Tuesday, 27 May 2014

National BBQ Week - Beer Brined BBQ Chicken

The weather has improved to an acceptable level and my urge to cook outside is growing to a frenzy. Adding to this that it's also National BBQ Week I thought I would share a chicken dish I made last weekend.

Every Spring I get my Weber barbecue out of the shed and remember that I last used it in a rain shower and so forgot to clean it. It's a very good tip to brush off your grill with a barbecue brush after you finish cooking and while it's still warm. 

I wanted to try to get some beer flavour into the chicken thighs and a good way to do this is with a brine. I used a combination of Sean Paxton's beer brine and Michael Ruhlman's quick chicken brine. With a salt content of the brine at almost 10% salt by weight it's important to make sure it gets not longer than 3 hours or it will become way too salty. If you have longer make a 5% brine and then you can leave the chicken brining for a lot longer. This will give you better infusion of the other flavours in the brine. 

Here's my beer brine recipe. Multiply up or down depending on the quantity of chicken

1 330ml bottle Westmalle Tripel (or similar or even very different but flavorful malt driven beer) 
330mL water
60g table salt
2 tblsp of honey
1 lemon in quarters
2 cloves of garlic
1 bayleaf
2 sprigs of thyme

Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer until all the salt and honey is dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature and then put it in a sealable bag with the chicken pieces you want to barbecue. Pop it in the fridge.

After brining for 3 hours drain off the brine and pat dry. At this point I sprinkled over some of my standard barbecue rub. This is a good opportunity to use up some of those dried herbs and spices that may have been lurking in your cupboard. A mix of sugar, oregano, dried thyme, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper make up my blend. 
Don't overdo the rub, we want to taste the beer.

Set up your barbecue for indirect grilling - pile up the coals on one side with a drip tray filled with water (or beer) on the other. You'll cook the chicken over the drip tray with the lid closed and move it over the coals towards the end of cooking to crisp up the skin. Pop some apple wood chips on the coals and you'll be smoking as you roast. 

To accompany we had these pesto marinated veggies. Asparagus on the barbie is the future. 

The beauty of the Weber is that with the lid on and internal thermometer it acts like an oven. You do have to adjust the airflow to get the right temp. If you don't have a Weber then an instant read thermometer through the vents in the lid will give you an indication of the temperature under the lid. 40 minutes at 180 to 190C and the chicken is cooked through.

Move it over the hot coals to get some browning on the skin and you're chicken is done.

When you barbecue make sure you chuck some corn on the cob on the grill. Corn is at its best cooked over charcoal and then smothered in butter and chilli flakes, you won't regret it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Our weekend in Brussels (in pictures)

It's no secret that Brussels is one of our favourite cities to visit. We take a long weekend away there almost every year and often fantasize about winning the lottery and buying a flat near the Place du Grand Sablon. Last weekend saw our annual pilgrimage to our haven of beer and food, and here are just a few snapshots to serve as a wonderful reminder.

The smurfs' actual gym equipment, as unearthed by the Comic Strip Museum

First beer of the weekend, at the lovely A La Morte Subite

Blanche de Bruxelles, Vielle Orval at Poechenellekelder

Beautiful Art Nouveau at the Falstaff

It's true - Duvel really is the ultimate food beer, and was perfect with chocolately waffle goodness

A spot of wine at Le Wine Bar Sablon des Marolles - we can't recommend this place enough, the food is outstanding, as is the wine list

Bizarre art inflatables at the European fair

Brasserie de la Senne - modern hoppier beers from Brussels' newest brewery

De Dochter beers are great, give them a try if you get the chance!

Moeder Lambic
Cantillon Kriek

Great wall of Cantillon
A rare taste of the Zwanze 2012 at Cantillon Brewery, made with rhubarb

Fine dining at Bocconi - halibut and asparagus...

...and herb crusted lamb with wild mushrooms

Cantillon on tap - in gueuze heaven at Moeder Lambic

Not so fine dining, Fritland serve the best (blurry) chips in Brussels

Don't be put off by the slightly tacky ghostly labels - Fantome are making some fantastic seasonal saisons