Texas-style BBQ Sauce and the Most Important BBQ That Never

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It is another of those food days / weeks, I have written recipes when it has been National Toast Day ( yes really ), National Fish and Chips Day, Bramley Apple Week and National Yorkshire Pudding Day, this time I won’t complain too much as it one of my favourites National BBQ Week. I adore smoky, sticky BBQ food and love to cook it but do you know the most important BBQ in history?

Well by nineteen sixty-three Lyndon B. Johnson had risen above the hurly-burly politics of his native Texas to become vice president of the United States in the administration of the meteoric John F Kennedy. In a government of outstanding personalities including the president’s charismatic brother the attorney general, secretary of defense Robert McNamara and secretary of state Dean Rusk, many saw Johnson’s role as mere window dressing. Yet this homely former school teacher established himself with quiet determination and pioneered what became known as barbecue diplomacy. As people relaxed due to the informal atmosphere of a barbecue around a pit or grill it was often easier for LBJ to talk business than in the rigid formal settings of a state banquette.

LBJ Photo.jpg

At his home on the banks of the Perdernale river, LBJ hosted an array of important barbecues for VIP dignitaries and most of these were catered for by Walter Jettson. He ran a local, well for Texas, catering company in Fort Worth and prepared the food at the LBJ ranch. On November 23, 1963, the staff of the ranch and Jettson were preparing for the biggest event of their lives the president was to visit and eat smoked ribs and brisket. As we all know he was never to make it. LBJ was sworn in as the thirty-sixth president of the United States on board airforce one carrying the body of President Kennedy back to Washington. Jettson was to become the President’s Pitmaster * and LBJ even flew him around the country to cater at political rallies. On the back of his celebrity, Jetton published a barbecue cookbook, which is unfortunately out of print but available on Amazon and other retailers.

Jetton catered for the first barbecue at the White House and continued to do so during LBJ’s term in office. When he decided not to stand for re-election LBJ hosted one last farewell barbecue on the White House lawns for over two hundred friends and supporters. The Texas-style ribs must have been quite special as the Swiss-born, formally trained, White House head chef Henry Haller, wrote in his The White House Family Cookbook, ” He did a terrific job and I was most impressed with the results. His barbecue sauce avoided all of the common flaws (oversweetening, overcooking, excessive thinning) and by serving the sauce separately, he also avoided drying out the meat. ”

*Pit Master : An experienced barbecue cook, a skilled craftsman, who watches over the pit and can tell by sight, sound, smell, and touch, if it is running too hot or too cold, when it needs fuel, when to add wood, when to add sauce, and when the meat is ready.

Barbecue Sauce

Here is my only slightly amended version of Walter Jetton’s recipe as always as the full recipe is of authentic American origin it is measured in cups. A cup is between 200 and 250ml, providing one standard cup is used the proportions will work.

Walter Jettons’s Texas – style BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups Water

1 cup Ketchup

1/2 cup Cider Vinegar

3 Stalks Celery, washed and chopped

1/4 cup Butter

1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup Onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 Bay Leaves

1 Large Clove Garlic, peeled and minced

½ tablespoon Sugar

1 teaspoon Chilli Powder

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil and simmer for ½ an hour. Remove from heat and strain.

Walter Jetton’s LBJ Barbecue Cookbook– By the Caterer to the LBJ Ranch, Written with Arthur Whitman, 1965, Pocket Books.

My Great Shish Kebab Recipe for your Bank Holiday BBQ

It looks like we are going to get some sunny spells over the Bank holiday weekend and let’s face it if it rains who hasn’t grilled under an umbrella before. Now if you are tired of same old, same old burgers and sausages burnt to a crisp today’s post are not one but a host of recipes. In a restaurant one of your goals is consistency, you want a dish your customers can enjoy again and again and recommend to all their friends. This is one of the reasons we follow recipes. As someone interested in food, and you are reading this article, you will probably look at a recipe then like me tweak a little ingredient here, adjust an amount there. I am going to make a wish and hope you change the following recipe(s) for Shish Kebabs totally, utterly and completely. Just think of them as the loosest of culinary guidelines. There is an almost infinite opportunity to mix and match textures and flavours and experiment to your heart’s content.

Kebab

 

Shish kebab is an English version of the Turkish words for sword and roasted meat. A Shish Kebab is a grilled skewer of marinated meat, normally lamb but chicken, beef, veal, and even swordfish can be substituted. In Turkish cooking, the vegetables are normally cooked separately.

