YOU can certainly smell the best barbecues way before you see them.
Forget the heavy, fuel-laden whiffs you get in the British suburbs on a warm summer’s evening.
The art of a great barbecue is something much more subtle, lighter and sweeter – a ripe smokiness that is all about its allure.
“I never use firelighters or fuel,” explains top UK chef Cass Titcombe, formerly of the Canteen chain.
“I light it using sticks and, if possible, orange wood and rosemary, which gives it a great smell.
“Only once it is going do I stick on the charcoal.”
There is certainly no measure of a better summer evening than to hear the sizzling of grilled meats and vegetables.
But actually watching a master in action is a beauty to behold.
At restaurant Molino del Santo, in Benaojan, top chef Gordon Brown has spent years perfecting his barbecuing skills.
At the regular, twice weekly bbq nights, the Scottish chef experiments with a range of dishes including cod with ginger, chilli and coriander and home-made fillet steak burgers, as well as locally-reared baby goat cutlets.
There are always char-grilled vegetables, ever-changing potato dishes and three excellent dipping sauces, such as Texas barbecue, roast pepper and basil and chilli butter.
Best of all, dinner is enjoyed on the charming riverside terrace, candles flickering in the evening light.
Here Gordon offers some of his favourite BBQ recipes…
Gordon’s BBQ Sauce – used to glaze meat on the grill and as a Dipping Sauce
400 ml ketchup
200 gr brown sugar
100 ml red wine vinegar
4 tbsp honey
50 gr butter
1/2 small red chili
1/2 red onion
2/3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Simmer all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Blitz with a hand blender and ready for use.
Pork marinade (ideal for tenderloin)
1/2 onion, finely grated or chopped
1 bunch of fresh marjorem or oregano
1 chili, finely diced
10/12 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
6 cups of cold water
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the meat for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. (Refrigerate if the latter!)
Cider vinagrette to drizzle over carved pork
200 ml cider
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Use warm or cold.
Chilled pea and basil soup
1.25 kg frozen peas
350 gr potatoes
1 stalk of celery
2.5 l vegetable stock
100 gr fresh basil
30 gr fresh mint
50 gr fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Defrost the peas – having the peas defrosted and adding them at the last moment helps the soup keep its colour. Put the stock, potatoes, onions and celery to boil. As soon as the potatoes are cooked remove them from the heat and add the peas, basil, mint and parsley. Blend and pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate.