Calabrian Spicy Sausages

Calabrian Spicy Sausages

I have seen these sausages in M&S quite a few times, but have never bought them until this weekend, where they were reduced by 35%. 

The suino bianco pigs are outdoor bred by the Madeo family in the hills of San Demetrio Corone in Calabria, Italy to the highest welfare standards. The suino bianco naturally has marbled meat and its diet of cereals such as barley, corn and flax seed add to its characteristic delicate flavour. Made from Calabrian pork blended with aromatic spices.

Calabrian Spicy Sausages

I cut them in half and cooked them on the barbecue.

They were quite spicy, but I wasn’t that impressed with them. They had a kick, but I felt like they lacked flavour, the chilli took over what every that characteristic delicate flavour was that the pork was supposed to have. They were still nice, but I don’t think I would buy them again.

No.1 British Free Range Pork Ribeye Steak

I had seen this pack in Waitrose a few times now and was intrigued.

British pork ribeye steak with sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Free range pork ribeye steak, tender, succulent and full of flavour, from pigs sired by pedigree Hampshire boars, a breed renowned for excellent meat. All our pigs are reared to higher welfare standards by British farmers who share our values

I was planning a barbecue with a mix of meats, so decided I would add this pork steak to the mix.

In the box was a sealed plastic pack containing the pork. I cut it open and was pleasantly surprised to find two steaks in the pack.

I then read the instructions on the back of the box…

Ah…

It said…

Remove bag from box. Place the bag in simmering water for 15 minutes, remove from bag and pan fry on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes using butter to baste.

Well I didn’t do that!

Anyhow I cooked the steaks on the barbecue and they cooked well and were very tasty.

Barbecuing a whole chicken

We had a barbecue today and I cooked a whole chicken on the barbecue.

I have done this method of barbecuing a whole chicken many times now and each time, the end result has been delicious tender moist chicken full of smokey and chargrilled flavours.

The first part of the process is to spatchcock the chicken. I don’t have a pair of poultry shears so I usually use a big cook’s knife to cut out the backbone. I also don’t use skewers to secure the legs or keep it flat, but you just have to be more careful when turning the chicken when it is on the barbecue.

This time I seasoned and marinaded the chicken with garlic, salt and pepper, herbs, lemon juice, and some olive oil.

Though you can cook a spatchcocked chicken directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the chicken is properly cooked, through, without burning or overcooking the outside. Part of the issue is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill.

As for the barbecue, the key here is to avoid cooking the chicken over a direct heat. After lighting the charcoal, once the flames have died down, and they are covered in grey ash you can start to cook. However the first thing you need to do is to move the coals to the sides of the barbecue leaving the middle empty, the chicken will be placed over this empty zone. Moving the coals can be tricky as they will be really hot, but the aim is to create a circle of hot coals around a clear area. This will allow the chicken to be cooked via in-direct heat without overcooking or burning.

The chicken is placed down on the grill carcass side down. I then use a wok lid to cover the chicken. This creates an oven effect and helps to stop the chicken drying out. You could of course if you have one use the lid on your barbecue.

barbecuing over charcoal

Turn the chicken after 15-20 minutes and cook the skin side. Take care when turning the chicken, especially if you like me didn’t use skewers.

Actual timing will depend on the heat of the barbecue and the size of the chicken.

Re-cover with the wok lid and cook for another 15 minutes, ensuring that the chicken doesn’t burn.

Check the chicken is cooked and then remove from the barbecue.

The end result is delicious moist barbecued chicken.

I served mine with salad and bread.

Time again for a Samba Box

Back in July 2021 when I was working in (what was then) a very quiet London I went to the Leather Lane street food market and after queuing in the rain had a delicious Brazilian Samba Box. 

Though since then I have been to the Leather Lane street food market many times, I hadn’t had a chance to repeat the experience. Mainly as there is a lot of choice in the market and I like to try different things, also, the queue for the stall is often very lengthy.

So on a return visit to Leather Lane street food market I decided I would have another Samba Box. I joined the queue and waited, no rain this time, and the queue moved quite fast. I chose the chargrilled chicken thighs which were served with Rio rice, black beans, coleslaw and lettuce. I also had some additional halloumi with my dish.

Samba Box

It looked great and was very tasty.

The chicken had lots of flavour, but this time was a little dried out compared to my previous visit. I liked the salad and the rice was nice as well I had mine served with chimichurri which was a nice accompaniment.

I really enjoyed the whole box and it was so nice to have something, fresh and tasty.

German Pasta

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer, and then collected your food from the kitchen. I had started with soup, after finishing that, I then went back to the screen to order some pasta.

