Across my Table

Andy Annat - Across My Table

Friday, January 25, 2013Me! In words

In the international world of Barbeque, if there is one name that remains constantly ahead of the fray it is that of Andy Annat. He has several international titles under his belt and a workshop by him would have been a pleasure to attend. He came down to Bangalore recently and held an exciting demo at Moevenpick Hotel and Spa in Bangalore. I still am quite sore about not being able to visit but my good friend Monika Manchanda did. You can read about  her experience here. But as a consolation prize, I did manage to get an interview with Andy. Read on to unlock a few BBQing secrets.

Andy Annat at the demo

BBQ, Grill, the Indian Tandoor – how would you view the differences if any in these forms?
The Indian Tandoor is a fabulous method of cooking; the food is cooked quickly and is tasty. The only problem with them is that they are large, very heavy and there aren't many households that have one. Cooking on a western BBQ is the nearest you will get as far as taste; food can be cooked between 3 minutes and 10 hours and everything in-between.

We are a nation that loves its veggies – which are the ideal ones to go on the grill and your tips to help?
The great thing about BBQ is that vegetables, breads and desserts are perfect partners for for it. New and exciting flavours can now be achieved with live fire and wood smoke.

Simple, natural foods at it's very best; those in season can be cooked with new techniques and that enables you to discover the benefits of the BBQ. Produce that's in peak condition, fresh and full of texture, succulence and flavour, are complemented with simple, effective live fire cooking techniques.

Marinating is a versatile and indispensable technique with vegetables and fruits, adding flavour and moisture. No special equipment is needed and it only takes simple steps to produce unfussy-but delicious food. Marinating is a technique that's been around at least since the Renaissance, when acidic mixtures were commonly used to help preserve foods.
Marinades are used to add flavour, although some have tenderising qualities. The marinade will permeate the surface of food and have little effect on the interior.

Tender vegetables, such as mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant, absorb flavour from marinades and taste especially good grilled. Sweet marinades work well for tender fruits, such as berries, orange sections, pineapples & melons.

We also tend to have a lot of unannounced guests, any surefire marinades you can suggest for an impromptu BBQ?
Try this quick recipe called "Andy's Original Rub":
Ingredients: 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder,
1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dry yellow mustard, 1 small pinch cayenne pepper
Method: Combine all the ingredients and use as a dry rub.

Indian marinades tend to be on the heavier side in terms of ingredients and spices… does that in any way require a change in BBQing techniques?
Marinades are really based on preference. If you use oil based marinades, you can store them in your fridge for weeks. Garlic, ginger, coriander, authentic spices can be made ready. For most meats I like to marinade from 3 hours up to 24 hours.
For vegetables, 20 minutes is usually enough. If you are using citrus fruits in your recipe, then I would suggest that you leave on for under 1 hour, as the citrus starts a curing style cooking on the food and as you cook, the food tends to go hard and dry. If you are using the "direct method" of grilling, then I would cut back on the salt and sugary ingredients, as they tend to char and can burn before the meat is ready.

Common BBQing hiccups and the solution 
• Cooking too hot - Let the coals die down slightly before cooking.

• Food sticking - Use a cloth soaked in veg oil to lubricate your grill surface.

• Flare ups - This is caused with meat fats and oils dripping into the hot coals. You can avoid this by using the "indirect method" of cooking and using a drip pan with water in it. 

• Piercing the meat - Use a good set of tongs to turn and move your meat. If you use a fork, you will pierce the meat, losing those valuable juices.

• Cook with the lid down - "if your looking, your not cooking"

Anything that can be BBQed but people just never think of doing it?
If you can cook can BBQ it!!!
Large pieces of meat are great on the BBQ. Recently we cooked a whole goat, 8 kgs of King fish and a line of 7 quails on a wire. Pizzas, breads and chocolate brownies are stunning. With fruit and veggies producing some amazing tastes. Things like peaches, apples and pineapple produce great puddings and bok choi, peppers, asparagus, onions, aubergines, squash and potatoes for sides and for vegetarians. Marinated tofu, haloumi and camembert cheese are always grilled with great results.

At your backyard BBQ you would serve?
My perfect BBQ begins with a bunch of friends and family, because to me it is the most social way of eating the best food. Then the food! Chicken, the most versatile piece of meat, adding flavours through brines, marinades and glazes. I also love to cook a whole lamb leg, which can be sliced or left whole for your guests to serve themselves. Cooking larger pieces of meat like this means that you don't have to stand over the grill, simply put the meat in the BBQ and close the lid... leave to cook while enjoying a cold beer. I like lots of grilled vegetables with a hint of smoke and fresh crisp salads. Grilled bread is also one of my favourites, grilled until golden brown and brushed with garlic, coriander and sprinkled with salt.

If I were taking you along to pick a BBQ, what tips would you be giving me?
• It is important that you buy a BBQ with a lid. This opens up a great deal of cooking opportunities; roasting, hot smoking, cold smoking, baking, grilling, What ever you can cook in your in your home, you can cook in a closed BBQ giving new and unique flavours and making eating a great outdoor social occasion. I have a saying "if your looking, your not cooking" - so keep the lid down!

• Charcoal or gas? This is a life style thing! My personal preference is charcoal although if we had the good weather like you have here in India, I would be doing a lot more outdoor cooking and may prefer the convenience of the gas alternative. Charcoal & gas BBQ's both have the ability to cook almost anything like, Pizza, large fish, whole goat leg, breads, chocolate brownies & superb vegetables, this is just to name a few; the possibilities are endless.

• Guarantee - I would always choose a BBQ which carries a guarantee. The Weber range of BBQ's have a warranty from between 5 and 25 years. They also carry a good range of Weber accessories & spare parts.

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