A perfect barbecue

Pork belly chops

Pork belly chops - Credit: Archant

Kent Life’s chef of the year 2014 Andy McLeish on his love of summer barbecues and favourite pork belly chops

I absolutely love barbecues - relaxing in my garden on a hot summer’s day with my favourite glass of wine in one hand and some barbecue ribs in the other.

No surprises here, but I really enjoy cooking on my barbecue, it makes a nice change from all the fine dining cooking techniques I use at Chapter One.

While the very thought of a barbecue is my idea of heaven, I am aware that for many, receiving an invite from a family member or friend fills them with dread: burnt sausages, undercooked chicken, under-seasoned meat, soggy salads, warm Rosé, a dodgy stomach the next day… the list goes on.

Barbecuing food is actually quite simple, it’s just about getting the technique right and making sure your meat and vegetables are prepped in advance.

This month, I thought I’d share my top tips on how you can become a barbecue pro and impress your friends and family this summer.

Meat and fish often require special attention before they are subjected to a hot grill. They need to relax; in effect, salt rubs can become massage salts. As the salt gets rubbed into the meat it does a magical thing by extracting the water and relaxes it.

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Andy’s top tips

1) Meat, especially pork and beef should be of the highest quality. Your local butcher should always be your first point of call

2) Use a salt rub to massage into your meat the day before you BBQ

3) For basting, I tie a generous bunch of rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, sage together with a string and use that dipped in olive oil or a marinade of your choice to baste your meat or fish

4) There are many types of barbecues on the market, the gas version does the trick and is probably the most popular due to the convenience. However, a wood-fired barbecue cannot be beaten and is the most highly prized among connoisseurs for the flavour it gives the food

5) Remember, a good barbecue gives a slow and low temperature that is finished by increasing the heat to caramelise the amazing smoky flavour you have produced over the hours of cooking

My recipe is my delicious barbecue pork belly chops and I’ve also included my (I guess not- so-secret now!) marinade. This dish is sweet, sticky and will get everyone licking their fingers and asking for more. Enjoy.

RECIPE

Barbecue belly chops

2kg pork belly with skin removed but rib bones left intact

For the marinade

30g Special ground spice (see below)

50ml Vegetable oil

50ml Tabasco

50g English Mustard

50g Maldon seasalt

50ml Cider

50g Molasses

50g Marmalade

Special ground spice

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp celery seeds

1tsp dried chilli

1tsp star anise

1tsp smoked paprika

1tsp coriander seeds

1tsp mustard seeds

20 black peppercorns

Preheat the oven and roast all the spices in a tray until golden, around 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices, as it will give a bitter taste. Remove from the oven and blend together until you get a powder. This mix can then be kept in an airtight container for months. This mix can be used for seasoning all meats and fish.

Method

Add all the marinade ingredients together to form a paste then massage the paste into the pork belly making sure you work it into all of the meat. Leave them covered in the refrigerator over night.

Remove the ribs from the fridge and shake off the excess marinade, which you will keep to baste the ribs with later.

Place the ribs bone side down on the warm barbecue at about 110ºC and if you have two shelves on your barbecue, use the top one away from the direct heat.

Close the lid on your barbecue and leave for about six to seven hours, occasionally checking that the temperature is right and turning the meat.

Check the meat is cooked. You should be able to pick up the meat with the tongs and the meat should have a little spring to it and shouldn’t feel tough.

Remove the belly ribs and cut them into portions.

Increase the heat on your barbecue and place the ribs onto the grill.

Baste the ribs with the excess marinade you reserved using the herb-basting tie I spoke about earlier.

Cook the ribs until golden brown and serve.

Next month: Andy cooks confit of duck leg with a cassoulet of Coco beans, Pancetta and Toulouse sausage

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