Great food for the great outdoors! Four of the region’s top chefs come together to give their favourite alfresco menus – and memories
THE OH-SO-SIMPLE BBQ
Richard Turner owns the Michelin-starred Turners Restaurant in Harborne. His take on tasty barbecued lamb is so laid-back it pretty much cooks itself!
“Summer is a great time of year for British lamb which is at its best right now. The choice of cuts is vast from best ends to saddles, legs to Barnsley chops. All can be cooked ‘a la minute’ on the barbecue or in the kitchen pan fried nice and rare. But how about trying something a little different? In times gone by, farmers used to slow cook the so-called tougher cuts in fires in the ground. They would put the lamb in and cover, go off to work and come back after a long day in the fields and dig up the lamb which had slowly cooked in the embers of the fire. Now, I am not suggesting that you dig up the back lawn and start a fire! But how about buying a nice shoulder of lamb, boned and rolled from your local butcher (at the restaurant we buy all of our lamb from Roger Browns in Harborne) season with whatever you choose – rosemary and garlic or cumin and yoghurt for example – roll in tin foil ready to cook. Start the barbecue nice and early with lots of coals on a Sunday morning and once the flames have died down put the shoulder into the embers. Put the lid down and leave all day while you read the papers, watch the cricket or, in my case, wash the car and mow the lawns! A good eight hours is recommend and when ready to eat, remove the lamb from the coals, unwrap and inside you will have a beautiful cooked piece of meat which will just melt in your mouth. Serve with another British classic, steamed Jersey Royals, and a nice salad. You can let your imagination run wild with your seasonings for lamb and once you decided what you are going to use then choose you accompaniments. Moroccan spices for example with cous cous and barbecued aubergine. And don’t forget to enjoy your luscious lamb with a glass of cool Pinot Noir. Pure bliss….”
THE PERFECT PICNIC TREAT
Greg Pryce is the head chef at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham. As a kid growing up no picnic was complete without his mum’s ‘legendary’ quiche – which is why he’s picked his own version for you…
“You always think back on summer as a child and remember the sunny days, playing out on your bike, the family outings to the seaside or the country park and the six weeks holidays that seemed to last forever. The brain blocks out all those other days of staring at the rain running down the windows or the epic disappointment or knocking on your friend’s front door to find he’d already gone out! The dish from Hotel du Vin’s new alfresco menu that most reminds me of those summer family days sitting on the grass in the sunshine and getting stuck into mum’s carefully prepared picnic is our Beetroot, Caramelised Onion and Wealdway Goat’s Cheese Quiche. Mum’s quiche was legendary and I was never really interested in the sandwiches until all of it had gone.”
How to make Greg’s beetroot quiche: (For 8 portions)
- 100g butter
- 5 eggs
- 250ml milk
- 250ml cream
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 400g goat’s cheese
- 400g cooked beetroot (shredded)
- 1 onion (peeled, sliced and fried till soft and golden brown)
- 250g green beans (blanched, split lengthways)
- 250g tender stem broccoli (blanched)
- 100g pine nuts toasted
- 50g watercress
- 50g rocket
- House dressing
Method: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2½ mm (able to line an individual pastry case). Flour 8 pastry cases, place pastry in case and bake it blind for 20 minutes. Then remove beans and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is crisp. Mix the eggs, milk, cream and cayenne pepper seasoning and pass through a chinois. Cut goat’s cheese into 2cms dice. Split the goat’s cheese, beetroot and onions between the 8 tart cases, 50g per tart case, and fill to the top with egg mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 150 degrees C and cook for 25 minutes. Serve the quiche in the centre of the plate with the leaves, green beans, tender stem broccoli and add dressing
THE TERRIFIC TERRINE
Mike Bullard is the head chef at West Bromwich Albion – and a big fan of outdoor eating. So here, he’s given not one but two great eat treats using ham and pork. Enjoy!
