It won’t be long before school’s out and the summer holidays are approaching. My kids are already packing the RV, we’re not even going for another two weeks but I can’t dampen their spirits.
I’ve still got a good few days left of work so I can’t afford to let myself go yet but just as I see the excitement in the kids’ eyes I know that I’ll be the same once I get the portable grill out of the garage.
I love to camp in Europe not just because of the freedom to go anywhere but also because of the myriad of interesting people that I meet on the way. Walk around the campsite anytime after 1.00pm and you’ll start to see the smoke rising as the families gather for a lunchtime cookout. Provided I prefix my introduction with a polite “Bon Appetite” or “Buen Provecho” I can usually get to have a recce, see what’s cooking and how they’re doing it and the best bit of course is when the complement is returned and they come over to see what I’m cooking.
There has been many a time when these friendly exchanges become more competitive and a small portion of whatever has been cooked is brought over to my pitch for sampling. Of course I have to reciprocate! Neither party can speak the other’s lingo so the international language of Europe is once again food – and barbecue food to boot.
What better way to pick up some free smoker recipes than wandering around the campsite? It’s also fascinating to see just how simple some of the flavorings are.
In Italy for example, meat (generally beef or lamb) is liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper, cooked on the grill until pink and then served up with a traditional balsamic vinaigrette and lemons.
The meat should only be seasoned on one side and don’t be tempted to turn it too frequently. You want the meat to cook at a good temperature to mobilize the natural sugars and if you turn it too frequently the meat simply doesn’t get up to temperature. Likewise the seasoning “protects” the meat so again one side not seasoned will get up to a higher temperature and so bring out more of the natural flavor.
For the balsamic vinaigrette it’s just 4 parts extra virgin olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar, give it a good stir (to create and emulsion) and drizzle over the sliced meat. It’s so simple but so effective.
Another variation of simple traditional food that’s great for the barbecue grill is Greek style. Diced lamb or pork in a marinade bowl with olive oil, the juice of one lemon and a sprinkling of dried oregano, leave it for an hour and then thread onto skewers. Ten minutes on the grill and pop it into a pita bread with salad and tzaziki.
For the Tzaziki:
· 1 medium cucumber peeled and finely chopped
· 225ml or ½ pint yoghurt
· 2 cloves crushed garlic
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1 teaspoon vinegar
· ½ teaspoon salt
Just mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors come together.
Simple flavors, fresh meats and the job's done. The European camping tour really has produced some fantastic BBQ Recipes and I hope that this year will be no exception.
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