Recipe: Smoked roast ham in my CharBroil Big Easy barbecue

It’s hard to beat a good roast ham. It’s something usually associated with Christmas or special occasions but it doesn’t have to be. It’s always a great thing to have in the fridge – and even better if you’ve cooked it yourself!

I roasted and smoked this one in my CharBroil Big Easy barbecue. The glaze gives it a beautiful sweetness and you could really taste the smokiness from the alder wood chips. I’m lucky enough to have two large bay trees in my garden so I snipped off some fresh leaves to add to the smoker which definitely added flavour.

Make sure you score the fat of the ham before basting. This helps the flavours really soak through.

The meat thermometer is a handy way to help gauge when the ham is ready. If you’re not sure it is done, keep roasting for a bit longer – as long as it’s not burning it will be fine as the basting keeps it moist.

Roast smoked ham

With an orange and Honey Jack Daniels glaze

Place the alder wood chips and bay leaves into the smoker compartment and turn the CharBroil Big Easy barbecue to a low/medium setting. I chose to cook the ham on a lower setting for longer and it came out lovely and moist.

Leave the barbecue to heat up for about 15 minutes.

Place your ham in the basket and cook it for 25 minutes per pound.

Baste it with the sauce using a brush every 15-20 minutes.

Before taking it out, check the internal temperature of the meat has reached 140C.

Baste it one more time and leave it to rest for at least half an hour before carving.

CharBroil Big Easy

The beautifully browned smoked ham

For the baste

Half a cup of fresh orange juice

Half a cup of honey Jack Daniels

1 cup of brown sugar

1 tsps of ground ginger

Mix everything together thoroughly and baste the ham regularly using a brush.

To smoke

Alder woodchips

6 fresh bay leaves

 

CharBroil Big Easy

The luscious, thinly sliced ham


Recipe: Moroccan roast vegetables and lamb in my Big Easy barbecue

I’m loving my Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue. The more I experiment, the more I discover how versatile it is.

Today I’m going to make Moroccan-style roast vegetables – well it is a roaster after all.

It’s a simple dish. Just make sure your veg are cut in similar size pieces – except the little peppers which I kept whole. Then douse in olive oil and cumin and you’re ready to go.

I popped the roasting tray on the rack in the barbecue with the temperature on medium-high and checked them after 20 minutes – well it was my first effort roasting vegetables in my new acquisition.

In the end they need around 30 minutes – quicker than in a conventional oven. Once the veg had cooled, I added the fresh mint leaves and little knobs of soft goats’ cheese on top, squeezed the juice of a lemon evenly over and added a couple of slugs of olive oil. No need to transfer the veg to another dish – any excuse to save on the washing up.

I love cumin and it goes perfectly with these vegetables. And also with the delicious lamb chops we bought from our local butcher around the corner. I used the grill part of the Big Easy for them – cooking for about 5 minutes on each side until they were nicely striped on the outside but still medium-rare inside.

Moroccan Roast Vegetables

Serves 2

1 medium carrot

1 courgette

1 red onion

2 handfuls diced butternut

2 small peppers (I chose one red and one yellow for colour variation)

2 tsps cumin seeds

4 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps goat’s cheese

A handful of fresh mint leaves

Chop up all the vegetables except for the small peppers.

Toss them in the olive oil and cumin seeds in a roasting dish.

Place the dish on the rack in the Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue with the temperature on medium-high.

Cook for about 30 mins, checking after 20.

Remove from the barbecue and leave to cool.

Sprinkle the mint leaves and goat’s cheese on top of the roast vegetables. Use a teaspoon to dot small pieces of the goat’s cheese over the vegetables. It adds a beautiful creaminess.

Squeeze over the juice of one lemon and add a drizzle of olive oil and you’re ready to serve.

Vibrant vegetables are spiced up before cooking

The final salad topped with mint and goat’s cheese

The lamb chops sizzling on the barbecue grill

Find out more about the Char-Broil range by clicking here.

Next week I’ll be pursuing my self-inflicted challenge to making the perfect (well, extremely good anyway) peri peri chicken. Could cooking it on the Big Easy be the secret to success?

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Big Easy barbecue

Okay summer still hasn’t really arrived in London – sometimes it never really does – but I am certainly not going to let that prevent me from getting out into my garden and lighting the barbecue. Especially now that I have my brand new Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue which has the power to roast, smoke and barbecue. You can read all about the UK’s first three-in-one smoker, roaster and grill in one package here and also discover some lovely roast chicken recipes to try out.

Today I’m getting more adventurous (as promised) and trying something for the first time. I’m going to hot smoke some lovely fresh salmon. First step is to make a marinade and give the salmon 2-3 hours to soak up the flavours.

Getting ready to marinate in front of my CharBroil Big Easy

Honey Jack Daniels marinated smoked salmon

Serves 2

The marinade

3 tbsps Honey Jack Daniels

2 tbsps brown sugar

2 tbsps soya sauce

1 tbsp dijon mustard

Mix all the ingredients and marinate one piece of filleted fresh salmon per person for 2-3 hours

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon

Give the salmon fillets time to absorb the flavours

While the salmon is marinating get your smoker ready. There is a pull out box on the side of the Char-Broil Big Easy where your wood chips go. You can buy a range of wood chips from many places. I got mine from smokingwoodchips.co.uk and today I’m using some of the plum chips.

Measure out the chips you need and soak in water for about half an hour. This is to ensure you get a lot of smoke for your cooking. Drain, spoon the chips into the smoker box and insert into the barbecue.

