This Summer in the UK has been a doozy so far, hasn't it? Lots of warmth, sunshine and hot days. It's just the kind of season you want to eat al fresco, or perhaps cook outdoors.
Trouble is, I think that sometimes barbeques get a little predictable. Sure, burgers are classics, but can't we have something a little more original? Sausages make a great staple, but sometimes you want to be more adventurous.
With adventure and flavour in mind, Waitrose have asked the legendary Heston Blumenthal to devise some barbeque recipes for the home cook. Better known for creations like his Snail Porridge (as served at The Fat Duck) or Meat Fruit (as served at Dinner), Heston is known for technically difficult and highly scientific recipes. How well would these recipes work for someone having a small scale barbeque with friends? I decided to investigate.
I had a browse through the variety of recipes written by Heston for this Summer Barbeque season. You will find them here; Heston's ultimate BBQ recipes
I selected the chicken wing recipe, which appealed because barbeques are really all about finger food, eaten in the garden, standing around, with family and friends. And because I think the meat on chicken wings is underrated and well worth the effort of nibbling around the bones!
The chicken wing recipe is here; http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/h/heston_s_barbecuechickenwings.html
|My backpack barbeque (I can't post this the right way up)|
The barbeque was easy to assemble. The tray is deep enough for a good amount of charcoal, enough for one large helping of grilled meat at a time. The stand was stable, which is important to ensure the safety of the grillmaster.
Once that job had been done, it was time to start preparations. First up was marinating the chicken wings.
The marinade itself was very simple indeed, the juice of 4 limes and 4 tbsp of oil. So simple, in fact, that I was sceptical about how much difference it would make to the taste of the cooked wings. But I decided to trust Heston and cook the recipe as written.
The marinade was mixed thoroughly with the wings and left to stand for 45 minutes.
The grill was filled with charcoal (we used Supagrill charcoal).
Of course, as you will know, the coals have to be lit and allowed to burn yellow for a time, and food should only be cooked when the coals are white hot.
The dipping sauce was easy to make, as it was just soured cream and soft blue cheese beaten together. I used Dolcelatte, as we like the contrast between its softness and tang. Heston recommends that you use a hand blender to do this. I do not own a hand blender, so I did this by hand, and it took a little while, giving me more of a workout than I am used to! I made the sauce a little in advance and put it in the fridge to keep it cool before tackling the next stages.You use the same weight of cheese as volume of cheese; 300g cheese and 300ml of sour cream if you are making the full amount.
|Sour Cream and Blue Cheese Dip|
The barbeque sauce was more of a challenge. 9 different ingredients, the necessity of making a caramel.... I took a deep breath, rolled my sleeves up and got going....
One criticism I have is that I had to weigh out liquid ingredients. Yes, the stock was bought in a 500g container, but having to weigh it again after reducing it was a bit of a pain. As was weighing out the ketchup and rice wine vinegar. I completely understand that Heston might have developed the recipe by weighing out the ingredients, but the amounts could have been translated into liquid measures by volume. I know that 1g of water is 1ml. But I was wary of assuming that vinegar and ketchup would be the same weight by volume. Still, never mind, I measured everything out in advance and started cooking.
So those sauce ingredients are:
500g pack Heston from Waitrose Chicken Stock
100g white caster sugar
100g rice wine vinegar
200g tomato ketchup
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Tabasco Pepper Sauce, to taste
2 tsp Cayenne pepper
First I reduced the stock, as I mentioned above, and I am not featuring a picture as you all know what a pan simmering looks like! Next I had to heat up the caster sugar in a pan. Here it is beginning to soften.
This soon turned into a medium caramel.
My next task was to pour in the vinegar, gradually, whisking to dissolve the caramel.
PLEASE be careful when you do this! The caramel does not like the vinegar and bubbles, somewhat like when a dribble of water falls into a frying pan full of hot oil. Liquid caramel is hot, thick and clingy, if it goes on you, it will burn and keep on burning because you won't be able to get it off your skin. So take your time, whisking and adding the vinegar slowly. I didn't take any pictures because I decided I would concentrate whilst doing this to avoid accidents.
I then added all the other ingredients for the sauce; tomato ketchup, mushroom ketchup, sesame oil*, cayenne and tabasco. I mixed them all up and cooked gently until it started to thicken.
The crudite accompaniment was easy, simple and fast to prepare.
But what about the chicken? After marinating and when the barbeque was ready for cooking with, the wings went on. We were able to fit all but 3 from our 1 kilogram of wings on the grill, which was pretty impressive given how compact the backpack barbeque was.
At the start of the cooking time:
The first turning of the wings:
Getting near the end of the 20-25 minute overall cooking time (the wings need a couple of turns to cook evenly).
I put the still hot barbeque sauce into a my casserole dish, as it was the only container big enough to fit the sauce and the cooked wings together which would allow for the wings to be moved around in the sauce.
Since many people are unable to eat sesame seeds, owing to allergies (more information about sesame seed allergies here: http://www.allergyuk.org/sesame-and-other-seeds/sesame-and-other-seeds). So here is the finished dish without the toasted sesame seed topping.
* - If you are allergic to sesame seeds, I think you could use another oil in the sauce, perhaps sunflower or rapeseed.
We are not allergic to sesame seeds and particularly love their flavour and crunch. I therefore toasted the sesame seeds in a dry pan. They are fussy things, cream coloured one minute, when suddenly they change colour. Look away for a moment and they go from tan to burnt! Beware!
Here is our finished dish:
And a close up.....
The taste verdict:
The wings were the right combination of slightly burnt on the extreme outside edges, but soft in the meaty parts. The marinade maintained the moisture during the grilling process.
The barbeque sauce was the best I have ever tasted. It had a spicy kick and decent afterburn but was not so fiery that it took away from the enjoyment of the dish. Making it at home meant the flavours were much more vibrant and intense than shop bought, which can be too cloying, bland and over-sweet.
The crudites in the blue cheese dip were a great contrast of texture and flavour to complement the wings, and being so simple, were ideal for this slighly fiddly and time consuming dish.
We were very impressed with the richness yet punch of the sauce, and it was a delight to nibble around the bones of the wings, savouring the succulent meat.
An impressive barbeque dish for foodies to give a try.
Snigdha would like to thank Waitrose for sending the barbeque and ingredients for the dish.