There are a couple of rules for Shish Kebabs, first please if you are using wooden skewers soak them in water overnight as they have a tendency to burn, especially over a barbecue or char-grill. The second is not so easy and requires a little experience. Cut up your ingredients so they will cook at the same time. What do I mean by this? A large wedge of onion will not cook as quick as a king prawn so separate out the layers. Courgettes, mushrooms and bell pepper all add colour and flavour but need to be quite large pieces if mixed with small pieces of chicken or steak as the denser texture of the meat takes longer to cook. If you want to make a seafood Shish Kebab try wrapping scallops in bacon to protect them from the searing heat of the grill and add more flavour. Finally, not a rule but a top tip, a good marinade will add a ton of flavour but be careful, sugary marinades can burn and are better brushed on the food in the latter stages of cooking.

shish-kebab

Chicken and Vegetable ( Shish ) Kebabs                                          makes 8 kebabs

2 large Chicken Breasts cut in two-centimetre chunks

1 large Courgette, washed and cut into slices

1 large Red Bell pepper, cut in chunks

1 large Red Onion, peeled, quartered, and parted in layers

16 large Button Mushrooms, wiped

Quality Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

8 skewers

Thread the meat and vegetables on the skewers. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season generously. Cook on barbecue or under a medium to high grill turning regularly for around ten minutes until cooked. There that is it the easiest recipe I will probably ever post.

Now let your taste buds run wild, here are a few suggestions;

King Prawn and Rump Steak ( Surf’n’turf )

Monkfish, Prawns, and Scallops wrapped in Bacon

Chicken Tikka

Lamb with Garlic and Thyme

Mediterranean Vegetables

Cajun Tuna

Sweet and Sour Pork with Bell Pepper and Pineapple

skewer

Marinades 

Marinating your meat and fish for a couple of hours will add multiple layers of flavour and you can brush the Shish Kebabs with the marinade during cooking. Remember that if you use a sweetened marinade to lift the kebabs a little higher on the barbecue or turn the grill down a fraction as they will easily burn over a high heat.

Quick Southern Barbecue – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar, 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper sauce, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Greek Style – 4 tablespoons quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly squeezed juice of two Lemons, 2 tablespoons Honey, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Oregano, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Rosemary, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Thyme, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Asian – 4 tablespoons Vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons toasted Sesame Oil, 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 large piece of preserved Ginger, finely grated, ¼ teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Sweet ‘n’ Sour – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Pineapple Juice, 2 tablespoon Honey, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Fiery – 8 tablespoons quality Olive Oil, 1 small hot Chilli, finely chopped, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce, ½ teaspoon Sea Salt, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Slightly smoky grilled chicken kebabs pair well with un-oaked refreshing New world Chardonnays and are complemented by the light hop and citrus flavours of IPA or Indian Pale Ales

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery    Raw Fish     and Soya maybe present in your marinade please check the recipe.

Please see the Allergens Page

British Sandwich Week – The Best Ever Sandwich Recipe

Panfried Cheese Sandwich.jpg

It is British Sandwich Week and while my tastes have not changed that much, my favourite is still an unctuous melting ham and cheese sandwich and I have found the most incredible way to prepare one. No more lengthy preparation for a correct Croque Monsieur, forget the oven, throw away your toaster and get out your frying pan, I want to shout out from the rooftop just how incredible this sandwich is, and I want you to try it today. I’m so proud I might just enter in the granddaddy of all competitions, the big cheese ( sorry ) of competitive grilled sandwich making the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championships and a  $40,000 prize.

 

 

 

You can use any ham and any cheese that you have in the fridge and sliced white, it’s like the post night out store cupboard classic, I have just gone a little crazy in the delicatessen section and used some of my favourites.

 The Best Ever Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich

2 freshly sliced Bloomer Loaf

3 heaped tablespoons Mayonnaise

½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard

2 or more slices of Swiss Cheese such as Gruyère or Emmental

2 or more slices of Mature Cheddar

1 large slice of Smoked Ham

Assemble the sandwich as follows, on one piece of bread spread half of the mayonnaise and place mayonnaise side down on a plate, spread the other side of the bread with the mustard and top with the ham. Repeat the process with a second piece of bread and top with the cheese. Place together mayonnaise on the outside.

Heat a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed, non-stick frying pan over a very moderate heat and lay the sandwich in the pan, pressing down several times as the sandwich browns rather slowly on the bottom, for around three to four minutes. Turn and brown the sandwich on the other side, pressing down upon the sandwich several times until its bottom, too, is lightly browned and the cheese is starting to melt. Serve with salad and tomato chutney.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Try pairing your Sandwich with a fruity and refreshingly acidic Beaujolais wine or the citrus, fruity hoppy flavours of an American style IPA.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

 

Devilled Kidneys and Toast

Devilled Lambs Kidneys on toasted English Breakfast Muffin

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It is often said that the Devil has all the good tunes, Rock ‘n’ Roll was denounced as the Devils music and even a whole genre ( heavy metal ) is believed to be almost utterly devoted to his Satanic majesty. Think of ‘ Devil Inside ‘, ‘ Sympathy for the Devil ‘ and ‘ Devil with the Blue dress on ‘. * Now there are obviously some great tub-thumping hymns devoted to the singing the praises for other side, and I love belting out a good hymn, but my money is with the big bad red guy as far as music goes. But this has set my mind racing what about food? What meals sustain the heavenly host and what fuels the fires of the ole devil and which is best? Americans are rightly proud of their Angel Cakes and almost every party must have a tray of Devilled eggs but what other ethereal recipes are there?

