Because the British weather is infinitely unpredictable…
It’s worth knowing how to create the nostalgia-laced tastes of the sunny season without running the risk of your barbecue being extinguished by rain. Arm yourself with these tricks in the run up to summer and you’ll be able to dine indoors, while evoking what’s beyond.
1. Invest in a good griddle pan
They don’t need to be expensive but they do need to have deep groves so that the oil and fat from the meat can drain away – as it would in the real outdoors – and leave your food with discernible marks from the grill. These marks don’t only look great, they make everything taste fantastically charred. Beyond meat, red and yellow peppers take on that charred flavour very well, as do asparagus and green beans – all ingredients that can be served as a side or tossed into a salad.
2. Use smoked seasonings
Paprika is super-smoky so is great for evoking flavours from the Great Outdoors. Add to marinades and sauces for a BBQ-worthy kick. Other good smoked seasonings are smoked garlic powder and smoked salt.
3. Get messy with treacle & molasses
Sweet sticky marinades remind us of clutching ribs and eating them with our hands. It doesn’t really matter that you don’t cook them on the grill - in fact slow and low is usually best so putting them in the oven makes for great results - just make sure that you add a sticky ingredient like treacle, molasses, honey or malt syrup into your marinade. And that you eat them with your hands, of course!
4. Make your own indoor smoker
For something a little more adventurous, make your own indoor smoker by lining a wok with foil, putting some wood chips in the bottom, a cooling rack on top, and finally a lid. Turn your hob to high and wait for smoke (you’ll need an extractor fan for this one). At this point add some fish or meat. You can also use tea instead of wood chips – there’s plenty of room for experimentation here.
5. Rosemary kebab sticks
Use a hardy stick of rosemary to pierce through pieces of meat or fish before placing them under your oven grill. As the rosemary heats up it’ll fill the kitchen with smoky, herby aromatics.
6. Smoked meat
As well as smoked seasonings at our disposal, we have smoked meat, from bacon to chorizo and pastrami. Diced and fried at a high heat until slightly charred, these are all good sprinkled over salads, or used to top burgers.
7. DIY barbecue sauce
Make your own by beginning with a lot of tomatoes, oven roasted at a low temperature. When your tomatoes are sweet and sticky blitz them with your other ingredients. Then either use it as an accompaniment or as a marinade.
7. The all-important time-filling snacks
Begin by grazing on crisps and dip. Waiting for food is something we associate with basking in good weather because the barbecue is never quite up to temperature and there are always crisps and dip…