Food & Fun: Cooking in the great outdoors

Food & Fun: Cooking in the great outdoors
Freshly roasted barbecue pork ribs and french fries on a cutting board Photos Barbecue Pork Ribs

So the lockdown restrictions have eased somewhat and Ireland is slowly returning to a ‘different’ kind of ‘normal’ but a lot of us are still spending a hefty chunk of our time at home or — weather and work permitting — in the back garden.

The queues at the garden centres that reopened on Monday is testament to our love of the outdoors.

Cook the pork chop for about 4 minutes on each side. Cook times will vary depending on the thickness of the chop, so check that the meat is fully cooked before serving. Serve with sides of your choice and enjoy.

Mackerel grilled on bed of thyme sprigs with dillisk salsa verde -Currabinny cooks-


  • 2 whole Mackerel
  • 1 lemon
  • 8-10 sprigs of thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil


You can, of course, buy mackerel fillets in your local fish monger, prepared and ready for the barbecue or pan. If you do have a whole one, filleting it is quite straightforward.

Using a sharp filleting knife, make an incision behind both pectoral fins behind the head of the fish. Flip the fish onto its belly and cut the head off, straight through the backbone. Throw the head away or keep for a fish stock, you could even use them as bait to catch other fish.

Slice down the backbone of the fish’s body, dragging the knife as close to it as possible.

Keeping the knife hugging the backbone as you continue to cut away the fillet from the bone. Repeat this on the other side until both fillets are removed.

Use a tweezers to remove the pin-bones from the middle of each fillet.

Rinse the fillets with cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Food & Fun: Cooking in the great outdoors
William Murray and James Kavanagh prepping their dishes of mackerel grilled on a bed of thyme sprigs with a dillisk salsa verde and asparagus , spring onion and fennel bulb, grilled and served with chilli and lemon dressing . Photograph Moya Nolan.

Turn your barbecue on while you prepare the fillets, putting the grill over the hot coals.

Rub some olive oil into the skin of the fish and season well with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut the lemon in half and slice one half into a few rounds. Squeeze the other half over the mackerel fillets.

Drizzle som olive oil over the hot grill and arrange the sprigs of thyme as a sort of bed on the grill. Place the mackerel fillets skin side down on the thyme sprigs. The sprigs will likely burn and even catch fire but this will all add to the smoky aroma you want the meat to absorb.

After 3-4 minutes turn the fillets over and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes until the flesh has turned grey white.

Chargrilled pizza margherita on the barbecue (Darina Allen)


  • 150g (5oz) pizza dough
  • 175g (6oz) grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 10fl oz tomato fondue (see recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped annual marjoram
  • 1 tbsp parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is best), freshly grated
  • 6ozs thinly sliced pepperoni (optional)

For the pizza dough

  • 680g (1½lbs) strong white flour or 600g (1¼lb) strong white flour and 110g (4oz) rye flour
  • 50g (2oz) butter
  • 1 packet fast acting yeast
  • 2 level tsp salt
  • 15g (½oz) sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 450–500ml (16-18 floz) lukewarm water — more if needed


Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella with extra virgin olive oil. This hugely enhances the flavour of ordinary mozzarella.

Heat a Weber style Barbeque to medium hot.

Roll the pizza dough into a 30cm (12-16 inch) rectangle, about 5mm (¼ inch) thick.

Lay the rectangle of dough on the hot rack. Cover and cook for 4–5 mins until nicely cooked and marked on the underside. Flip over. Spread an even layer of warm tomato fondue on the cooked surface. Sprinkle with chopped annual marjoram and a few slices of pepperoni (optional).

Sprinkle generously with a mix of grated mozzarella and Parmesan. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and some cracked pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Cover the barbeque and continue to cook for 5–6 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and the pizza base is fully cooked.

Food & Fun: Cooking in the great outdoors

Transfer to a chopping board, sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, drizzle with a little more olive oil, cut into squares and serve immediately.

To make the Garden Café Pizza Dough

The beauty of this recipe is that it is so quick and easy, using this fast acting yeast does away with the first rising. By the time your tomato sauce is bubbling in the oven your pizza base will be ready for its topping. (Makes 8 x 25cm 10inch pizzas.) In a large wide mixing bowl sieve the flour and add in the salt, sugar, rub in the butter and fast acting yeast, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the oil and most of the lukewarm water. Mix to a loose dough. You can add more water or flour if needed.

Turn the dough on to a lightly floured work top, cover and leave to relax for about five minutes.

Then knead the dough for about ten minutes or until smooth and springy (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).

Leave the dough to relax again for about ten minutes. Shape and measure into eight equal balls of dough, each weighing approximately 150g (5oz). Lightly brush the dough with olive oil.

If you have time, put the oiled balls of dough into a plastic bag and chill. The dough is easier to handle when cold but it can be used immediately.

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