Planning a barbecue this weekend but worried about the weather? Follow out handy tips for great grilling come rain or shine. We also have some delicious recipes you can cook in the oven or over a coal barbecue.
However bad the weather gets, don’t bring your barbecue into the garage or even the kitchen; carbon monoxide poisoning is much, much worse than wet feet! If you don’t happen to have an overhanging roof to keep things dry, invest in a large umbrella that will cover both you and the grill – a sturdy parasol will do the job, a bonus is this also frees up your hands to turn the food and drink the beer! Where there’s rain there’s often wind, too, so make sure it’s well weighted down. In really gusty conditions, position your barbecue at 90 degrees to the prevailing gale.
If you’re looking for a new barbecue then a kettle barbecue with a tight-fitting lid is a wise investment to keep the heat in and the water out, take a look at this Dancook Kettle barbecue. Bear in mind that whichever type of barbecue you have, rain will bring the temperature down, so it’s wise to add a little more charcoal than you usually would. Your food will take longer to cook, and it’s also easier to burn things.
If the weather looks uncertain, it’s better to have something that can either be cooked in advance and finished on the barbecue, as in the ribs recipe below, or that doesn’t require searing heat, such as the peppers. Save the steak and seafood for another day and concentrate instead on stuff that can be cooked low and slow without too much interference from the chef; this is the time to break out the brisket, and make the most of side dishes that can be prepared in the kitchen.
These recipes have been designed to be just as good whether you’re inside or out…
Roasted red pepper and walnut soup, or chargrilled red pepper and walnut salad
Inspired by the smoky, sweet-and-sour flavours of the Syrian muhammara dip, the ingredients for this warm, chargrilled pepper salad work equally well as a warming soup should the weather turn on you. It is vegan-friendly, but also good with feta to make a more substantial meal.
(Serves 4 as a starter or light meal, 2 as a main)
8 large pointed red peppers
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to grease
100g walnut pieces
4 pitta, cut into triangles
2 (salad)/4 (soup) smallish garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp dried Aleppo chilli flakes, or 1 tsp hotter chilli flakes
1 (salad)/2 (soup) tsp ground cumin
1l vegetable stock (soup only)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped (or you can pick the leaves and leave them whole if you prefer, to make the salad look prettier)
To make the soup, heat the oven to maximum, and put the peppers on a lightly greased tray. Pierce in a couple of places, then roast until blackened in parts and beginning to collapse. Take out of the oven and replace with the walnuts and pitta triangles. Bake for about five minutes until toasted, then set aside. Seed and roughly chop the peppers.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pan over a medium-low heat and fry the garlic for a minute or so, then stir in the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add the peppers, cook briefly, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop the nuts.
Add the walnuts to the pan, then liquidise the soup until smooth-ish (you can pass it through a sieve if you’re very particular). Stir in the pomegranate molasses and lemon juice and season to taste, adding more of either if required.
Serve garnished with coriander, with the pitta triangles on the side.
Chargrilled red pepper and walnut salad
To make the salad, put the peppers on a hot barbecue and cook, turning, until blackened all over. At the same time, put a pan on the grill and toast the walnuts until slightly browned, and the pitta until crunchy.
Whisk together the garlic, spices, molasses, lemon juice and olive oil, and season to make a tangy dressing; taste and adjust quantities if necessary.
Seed the peppers and cut into thick strips. Scatter over a platter and pour over the dressing, then top with the walnuts, pitta and coriander.
Mustard and beer short ribs
These are great with otato salad if the weather is kind, or buttery mash if it’s not. Short ribs can be found in many supermarkets these days, but a butcher will always be able to get you some.
1l hoppy, crisp beer (I used an IPA)
6-8 thick beef short ribs, depending on appetite, with a good amount of meat on them
2 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced
6 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp ketchup
Pour the beer into a wide pan, bring to the boil, then simmer rapidly for about 15 minutes until reduced by half. Meanwhile, pat the ribs dry with kitchen towel and season. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a wide, heavy-based pan with a lid, and brown the ribs in batches. Set aside, turn down the heat a little and cook the onions until soft and golden. Scoop out of the pan and set aside.
Add the reduced beer and mustard to the pan and stir to dislodge any bits of meat from the bottom, then put in the ribs, meaty-side downwards (you may need to separate them to fit). Cover tightly and simmer over a low heat for 90 minutes, then add the onions and simmer for for for another hour, or until the meat on the ribs is tender.
Scoop out the ribs and onion with a slotted spoon. At this point, if you’re making the dish in advance, you can refrigerate the sauce to make it easier to lift off the fat. If not, then spoon off as much as possible. (You’ll also need to reheat the ribs if you’re cooking in advance and not barbecuing; this is best done tightly covered with foil in a medium oven.)
If you’re planning to barbecue the ribs, reduce the sauce until thick, then stir in the ketchup. Put the ribs on a medium-hot barbecue until charred all over, then slather with the sauce and cook for another few minutes, until it has formed a sticky crust. Warm up the remainder of the sauce with the onions and spoon on top.
If you’re cooking indoors, reduce the sauce until thick and glossy, and stir in the ketchup and the onions. Cut the meat into chunks, discarding the bones, or shred if you prefer, then serve with the sauce.