Playing with fire: Ireland's top chefs are ready for the summer BBQs

Ahead of National BBQ Week, Esther McCarthy asks Ireland’s top chefs for their favourite summer sizzlers

NOTHING sings summer like the scent of a barbecue, and cooking and dining al fresco can be a wonderful food experience following a long winter.

Barbecues have grown hugely in popularity in Ireland in recent years, with the waft of suburban cooking making its presence felt thanks to some decent Irish summers.

But a barbecue needn’t just be about sausages and burgers, and creative cooks can discover a whole new way of getting the best flavour out of a variety of recipes. Ahead of National BBQ Week, weekend asked some of Ireland’s best-known chefs to share some of their favourite barbecue recipes — and their tips for avoiding the potential pitfalls of open-air cooking.

Adrian Martin

Adrian shared a wonderful pizza recipe suitable for the barbecue — and says that cooking with confidence can help make al-fresco dining all the more fun. A good tip, he says, is to have separate hot and low temperatures to manage your cooking.

“Don’t scorch everything. Everything can be black on the outside and raw on the inside if the heat is too high and you can’t control the heat. Leave the hot coals on one side or if you’re using a gas barbecue, keep the heat low on one side.

“If you’re cooking meat, seal it first like you would on a pan, this helps keep in the flavour. If you overpack the barbecue with food it can be a lot harder to control everything.”

He also has a great chef’s tip for helping keep the barbecue clean. “Switch it on to full heat and rub a lemon all over the bars, which should degrease everything.”

Create Beautiful Food at Home by Adrian Martin is published by Mercier Press.

Barbecued Pizza

Who knew that this could work a dream on the barbecue. Have fun this summer.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 800g strong white bread flour
  • 200g fine ground semolina flour
  • 1 level tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2x7 g sachets of dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar

Tomato Sauce

  • Clove of garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes

Topping

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Basil to garnish

Equipment

  • Rolling pin
  • Large mix bowl
  • Pizza paddle
  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Small bowls
  • Serving boards

Method

For the dough: Add the flours and 1 level teaspoon of sea salt into a clean bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast and sugar to 650ml lukewarm water, mix together and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.

Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water.

Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour — when the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and place it onto your counter.

Knead the dough by rolling it backwards and forwards, using your hands to stretch, pull and push the dough. Keep kneading for 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to to prove for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

For the sauce: Peel and finely slice the garlic, then pick the basil leaves and finely chop the stalks.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan on a medium-low heat, add the garlic and basil stalks, then cook gently for a couple of minutes, or until the garlic is lightly golden, then add most of the basil leaves, the tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Leave the sauce to bubble away for around 20 minutes, or until smooth, breaking up the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. When the time’s up, taste, and season.

To assemble the pizzas: Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in clingfilm and freeze for another day. With the remaining half, divide the dough into four equal balls.

Flour each dough ball, then cover with clingfilm, and leave to rest for about 15 minutes — this will make them easier to roll it thinly.

Dust a clean surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle, about ½cm thick.

When you’re ready to cook them, preheat the barbecue to its highest.

At this stage you can apply your topping, spread the tomato sauce over the base, spreading it out to the edges. Tear over the mozzarella and scatter with the remaining basil leaves. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Place the pizza directly onto the bbq bars. Cook for seven to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.

Catherine Fulvio

Catherine, who shares a delicious tandoori lamb burger recipe, says there’s nothing like a summer barbecue with family and friends.

“The beauty of the barbecue is the fun, relaxed and family friendly environment that it creates. The younger ones can even help out, gathering salad leaves from the garden and washing them.

“When mine were little they just loved playing with the salad spinner, almost sending the lettuce leaves into orbit. Now they just like eating.”

She says the key to a successful barbecue is to be organised: “Serve two or three very well presented salads on platters, which look really attractive.”

She recommends the following list of utensils for barbecuing: long-handled tongs, zip-lock bags for marinating the vegetables and meat, trays or plates for the raw meat on one side of the barbecue and for cooked meat on the other side, long gloves (or wear a sweater/shirt with long sleeves) and a meat thermometer.

Catherine’s Family Kitchen, featuring many of her favourite family recipes, is now in bookshops.

Tandoori Lamb Burgers with Mango Chutney and Mint Raita in Pitta Pockets

Makes 10 small burgers

Our guests at the Cookery School really appreciate lamb burgers as they are not as frequently available and are a great alternative to a traditional beef burger. These tandoori burgers are really delicious and serving them on pittas makes a nice change to burger buns.

Ingredients

  • 1kg organic lamb, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 2.5cm of ginger, finely grated 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Sunflower oil, for frying
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 10 mini pitta breads
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Mango chutney
  • Mint raita (chopped mint with Greek yogurt)

Method

Mix all the ingredients for the burgers in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Break away a little of the mixture and cook to check for seasoning. Adjust the main mixture if necessary. Cover and chill for one hour.

Wash hands and leaving them wet, then shape the mixture into 10 burgers.

Heat the griddle pan or a BBQ to a hot heat.

Brush the burgers on both sides with oil and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until well browned and cooked through.

Warm the pittas on the barbeque. Slit open and slide in the burger, sliced red onion, cucumber, mango chutney and mint raita.

Serve with spicy potato wedges.

Tip: You can replace the minced lamb with minced pork, if you prefer.

Neven Maguire

Top chef Neven Maguire is a big fan of outdoors cooking and has several tips for making the most of its unique flavour. “Try giving potatoes a smoky flavour by cooking them in a cast iron pot with a small amount of water and a good pinch of salt. Tomatoes cooked in a cast iron pot also work really well,” he adds

“Grilled meat and fish can be transformed by brushing them with a flavoured oil before cooking, or they’re just as nice with a couple of thin slices of savoury butter or a spoonful of salsa.”

Baked potatoes are another great barbecue option, Neven says: “Make baked potatoes by piercing each potato several times with a fork, then smearing in butter and adding a sprinkling of salt before double wrapping in tin foil.” For dessert, he recommends nice long sticks with marshmallows speared on.

Find lots of barbecue ideas and recipes in Neven’s book, The Complete Family Cookbook.

Garlic and Mustard Beef Skewers with Creamy Chive Drizzle

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 600g (1lb 5oz) Bord Bia Quality Assured trimmed rump or striploin steak, cut into strips
  • 4 soft wholemeal flour wraps lightly dressed rocket salad

Marinade

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Creamy Chive Drizzle

  • 120ml (4fl oz) plain yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine, then add the steak strips and toss to coat.

Cover with cling ?lm and place in the fridge for one to two hours, or overnight is ?ne.

Remove the marinated beef from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it.

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until it’s smoking hot.

Thread the beef onto 8 x 15cm (6in) metal skewers and cook in batches for two to three minutes on each side for medium rare, or until it is cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook the remainder.

To make the creamy chive drizzle, mix together the plain soya yoghurt, garlic, chives and mustard in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until needed. Heat the wraps for about 20 seconds on each side in a hot, dry and frying pan. Half-?ll with the rocket salad, then arrange the beef skewers on top. Drizzle over the creamy chive drizzle to serve.

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