Barbecue season has hit fast and furiously. Invites are thrown out without a second thought, which really is the best kind of weekend get together. The cool box is bursting its seams, its door opening as soon as someone else closes it. Sunglasses are a cool facial fixture, hats are for the over-cautious! Parents try desperately to keep hold of wee outstretched arms and legs, while slathering sunscreen on children straining to dive bomb the pool. They are like dogs on leads with a bone dangling in front of them! Once the pesky little ones are in the water, us adults can kick back, relax and enjoy the sun. It also seems to be the time that blokes bring out the vest tops and floral motif shirts opened to the third button ala Simon Cowell. Dudes….???
And of course, there’s the food. No point in protesting – it’s a meat fest, a man-food heavy indulgence. Might as well go with it while the first ardour of the season burns hot. The Scotsman brandishes his long handled tongs like a shorts and t-shirt armoured warrior, albeit with a cold pint of something bubbly sitting comfortably in the other hand. Amongst the vast patties of homemade burgers, fat sausages and sticky chicken wings, sit these burnished beauties, Harissa Lamb Chops and they are always requested by The Scotsman. And it has to have my tahini sauce.
Harissa rates as one of my all time favourite blow-your-head-off condiments. The only other one I know to get me acting like I’m standing on hot coals is the bottled Louisiana Hot Sauce. Yowzers! Harissa, the way I make it (and that’s Nigella’s recipe) has the edge due to the heavy use of coriander and caraway seeds. And that makes it wonderful when slapped on meaty lamb chops. I marinade it overnight in harissa, lemon juice, garlic and crushed coriander seeds and grill till blushing pink in the middle and caramelised on the outside.
For us, this incredibly simple, buff coloured tahini sauce, goes sensationally with it. Its creamy feel and nutty flavour partner the hot, aromatic lamb to perfection. A salad of parsley, which is used as a salad leaf rather than a garnish, mixed with macerated onion slices and tomatoes keep things simple and fresh. Or consider a jewelled, pomegranate studded, fluffy couscous salad, with a heavy handed use of toasted pine nuts and parsley, to keep the carb brigade satisfied. Or let’s cut to the chase here – a potato salad – will happily sort that part out.
I also love to serve a pepper ‘salad’ and have to say, have converted reluctant blokes to my way of thinking. The sweet, smoky flavour of the grilled, skinned, soft peppers works particularly well with barbecued food. That’s a separate post though, as they ate it before I could get a picture, which I suppose, is a good thing!
In the meantime, here’s to the summer, ice teas, flip flops and tan lines!
Click on Page 2 below for the recipe