When the sun shines we all go bonkers for a barbecue but with the World Cup firmly underway, there’s never been a better time to fire up the gas or stoke up the fire. There’s an art to a successful barbecue and whilst the temperature is key, a great marinade will keep your meat moist and full of flavour.
For me, marinating meat or fish is a must and with Brazil just about to kick off in the semi-finals against Germany, it was really only fitting for me to get advice from a man who knows a thing or two about cooking the Brazilian way. I asked the chef Andy Bates, for a couple of simple recipes. He’s known for his street food and a modern twist on the classics, fuelled by his travels abroad. He’s also fronted several programmes for the Food Network and one in particular – Brazilian Street Feasts. Back home, he’s working on promoting Quality Standard Beef and Lamb and has worked up some fabulous recipes for the barbecue.
When I visited Argentina, I discovered Chimichurri which is drizzled over pretty much everything, including vegetables and their prime steaks. In fact it’s an essential part of the parilla and works well with chicken and fish too.
One of Andy’s recipes is, for what seems to be a Brazilian favourite too, a Chimichurri Marinade – the ingredients are basic and include red wine vinegar, shallots, a range of fresh herbs and plenty of garlic. He’s also given me a recipe for a simple chilli butter which melts immediately you place it on top of your favourite barbecued meat or fish.
Andy’s written a little about meat cuts too, and what you should be asking your butcher for to make sure you get the best results on the grill. Over to Andy ….
The most prized cut of meat in Brazil is the picanha steak (pronounced pik-an-ya). The picanha is from the rump cap and is wonderfully succulent and tender. For a melt-in-the-mouth eating experience, picanha steaks should always be cut across the grain. They’re perfect for the barbecue, along with the more popular or traditional beef cuts such as flat-iron and rump.
Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, ask your butcher for tri-tip steaks (he’ll be seriously impressed with your knowledge if nothing else). If you’re barbecuing with delicious in-season lamb, lamb cutlets work really well. Alternatively, lamb chunkies (another one your butcher will appreciate) cut from the shoulder and are perfect for marinating as they’ll hold in all the rich, delicious flavours really well.
For the best results, ensure you’re using Quality Assured meat. Beef and lamb carrying the Quality Standard Mark, available from butchers or over the counter at your local supermarket, is guaranteed to be the most succulent and tender. It also ensures that your meat has been responsibly farmed and is completely traceable back to the farm it came from.
100ml/3½fl oz red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
Large bunch freshly chopped coriander
Large bunch freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2tbsp fresh oregano leaves
100ml/3½fl oz extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Take a large bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Pour half the marinade into a shallow non-metallic dish and reserve the rest. Place the meat in the marinade mixture and coat well on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or if you have time, overnight.
I added some sweet, coarse-ground red pepper which really lifted the marinade. The pictures I’ve taken are of the sauce a few days after I made it – I can’t remember why I didn’t take pictures when it was vibrant green but I didn’t.
50g/2oz butter, softened
2.5ml/½tsp chilli puree or 1cm/½inch piece red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
In a small bowl mix together the butter with the chilli puree or fresh chilli. Form the butter into a sausage shape and wrap in cling film or foil and refrigerate until required.
Once the steak is cooked, place a knob of chilli butter over the top to melt.
Thanks to Andy for the recipes and to British Lamb and Beef for the photos of meat.
For more barbecue recipes click here.