Summer is finally here – time to party like you’re living in the Med. Open the doors, invite friends around, and soak up the sunshine. Start as you mean to go on, make the most of this glorious weather and fire up the grill this weekend.
Declan Dunne, executive chef at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin, gives his tips on the perfect barbecue.
1. A really good barbecue set should have two cooking areas, one very hot and one moderate. Seal on the hot, cook on the moderate.
2. Only salt your meat seconds before applying heat. If substituting salt with lemon juice, use lemon juice at the end of cooking.
3. Prime cuts of meat are best cooked fast and dry on the barbecue (fillet, loin, rump), muscles or cheaper cuts such as belly and legs are better if you cook them slow and moist. Connective tissue elastin – the white ribboney looking sinew – will not cook down on hot, dry BBQ cooking, and will be chewy and inedible. Take some time to remove all of this; it’s worth it. Get yourself a good temperature probe – this really helps to know when your meat is cooked.
4. Love a barbecued leg of lamb? Lamb flavour works perfectly with a good spice rub, charred on the outside and pink in the middle. Ask your butcher for your leg of lamb boned but not rolled, so the meat is nice and flat and open. Marinade overnight, in a spice rub if you like or even olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary. Seal on the hot side, cook on the moderate side of the barbecue. Rest and carve.
5. It’s really important to always allow meat to rest for at least five minutes after cooking before cutting/carving/eating. This allows the fibres to realign, making it more tender and retaining more juices.
6. If grilling corn on the cob, try brushing it after grilling with mayonnaise and rolling in Parmesan – sounds a little odd, but its really good!
7. BBQ fish on the bone is the best part of the summer – the bigger, the better. There are lots of tools available now to assist you.Strawberries added to a salad brings a sense of luxury to your salad table, e.g., with little gem, mayonnaise, and pecan nuts, or added to a Greek salad, or with goat’s cheese, rocket/spinach, and pistachio or cashews.
8. Fondue at sundown – a camembert in the wooden box goes down famously a few hours after the main event. Leave it in the wooden box, brush with garlic, drizzle with white wine and place in a warm area of the BBQ to do its thing. You can serve it with croutons or bread on a skewer, celery sticks or even with diced fresh mango or strawberries.
The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel can cater for barbecues of up to 200 people, 01 898 2900; radissonblu.ie/royalhotel-dublin.