Every student who’s bought a disposable BBQ has flamed the sh*t out of a bunch of sausages and burgers. Since then, you’ve probably learnt to let the coals cool off a bit before throwing on your meat. You don’t need my help for the basics, and there are plenty of recipes out there for perfect burgers, not to mention videos about how to grill steaks. So, for part 2 of my Amsterdam Barbecue Guide (part 1 was about BBQ shops and supplies in Amsterdam), I’m here to inspire you with a few BBQ dishes that you might not have tried before. Some are simple but delicious, others more time-consuming and complex. Whichever you choose to try, I hope you find these unique BBQ recipes as rewarding to cook (and to eat) as I do!
5 Unique BBQ Recipes to Up Your Grilling Game (including 2 “how-to” videos!)
Salmon on a Plank
It was in Louisiana that a guy taught me the simple but effective technique of throwing a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a tablespoon of oil into a plastic bag. After massaging the ingredients together a bit, he then put a side of salmon into the bag and left it to marinate for an hour or so. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law-to-be got me into the fun that is cooking on planks of wood. For this, you’ll need a plank of cedar (or another fragrant but untreated wooden plank) that’s at least as long and wide as your piece of salmon. Soak it in cold water for 30 minutes, and then heat it up for 10 minutes over a medium grill. Flip it over so that the side that was in contact with the heat is now face-up, and place your salmon carefully on top (skin side down). Put the salmon plank back on the BBQ for around 20 minutes, until the fish is just cooked and flakes away fairly easily (pro tip: get yourself an iGrill so you know exactly when your food is up to temperature). This dish is a halfway house between smoked salmon and regular salmon – lightly smoky and delicious!
A note about wood planks: I’ve only ever done this with the wood planks available from specific BBQ supply shops. It may be possible with a regular plank of wood from your local garden, but I’m not recommending it!
If you’re entertaining vegetarian guests, or if you’d like to add a healthy extra element to your BBQ, cauliflower “steaks” are the way forward. One medium-large cauliflower makes four steaks (two larger ones, and two that may or may not fall apart into individual florets) if you cut it length-ways through the stalk. Rub each steak with olive oil and your favourite BBQ rub, and throw them over a high-ish heat for 20 minutes. Check on them regularly to make sure they’re getting charred, not burnt – the difference is crucial!
If you’re the kind of person who likes to turn one meal into an entire weekend project, then it might just be your lucky day. You’ll need to order your brisket a few days in advance (try Barbecueshop.nl or Beef & Steak), start preparing it the night before, and be up bright and early to get your grill going the next morning. But it’s worth it – and besides, there’s always beer to keep you company during the stall. We made this video about how to cook beef brisket since it takes rather a lot of steps – stay tuned till the end for the recipes. (By the way, we injected our brisket, but in the end I felt it wasn’t necessary and would recommend leaving that step out.)
Just like the brisket above, cooking a Boston Butt take a looooong time – especially when your BBQ gets rained on, which is what happened to us. But again, extremely worth it – especially when you mix your freshly pulled pork with a little homemade BBQ sauce. Again, our video on how to cook pulled pork is available here, with recipes at the end!
One for the chilli fiends, which means you might want to wear rubber gloves to make these (especially if you wear contact lenses – ouch). First, mix up a cheesy filling: I use a tub of cream cheese and a handful or two of grated Dutch oude kaas, but mature cheddar would work too. Next, fry off a couple of sliced onions until they’re sweet and caramelised. Now comes the chilli bit: take the stalks off around 12 fresh green jalapeños and cut them in half length-ways (this will make 24 poppers). Scoop out the seeds – this is where the gloves come in – and fill each jalapeño half with a teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Top with the caramelised onions, and wrap the entire thing in a rasher of streaky bacon. Chill for at least an hour.
When you’re ready to cook, dust the poppers with some of your favourite rub and carefully place each one onto your BBQ, with the chilli on the bottom so that the cheese is at less risk of leaking out. Cook over a medium grill (approx. 150 degrees C) ideally with some wood chips for about an hour until the bacon is crispy, the peppers semi-soft, and the cheese slightly melted. Hot-damn, these are good!
Recipe adapted from Wicked Good Barbecue by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson.