Recipe by Arthur Howell | www.arthurhowell.com
Here are 10 top tips from Wells butcher Arthur Howell on how not to burn your bangers or poison your pals!
- Plan what you’re going to cook in advance and get good quality meat from your butcher as excess fat and added sugar will make it more likely that your food will burn on the barbecue.
- Keep things simple so you’ve got more time to spend with your guests. A good guide is to cook three meat items per person. This should be plenty with side dishes and bread. Buying marinated meats, flavoured sausages and ready-made kebabs from your butcher can save you lots of time. If you’re making your own kebabs, soak the wooden skewers in water for at least an hour beforehand. Remember that if you’ve cooked your meat carefully it’s fine to refrigerate any leftovers and use them the next day in salads and sandwiches.
- Acidic marinades such as lemon juice, vinegar and wine are a good way to add tenderness and flavour to your meat. Simply leave your meat in the fridge in a tightly sealed plastic bag with the marinade for a few hours, ideally overnight. To avoid your meat burning, shake off any excess marinade before putting it on the barbecue. Using flavoured oils such as garlic, chilli or rosemary is an easy way to add flavour to your cooking.
- Make sure your barbecue is clean and ready to use. Think about your fuel and make sure you’ve got enough (for the best flavour use charcoal). Adding some wood chips that have been soaked in water to hot coals during cooking can add a nice smokiness to your food without risking burning it over open flames.
- Be patient – light your barbecue early (at least 30 minutes before you want to start cooking) and wait for the flames to die down. You should be aiming for a nice even heat, not a raging inferno! Once the flames have subsided and your charcoal has turned white, create cooking zones by heaping the coals to one side. This will give you a hot area to sear the meats and a slightly cooler area for gentler cooking.
- Take the chill off your meat before you cook it by removing it from the fridge 20 minutes before you want to cook it, this helps to prevent the outside from burning before the inside is cooked.
- Food safety is essential – using a meat thermometer is a good way to ensure the internal temperature of barbecued meat is hot enough but you also need to check that the juices run clear and there are no signs of blood when you pierce the cooked meat with a sharp knife. Use two sets of tongs when you’re barbecuing meat – one for raw meat and one for cooked to avoid cross contamination.
- Once your meat is cooked, set it aside for a few minutes to rest before serving it. This allows the meat (and the chef) time to relax before it’s served and the flavourful juices will be reabsorbed into the meat’s fibres.
- Don’t forget to add seasoning to your food, you can add herbs and spices (including pepper) at any stage in the preparation, but try not to add any salt until just before you cook the meat as it can draw out the moisture making it dry and tough.
- If you like your barbecued meat to be sweet and sticky you can ‘glaze’ your meat, but don’t do it until the last few minutes of the cooking time as the sugar will burn. Honey, maple syrup and black treacle are simple glazes that you can just brush on, but here are some other ideas to try:
- Chilli jam
- Good quality marmalade
- Cider or apple juice
- Mango chutney – particularly good with gammon
- Honey mixed with wholegrain mustard – great on sausages
- Redcurrant jelly mixed with fresh chopped mint – lovely on lamb chops
- Redcurrant jelly mixed with grated orange zest and a squeeze of orange juice
- Mustard mixed with brown sugar
- Mix 2 tbsps soft brown sugar, 2 tbsps cider vinegar, 2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsps mustard powder, 2 tsps tomato puree, then stir together 100mls beer with 100mls ketchup, 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, 1 crushed clove garlic and 1 tsp paprika
Norfolk Pork Kebabs with Seeded Pittas and Apple Slaw
Makes 4 generous servings
4tbsp of soft brown sugar
4tbsp of Norfolk cider vinegar
4tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
4tbsp of tomato purée
4tsp of English mustard powder
1tsp of sweet smoked paprika
2 medium red onions, peeled, chopped into wedges and layers separated
2 courgettes, cut into chunks (optional or can be substituted with green peppers or cherry tomatoes)
2 x 400g Norfolk pork tenderloins cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 tbsp of Norfolk rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
NB: you will also need 6 long kebab skewers (if using wooden, soak in boiling water for at least 1 hour
For the Apple and fennel slaw
I use fennel bulb in this fresh tasting slaw as a nod to Norfolk’s Roman history. The Romans loved fennel and believed it made them strong but it really is a Marmite of a vegetable in that people either love or hate. If you fall into the latter category, substitute the fennel bulb for some finely shredded white cabbage.
1 bulb fennel, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
4 sticks celery, finely sliced
100g of crème fraiche
1 level tsp of English mustard
Juice ½ lemon
1tsp of Norfolk cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Pittas:
These delicious breads may have their origins in Mesopotamia but when homemade with locally produced flour and rapeseed oil they make the perfect pocket for your kebabs.
250g of strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2tsp of golden linseeds (optional)
1 x 7g packet fast action yeast
1tsp of fine salt
1tbsp of Norfolk rapeseed oil, plus extra for oiling the bowl
Approximately 150ml of water
For the Kebabs:
Put all the ingredients, apart from the oil, in a large plastic food bag and seal well. Squidge the bag with your hands to make sure everything is thoroughly combined and the pork is well coated in the marinade. Leave the ingredients in the bag in the fridge to marinate for about four hours or preferably overnight, giving it an occasional turn to make to recoat the meat.
Thread the cubes of meat onto the soaked skewers alternating with a piece of onion and a piece of courgette, you should be able to make at least four large kebabs from this quantity but you may need to make more if your skewers are shorter.
Light the barbeque and allow to burn until the flames have subsided and the coals have turned white. Brush the kebabs with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill or barbeque the kebabs for 15 – 20 minutes until they are cooked through, you will need to turn them half way through. If there is any marinade left in the bag you can brush the kebabs with it occasionally whilst they are cooking to add a bit of an extra coating.
For the slaw:
Mix all the ingredients together and season to taste.
For the Pittas:
Place the flour and linseeds in a large bowl. Add the yeast on one side of the bowl and add the salt on the other side. Stir the ingredients together with your hand until mixed.
Add the oil. Add three-quarters of the water to the flour mixture and mix together by hand then add enough of the rest of the liquid to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes until the dough looks smooth and stretchy.
Oil a medium sized mixing bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside to rise, for about an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
When risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, to knock the dough back. Shape the dough into a ball.
Put two baking sheets in the oven and pre-heat it to 250°C (230°C fan, gas mark 9)
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece on a floured work top into an oval 5mm thick.
Remove the hot baking sheets from the oven and dust well with flour. Place the 2 pitta breads on each sheet and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until they are slightly golden and puffed up.
Cover the cooked pitta breads with a clean tea towel until you are ready to serve them.
Slide the pork off the kebab skewers. Split the warm pitta breads down one side and fill the apple and fennel slaw and top with the grilled meat.
- I don’t add any salt to the marinade for the pork as it draws out the moisture from the meat making it tough, I prefer to add my seasoning just before I pop the kebabs under the grill.
- This quantity of dough will make four large pittas but they freeze brilliantly and are quick to defrost so I would recommend making double the quantity and saving some for another day.
- Try substituting the seeds in the pittas for your own favourites for example poppy, cumin, nigella or fennel seeds.
- If you’re serving this as part of a barbeque with other meats, divide the dough to make six pittas and make smaller kebabs.
- If you like spicy food you could add a few dried chilli flakes to the marinade and serve the kebabs with a dollop of chilli sauce.
- Your pork doesn’t have to come from Norfolk but if possible, I would always advocate using locally sourced good quality pork.