The Life of an Outdoor Cook

It's been around six months since I attended the BBQ basics course led by Marcus Bawdon (you can read the review on that evening here).

So has the experience led me to spending more time oudoors in all weathers? Or has the thrill of the evening worn off leading me back to cooking in my kitchen, whilst the smoker is beginning to get a covering of leaves as Autumn starts to push Summer away? Well, I'm happy to say I am well and truly converted to a new and still very exciting way of cooking.


Gone are the days where I would drag an old bbq from the shed, only being held together by rust, and loaded it with enough charcoal and firelighters to power a small village for a month. It was an unecessary stressful affair; even as an experienced chef, the thought not being control of the heat of a bbq and outdoor elements was scary.

These days it's a stress free event; with some forward planning, simple ingredients and a bit of imagination it has become a fun and exciting way of life - cooking just for the family or a group of foodie friends.

This is credit to Marcus and the way he teaches you to cook outdoors and it leaves you with enough confidence to really transform the way you approach outdoor cooking.

Since the course, I have gained a ProQ smoker thanks to Mac's BBQ to add to my three smaller bbqs I 'rescued' from the tip, even my 7 year old son (Kyle's Kitchen) has his own small BBQ. Every weekend, whatever the weather, I will be out there smoking on the ProQ - in fact, I haven't cooked a large joint of meat in the oven since. I also cook enough in one smoking session to last a few days of worth of meals, so minimal effort for maximum consumption. Leftover smoked chicken meat in a curry is amazing!

Smoking food whatever the weather (small shelter needed soon)

This year we transformed our garden, after a year of thinking about it, we finally got round to it, giving the smoker a home it deserves. From homemade pallet seating, a ton of reclaimed stones and a pallet veg garden (proud of my building skills here) - we have made a great social space.


Pallet Seating Area

Pallet Vegetable Garden
Here in the UK, we tend not to use our outdoor spaces as much as we should but the smoker has really changed this and we spend so much more time outside together. The advantage of a smoker is that you're not chained to it while the rest of your group are enjoying the conversation; a couple of chickens with a rub left overnight in a fridge, then simply smoked for 3 and a half hours is enough to satisfy any guest with minimal interference from you, the cook.

   
Indirect Cooking of Two Breasty Birds

Hassleback potatoes & stuffing cooked under the duck, making use of the duck fat dripping!

BBQ and smoking is not expensive to do but, like any new hobby or way of life, you need to spend money on the set up. After this, the cooking can be done with cheap cuts of meat. I have used whole chicken and duck, beef skirt, hangar steak, even a simple cauliflower cut thick and smoked is a thing of beauty. Pop your ovenproof dish underneath the meat, pop your small potatoes in, to catch the dripping from the meat which in turn cooks the potatoes amazingly. Job done!

I could go on about the charcoal, wood or rubs I use but I just wanted to give praise to a man who really can change the way you look at outdoor cooking - I haven't looked back since and I'm even planning to cook the Christmas day meat in the smoker. Madness you say? No I don't think so! I'm just having so much fun and that's what life is all about. Smoking, for me, is like reading a book from the prologue to the exciting finish and, like every book you read and every thing you smoke, you will always have a new experience.

Thank you to Marcus as well as his Facebook group CountryWoodSmoke, full of fellow enthusiasts who support, suggest and salute all levels and efforts in BBQ adventures. No question is too stupid or odd, and sharing/boasting of great cooks is fully encouraged. 

For further inspiration sign up to Marcus' free, online, quarterly UK BBQ Mag or feel free to ask me some questions of how I have cooked something, or what I would do, from my chefs point of view.


Here's a selection of my outdoor cooking escapades; happy smoking!


Pork and Lamb

Duck!

Homemade Smoked Pizzas

Added garden herbs to my starter and coals

Crispy Jerk Chicken

Smoked Rub Covered Chicken

Jerk Chicken for Caribbean Food Week & UK BBQ Week

 Teaching the Boy


Comments

  1. Awww mate, thank you so much, means so much to hear that you are loving it still, and even better kyle getting involved
    Cheers
    Marcus

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