It doesn't take much to persuade me to clear out the barbeque, run out to buy charcoal and do something interesting with a chicken and half an English lamb leg. What a way to get the season started.
I have had a variety of barbeques over the years, but in the end, cooking over charcoal or wood is the way to go. Gas BBQs just don't add anything apart from the smell of gas, so what is the point in them? Expensive metal lumps at the end of the day. Spend the money on a really good, heavy grate and suspend it between bricks. Much better all round.
Here is the way to cook it all.
Divide the chicken up into 8 portions and remove the skin. Score the flesh. See here how to do it quickly, but don't remove the bones.
In a liquidiser put in the vinegar, peeled shallots, garlic, chillies, parsley, garlic and salt. Whizz until you get a thin marinade.
Coat the chicken in this and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Chop the lamb up into large cubes. Don’t do silly supermarket sized ones, you will get dry kebabs. Big and chunky.
Chop up the oregano with the garlic and grind together in a pestle and mortar with the salt, pepper and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Add the olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice. Grind till you have a thin paste.
Mix with the lamb and again put in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Go and reseed the lawn and polish the garden furniture. Or whatever you like to do on a sunny day when no one needs you. Try staying sober.
The cooking is in two stages. Heavily marinated chicken can go rather too black on a bbq and needs care and attention. I prefer to seal it well over the coals and then finish off in a medium oven covered with foil – the result is moist and properly cooked.
Get the BBQ stacked up and lit. Once up to heat, cook the chicken for about ten minutes or so till golden, then removed and put in the oven at 170 degrees celsius to finish off.
Cook the lamb on the BBQ basting with oil from time to time. To help the cooking put an old roasting tin on top of the kebabs - the right way up. This is a trick I learned from Efes restaurant in London. It reflects the heat back onto the kebabs, speeding up the process and making it all easier to control. Remember, you want these a little underdone or they will be tough, despite the lemon helping to tenderise them.
And that’s it. Eat with a salad with loads of feta cheese and olives.
Do not be tempted to overload your BBQ with charcoal – you do not want it TOO hot!
If you have a nice wide open top BBQ, throw on more wood once you have finished cooking to use as a heater, or how about wrapping up some bananas and chocolate in foil and baking them on top?
Ice cold gin goes well with this.