It’s a technique that can go wrong so easily, but with these recipes from SMOKE TOK chef and founder David Carter – a barbecue maestro – you can go beyond throwing some burgers and sausages on the grill.
So get out your brolly and go heat up those coals because these dishes are worth it.
Coal-roasted aubergine with red miso, feta and roasted cashew nuts
40 g feta
15 g cashew nuts
1 tbsp balsamic reduction
½ chopped spring onion
For the red miso butter†
150 g butter, soft
50 g red miso paste
15 ml mirin (or, if that doesn’t work, 15 g caster sugar)
20 g gochujang
5 ml rice vinegar
For the marinade†
25g minced garlic
20 g grated fresh ginger
25 ml dark soy sauce
50 ml light soy sauce
100 g liquid honey
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and set aside.
Barbecue the aubergine for five minutes directly over burning coals, then turn it 180°C and cook for another five minutes. When the eggplant feels soft all over, transfer it to a plate and let it cool – avoid fiddling with it or you’ll damage the skin and/or make the flesh mushy.
Once the eggplant has cooled, peel off the skin and toss the entire eggplant into the marinade. Soak the eggplant for at least four hours, preferably eight hours or overnight. (While marinating, the eggplant will release juices into the salty marinade, which is important. If you prefer a less spicy marinade, loosen it with about 1 cup (125 ml) of water first.)
In a bowl, mix the softened butter with the miso, mirin, gochujang and rice vinegar.
Toast the cashew nuts over a low heat in a pan with the tablespoon of butter until golden brown, then transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.
Now to wrap up. Remove the aubergine from the marinade, place in a roasting pan and spread liberally with the miso butter. Barbecue with the lid down – or grill in a 200C/180C/390F/gas 6 fan oven – for 10 minutes, until hot, then transfer to a plate. Crumble over the feta, garnish with the roasted cashews, balsamic reduction and spring onion and serve.
Smoked lamb shoulder with hispi cabbage
For the lamb shoulder†
2-2.5 kg shoulder of lamb, with bone
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
For the hispi cabbage†
1 hispi cabbage
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Make a marinade by mixing olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Place your lamb in a roasting pan and cover with the marinade, making sure it gets into all the folds of the meat. Cool with 24 hours. Remove the lamb shoulder from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour while you heat the barbecue to 120C.
When ready, place the lamb on the grill in the tin, shifted from the coals, and cook with the lid on for 5-6 hours, checking every few hours. Pierce the thickest part of the meat with a metal skewer and when there is just enough, the shoulder is done, 85-90C.
Remove the lamb from the barbecue and wrap in foil, let rest for 30 minutes. Set aside the juice that is still in the container, because you will use this for the hispi.
While the lamb is resting, cut the cabbage through the carrot from top to bottom. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the cabbage for 2-3 minutes until cooked through but still holding together. Let something cool. This step can also be done ahead of time and keep the hispi refrigerated.
Generously brush the cut side of the cabbage with some of the lamb fat remaining in your roasting pan and while your grill is still hot, place the cabbage cut side down and let it char and caramelize. Turn the cabbage over and repeat on the other side until evenly charred.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, pour 2 tablespoons of lamb fat, chopped anchovies and garlic and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until aromatic. Pour on top of the face of the cabbage. Serve alongside the lamb with some grilled flatbreads and mint dressing on the side.
Charred pork belly rib with pickled cucumber
2 kg pork belly
For the barbecue sauce†
1 small onion
2 large cloves of garlic
120 ml cider vinegar
120 ml apple juice
20 g dark brown sugar
250 ml ketchup (different ketchups vary in sweetness, so you may need to adjust the sugar content by 10 g)
50 ml Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt (to taste)
For the pickled cucumber†
1 cucumber thinly sliced
100 ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp white sugar
Pinch coriander seed
Squeeze mustard seed
Squeeze pink peppercorns
Season the pork belly with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven at 130C for 3-4 hours/up to 85C inside or just soft to the touch.
Refrigerate the pork belly overnight. Cut into individual ribs and grill for 2 minutes on each side. After browning on each side, brush with barbecue sauce and grill on each side for 6 minutes, rotating and glazing every 60 seconds. Should be a mahogany brown/char on the outside. Serve with pickled cucumber.
Saute onions and garlic. Add spices and roast for 2 minutes. Add vinegar and reduce to a syrup. Add apple juice and reduce to syrup. Add sugar and Worcestershire cooks for 2 minutes. Add ketchup and cook over low heat for 20 minutes to allow the sauce to come together.
Place vinegar, water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, take off the heat and let it cool. Cool liquid. By cooling the drink, the cucumber retains its bright green color. Add the cucumber and let it sit for an hour.