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Beyond the Burger

The Season of Outdoor Eating


Last summer we published a post on what to wear to a BBQ – good advice that still stands – BBQ Style: Feel the Temperature Rising.


This time we show you what to eat – our favourite outdoor food. And coming up tomorrow our favourite outdoor tipples.


BBQ Mackerel with Garlic Scented Tomato Salad


Mackerel is the perfect BBQ fish, it’s so easy it barely needs a recipe and its oily, yielding flesh is the perfect companion for Marcella Hazan’s amazing do-it-with-your-eyes-shut simple tomato salad.


bbq mackerel

Source: via Henry on Pinterest



Marcella Hazan is the best Italian home cook there is – no question. Nigella had a big credit to Marcella in her first book How to Eat and if you have only one cookbook on your shelves it should be The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. That’s where I found this recipe and I’ve been making it ever since I found it twenty years ago.





4 whole mackerel, cleaned and gutted



4 or 5 cloves garlic

Maldon sea salt

2 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar

900g fresh, best you can get, tomatoes, sizeable plums ideally

12 basil leaves



Score the flesh of the fish, 5 or 6 times on each side. Lightly brush with olive oil and season inside and out. Place inside a BBQ fish basket and grill on each side for 5 – 6 mins until the skin is crispy and blackened and the eyes have turned white.


Peel the garlic and crush it with the flat blade of a knife. Put the garlic in a small bowl, add a teaspoon of salt and the red wine vinegar. Set aside for at least 20 mins until the salt dissolves.


Peel the tomatoes with a potato peeler, they must be firm – don’t be tempted to use the boiling water method, you’re not going to cook them. Slice thinly and place them in a shallow serving dish. Tear the basil and scatter over the tomatoes. Strain the vinegar, pour over the tomatoes and basil, drizzle with plenty of oil. Toss and serve with the fish and plenty of crusty bread for mopping juices.


Tomato Black Krim

Larger tomatoes like this Black Krim as ideal but the salad does work with cherry toms.


Note: I have used unpeeled cherry toms and this does work but the advantage of peeling the larger fleshed tomatoes is that the seasoned vinegar gets right into the tomato flesh and gives it the most unbelievable flavour. It’s worth the effort.



BBQ Glazed Spare Ribs


Fish doesn’t do it for everybody but all except virtuous veggies will delight in the porky pleasure of these shiny, sticky, gloopy, gooey, sweet ribs – definitely not first date food.




This recipe hails from the River Cottage Meat cookbook a fab tome dedicated to carnivorous indulgence.




1–2 racks of ribs approx 4 ribs per person.


For the marinade:

2–3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp English mustard

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper (about 2 tsp)

2–3 tbsp vinegar


Crush the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle to form a smooth creamy paste. Transfer to a bowl, or if your mortar is large enough, add all the other ingredients for the marinade, the vinegar last of all, a little at a time. Mix well, adding just enough vinegar to make a thick emulsion that will coat the ribs well.


Spread the marinade over the ribs so that they are well coated on all sides and leave them in a shallow dish for at least 1 hour, preferably 4 or 5. Turn a few times if you remember.


BBQ on a hot grill, turning and brushing with additional marinade to get a sweet, slightly blackened coating all over the ribs. Each rib will take about 10-12 mins to cook and 15 or so for sweet, dark perfection.


Watch out for tomorrow’s Beyond the Beer – Season of Outdoor Drinking post. Enjoy your barbie and remember – think Beyond the Burger.


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