My First BBQ….and Blog
38 and 3/4s
A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away….
A mysterious new acquaintance offered me ‘The Opportunity of a Lifetime’ and suggested I explore my wildest dreams by fulfilling a lifelong ambition to become a Flamingo Farmer on the Galapagos Islands.
‘Well, alright then!’ I thought, and after packing my toothbrush and Flamingo Calipers, proceeded to find someone to look after my home for a month whilst I turned a mere fantasy into reality!
That ‘someone’ was none other than expert Barbecue Enthusiast and President of the Leonard Stanley Chapter of ‘Gingers Unite – The Follicley Challenged Support Charity’, Al Peters. He also owns a blog about… fishing…. or something.
Apart from crashing my car, using my recycling bin as a toilet and replacing all my carpets with ‘Silly String’, Al’s adventure in Letchworth was far more successful than my foray into the breeding of exotic poultry. Thus, my return to Hertfordshire and the pursuit of some other elaborate success, having cast into memory that terrible Flamingo flavoured disaster that proved to be the downfall of Trinidad and Tobago.
As a thank you for facilitating his month of carnage, Al left me by way of a gift, a giant cereal bowl and an oversized mug with a hole in the bottom… All of which, I later discovered, were the tools needed to create my own blog which shall from now on be known as ‘251°F BBQ’! A rather catchy and totally original name I think, and here’s the logo I made all by myself with no influence from anyone else!
Having finally established that these fine gifts from Al were not in fact what I thought they were, there seemed to be no other course of action…than to go to the pub.
But when I returned, I decided to host my first BBQ (I believe this how kids today ((and Al)) spell it).
An arduous task for a beginner such as myself you might think… But, with the correct guidance from my overactive imagination, and the rugged manliness that I naturally possess from having a glorious beard, the ancient Roman tradition of Gladiatorial Salmon Jousting was something I would fully investigate after burning 2 packets of sausages and my favourite shorts with my new toys.
The day finally arrived when the weather decided to be sunny for more than 5 minutes and not to snow. 35 phone calls later, and I had my first accepted invite! After all, such a momentous occasion requires an audience of the most non-judgmental people I could think of to hide my food in flower pots and pretend they didn’t feel ill. For my first attempt at this noble art, I decided to keep the menu simple.
However, barbecuing Frosties is actually quite tricky, so a 2nd trip to the supermarket was needed.
The obligatory packets of burgers and sausages obviously, but I felt the need to be a little more adventurous, and constructed kebabs on some sticks I found in the shed. Two kinds, Diced Lamb or Chicken, interrupted by chunks of Red, Green and Yellow Peppers, Red Onion, Tomato and Courgette. ‘These…’ I thought, ‘will be a good test of my natural BBQ-ing prowess!’.
So, on to creating fire!
‘How hard can it be?’ you might think… I mean, who (in their youth) hasn’t accidentally set their bedroom on fire and tried to blame it on the cat? Or watched in sheer amazement as their parent’s greenhouse smouldered away after trying to fill the paddling pool? Fire should be easy!
So, after several wasted bottles of my favourite beer, I realised that the ‘bottomless mug’ wasn’t in fact a ‘bottomless mug’, but a ‘Burney-Coal-Chimney-Cup’ (trademark name of ‘251°F BBQ’) which you use to entice your coals to reaching the opti-notch of their existence, or, a good cooking heat. I remember reading an article about such a device by some other name on some other BBQ website…
By stuffing the base of the Burney-Coal-Chimney-Cup with newspaper and the instructions to your mothers Stair Lift, and then lighting the cylindrical vessel…on all sides (Al), the Burney-Coal-Chimney-Cup allows a heady mixture of air, science and magic to coax the coals inside to cooking temperature in mere minutes, as opposed to several hours and gallons of lighter fluid. Once I could feel, and smell, my eyebrows cooking from the other end of the garden, it was time to decant my coals into the bottom of my new Weber BBQ for its Maiden Voyage!
