Beca Lyne-Pirkis shares her secrets to barbecue success
Barbecues in our family are always a big foodie event, with the heavy responsibility of manning the grill undertaken by both myself and my brother. I have a regular oil drum grill that allows me plenty of space to do a plethora of things. My brother Gareth, on the other hand, has two smokers and a grill and has been known to be up overnight smoking joints of pork butt and brisket to perfection.
We’re hugely influenced by our American family who have opened our eyes and taste buds to so many different and new recipes that are all linked to the barbecue or smoker. We don’t just do the grills though; the sides are equally as important to the meats, with two of our favourites being homemade pork and beans and the mid-west classic, green bean casserole.
I’ve seen over the last 10 years how the American barbecue culture has steadily influenced its British cousin, with barbecue restaurants, the skill of smoking meats and the infamous pulled pork cropping up everywhere. However, the British public still can’t quite grasp the all-year-round tastiness a barbecue can add to the regular weekly meal plan at home.
It’s a tradition in my family to have a barbecue on Christmas Eve, as this is what our family do in America. It’s nothing fancy, just a couple of sirloins grilled and usually served with some dauphinoise and a lightly dressed green salad. Yes it’s cold, but there’s something almost magical about being stood outside in the cold wrapped up like an Eskimo, a cold beer in one hand and some tongs in the other, with the hot barbecue crackling and breaking the silence of the night.
A barbecue can add so much flavour to a plain cut of meat and it’s healthy, as you’re not adding any fats to cook the meat. I think that as with any form of cookery technique, the more you practice and research, the better you’ll be.
I know it’s often the ‘man’s’ domain, being by the grill, but I love doing it—it is food after all! It’s such a contradiction to what people think I do normally (baking cakes and macarons), but aside from that I just love the intensity of the heat, the skill of cooking the meats/fish/vegetables perfectly and thinking of new recipes that would work on a grill.
I have a very fond memory of my cousin Jack (who’s sadly no longer with us) barbecuing in my uncle’s back yard. It was 7am and Jack was sat on a fold out camping chair, stoking the fire on an alien-looking capsule barbecue, taking his time to get the heat just right before putting the meat on to cook slowly all day.
I must have been around 10 and didn’t think to question why he was barbecuing at that time of the day, or why he was drinking beer... but several hours later, when I tasted one of those pork steaks, basted in the most mouth-wateringly juicy barbecue sauce and melting in my mouth, I understood.
Covered in sauce
My chops were covered in sauce and the pride that was on Jack’s face when he saw everyone devouring his hard work, patience and passion almost brought a tear to his eye.
I often mention certain family members as my food heroes, and Jack is definitely one of them. This is why barbecues are more than just your regular sausages and burgers in our family, it’s a way of life, it’s passion and it’s blinking delicious.