One of my favourite things about summer is that it gives me an excuse to use my Big Green Egg as often as I can get away with. So much more than just a barbecue, the Big Green Egg smokes, grills, roasts and more – low and slow or fast and dirty. It’s a cheffy – and expensive – piece of kit, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for the ultimate upgrade for your fire-cooking. If you are thinking of getting one, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of it, not just to justify the cost, but because you’ll be missing out on its full, versatile potential.
So, stock up on some good charcoal/woodchips and tuck into some of these dishes, inspired by my travels around the world.
Rustic Italian feasting
I was inspired by my recent visit to Radici, a new Southern-Italian restaurant in Islington, to cook a simple but delicious Italian spread.
Cook fresh peas, still in their pods, directly on the grill for 3 to 4 minutes and once done sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a spritz of lemon. Serve before a ‘light’ Parmigiana – grilled slices of aubergine and courgette, layered in a gratin dish with tomato and basil sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Place the tray directly into the Egg and bake until the cheese is bubbling hot.
Middle Eastern moments
A mezze spread is the perfect al-fresco meal – invite a crowd, because when it comes to this type of food, more really is merrier. The low-and-slow cooked beets served alongside fast-grilled kebabs and flatbreads are a great way to familiarise yourself with the two different cooking styles.
Bake whole beetroots inside the Big Green Egg over charcoal for 40 minutes before skinning and slicing. Toss in a salad with toasted pistachios, labneh, sumac and pomegranate.
Serve alongside radishes and grilled flatbreads stuffed with feta, figs and oregano, and bowls of summer squash hummus and tzatziki for dipping.
For an accompaniment – create lamb kebabs for grilling. These are great for preparing in advance and throwing on the barbecue when you’re ready.
- Mix together 800g lamb mince, 2 minced shallots, crushed garlic, zest and juice of 2 lemons, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 bunch of thyme leaves, 2 finely chopped red chillis and a pinch of salt and pepper. Knead and mix evenly to blend.
- Divide the meat into 4 and shape into a rough sausage around a long metal skewer.
- Grill over a BBQ, turning until evenly cooked. They should take about 12-15 minutes.
This recipe for roast potatoes with padron peppers is one of my favourites at the moment, and a great way to get a sense for how roasting happens on a Big Green Egg, so I’m putting down the full step-by-step instructions. I love them served with grilled fish – prawns, monkfish and scallops dressed in chilli, olive oil and lemon work well, as well as a big bowl of sauce Romesco.
- Chop a kilo of floury potatoes (like King Edwards or Maris Piper) into chunks and par-boil until cooked through. Drain, return to the pan and shake to fluff up the edges.
- Set up your Big Green Egg for indirect cooking with the convEGGtor, and add a few chunks of smoking chips to generate some smoke. Preheat to 400°F/20.
- Fill a baking tray with a generous slug of olive oil and add whole, but slightly crushed, cloves of garlic. Place inside the Big Green Egg for about 10 minutes to get the oil smoking hot.
- Toss in the potatoes and scatter with sea salt. Shake to coat them and return the tray to the Big Green Egg to roast for 30 minutes.
- At this point, throw in about 130g of padron peppers, toss, and return to the Big Green Egg for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are crisped and the peppers burnished.
- Serve straight away with a warning to watch out for the hot ones (about one in 30 will blow your socks off!).
This technically falls under my Middle Eastern inspiration, but it works at the end of pretty much any al-fresco supper.
Set up the BBQ for direct grilling and heat to 475 F. Halve ripe apricots and remove the stones, brush the flat side of the apricot with olive oil. The oil will prevent sticking whilst on the grill. Place the apricots on the grill, flat side down, for about 5 to 6 minutes until burnished with grill marks. Flip and continue grilling for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and drizzle with orange flower water, or orange blossom honey and serve with thick creamy yoghurt.