I ordered the linguine with beef tenderloin, shrimp, lobster sauce, carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, spring onions, basil, brandy. I liked how you could use the type of pasta in your dish and add extras if needed (such as cheese).

The pasta was perfectly cooked and the rest of the dish was very tasty, though I didn’t really taste the lobster in the lobster sauce. 

It was certainly an interesting pasta dish and I enjoyed it. In some ways it was a strange combination of ingredients, though you often have prawns and steak together as a surf and turf. Would I have it again, probably.

Barbecued Lamb

Last August I barbecued some joints of lamb on my barbacue.

Cooking joints of meat on a barbecue is not a simple process, you can have undercooked or raw on the inside and burnt and charred on the outside.

I used this process to cook two different kinds of lamb joint. I had a mini lamb shoulder and a boned half leg of lamb.

The first thing I did was to prepare the lamb by seasoning with salt and pepper and then marinating with rosemary, and some olive oil.

Though you can cook these kinds of joint directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the lamb is properly cooked, through, without burning or overcooking the outside. Part of the issue is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill.

After the coals have reached cooking temperature, move them to the sides of the barbecue, so that when the lamb is placed on the grill, it is not over direct heat.

The lamb was then covered, I used a wok lid, but this is where a kettle barbecue comes into its own.

The end result was a properly cooked lamb, which was moist and succulent and full of flavour.

The Windsor Castle BBQ

The Windsor Castle

I was listening to some live music at The Windsor Castle and decided to have a burger from their barbecue.

The chef heated up the (recently) cooked burger on the plancha on the barbecue. This was then served in a roll with cooked onions. I then had to add my own cheese, lettuce, tomato and sauce.

It was quite a tasty burger, lots of nice flavours. 

I do think it was a little pricey at £5.50 for what I got (and what I had to do).

Pork Shoulder Kebab

When I was last in Waitrose I saw in their barbecue range a Mexican inspired pork king kebab

Outdoor-bred British pork (shoulder) is seasoned with a spicy Al Pastor rub which blends chipotle and ancho chilli, black pepper, cumin, clove and cinnamon. Finished with a sticky pineapple, chilli and oregano glaze. 

I did quite like the sound of this, but then I saw the price of £9.50 (£11.88 per kg). Well this put me off slightly and I did think it might me a little too spicy for some.

So I decided to have a go at making it myself. I got some pork shoulder from Aldi, which was £3.19 (£4.56 per kg). This I cut into strips and then rubbed with some pepper and garlic seasoning, and some salt.

I then threaded the strips onto skewers. I used two skewers so that the pork was like a flat slab.

This I then chargrilled on my griddle pan.

Once the pork was cooked, I let it rest and then I sliced the pork off the skewer.

It was rather good.

On the barbecue

Over the weekend we had a couple of barbecues. It is one of my favourite ways of cooking. Even a little rain wasn’t enough to put me off.

On Saturday we had burgers, seasoned chicken and lamb ribs. Sunday we had a similar spread, with beef kebabs, lemon chicken and more lamb ribs.

For the lemon chicken, I marinaded some chicken thighs in lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic oil and some Schwartz Chicken Seasoning. This is then cooked on the barbecue. 

I find that you have to be careful to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked, so I use an old wok lid on top, to cover the chicken, to “roast” the chicken as it is grilled. I really like the crispy chicken skin that you get on the barbecue.

For the seasoned chicken I followed a similar process, but used a new chicken seasoning (from Morrisons) which had turmeric, so the chicken was quite yellow. It was delicious.

The lamb ribs were from Waitrose and I seasoned them with salt, pepper and rosemary before placing them on the barbecue.

I did think that they might need longer cooking, but they were tasty and tender.

The burgers and kebabs were from Aldi and were quite good.

Hoping the weather continues to improve so we can have more barbecues.

Japanese BBQ Beef

Back in July I was working in London and out for lunch, I headed off to the Leather Lane street food market, where there are plenty  of choices of places to eat.

On Leather Lane is Mugen, a Japanese restaurant.

Contemporary Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar and traditional minimalist decor.

During the market they put up a food stall outside their restaurant and they had a good looking menu.

I went with the Beef Bavette BBQ Combo. This was a substantial lunch with a base of rice, stir fried, vegetables, egg, pumpkin  katsu and pickled ginger. On top is sliced baguette steak finishing off with a sauce.

BBQ Beef

I have to say, that though I enjoyed the food, it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be. The steak lacked seasoning and the pumpkin  katsu lacked flavour. Overall I was a little disappointed.