OBy far the most popular of all meats, poultry is an excellent choice for the barbecue (a plea, however, to seek the best you can afford, as no other meat has been commercialized more by factory farming than the birds for our tables). As a general rule, birds are always better cooked indirectly, away from the fierce heat of the fire, and things will last softer and longer. Rushing the cooking and burning the outside risks a still raw inside that will never get you the best food. To this end, a temperature probe is a very useful tool – we have such an innate fear of undercooked poultry that we often go in the opposite direction and get dry results; a probe gives you confidence that it’s done just right.
Pistachio and Apricot Stuffed Chicken Legs with Fennel Lettuce (pictured above)
Here, chicken legs are partially boned (thigh bone only) so you can stuff them with a tasty filling. This makes turning them on the grill a little delicate, so if you have a fish cage, put them in there to keep them a little safer. If not, be extra generous with the cocktail sticks to pin them shut – you’ll need a total of 12-16.
Preparation 15 minutes
Cook 1 hour 30 minutes
50 g shelled pistachios
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
A pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onionpeeled and cut into pieces
1 garlic clovepeeled and crushed
50g dried apricotsfinely sliced
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsleyminced meat
A few sprigs of dillminced meat
4 chicken legs
Flakes of sea salt and black pepper
For the salad
1 small fennel bulb (about 200 g), cleaned and thinly sliced
2 heads of red chicory (endive), thinly sliced
100g radishthin sliced
A very generous handful of soft fresh herbs (I used dill, parsley and coriander), chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sugartaste
Toast the pistachios in a small skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, then transfer to a plate, chop finely and place in a medium bowl. Toast the cumin, coriander and chilli flakes, if using, in the same pan for a minute, put in a mortar, crush roughly and add to nut bowl.
Pour the olive oil into the pan, return it to a low heat and gently fry the onion, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes, until well-softened. Add the garlic, stir briefly and then pour into the nut-spice mix. Add the chopped apricots and herbs, season well and let cool while you prepare the chicken legs.
Place one leg skin side down on a board. Using a small, sharp knife, make an incision along the femur toward the joint where it meets the drumstick. Use the tip of the knife to scrape the meat off the bone, working from the top of the thigh down, then cut through the joint. Pull out the thigh and discard (or save it for stock), leave the drumstick bone in place and cut a pocket in the deepest part of the thigh meat to open it up a bit – this will allow you to put more filling in . Repeat with the other three legs.
Spoon some of the apricot mixture into each bag, wrap the meat around the filling, then pin each leg securely with three or four cocktail sticks.
Light the barbecue, ready for indirect grilling. Place the chicken skin side down on the grill bars, away from the heat and cook indirectly for about 40 minutes, turning once or twice so they cook evenly. Use a meat probe to check for doneness – chicken is technically safe at 74C, but I think legs benefit from being brought further, to 85C or so.
Toss all salad ingredients into a bowl and serve alongside the cooked chicken.
Turkey meatball skewers with fennel and bean stew
The meatballs will benefit from a little chilling in the fridge to keep them firmly attached to the skewers. You will also need four to six metal skewers.
Preparation 15 minutes
Hang out 1 hour+
Cook 1 hour
2 tbsp fennel seed
500g ground turkey
1-2 tsp smoked paprikataste
1 big garlic clovepeeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
1 zucchinicut into 1 cm thick slices
Olive oilbefore drizzle
For the fennel
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 500 g), cut the carrot into thin wedges
1 red onionpeeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlicpeeled and crushed
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
2 x 400g cans of borlotti beansdrained and rinsed
Juice of 2 lemons
100g buttercut in pieces
A big handful of dillminced meat
Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Transfer to a mortar, grind and place in a bowl. Add the turkey, paprika, garlic, a teaspoon of salt and well-ground pepper and mix well with your hands – this will make the mixture sticky and stick to the skewers. Divide into golf ball-sized pieces and roll up tightly, placing the meatballs on a baking sheet.
When you have formed all the meatballs, thread them and the courgette slices alternately on skewers and shape the meatballs slightly more so that they are about the same diameter as the courgettes. Place the skewers on a baking sheet and let them cool for an hour or two; longer (up to 24 hours) wouldn’t hurt, if you want to get ahead.
When you’re ready to cook, fire up the BBQ, ready for direct and indirect grilling. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the fennel wedges, season with a little salt and pepper and grill over direct heat for a few minutes on each side, until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate.
Place a large, deep, heatproof casserole or roasting tin on the grill grates directly over the fire and pour in a few more tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, stir briefly, then close the grill lid and cook for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how hot your coals are, until soft and lightly golden (if they sizzle too quickly, slide the pan just further away from the hot coals). Add the charred fennel wedges, garlic and chilli flakes, if using, to the onions, cook for a minute or two, stir in 1 cup (250 ml) water, cover with foil and close the BBQ lid. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender but still slightly al dente, then remove the foil and stir in the beans, lemon juice, butter and most of the dill (reserve some for garnish). Slide the pan over the indirect heat to simmer gently while grilling the meatballs.
Drizzle a little oil over each skewer and place on the grill bars directly over the fire. Cook, turning frequently, for 15 minutes, until a probe inserted deep into one of the meatballs reads 74C (cooking them with the lid down when not turning the skewers will increase the efficiency of the fire). Place the cooked skewers on the pan with fennel and beans and sprinkle over the remaining dill just before serving.
Recipes from Seared: The Ultimate Guide to Barbecuing Meat, by Genevieve Taylor, published by Quadrille for £20. To order a copy for £17.40, go to Guardianbookshop.com