Even though the sun may not have been blaring, we managed to cobble together something pretty smoked, barbecued and fresh over the weekend. Here is a little guide on how we serve up a delicious and fun BBQ in a London Park...
Try as it might, the summer sun is being made to work for it this year, so this past weekend we took some time out to try and enjoy it with our first barbecue of the summer. I've been trying to organise a day in our local park (Highbury Fields) for the last few weekends, but for various reasons it's just not happened. At the risk of forcing it, I made sure that this past weekend was definitely going to happen. For the benefit of those reading who might not live in London, or are unaware of the plight that us “flat-dwellers” face when it comes to trying to cook delicious food on coals, it's almost impossible to find anywhere to have a BBQ legally or safely. The rear-ends of our buildings are often home to garbage, concrete or (worst of all) nosy neighbours who think we're about to have a giant rave with our “posse”, thus rendering BBQ life somewhat difficult to come by. Here in Islington, however, we are immensely lucky to have been blessed with a lovely park in which to fuel our charcoal-habit....as long as we are safe and use smoke-free fire-starters. Thanks to this we marched ourselves up to the park, food and tools in hand and prepared to enjoy catching up with friends as the sun fought to burst through the clouds above us; read on to see what we had.
Smoked, then Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork
A few days prior, I took out my Pro-Q Cold Smoker and some oak-wood chips to make our version of a BBQ classic. We've mentioned it before but this cold smoker really can do wonders for the flavour of food without the need for any complicated equipment (you could even smoke inside a cardboard box if you lacked other means). For the budding foodie/home cook you should definitely consider investing in one as soon as possible...trust me, you'll love it! After purchasing a Pork shoulder from our, ahem, “local grocery supermarket convenience superpower corporation market store” I gave it a good dredging in our Smoke & Salt dry rub (recipe here). With the smoker up and running in the old kettle grill, I placed the rubbed shoulder on a rack and let it smoke away for 5 hours, to allow the shoulder to bask in the wispy light blue smoke generated by the smoker. Just remember that at this point you're not actually cooking anything, but just imparting flavour.
Once smoked, the pork shoulder gets wrapped in lots of foil to slow cook in the oven in its own juices, making things even smokier as it has to cook at 140 C for 6 more hours (check out this video from Mark Gevaux, aka The Ribman, aka The Ribman to see how he does it). Turn the oven off then allow your oven AND the pork shoulder to cool down together to allow the moisture in the foil-pack to cool down slightly and absorb back into the protein strands of your pork, which will be ready to shred after about 4 hours of resting. It's not the quickest process, true, but man is it delicious! We had ours with beef-dripping brioche buns (maybe we should do a recipe on how to make them? Let us know below if you think so) and some of A's home-made barbecue sauce. I may have snuck some sriracha onto mine though.
Healthy Eating: Slaw, Simple Salad, Potato Salad
Chef A brought some Asian flavours to a classic vinegar-based (no mayonnaise for us please) carrot/onion/cabbage slaw with the addition of fresh coriander (cilantro!) and ginger for even greater deliciousness. The mayonnaise did find it's way into a potato salad though along with some cooked then halved potatoes and some sliced spring onion. Sliced romaine hearts dressed with a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, garlic and olive oil rounded off the healthy eating section!
Want any of these recipes or have some more ideas of things we could have incorporated? Comment and let us know below. R.