Derby born, 2 star Michelin chef, Sat Bains, isn’t a man famed for his back to basics cooking but he is, like many other highly regarded chefs, a huge fan of a simple, but brilliant, charcoal fired barbecue called the Big Green Egg. Bains enthuses, “It’s easy to use and tastes sensational. Food that comes off the Egg immediately becomes a favourite amongst the team and our customers.”
Sounds good, but why, in a wine column, am I talking about barbecues? Well, in the shop, as well as wine, I also sell Big Green Eggs and with National Barbecue Week starting on Monday, the Telegraph team thought I should step into the garden, fire up the Egg, cook up a few simple dishes and pair them with barbie friendly wines. A tough task, I’m sure you’ll agree, but someone had to do it and I’m nothing if not selfless!
Since I’ve had my Big Green Egg, I’ve not cooked a Sunday roast indoors. Last Christmas, I even cooked a 14 pound turkey on it. Barbecuing in the depths of winter may seem insane but once you’ve set the temperature control on the Egg, you can return speedily to the welcoming warmth of indoors until the cooking is complete.
For this article, I popped a chicken in the Egg with the temperature set to 180°C, prepared a salad, opened a bottle of wine and was tucking into a beautifully moist bird an hour or so later. I chose a great value Romanian red – Calusari Pinot Noir – to accompany the chicken because of its light summer fruited flavours but I could easily have opted for a white such as a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Viognier.
Proper pizza, cooked in a wood fired oven is delicious because the pizza is exposed to huge heat from above and below: the pizza base is crisped up by the heat from the oven’s stone floor and the toppings are cooked by the flames licking across the oven’s dome shaped roof.
Pizza cooked on the Egg’s baking stone with the temperature cranked up to 350°C and a smattering of soaked woodchips on the hot coals works in exactly the same way. Admittedly, it takes 5 minutes to produce a perfect pizza as opposed to 90 seconds in a wood fire oven but, on the plus side, that means more relaxed drinking time.
To cope with pizza’s rich melted cheese and tomato sauce you need a wine that packs a punch such as the Primitivo Salento Paolo Leo which has vibrant flavours of blackberry, plum and cherry.
Dirty Steak is a cooking method pioneered by several Michelin starred chefs using the Big Green Egg.
To cook Dirty Steak you need well-marbled steak and 100% natural Big Green Egg lump charcoal. Please don’t use briquettes or cheaper lumpwood because they’re packed with chemicals and, as the name suggests, these very special steaks are cooked directly on the hot coals. I know! I was dubious but the flavour is fantastically enhanced, the fat within the steak gets really crisp from the direct cook and, surprisingly, the charcoal doesn’t cling to the steak. After cooking, baste the steak with rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic and leave it to rest, covered in foil, for 5 minutes.
The ultimate wine to drink with Dirty Steak is the Wandering Beeste Syrah. Last year, it was voted South Africa’s best Syrah and wine expert, Tim Atkin, said of it, “Wow! Intense, flavoursome, complex, aromatic, balanced and poised. Spicy, thick, complex and long, mineral and fresh. Pepper spice and wild herbs.” (18.5/20).
Buy a Big Green Egg from Worth Brothers Wines and receive 5% of the total cost in free wine of your choice.