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Tired of guests taking you for granted while you slave over a hot grill? Try your hand at marinated goat, deconstructed ratatouille or boozy poultry
There is a lot to be said for barbecues, including smell, taste, poignant memories of summers past, licensed overeating and the ubiquity of coleslaw, but I have noticed one thing: the chef never gets any credit. It is a bit of reverse sexism: men usually take over, in what we can call manflipping or pyromannia, so if you praise the chef, you are shoring up the patriarchy, even if a woman did all the marinating or, for once, the chef is actually a woman. It is mainly the sense that he or she does jack-all, beyond opening some packets. Which is fundamentally unfair, since knowing what is what on an open flame that you use twice a year is far more technically demanding than using an oven. Maybe you dont care about credit. But if you do, here are a few suggestions.
Try interesting cuts of meat. Classic barbecue fare tends towards the banal (chicken breasts) or at best workaday (the sausage). What you want is meat round a complicated bone, to give it some structure and slow-release flavour against the suddenness of the heat, and what you get is a load of steaks that have very few defences. I would never barbecue steaks again, having discovered that you can cook them in an air fryer, which locks in flavour without leeching out moisture. The best barbie cut, meanwhile, flash-fried, perfect unadorned, is the Barnsley chop. The nubbly central bone that gives it that butterfly shape makes it unusually juicy, while the fat turns to lamb crackling, which you almost never see in domestic life.
Better still, try an unusual meat. In an unassuming yet peerless book, My Bombay Kitchen, Niloufer Ichaporia King has a recipe for shoulder of kid, in which you poach it first, marinate it for two hours in a marsala mix that includes chilli, cumin, hoisin, ginger and garlic, then stick it on coals for a quarter of an hour until it has a reddish crust that could charm a hyena out of a rage. You can use the poaching liquor for some rice on the side, and if anybody doesnt congratulate you on this, it will be because theyre vegetarian and they hate you for it.