When it comes to food, do you love to go low, slow and dirty? Because if you do, 2017 is set to be a smokin’ year for you! We may not always be blessed with buckets of sunshine, but we Brits certainly love a barbecue and over the last few years a spark has ignited that has taken our love beyond the simple burger and banger. From new restaurants on the high street to popular products on supermarket shelves, a barbecue revolution is burning, with growing interest in barbecue foods from all over the world. Sticking your food on the barbecue and hoping for the best is no longer enough as slow cooking and smoking have come to the fore. And, if all of this has somehow passed you by, it’s time to wake up and smell the burgers, sizzling away on the grill!
What’s Hot on the Street
If you’ve noticed that a lot of the new eateries in your area have a very casual look and feel and plenty of meat on the menu, you certainly wouldn’t be alone. Whether it be a burger joint or a rib place, casual dining restaurants with both meat and vegetarian substitutes on the menu have been sprouting up here, there and everywhere in the UK, with some of the most popular sprouting into mini chains.
Many of these joints have honed in on Texan style barbecue – with plenty of rubbed, blackened, smoked and wood-fired food to get your fingers stuck into. If you’re already a regular on the barbecue food scene, you could soon be seeing your meal prepared a little more close up when you dine out, as the processes of grilling and smoking are tipped to take ‘centre stage’ as part of an interior design trend coming this way from the US, according to the Morning Advertiser.
According to the experts, this year we’re also set to see the barbecue scene diversify even further, with Argentinian, Brazilian and even Thai barbecue restaurants, recipes and methods very much in vogue. You can also enjoy some grilled meat or vegetables as part of this year’s taco trend, and you may also find more duck on the menu too, reports the Evening Standard. Also very much still enjoying heat is the local sourcing and eating movement, which has in part contributed to a growing interest in traditional preservation methods such as curing and – you guessed it – smoking! Finally, whether you’re a meat lover or not, you could soon be spit roasting food from cauliflower through to whole pineapple, with tips from barbecue aficionado Steven Raichlen.
Soak up Some Barbecue Culture
Did you know that along with paying a visit to your local high street’s specialist barbecue restaurants such as Bodeans, Pitt Cue, Red’s Barbecue, Fazenda, Longhorns etc, you could also get deep in grill culture by going to British festival dedicated to all things barbecue? Grillstock is an annual music and food festival that takes place in Bristol. Head to Bristol Harbour the first weekend in July and you’ll be rewarded with all manner of low, slow and smoked food, plus live music and barbecue themed entertainment. Salivating at the thought? This event is undoubtedly a tasty proposition for any barbecue devotee in the making.
Get Your Apron on!
Fancy getting your grill and smoke on at home? Alongside a barbecue, you could consider investing in your own smokehouse, which can be used to add flavour to fish, meat and even vegetables. You could go down the traditional route and choose – or even build – your own fire fuelled smokehouse. If you do, you’ll find a good basic guide to smoking on the Jamie Oliver website. And lets not forget the vegetarians too, for us veggie lovers, a delicious smoked cheese or vegetable dish should liven up the party!
For a fuss-free way to add that smoky flavour you can opt to use an electric smoker. Groom and Style has some good tips for buying the best electric smoker. Whatever tools of the trade you choose, don’t forget to swot up on your basic and advanced barbecue techniques with the help of classic barbecue bibles such as A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Project Smoke by Steven Raichlem. Or, if you fancy exploring Brazilian barbecue, check out recently published Churrasco: Grilling the Brazilian way by Evandro Caregnato. The latter is a tome dedicated to the Brazilian technique of grilling meats over an open fire – a method that creates soft, succulent food with a true smoke infusion.
Are you looking forward to a smokin’ 2017? Do you love to get grilling in all weather or do you put your apron on for special family occasions only? If you prefer eating finger-licking smoky barbecue foods when you’re dining out, so that someone else gets all hot and sweaty and does the dishes, which is your favourite speciality barbecue restaurant?