These two preparation methods, perfect for meat and fish, help flavors to penetrate, and speed up the cooking process.
Spatchcock: Flattening the bird ensures even cooking.
Lay a whole chicken, or other small poultry, on a board, breast side down, and legs away from you. Using a knife or poultry shears, cut down either side of the backbone from tail to head.
Turn the chicken over, and press it firmly with the heel of your hand, to crush the breast bone. Once flattened, use a sharp knife to cut slits into the legs and thighs to ensure even cooking.
Scoring : This helps the marinade and seasoning penetrate the meat.
Make shallow incisions in one direction across the meat, about ½ inch (1 cm) apart, using a sharp knife.
Cut shallow incisions n the other direction to form a crisscross pattern. This helps ensure even cooking. Rub in your chosen marinade or flavourings, and leave to marinate for 1 hour, or overnight.
An ideal way to cook on the barbecue. Try vegetable skewers, too. If using wooden skewers, always soak them in water for 30 minutes before cooking, or they will burn.
All meats can be threaded onto a skewer. Cut the meat into equal-sized pieces, so it cooks evenly, and thread tightly. Marinate meat before threading, and skewer just the meat (such as lamb in a lemon and cumin marinade, beef in a wasabi marinade or chicken in a piri piri marinade), or mix meat with vegetables, making sure they are cut the same size as the meat.
Lamb and eggplant; pork and pineapple. This is a good way to make meat go a long way.
Fish cooks through quickly on the grill, so these are super-speedy. Choose firm, meaty fish, such as monkfish, as it will hold together better while it's cooking. Cut into equal-sized pieces and marinate before threading. Choose one fish, and cook with a quick-cooking vegetable such as cherry tomatoes, red onion, or zucchini, or make a mixed fish kebab, choosing fish that will cook through at the same time, such as swordfish and tuna. Shrimp (with or without shell on) and scallops also skewer well.
A refreshing alternative to fruit salad. Try using lemongrass as skewers. Choose firm, chunky fruit that will hold together. Fruits such as pineapple, apple, and banana work well, and can be brushed with a mix of fruit juice, rum, and brown sugar so they caramelize on the grill. They don't need much cooking, and are best cooked on a clean barbecue, so they don't pick up meat or fish flavors or bits. They can always be cooked first, and kept warm in the oven.
Delicious ideas for non-meat eaters. Make vegetable skewers using a combination of adding a non-melting cheese such as halloumi or paneer.
If you want to be more adventurous, coat them with yogurt and tikka paste, and add some ripe figs. Marinate vegetables with punchy flavours: mix with fresh herbs such as mint, dill, cilantro, basil, or thyme, with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest, lime, or orange.
Try squash with lime and cinnamon, or zucchini with lemon and allspice. Cook sweet potatoes in foil, then top with spicy tomato and avocado salsa and sour cream, or slice squash (skin on) into rounds, and cook coated in a chilli oil. Large mushrooms are ideal for the barbecue. Remove the stem, and coat with a spicy teriyaki marinade. Cook until golden, then serve sliced with hot grilled pita bread, and a dollop of hummus. Make spicy chilli mushroom burgers, or cheesy vegetarian sausages, and serve in rolls with home-made coleslaw. Grill feta cheese parcels and cubes of squash, and serve with balsamic grilled tomatoes and shallots.
A selection of vegetables on the barbecue: broccoli, eggplant, red peppers, and onions make a tasty accompaniment, dressed with oil and vinegar, and seasoned.
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