After the initial welcome, Alan introduced the guests to the Big Green Egg, a barbecue that has quickly shot to fame on our screens in recent cooking shows and has become very desirable in the finest restaurants in the UK and Europe.
The Big Green Egg is a charcoal based ceramic cooker that offers a wide range of precise cooking modes never seen before on a barbecue. It can grill, roast, smoke or bake pizzas in temperatures ranging from 80 - 400C.
Alan Murchison and his team began using a combination of large and small Eggs in the kitchen about a year ago, and were quickly won over by its diversity of cooking techniques; smoking, baking, slow cooking for a range of different dishes.
"This is the Formula 1 of barbecues. Every now and again a product comes along which redefines everything. The Big Green Egg is it." Alan Murchison
The arrival of the first Big Green Egg at L'Ortolan created a buzz of excitement amongst the Chef's, it was as though all their Christmases had come at once. And it didn't take long before it was hatched out of the box and the experimenting was underway.
Alan's BBQ Tips
- When you're looking, you ain't cooking! It's important to keep the lid shut to keep the heat in.
- Use firelighters and a blow torch to help ignite and heat up your BBQ quickly.
- Buy good quality fuel, as it affects the flavour.
- Build up large pieces of natural lump charcoal in layers to ensure you get the most out of the heat.
- As a sweeping rule, rest meat for as long as it was cooked. Warm up again just before serving.
- Invest in a stone plate for your BBQ as it stores heat.
- Keep your BBQ clean, we clean our Eggs after every use with a vacuum cleaner!
Coat the steaks with vegetable oil as it has the highest burning temperature and season with salt. Sear directly onto a grill at a high temperature until the outside of the steak begins to caramelise. Don't be scared to touch and feel the meat until it's cooked to the desired taste. Leave to rest before serving.
One of the most important tips with cooking meat such as steak is to keep the lid shut. We know it's tempting, but keeping the lid closed limits oxygen entering and fuelling the fire.
Pizza & Flatbreads
Using a plain white bread mix, kneed into a thin base on greaseproof paper. To make a batch of flatbreads layer up and divide with paper. Make sure the barbecue is at a high temperature and place the bread on to the stone plate. Keep the lid closed until the bread begins to crisp.
Using the same method as the flatbreads, build your pizza on greaseproof paper. For the demo Alan used a simple, yet delicious recipe of pasata, cheese, fresh tomatoes, and ham. Cook with the lid shut for approximately 5-8minutes, or until the base begins to crisp.
For a very easy marinade use Kecap Manis; an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, dark soy and lemon juice. Lower the temperature of the barbecue, place the fish onto greaseproof paper and cook on the stone plate. This will produce a blackened skin with a gorgeous smoky BBQ flavour.
Soak a handful of smoking wood chips in water and then add to the barbecue.
Try different smoking chips to alter the flavour. For the demo Alan used Apple chips, but also recommended to try hickory for a stronger smoked flavour.
Ideas for smoking
Hot smoked cheese, Alan used Capra Nouveau, a rich, creamy, smooth and flavoursome rindwashed goat's cheese, from the lovely Sarah, at Brockhall Farm.
Experiment with softer cheese and try adding a teaspoon of mustard for a wonderful smoked cheese fondue.
Hot smoked fish, try stone bass, mackerel and salmon. Be sure to place the fish on to greaseproof paper so it doesn't stick to the hot plate.
Try slow smoking chicken. Cook with the lid closed for approximately 1 hour and 30mins for a moist, full flavoured chicken. Also try rubbing with oil and herbs before cooking.
For more Big Green Egg recipes and ideas visit their website for video demos and detailed ideas of what to cook at your next BBQ.
For a list of demos and events coming up at L'Ortolan please visit our Events page.