*On a Health and Safety note, it’s probably better to just ‘tip’ the contents of the Burney-Coal-Chimney-Cup into the BBQ rather than trying to move handfuls at a time… It’s a bit sore…
But before I proceed with what will become the greatest adventure you’ll read in the next 10 minutes, here are some photos to prove that it actually happened!
Guests arrived…and promptly left. Then other guests arrived and were trapped by the scary neighbourhood cats. Beers were opened, tears were shed, and the first round of Kebabs nestled comfortably onto the grill to be removed of all flavour except ‘burnt’.
No fancy dry rubs just yet, but I felt that a mixture of assorted vegetables and meat on a stick was a fairly good barometer for finding the right sized ‘BBQ Boots’. Not wanting to burn the veg, but needing to ensure the meat was cooked… Fairly simple now it’s written down, but at the time, and with other people’s wellbeing at stake, it’s important to resist the beer fuelled thought that ‘it’llbealright…hic’! A fairly standard start to what I’m certain will be a BBQ success story.
The kebabs were a hit and, I dare say, a favourite amongst my visitors that weren’t digging an escape tunnel in the shed. Next up, burgers and sausages.
Now. I like to think of myself as a fairly adventurous cook, I can turn pretty much whatever I find in the street into something edible, and making burgers from scratch is very much on the ‘to-do list’. But in this instance, the supermarket pack will have to do. No ordinary burgers though, I’ll have you know, Vintage Cheddar Quarter Pounders! ‘They’re surely too complex for a beginner!’ I hear you cry. Not me, by this point, I was fearless!
They turned out well… Again, I feel that practice will help get the process just right. Burgers are a little like sausages… This is actually a lie… as they’re not. But, what I mean is, you have to get the outside cooked well, but not burnt, whilst making sure the inside is cooked well enough to not make anyone ill. This, I managed. And without the drunk, iron-stomach goggles on! A great way to hide your burger mistakes is to have a pack of ‘cheese’ slices on hand. These are the plastic orange things near the dairy fridge section in the supermarket. It’s not really cheese, no one knows what it is. But the thing it grows on is hideous and probably shouldn’t be eaten.
Sausages, on the other hand, although delicious and almost my favourite food, are near impossible to get right.
For instance, the sausages I attempted to cook on the BBQ, were black on the outside when I had finished with them. They had actually become the very thing that was cooking them. Charcoal. It is possible to say that my attention wavered and that it was merely a cooking mistake, but I feel they are more reminiscent of the stereotypical Scotsman in the sun…. White, white, white, white, white, white, white, BURNT! I wonder if I should have drowned them in Factor 30 first…? And to highlight just how incredibly awkward a food they are, these were frozen in the middle. They hadn’t even been in the freezer.
Halloumi. Another favourite and a strong BBQ choice. I chose to cook mine ‘dirty’ which basically means allowing it to melt through the grill and drip onto the coals below. It becomes a little game and a true test of endurance trying to eat it like a corn on the cob, with the Halloumi as the corn and red-hot coals as the cob. Not for everyone, but as I’m destined to be a BBQ Blogger, I felt I could jump straight in with this expert manoeuvre. If you’re not a fan of the dirty cooking method, maybe try to keep it in a hub cap on the grill for a bit of containment, this is called ‘Zoning’.
In addition to the aforementioned slightly blackened treats, were the typical BBQ accompaniments. Salad that has wilted before it’s even made it outside, coleslaw that only ever makes you think, ‘why?’ and booze.
A selection of Brewdog libations, Kronenbourg and Gin were all on offer in varying amounts. So much so, that I doubt that the many discrepancies in the actual food were even noticeable until the following day whereby any discomfort or illness was most likely caused by something else.
And thus, concludes this account of My first BBQ. In the immortal words of Obi Wan Kenobi
‘These are not the Droids you are looking for.’
I’ll be back soon with another blog asking ‘do dogs think in English?’. And tune in for the forthcoming first episode of ‘The 250°F BBQ Podcast’, starring yours truly, Al Peters, Chris Mence, Chuck Norris, Mary Berry and Frankenstein’s Monster.
Remember guys, 251°F BBQ! 1 better than any other food blog on the market!