretty rare then sliced thinly. Make the marinade first, some olive oil, a splash of sesame oil, a couple of centimetres of grated ginger, a clove of grated garlic, a splash of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper. Mix it up and taste, alter to suit, more salt, more sweet, however you like it. Then cover the steak in it and leave at room temperature for an hour or so, or you can leave it in the fridge over night.

When the BBQ is hot, all the coals white and the flames have died down it is ready. Put the steak on and leave it, don't touch, give it 4 minutes on the first side, don't move it, this allows a crust to form, then turn, for another 4 minutes, but it can vary, so prod it with your finger, if it feels very soft it's still very rare, you want it when it just starts to firm up, like the bit of your palm feels next to your thumb when you prod it... Remember don't move it around, just two turns... Then get it off when you think it's done and rest it for 5 minutes, covered. This allows it to relax, keep its moisture and generally get over the aggression of the fire it's just been on... Get a sharp knife and slice thinly to serve, about half a centimetre ish... It should be beautifully pink inside and totally delicious...

Everything is a bit ish when it comes to cooking on fire, just try and practice and find your way, I'm starting to...






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