* INXS, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen

The Charlie Daniels Band and surely the devils greatest tune

In the grand tradition of Edwardian English dinning before even I was a trainee, a savoury course ended formal dinner party menus and quite often this comprised of Angels and Devils on Horseback. The former are oysters wrapped in bacon and the latter pitted dates stuffed with mango chutney similarly enclosed, both are grilled or baked and served on hot buttered toast garnished with watercress. I am exceedingly partial to both Angels and Devils so the result of this contest is a draw. But I am glad to say I do have a winner, one of my favourite all-time dishes Devilled Lambs Kidneys.

Devilled Kidneys and Toast
Devilled Lambs Kidneys

Like the ubiquitous eggs, the spicy ham of the same name and countless other dishes a devilled dish like Devilled Lambs Kidneys has a piquant, spicy flavour usually from the addition of Cayenne pepper and / or strong mustard. In a biography published in 1791, Samuel Johnson’s biographer James Boswell referred to partaking of a dish of “devilled bones” for supper. The bones were generally those of cold poultry, game or beef. The pieces of meat were covered with what was then called devil sauces. This is probably the earliest published use of the word “devil” as a cooking term meaning “to cook something with hot spices or condiments. Most Food historians believe that the term was adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.

Devilled Lambs Kidneys on Toasted English Breakfast Muffin             serves 4

Of all the offal available with the possible exception of Sweetbreads, kidneys are my personal favourite, from a delicious calves’ kidney roasted in a blanket of its own fat to sweet lambs kidneys pan-fried on toast. Kidneys are best flash fried very quickly over a high heat or braised nice and slowly. As offal kidneys are best consumed within 24 hours of purchase. Devilled Lambs Kidneys are a delicious starter, suitable for a light supper or an indulgent breakfast dish.

8 English Breakfast Muffins

12 Lambs Kidneys ( ask your butcher to trim them )

A little milk

2 small Shallots, peeled and very finely diced,

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small glass of Brandy

100 ml very thick Double Cream

50 gr Butter

A good glug of quality Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3 – 4 tablespoons Plain Flour

½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper ( more if you wish )

A generous shake of Worcestershire Sauce

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

First, prepare your kidneys by cutting them in half and removing the veins with a small sharp knife or sharp scissors. If your butcher will do this for you even better, just ask him for 8 halved and trimmed kidneys. Place the prepared kidneys in a small plastic container and cover with milk to soak out any remaining bitterness. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Cut your muffins in half and heat a glug of olive oil and half the butter in a large, thick-bottomed, sauté pan. Sauté the muffins on both sides until golden brown, remove drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Drain the kidneys and pat dry with more kitchen paper. Mix the flour, Cayenne and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper together and thoroughly dredge the prepared kidneys.

Heat the remaining oil and butter together in a second large, sauté pan and cook the shallot without colouring until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes stirring occasionally then add the kidneys and cook quickly until the kidneys change colour and start to brown.  Flip the kidneys over and add the brandy and flame off the alcohol then add the mustard. Stir continuously and pour in the cream and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for two minutes to cook out and slightly thicken the sauce then remove from the heat. Check and correct the seasoning and add a little more cayenne if you like a bigger kick.

Place a toasted muffin on each plate to with the devilled kidneys and sauce on top, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Pol Roger Champagne

What to Drink? The Devilled Kidneys served at the renowned chef Fergus Henderson’s London restaurant St. Johns are paired with Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Champagne 2004, which is perhaps a little expensive so I will settle for their other suggestion a glass of Black Velvet.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Braised Pork

Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly

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Today’s recipe is for Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly, in China red coloured meats are eaten for good luck as red is the colour of fire, a symbol of good fortune and joy. ‘Red cooking’ is a popular method of braising dishes in northern, eastern, and southeastern China. The name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and the sauce using both dark and light soy sauces, Chinese Rice Wine, and caramelized sugar flavoured with whole spices such as Star Anise, Cassia bark, and Fennel seeds. ‘Red cooking’ stews may contain meat, vegetables and other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs. Dark soy sauce is actually not as salty as the light variety, and it is often used hearty Chinese dishes like stews that require body and colour.

