Battle of the barbecue a winner
Sweat poured off them. It was hot and dry, not a whisper of breeze from the sea. Behind was a sleek pre-fabricated home, one of the group that forms Puke Ariki's summer exhibition, Kiwi Prefab: Cottage to Cutting Edge.
In front was flat, yellowing grass and the coastal walkway.
The cooks were Witt tutor John Hudson with son, Samuel, 10. John represented the professional in this barbecue battle billed as Chef versus Home Cook Showdown. Sharing the barbecue was Inglewood High School teacher and beer reviewer, Warwick Foy. Daughter Aimee, also 10, helped him out.
"You're probably shedding the kilos. It's hot behind these barbecues. I've got to swap sides," exclaimed Classic Hits radio host Eryn Deverson as a finger of flame leapt up while she interviewed the pair.
Warwick prides himself on curries but was asked to step behind the barbecue for this occasion.
"Do you think being a teacher lends itself quite nicely to this?" asks Eryn of the public grilling.
Jokes Warwick: "I'm well used to making a fool of myself in front of other people."
He chose beer-marinated steak for his dish, which is a simple recipe, but this one had a twist: The bulk of the marinade was Barrel Aged Porter, a premier beer produced by Mike's Organic Brewery.
Chunks of the barbecued steak were served on grain bread with sweet onion relish and later, when the relish had run out, a dollop of chilli banana sauce. This hot and spicy mix is the Philippine take on sweet chilli sauce and is available from many Asian stores.
He'd marinated the meat for three hours at room temperature and says he believes that cooking it at room temperature, as well as not turning it too often, made for a more tender result.
John's ensemble was diverse and more daring. Two different types of fish - trevally and moki - served in lettuce leaves with guacamole; beef and bacon kebabs and Kransky sausages, technically a Slovenian spicy sausage adopted by and adapted to Kiwi tastes.
People wandering by sampled the offerings and Eryn kept up the narration, interviewing the cooks, their kids and the passers-by to determine which morsels were best and concluding - in the end - that food was the winner on the day.
The beer-marinated steak received rave reviews. Succulent and plentiful with an everyman- type appeal, it couldn't be faulted.
John's dishes were big on aesthetic appeal. Red onion, bacon and coloured capsicums sat on stacks of rump steak. Pieces of white fish contrasted with the green lettuce and guacamole; deep red Kranskys nestled beside toffee- coloured onion relish.
Logistical gymnastics was involved in his food preparation.
"Logistically, because you are carting something away from a venue, you have to factor timing in and the quality of food. There's different dynamics as well as the heat. Fish will deteriorate. You lose an hour of its life every minute that it's not refrigerated so that's why we have to run all the way through," he says, explaining the pace with which he was required to cook.
Son Samuel helped by laying out beds of salads, arranging food and passing around platters. Tasting was part of the job.
"He loves eating. He will give me one of those points out of 10 just about every time he has a curry," says John of his son.
What about participating?
"No, just eating. But he knows what he's after. He will make sure he has fresh lemon on his fish - just those finer points, he's aware of them."
John throws in other pointers as he moves swiftly from the table to barbecue.
Don't marinate meat for too long as sometimes the acidic nature of liquids such as vinegar can spoil it.
Another option is brushing the marinade on as you barbecue. We dip our fingers in a marinade of mustards and balsamic vinegar.
"That's really quite acidic so I was putting the marinade on as I was working. Because rump is good flavoursome meat, you have to get that balance between tasting the marinade but also having something of the taste of the meat in there."
Seasoning everything is also important.
At the homecook table, Eryn chats to Aimee. The year 6 student adores Masterchef NZ (and similar TV shows) and her favourite foods are olives and cheeses.
Aimee: "I kind of help Mum make the salads."
Eryn: "And what about when it's time to do the dishes.
"Do you make yourself scarce. Do you hide somewhere so Mum and Dad think 'We can't find Aimee, we'll have to do them ourselves'?"
Aimee: "Yeah. I don't do them that much."
Eryn: "I like Aimee's life! What are your favourite things to put in a salad?"
Aimee: "Tomato, carrot, avocado, olive, cucumber. . . "
Eryn: "You are a fan of olives! Well, you are probably the only person under about 25 who likes olives - in the world."
As the clearing up begins, the cooks congratulate themselves on surviving the heated showdown. Puke Ariki staff tuck into leftovers.
Passers-by have made themselves comfortable on couches inside the prefab baches.
The fun to be had behind a barbecue, and how food can be endlessly reinvented, have been reinforced in this open-air kitchen.
Porter Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from anotherpintplease.com/ 2010/12/what-on-grill-200- porter-marinated.html
1 flank or rump steak
1/2 cup Porter (or other stout beer)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp Whitlocks tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp Asian sesame oil
1 Tbsp fish sauce
UFC Hot & Spicy banana sauce (available from most Asian stores)
Mix together all of the ingredients and place in a shallow dish with the flank steak.
Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours. Set marinade aside.
Prep the grill for direct medium high. It's good to heat up the grill and then drop the heat down a bit before cooking the meat.
The marinade can be boiled and cook for approximately 3 minutes in a saucepan. Serve with the meat.
Beef & Smoked Manuka Bacon Brochettes
1 medium red capsicum
1 medium yellow capsicum
600g rump steak, diced large to fit 3 cubes per skewer
6 rashers rindless smoked manuka bacon
2 small red onions
20ml balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp seeded mustard
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Cut all ingredients into large dice and carefully thread on to skewers in this order - steak, bacon (doubled over for thickness), onion and capsicum. Be consistent.
Place vinegar and mustards in a squeezy bottle with a top on, shake it up and coat the brochettes prior to using.
Season brochettes and place on a pre-heated oiled BBQ. Cook approximately 5 to 8 minutes depending on how well cooked you like them. Serve with toffee onion relish.
TOFFEE ONION RELISH
3 large onions
30ml brown sugar
2 Tbsp capers
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel and halve onions, then slice thinly.
Heat butter and oil in large saucepan, add onions and sugar, then cook gently for 30 minutes over a low heat until reduced to a soft rich brown toffee mixture.
Roughly chop capers and stir into onion mix. Allow to cool completely, stir in chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
GRILLED MOROCCAN- STYLE FISH FILLETS
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chopped chillies
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper and ground sea salt
1 iceberg lettuce, washed and quartered.
Lemon wedges to serve
4 large fillets of fresh fish; blue moki is good
For the rub, mix together Moroccan spice, olive oil, tomato paste, cumin, chillies, Cajun seasoning, pepper and salt. Coat the fish fillets an hour or so before cooking, season.
Cook quickly on a hot oiled grill, about 4 to 5 minutes, taking care not to over-cook or over-handle with the BBQ slice.
Serve immediately with lettuce as a wrap for fish, lemon wedges and a tangy guacamole. TANGY GUACAMOLE
2 ripe avocados, halved, stones removed, peeled
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper
Place the avocado flesh in a medium bowl and use a fork to mash until almost smooth.
Add the onion, tomato, garlic, chilli and lime juice and use a spoon to mix well. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
Taranaki Daily News