Summer is well and truly here and what better way to celebrate the glorious sunshine than to lay on a mouth-watering barbecue feast for your nearest and dearest. We teamed up with Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn, barbecue chefs and authors of The Hang Fire Cookbook, for their recipes and tips. Here, we give them a good (ahem) grilling…
What inspired your love of American barbecue?
Shauna: In 2012, we decided to quit our 9-to-5s and go on a big epic road trip across Southern America to meet Dolly Parton and in the process we fell in love with American barbecue and how down to earth it is. There are no fancy gadgets or cooking techniques, it’s literally the spirit of fire and wood and meat.
Sam: Yes, I think there’s something wonderfully primal about fire, it naturally draws people in for warmth, for heat, for food and then you throw some barbecue on that and you have a party.
How did you bring it back to the UK?
Shauna: We started out with a pop up restaurant in Cardiff selling barbecue street food and then published our cookbook. In 2016, we opened our first restaurant The Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in Barry and it’s been booked up ever since. Last year, we won the Observer Food Monthly’s ‘Best Restaurant in the UK’ by public vote.
Why go to the effort of making your own BBQ food?
Sam: It’s fun. I think there’s just something wonderful and celebratory and nothing says summer like having a barbecue. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it, when your guests come round and you’ve done something that they aren’t expecting, like the lamb and pineapple kebabs or the Mai Thai chicken, all of a sudden you’ve become the talk of the barbecue because you’ve done something they have never thought about doing on the barbecue before.
Any tips for novice BBQers?
Sam: Cooking a bigger piece of meat is actually easier than cooking lots of smaller pieces – try a marinated spatchcock chicken with some gorgeous vegetable kebabs. I think you can make life easy for yourself and not worry that you’re going to burn everything.
Barbecue mistakes to avoid?
Shauna: Don’t put too much charcoal on too quickly, a lot of people just go straight for half a bag. Start with a little charcoal, say four big handfuls, and then add as you go. You don’t want a raging inferno because you won’t be able to cook anything on it. Start small and build out.
Any tips for pulling off the ultimate BBQ feast?
Sam: Barbecue is all about preparation, especially if you’re planning a party for a lot of people. Sunday is the perfect day to have a barbecue because it’s the weekend and it will give you Saturday to prep. You can probably do about 90% of your prep marinating meats and making sides in advance, so you’ve got more time to spend with your guests.
Scroll down for Sam and Shauna’s tempting barbecue recipes and sides…
Cured in the same way as pastrami, this gorgeous duck dish can be eaten cold, sliced over a salad or served as part of a charcuterie board.
Sam says: ‘This unusual recipe is one of our favourites. It’s great served with pickles in a lovely brioche bun’
MAI-THAI CHICKEN THIGHS
This succulent chicken borrows from classic Thai flavours and pairs with the citrus punch of a mai-thai cocktail.
Shauna says: ‘A take on one of our favourite cocktails – this chicken has a gorgeous, summery flavour.’
ALOHA BOYO’ GRILLED LAMB KEBAB
Switch up your regular kebabs for a delicious combo of Hawaiian flavours – ginger and pineapple – with melt-in-the-mouth lamb.
Shauna says: ‘Lamb and pineapple is a really fresh, gorgeous summer mix. .’
COLA HOT WINGS
Simple to make and perfect for sharing, chicken wings are a great crowd-pleaser.
Sam says: ‘Everybody loves a chicken wing and this fun recipe is super easy to make.’
Pronounced ‘Mak-shoo’, this Louisiana corn dish is an essential barbecue side. It’s vibrant, tasty, sweet and very simple to make.
Sam says: ‘Everybody loves sweetcorn and this is a really nice way to have fresh, summer sweetcorn on your barbecue.’
Originally from Georgia, the story goes that when people made cornbread in the pan, any crusty bits that were left were thrown to the hungry, whining dogs to hush them up.
Shauna says: ‘It doesn’t get more Southern than these little cheesy, savoury donuts.’
Sure Fire Slaw
A barbecue staple, you can’t have an al fresco spread without the perfect slaw.
Sam says: ‘A sure fire hit – even slaw-haters are gonna love this really fresh, crunchy slaw.’
Mint Julip Punch
Looking for a summery drink your guests haven’t tried before? Why not whip up some of this refreshing mint julep punch…
Shauna says: ‘Nothing says you care about your guests more than actually making a really nice drink for them to enjoy. Mint juleps are a big part of the Deep South and just make everything taste fresh.’