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Summer Lovin'

Dear Tooting & Balham (& those further afield) Foodies,

I hope all is well and that you are all enjoying the fab sunshine!

With the solid arrival of spring, the warmer weather has meant that we are now officially in BBQ season. Now I am not one to just confine BBQing to just the summer, but will confess its not so much fun tending the pit when it’s dark cold and wet in the middle of the night. One year, many many moons ago, I was using a gas grill (not a BBQ) and it was cold enough for the propane to condense and not come out of the bottle, putting the kibosh on my mid-winter BBQ feast. So the sunshine coming out this weekend was all the excuse that I needed to wheel out the weber and fire up the charcoals!

Hunter-gatherer mode was engaged, and a trip to the supermarket was put in motion; oh the travails of the modern day meat eater! Of course, I wanted to buy absolutely everything and even with extreme restraint a chicken, pork belly, sausages (for the, ahem, kids) and several racks of ribs were procured. A slightly easier dash around the fruit & veg aisles also meant that we were well stocked for some super sides too. At home, looking on, as ribs and belly were rubbed with our house spices, was J2 with a greedy look in here eye, opining “That looks so fun n’ satisfying”. A mix of pride and horror flashed through my mind as I thought that the ‘fun’ may have been another word! I thus had a delightful sous chef, who helped spend the afternoon rubbing, slicing and prepping and rubbing ready for the next day’s feast, and lunchtime couldn’t come quick enough.

The end result was a Trimalchian feast that we thoroughly enjoyed with friends and family. Whilst it was all pleasure, it was also a great opportunity to try a few new things, as well as sharpen up the BBQing technique that was hibernating since September. Our smoked BBQ chicken was brined over night; if you have the time, this is something I really recommend you do with any meat, but with poultry, it really does make the world of difference. The brining process not only seasons the meat, but it also helps tenderise it, as well as stopping lean chicken from drying out in a long cooking process. I also refined the cooking technique on my pork belly bites, cooking them in a baking tray. This led to meant that as the bites cooked the fats rendered were collected in the tray which was a useful baste and helped keep the pork nice and juicy. The end result was a sticky, unctuous mouthful of gelatinous porcine paradise! Is this really what they mean when they say sweetmeats? Finally, the ribs were, as always, delicious. The primalness of tearing meat off the bone and gnawing at the caramalised burnt ends, getting out every ounce of flavour, never ceases to tire!

That was just the meats, the sides were just as yummy, and, in my mind just as important. It’s a vital part of the meal, where you can cut the richness of the proteins and balance out the plate for a full range of tastes and flavours. Still making my way through the Fuerteventuran Goats Cheese bought home from our recent trip, a cheese & tomato salad was whisked up. The unique environment of Fuerteventura really does make this goats cheese extra special. There was also a black-eyed pea salad, where smooth & creamy black eyed peas paired with crunchy cooling cucumber with acidity provided by tangy cherry tomatoes and a hot-sauce and mustard vinaigrette. A first outing was given to our South Carolina Slaw, which went down very well, being very different from the kind you get in the supermarket and the polar opposite of our sweet and creamy house slaw. With an American mustard base, it is best described as a coleslaw cross between piccalilli and sweet relish. We’ll be putting this with our new Chicago style beef hot-dogs over the summer! Finally ‘the carb’ was provided by a potato salad. This was something I needed to get reacquainted with. An improvement was made on last years base recipe by tossing the cooked potatoes in vinegar to add just a hint of tang, and cautiously chopped hard boiled egg was also added. The egg added a surprising smoothness and rounded off any sharp edges of the sauce. Crunch, against the buttery-soft new potatoes, was provided by celery, onions and pickle. A great success! It is a relatively simple side, but with just enough ankle showing to peak your interest, and is a great foil for all the other bolder flavours that were on show.

It was a great afternoon with friends, kids playing in the garden, and another reminder that we are fast coming back to normal!

After all, that a nap, and there was just about enough left over to send a care package down to Granny TSK!

It was a good way to spend my last weekend, before things start to get really busy as we enter our summer season. We’re getting booked up catering for private parties, but we do still have availability date dependent, so do get in touch if you’d like to wow your guests with some of our excellent BBQ! We’re also going to be cooking up some BBQ for the Queens Jubilee weekend, where you’ll be able to grab platters of our BBQ & sides ready to take to impress at your local street or garden party!

Finally, for those of you who really can’t wait that long, we are delighted to announce that we are going to be at Surbiton Food Festival, a community event helping raise funds for local projects. We’re there this weekend, Saturday & Sunday 12midday to 5pm for the Village Fete and Beer Festival, with some of Surrey’s finest ales. We’ll be there with our burgers, pulled pork and chicken wings, so come on down to leafy Surbiton, enjoy a lovely walk along the river to build up an appetite before coming along to St Andrews Square for some top scran, and relax in the spring sunshine for a lovely family day out. Thanks for reading and hope to be cooking for y’all soon, Rich

The Southern Kitchen

Telephone – 0208 767 4452

Mobile - 07931 803355


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