By all accounts it's National Barbecue Week. "Good grief, really?" I hear you yawn. Yes it is. And yes, whilst at times it feels like there's not a week that goes by without some preceding nomenclature to promote some cause - last week was National Incontinence Week which ran the slogan 'Hey! It's OK to piss yourself!' - I do believe that as a nation we should get behind the campaign and celebrate this wonderful way of cooking. Sure along the way there will be sunburn, liver failure, food poisoning and statistically, at least two deaths from petrol being thrown on the fire but that shouldn't stop us because something else at stake here. And that is pride. You see over the pond, our US counterparts tend to scoff at our interpretation of barbecuing favouring smoking and cooking huge joints and carcasses, normally from piggies, indirectly in cavernous barrels. On stilts. The meat will have been thoroughly rubbed (and in some cases dry humped) with piquant spices and cooked for 12 days until the flesh falls off the bone in ribbons and can be collected from the bottom of said barrels, scooped up with alooominum buckets. All then to be slapped onto individual platters with 'slaw, whatever that is and smothered with a rich vinegary, mustardy tomato-based sauce. This sauce by the way is normally knocked up by pouring all the industrial sized components into a bath and then a guy called 'Jed' will climb inside and writhe about with no clothes on.
It sounds disgusting doesn't it.
No give me five minutes of prodding sausages around the grill with a fork until it's black on the outside and pink in the middle any day of the week. I might simultaneously singe the hairs on my eyebrows and knuckles as I bend down to scrutinise the one damn sausage that has lept into the fiery pit. I might decide to pour beer over the bbq in an effort to quell the inferno that the £1 Iceland burgers have invited. I might, after the event, decide to throw little bits of cardboard onto the charcoals in a vain effort to keep the hypnotic primordial flame alive. I might just go for a sleep under the tree because I've drunk too much cider and my head is pounding. But I don't care because this is the British way dammit. And this is why I am going to have a barbecue tomorrow, in the blazing hot sunshine because this week is our National Barbecue Week.
Except I don't actually own a barbecue. I still haven't got over Betty see so won't even consider buying a new one. But I thought it would be fun to show you just how we've been getting along with her.
First of all I select a spot.
Then using a cunning array of bricks and a metal grid that I somehow seem to have acquired from somewhere, I assemble a very simple but very effective barbecue.
I then place one of those ready-to-light bags of charcoal in the middle and er, set it alight. And you can bugger off all you snobs that complain about meat having a tinge of white spirit. It all adds to the flavour.
I then sit back and admire my handywork, with a beer in my hand and smoke in my eyes.
After a while, I get fed up of the smoke and decide to speed things up with some frantic flapping.
I then bring out the meat and other combustibles that will go on the barbecue. In this case lamb steaks that have been marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic and thyme and a piece of pork belly that has been rubbed with crushed sea salt, fennel and coriander seed and already slow roasted for a couple of hours. Plus the ubiquitous squeaky halloumi which no barbecue should be without. And some pitta bread.
I then cook the meat, trying to keep the lamb a bit pink in the middle but hotspots in the coals dictate that it gets cooked all the way through (see how I blamed 'hotspots' there?) The skin on the pork belly crisp up wonderfully though.
I then throw on the cheese. Now there are different preferences to grilled halloumi in our household. Mrs FU likes it quite burnt, I like it just nicely browned and the kids couldn't care less.
After quickly toasting the pitta, we then sit down to a feast adding a delicious greek salad to the mix and Daddy gets to sup some Moroccan beer, courtesy of Badger and Bumble.
Barbecuing, there's nothing to it really.