“The perfect BBQ is all about the preparation. Everything you can get done the day before the better. Marinades, slow cooked meats, salad prep, soft boiling eggs, etc. Scotch eggs in my family are always popular. They were when I was younger along with pickled onions. My two boys, aged four and two, love the Scotch quails eggs I make for them when I’ve got time. Great as little snacks but they do take a while to prepare – usually a job for the day before. Other things that we never go without when we have a BBQ are Israeli cous cous, pasta salad, asparagus for the grill, buttered Jersey Royals and of course an ice cold beer! One of my favourite alfresco bites is a pulled pork burger with smokey BBQ sauce and diced apples sweated off in rich salted butter. The pork will take six or seven hours to cook so it’s best to do this the day before. Once it’s cooked use two forks to shred the meat. Add the BBQ sauce and diced apples and keep in the fridge until needed. Reheat in a pan gently.
How to make Mike’s ham hock and new potato terrine
- 2 ham hocks (soaked for 24 hours in cold water)
- 100g new potatoes
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 2 gelatine leaves
- 800ml ham hock cooking liquor
- Maldon sea salt & cracked black pepper
Method: Put the ham hocks in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes, skimming off the impurities. Add the veg and spices, simmer gently for three hours skimming as necessary. Don’t let the liquid boil as it will make the stock murky. Take the hocks out of the pan, strain the liquid into a bowl. Put 800ml of the stock into a clean pan, boil and reduce by half. Season well. Soak gelatine sheets in cold water until soft then add the ham to the ham hock liquid and stir to dissolve, Cool so the gelatine starts to set a little. Strip the meat from the ham hocks and put in a bowl. This is easier while the ham is still warm. Mix in the mustard, tarragon and chives. When the liquid starts to thicken, pour over the meat and stir. Lay out 2-3 layers of cling film and lay out the ham hock mix about 2cm thick in a square shape. Place the new potatoes in the middle of the mix in a horizontal line. Using the cling film, roll into a sausage shape and tie both ends, making sure it’s extremely tight. Chill overnight. Serve slices with a good quality piccalilli for an indulgent picnic dish.
THE REALLY GOOD PUD
Stephen Taylor is head chef at the Centenary Bar and Brasserie at The REP. He says a really good barbecue needs a great pud to round it off in style – and he’s got just the thing!
“When I think about alfresco dinning and BBQs it makes me smile and wish we had the weather to do it all year round. When you think about those long summer nights you can almost taste the whole sea bass wrapped in foil cooking away on the BBQ with a nice piece of tender steak and the classic British sausage. Or simply sat in the park with some charcuterie, bread, wine and who can forget our great British strawberries. bread, wine and who can forget our great British strawberries. Here’s my idea of the perfect way to finish off the perfect alfresco meal – a flavoursome Banoffe trifle.
How to make Stephen’s Banoffe trifle: (Serves 4)
- 3 x bananas
- 1 small tin of condensed milk
- ½ litre of double cream
- Icing sugar
- 1 Mars bar
- Punnet of strawberries
- Sponge fingers
- 100g butter
- 50g brown sugar
- 1 dairy milk bar
Method: Immerse the tin of condensed milk in boiling water for around 1hr 30mins, then leave to cool while you get everything else ready. Melt the butter in a pan, add the brown sugar, cook until the sugar has dissolved. Add half of your banana (thinly sliced) until they are cooked and soft. Leave on a tray to cool. Melt down the dairy milk bar, carefully dip the remaining sliced banana to coat and leave on a baking rack in the fridge to set (place a tray underneath to catch the drips). Whip the cream into a soft peak, add the icing sugar to taste. Open the tin of condensed milk and you should have a very sticky, gooey toffee sauce. Take a large wine glass and layer in the following order from the bottom up: caramelised banana, sponge fingers, quarter-cut strawberries, toffee sauce, chocolate-coated banana, whipped cream. Finally grate some Mars bar over the top for garnish.