Light the barbecue and put it on to high. Leave for about 10 minutes or until you can see smoke start to appear.

Fold tin foil into sizes slightly bigger than the salmon, take the salmon fillets out of the marinade and place on the foil. Place on the rack inside the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes – checking regularly.

The sugar and honey in the marinade will make the skin crispy and add some slight blackening, which I love. You’ll find that the salmon is beautifully flakey and moist inside.

Beautifully soft and flavoursome salmon with chilli corn and potatoes

Today I served the salmon with some Jersey Royal potatoes (they are in season after all) and lovely sweetcorn which I cooked on the grill section of the barbecue above the smoking rack. Plus I made a simple sour cream sauce. Here’s how.

Sour cream sauce

150ml sour cream

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsps chopped fresh dill

Mix all the ingredients at least three hours before serving and keep cool in the fridge. This amazing and simple sauce is wonderful with all kinds of fish – and tastes amazing on potatoes, too.

This sour cream and dill sauce goes perfectly with the smoked salmon

Sweet chilli barbecued sweetcorn

2 ears of corn

2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce

A few knobs of butter

Place each ear of sweetcorn on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it in.

Spread the sweet chilli sauce over the sweetcorn with a knife. Add a few knobs of butter to each parcel.

Wrap the corns up fairly tightly and place on the grill of the barbecue which is at the top above the smoking .

Put them in at the same time as the salmon and they will be perfect by the time your salmon is cooked.

 You can read all about the fabulous Char-Broil Big Easy – the UK’s first gas three-in-one barbecue at www.charbroil.eu 

And watch this space for more great alfresco cooking ideas. Next week I’m going to be roasting some vegetables Moroccan-style (yes, in the barbecue) to match with our delicious local lamb chops. My mouth’s already watering just thinking about it.


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: Orange and lemon polenta cake

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

I love baking – not that I do enough of it. Mix a few ingredients in a bowl, pour them into a tin and cook – and voila, you have something delicious on your plate. Okay, it doesn’t always work out quite that way – I’ve had my share of baking disasters. But I’m telling you that this is recipe is going to become a firm favourite. It has few ingredients, takes so little time to make and tastes spectacular.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

The golden brown outside and a promise of the citrussy inside

It’s light, sweet and zesty. And the addition of polenta (which I have never used in a cake before) gives it a surprisingly pleasant crunchiness. Of course if you don’t have polenta you could just leave it out but I do think it adds a little something extra.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

Deliciously moist slices of citrussy cake

The ingredients

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g polenta

225g castor sugar

225ml olive oil

4 eggs

Juice and zest of 1 orange

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

The instructions

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas mark 3.

Mix the flour, baking powder, polenta and castor sugar in a bowl.

Make a hole in the middle and pour in the olive oil. Break the eggs into the olive oil.

Mix well using a wooden spoon until there are no lumps left.

Add the orange and lemon zest and juice and mix.

Grease a cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

Drop the mixture into the tin, smoothing it into the corners.

Bake for 1 hour, then check to see if it’s cooked by inserting a skewer gently into the cake.

If it comes out clean your cake is ready.

Let it rest for 5 mins before moving to a wire rack and removing the paper.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

The beautifully yellow and crumbly cake


Recipe: Slow-roasted lamb shanks

Slow-roasted lamb shanks

I have friends that just can’t get that I actually find cooking a lot of fun. It’s creative, relaxing and extremely satisfying when you produce something that everyone loves. I recently spent a day with my 10-year-old niece Kelly cooking dinner for the family and will always remember her smiling face as we sat around the table eating. She was so happy that she had created this delicious food.

Okay, entertaining can be stressful, so you need to plan carefully and make sure you are very organised. The dishes I most like serving are those that can be all prepared and in the oven before your guests arrive. So you can spend time talking to your friends rather than being confined to the kitchen the whole night.

These slow-roasted lamb shanks are one of those.They do take a bit of preparation but you can do all that ahead – and clean everything up, too. And the dish is absolutely delicious and, I think, rather an indulgent treat.

Working out quantities is also easy – one shank and two onions per person means simple serving – and no wastage either.

Do you have a favourite dish you like to cook for guests? I’d love to hear about it.

Recipe: slow-roasted lamb shanks

The melt-in-the-mouth shanks ready to be served

The ingredients

Serves 6

6 lamb shanks

2 tbsps vegetable oil

12 shallots, peeled

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

4cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1 bottle dry white wine

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps ground coriander

3 tsps ground cinnamon

1 tsp cayenne pepper

300ml water

2 tbsps mint jelly

2 tbsps chutney

How to do it

Turn the oven on to 130C.

Fry the lamb shanks and shallots in the oil until they are browned.

Transfer them to a large roasting dish.

Sprinkle over the chopped garlic and ginger.

Pour the wine into a large container and mix in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne. Then pour it over the lamb shanks.

Add the water.

Spread the mint jelly and the chutney evenly through the dish.

Season with salt and pepper.

Tightly cover the dish with tinfoil.

Place in the oven and roast for 5 hours. Check the dish regularly to make sure it is slowly cooking and to spoon some of the liquid over the lamb shanks. Gently turn the shanks over a couple of times during the cooking.

Serve with cumin roasted potatoes and your choice of vegetables.

My star anise carrot puree the perfect accompaniment, you can find the recipe by clicking here.

Recipe: slow-roasted lamb shanks

The browned shanks before the wine and spices are added

And you can find the recipe for the cumin potatoes (very easy and totally irresistible) by clicking here.

Recipe: cumin potatoes

Crispy little potatoes with deep cumin flavours