Red Braised Pork
Shanghai Red Braised Pork Belly

Perhaps the most famous ‘Red cooking’ recipe is Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly or Hong Shao Rou, reputed to be the favourite of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, so much so he supposedly he ate it every day. In China belly pork is a highly valued cut of meat and the perfect order of fat, meat, fat and meat under the skin is known as the ‘Five layers of Heaven’.

Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly ( 红烧肉 )

1 kg of Pork Belly, cut into 3 centimetre thick pieces

A small bunch of Spring Onions, trimmed and cut into 2 centimetre pieces

450 ml Water

5 tablespoons Chinese Rice Wine

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

3 tablespoons Rock Sugar or Golden Caster Sugar

3 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce

3 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce

3 whole Star Anise pods

A couple of piece of Cassia bark

2 centimetre piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and sliced

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Carefully drop in the pieces of pork and blanch for a couple minutes, as this gets rid of any impurities. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. Over low heat, add oil and sugar to your wok and melt the sugar. Add the blanched pork and increase the heat and cook until the pork until it is lightly caramelised. The pork may spit as it caramelises so be careful, but it is important to help give the dish its distinctive colour and flavour.

Turn the heat back down and carefully add the rice wine, then the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, star anise, garlic, cassia, ginger and the water. Cover the wok and simmer for about an hour or until pork is really tender. Whilst the pork is cooking stir every five minutes to prevent burning and add a little more water if it gets too dry. Once the pork is cooked, if there is still a lot of visible liquid, uncover the wok, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, stirring continuously until it is a sticky and glossy coating.

What to Drink? Matching wine with Chinese food used to be considered very difficult but try your pork with a full of fruit, sweet, jammy Australian Shiraz or blended Cabernet-Shiraz and why not try a crisp, refreshing Continental style Pilsner lager as your beer choice.

Allergens in this recipe are;

    Flour

There will be Soya and may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Lantern

Xin nian kuai le – Happy Chinese New Year – Slow braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

Chinese New Year Wish

There are up to two weeks of celebrations for the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. This year is the year of the Dog. In China and the Chinese diaspora there are visits to family, fireworks, and feasts and so I thought appropriate over the next ten days to post some more of my favourite Chinese dishes. I am also building up a database of some of the ingredients and base recipes which you can find on here. If you want to know more about one of my favourite styles of Chinese cuisine you can read my post on Cantonese food.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with the following Recipes;-

Crab and Sweetcorn Soup

Spicy Sesame Chicken Wings

Shanghai-style Red Braised Pork Belly

Cantonese Pork

King Prawn Chow Mein

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

General Tso’s Chicken

Char sui – Cantonese BBQ Pork

Perfectly fluffy Boiled Rice

Egg Fried Rice

In China lamb or mutton is eaten mostly in the north and north west and is especially favoured by the Muslim and Mongol populations but it is available everywhere. The most popular street food in China are Xinjiang lamb skewers with fiery and fragrant with chilli and Szechuan peppercorns, which you can find in every major city throughout China. Chinese recipes mostly call for mutton or substitute goat rather than lamb mainly because traditionally lamb was scarce, and the cooking times would be longer.  This is rather a generous recipe best eaten with friends, serve with some perfectly fluffy boiled rice. Now may I wish you all prosperity for this Year of the Dog and Enjoy – Gong xi fa cai

Slow cooked Lamb and Ginger
Braised Lamb and Ginger

 

Slow Braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

1.5 kg to 2 kg boned Shoulder of Lamb

10 Banana Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large bunches of Spring Onions, washed, trimmed and cut in 3 centimetre pieces

500 gr Sliced Button Mushrooms

1.5 ltr good quality Lamb or Veal Stock

100 gr Rock Sugar ( you can substitute Demerara )

1 large 6 centimetre piece of Ginger, peeled and very finely sliced

6 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely crushed

6 tablespoons Dark Soy sauce

4 tablespoons Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2 tablespoons Sesame Paste

1 tablespoon Tomato Puree

6 Star Anise pods

4 Cloves

2 large pieces of Cassia Bark

Cut the lamb shoulder into large five centimetre dice. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the lamb by plunging it into the boiling water for five minutes. Strain out the meat and discard the water. Heat a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the pieces of lamb and stir-fry them until they are brown.

Add the shallots, spring onions, mushrooms and ginger to the wok and cook for five more minutes before placing into a large casserole or heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring up to the boil and carefully skim off any fat from the surface, then turn the heat down as low as possible. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for around one and a half hours or until the lamb is cooked and tender, skimming occasionally to remove any more fat. When cooked remove the star anise, cloves and cassia bark and serve in bowls with steamed rice.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Matching wine with Chinese food used to be considered impossible but more modern sommeliers are making innovative pairings try your lamb with a fruity, Chilean Pinot Noir or off-dry Rosé and why not try a refreshing Continental wheat beer with citrus and coriander seeds as your beer choice.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Sesame Seeds    Flour

There may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Lantern