Barbecue, roast and smoke in the Char-Broil Big Easy

So today I’ve got something new and different for you. Isn’t that exciting? I have recently been delivered the UK’s first Gas three-in-one barbecue. It’s called the Char-Broil Big Easy and it’s a neat grill (barbecue), smoker and roaster with a stylish somewhat sci-fi look to it.

It’s now occupying pride of place in my garden and over the next few months I’m going to be telling  you all about it and publishing recipe ideas for this wonderful addition to my cooking alternatives. And you all know how much I love cooking outdoors – must be in my blood.

Ready to go and looking good: My new Big Easy

Roast, smoke and grill

Okay, so here’s the low down. First up is the roasting option – and with the capacity to cook up to 11kgs of meat and vegetables in the basket insert you’ve got those large family gatherings covered. There’s also a special way to cook spare ribs by hanging them on four integrated stainless steel hooks – but more of that later.

For hot smoking, the Big Easy has a pull-out box to fill with wood chips of your choice – and who knew how many different types there were. I’ve ordered a selection in anticipation of some serious smoking coming up.

Finally, if all you’re after is a quiet barbecue, the Big Easy has a handy grill that fits to the top.

Rotisserie-style roast chicken

Today I decided to start with the simplest of tasks. My love of rotisserie chickens and my consumption of them (particularly in Spain) is widely known. And I had the thought that cooking a chicken in the Big Easy’s roasting basket would be a very similar process. So, keeping it simple like I said, I rubbed my chicken thoroughly all over with a little olive oil and propped it up in the basket. At 15 mins per 450g it was ready 35 minutes later. And perfectly ready! The aromas as I lifted the lid washed over me and transported me back to those rotisserie sellers in my favourite Spanish markets.

Char-Broil: chicken in the Big Easy

The chicken browns in the roasting basked

You can see from this picture how large the basket is. Having said that, it roasted with my smaller chicken (big enough for 4-5 people) perfectly. It’s also a really healthy way of cooking as your chicken isn’t sitting in any oil though it still comes out with lovely crispy skin.

Char Broil: Roast chicken in the Big Easy

Close up on the roasting chicken

Change the flavours of your roast chicken

Be adventurous and add international flavours to your chicken but making a butter or olive oil rub. Add fresh ingredients to butter, blend together and smear under the skin of your chicken or mix ground ingredients with olive oil and rub over thoroughly. Here are some ideas to get started.

Thai butter

Blend ginger, garlic, chilli and basil leaves with butter

Mediterranean oil rub

Mix lemon juice and dried oregano into olive oil

Moroccan butter

Blend dried cinnamon, cumin, saffron strands and fresh mint with butter.

Indian oil rub

Mix ground cardamom, cloves, coriander and curry powder with oil oil.

Watch this space for plenty more ideas on cooking with the fabulous Big Eas.

Up next I’m going to be smoking salmon – with some very special ingredients.

Find out more about the Big Easy and Char-Broil’s other products by clicking here.

Recipe: A delicious relish called Gungai

Today I’m sharing a wonderful recipe that my friend Esme made for us. It’s a relish that’s a mix of fresh, finely chopped ingredients and adds a real chilli bite and plenty of crunch to your plate of food. It’s particularly good with barbecued food – if it ever stops raining and you can light your barbecue that is!

It’s called gungai. I can’t tell you anything about its origins or background (even google failed me). But I can tell you that it’s easy to make and really yum. Make a big batch and store it in a jar in the fridge where it will last a few weeks. Just beware as it tends to get hotter the longer you store it.

Oh and if anyone can enlighten me any more about this delicious relish, please get in touch. I’d love to know where it comes from and why.

GUNGAI

All ingredients must be finely chopped.

4 onions

8 large cloves of garlic

4 green peppers

4 red peppers

2 red chillies

1 large cucumber

3 carrots

6 green beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vingar to taste ( a couple of teaspoons)

Olive oil to taste (a couple of tablespoons)

Chop and mix all the ingredients. Add the balsamic and olive oil. Bottle in jars and refrigerate. You can eat it immediately but the flavour improves after a couple of days in the fridge.

