A couple of my fave things here—jalapeños in brine and chicken breast with skin. There seemed a time when we all obsessed about skinless chicken breasts. And what an odd obsession, don’t you think? Leaving the skin on makes all the difference when it comes to fl avour. Even if you don’t like the skin (you can always put it aside—someone else at the table is bound to snap it up) leaving it on during cooking will make the breast lovely and tender. As for jalapeños, I use them all the time in salsas with corn, in mayonnaise and even Chinese stir-fries with pork or duck.
2 tablespoons sliced jalapeños in brine, drained
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 large handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 anchovy fi llets in oil, drained
125 g (ó cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 chicken breasts, with wings attached and skin on lime halves, to serve
fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
To make the jalapeño butter, put all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until well combined.
Transfer to a bowl.
Rub as much of the butter mixture as you can under the skin of the chicken breasts, being careful not to break the skin. Rub any remaining butter over the skin and sprinkle with a little sea salt. You can secure the skin with toothpicks. This will help prevent the skin from retracting when cooked.
Preheat the barbecue hotplate to high and close the lid to create a hot-oven effect. Sit the chicken on a rack and sit the rack over a deep baking tray. Half fill the baking tray with water and sit it on the barbecue.
Close the lid and cook for 35–40 minutes, until the skin is golden. Remove from the barbecue and allow to rest for 10–15 minutes.
Serve with the lime halves and coriander.
I can totally understand if you do not enjoy tofu as it is often cooked really badly. I mean, if you cooked a fillet steak for 20 minutes each side you probably wouldn’t like it either. Tofu is about the texture. It is a chameleon of sorts and takes on the flavours it is cooked with. So when cooked well (and by this I generally mean simply and quickly), and used with other flavours, you will understand why tofu is no longer only enjoyed by vegetarians. If you can’t get your hands on kecap manis, soy sauce with a little brown sugar will do the job nicely.
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 makrut (kaffir lime) leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
300 g (10ó oz) block firm tofu
kecap manis, to serve
coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to serve
Put the lemongrass, garlic, lime leaves, ginger, fish sauce, vegetable oil and sugar in a food processor and blend to make a chunky sauce. Transfer to a bowl with the tofu. Gently turn the tofu so it is evenly covered in the mixture. Set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours.
Preheat the barbecue hotplate to medium.
Put the block of tofu on the hotplate, scraping any of the sauce over the tofu. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn over the tofu.
The lemongrass mixture will have cooked golden and charred in some places. Cook, covered, for another 5 minutes.
Cut into large cubes, transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with the kecap manis and scatter over the coriander.
You know, we often think that we need to eat meat as soon as it comes off the barbecue. And most things, like a good steak, may well taste better when eaten straight after cooking. But then there are some things which you just have to rest, like whole chickens and big, beefy cuts of meat. And then there is a recipe like this, which is just as tasty cold as it is hot.
1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) pork shoulder, skin on
375 ml (1ó cups) red wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sit the pork, skin side up, in a non-metallic dish.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the pork every 6 hours or so.
Remove from the marinade 1 hour before cooking.
Preheat the barbecue hotplate and grill to high and close the lid to create a hot-oven effect. Sit the pork, skin side up, on a cooking rack set over a deep-sided baking tray half filled with water. Put the tray on the hotplate, close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 1. minutes, topping up the tray with water as it evaporates.
Remove the pork to a serving plate, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15–20 minutes before carving.
Take note of this method of adding seasoning and flavour to just-cooked eggplant. The heat of the eggplant releases the fragrant oil in the spices. Eggplant is a highly absorbent veggie, you will notice how much oil it sucks up when being fried.
2 medium sized eggplants (aubergines)
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
ó teaspoon chilli powder
125 g (ó cup) labneh (strained yoghurt)
1 large handful mint, roughly torn
Cut the eggplant lengthways into large wedges.
Preheat the barbecue grill to medium. Put the eggplant in a bowl with the rice bran oil and toss to coat in the oil. Tumble the eggplant onto the grill and cook for 12–15 minutes, using tongs to turn often until golden and just tender. Put into a bowl.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, cumin and chilli powder in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the eggplant while it is still hot and toss to coat in the spice mixture.
Smear the labneh onto a serving platter. Spoon the eggplant over and scatter over the mint.