First three things my hubby and I bought when we decided to move in together in our house surrounded with big green garden were outdoor fireplace, rattan furniture set and wine glasses. It was a couple of years ago and thinking about it now it seems like we thought those were the most important things, essential for living in a house. Well, I can’t say they are essential but we sure use them a lot.
Almost every weekend we invite family and friends on dinner, small gathering or barbecue… If the weather is ok, we eat on our terrace, drink some good Istrian wine and enjoy the company of our guests. I love it because it’s like an anti-stress therapy, eating outside and hanging out with people you love, especially if the barbecue is good. In these couple of years my hubby became a Barbecue Master so the barbecue is excellent! Lucky us!
Sometimes he grills over gas on a barbecue plancha and sometimes over charcoal, depends how much time we have and what are we grilling; meat, fish or vegetables. I think that nothing competes with the smoky flavor you get with charcoal, but if you want to make a quick something to eat, gas is pretty convenient and still good.
Almost every house in Croatia has some kind of an outdoor place for grilling, mostly homemade or bought masonry barbecue. We have two indoor and two outdoor fireplaces and ’cause of the warm weather big part of the year we can use them quite a lot.
A couple of rules for a good barbecue:
- Good marinade is half job done! I always put meat or fish in a glass bowl filled with olive oil, a little bit of wine and water, lemon, pepper, chopped garlic and rosemary. I rub the mixture gently into the dish, cover it with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight whenever possible. Never use salt in your marinades, it’s not good for the texture of the meat. Sometimes, if I don’t have time for marinating, I just put a little bit of mustard on meat to add some flavour.
- Organise yourself! Prepare everything in advance, make sure you have enough work surface and all the equipment needed; separate bowl for raw and cooked meat, skewer, clamps, spatulas, kitchen towels… Never use forks, you don’t want the meat juices to get out.
- Use fresh meat or fish and make sure you always choose seasonal vegetables. In summer we barbecue calamari, fish, squids, courgettes, pepper, melanzane and lately even cheese (only one type, we call it the squeaky cheese). And in autumn more often sausages, chicken, patties, cutlets, ribs, rib eye steaks and mushrooms. Don’t forget to serve green salad with onion and tomato that goes great with every barbecue.
- Always take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before barbecuing to rest at room temperature. Cover it and leave it in a shady place in your kitchen.
- Keep your grill and plancha clean, a dirty grill flares up smokes incessantly and leaves a bad flavor on your food.
- If you are barbecuing rib eye steak on a plancha, pour a little bit of oil and make sure that it’s well heated before putting the dish on it. The same goes for the grill, heat it well. This will prevent the meat from sticking to your barbecue iron.
- When you are making patties be careful with fire, make sure that you are barbecuing on low flame. The meat will be soft and it won’t turn black. Sometimes we pour it with beer when is nearly finished to have more taste.
- If you are grilling steaks or ribs you can use a little sharp knife to cut one piece near the bone just to check if it’s done.
- Best choice for making fish is two side grill so you can turn the grill on the other side after one side is finish without touching the dish. This way you prevent the fish from sticking to the grill and make sure that the fish looks good.
- After the barbecue is finished leave the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving it. We don’t use so much sauces, with meat mostly ajvar; pepper-based sauce made principally from red bell peppers or mayonnaise. Clean your barbecue and enjoy!
I’m sure you won’t be alone while grilling, there is always somebody watching from the sideline, learning new skills or giving advice… barbecuing is theatre! Follow this tips and you won’t disappoint your guests, actually I’m sure you’ll deserve a special seat of honour among your friends after your next barbecue!