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Gungai looks as good as it tastes

Thanks Esme.

Recipe: The Black Farmer’s burgers with roast red vegetables

Today I’ve been asked to sample some beef burgers from The Black Farmer. The company was set up by Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones and produces gluten-free products that are also RSPCA assured which means the company has a vision for all farm animals to have a good life and be treated with compassion and respect. Well, I’m all for that.

The beef burgers look beautifully plump and juicy and I decided to think laterally and come up with a different way to cook them. Sometimes my somewhat weird cooking ideas don’t work out quite as I’ve visualised them in my head, but today this dish was even better than I’d expected.

I started off by roasting some vegetables. Colour in food is so important to me and when I was trawling around the supermarket choosing my veg, lots of vibrant reds attracted me. So red roast vegetables it is.

For two servings I used:

1 red pepper, cored and sliced

1 red onion, peeled and quartered

12 cherry tomatoes, whole on the vine (I think cooking them on the vine enhances the flavour of the whole dish)

3 tbsps olive oil

Place the pepper and onion in a roasting tray and pour over the olive oil. Make sure they are well coated in the oil.

Place in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes until they start to soften. Then add the tomatoes.

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A tray of redness to roast

I love the large portobello mushrooms around at the moment and came up with the idea of using them as a base for the burgers instead of a bun.

Add the mushrooms to the roasting tray when you add the tomatoes and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Cook for another 10 mins.

Then place the burgers on top of the mushrooms, return the tray to the oven and cook for 10-15 mins until the burgers are mostly cooked through. I like them very slightly rare in the middle.

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Vegetables sizzle and the burgers cook atop the juicy large mushrooms

Check that your burgers are cooked and serve with mustard mayo. I make the mustard mayo by mixing three large tsps of mayonnaise with one large tsp of Dijon mustard. It’s really delicious and goes equally well with the veggies and the burgers.

The combination of sweet vegetables, earthy mushroom, meat burgers and spicy mayo is fabulous. Give it a try. Do you have any inventive ways of serving burgers? I’d love to hear your recipes, do get in touch.

TBF_Beef_Burgers

The Black Farmer produces a range of sausages, burgers, free range chickens, bacon, eggs and meatballs. Much of the range is available online at Ocado and you’ll also find the beef burgers at Asda and the chickens at selected Budgens.

Find out more at theblackfarmer.com

Recipe: Roast vegetable salad with rocket, feta and pine nuts

Summer’s here – well sort of – today’s decidedly autumnal actually. Anyway, what can you do, it’s June, so for me that means it’s time to barbecue/braai as much as possible. Which also gives me the excuse to experiment with different salads. I made an impromptu version of this one earlier in the year with what I could find in the fridge. That’s one of the beauties of it, you can pretty much use whatever leftover vegetables you have.

I take time and effort roasting them all, regularly checking their progress and turning them, as I like them to be that perfect slightly blackened colour with a little crispiness without being burnt. Cooking them slowly with attention ensures everything is bursting with flavour and makes the salad. Lay them in a single layer in the roasting tray and cook in batches if necessary.

I dry fried the pine nuts, it brings out some of the delicious oils and enhances the flavour. But take care, they burn very easily and it’s not good to have to throw away the charred remains of this rather expensive commodity.

Do you have favourite salads that you like to make when you barbecue? I’m always looking for new ideas, so do get in touch and let me know what they are. 

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

Serves 4 – 6

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

2 courgettes, medium sliced

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 orange pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 x 140g bag of wild rocket

50g pine nuts, dry fried

100g feta, crumbled

Olive oil for frying

For the dressing

Three-quarters of a cup of olive oil

One-quarter of a cup of balsamic vinegar

2 tsp runny honey

Roast the aubergines, courgettes and peppers in the oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on kitchen roll to drain and cool.

Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.

Dry fry the pine nuts in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 mins. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily.

Spread the rocket over a large platter.

Layer the roast vegetables on top.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta and the pine nuts.

Pour the dressing over 10 minutes before serving.