Forget beef: Chef Richard H Turner gives us the lowdown on grilling chicken and pork to perfection this summer
“There’s an awful lot of bad pork out there,” says chef extraordinaire Richard H Turner, “we’re all so used to eating it.” If anyone knows about meat (be it four legs or two), it’s this guy: following a six-year stint in the Army, he quickly learnt the ropes (at Le Gavroche, La Tante Claire and Quo Vadis no less) before being put in charge of the grills at Hawksmoor. He also heads up London’s Foxlow restaurants, is the power behind Soho’s acclaimed Pitt Cue Co and has written two books (the newly released Hog and Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook), doling out his carnivorous pleasures for the rest of us to try. “Meat is my forte,” says Turner, so we’ve picked his brain for five recipes to attempt on the grill (or oven, if it all gets too much) that aren’t the usual blackened beef burger or steak.
"These are prepared in our Master Chicken Brine solution for two hours before being cooked, which makes them moist and tender. Brining is a technique that originally came from France, but Tom [Adams, co-owner and chef of Pitt Cue Co] developed it. We stumbled across the hot sauce in the US – it came with a safety notice, but we’re using hotter and more intense chillies now. Use the sauce to taste: too hot and it’s a waste of good chicken. Let the sugar caramelise slowly so they cook all the way through."
Whole Spicy Smoked Roast Chicken
"This is brutal; it’s not subtle in any way. It’s an assault on the tastebuds. It’s rubbed with a chipotle chilli paste, butter, maple syrup and roasted garlic paste, which makes the meat very moist. If you put the bird directly over the flames, it’ll burn, so it needs to be to one side [indirect cooking]. Smouldering coal or charcoal, or a white layer over the top, is best. It’s about careful cooking, watching and taking care of it. If you’ve seasoned, macerated or rubbed the bird, it shouldn’t dry out."
"The best way to cook a burger is by letting the charcoal, or wood, burn down until it’s smouldering. Everyone cooks too hot on barbecues. There’s a lot of fat in these burgers and if it’s too hot you’ll end up with flames, burning and smoke, and you lose all the flavour from the meat. These aren’t like beef burgers – you don’t want them pink, you want to cook these all the way through. Again, cooking them slower and over a lower heat is best. When it’s turned down you get loads of flavour and some nice caramelisation on the outside. They are easy to make, it’s just stacking: get all the ingredients and stack them in the right order."
Peppered Bacon Ribs with Maple Mustard Glaze
"Bacon ribs are quite unusual. I developed them for Foxlow and they were the most popular thing on the menu. They can be difficult to get hold of: they only come off the belly, not the ribs, so you have to grab the ribs before they’re taken off the bacon belly. The recipe says smoke for five hours, but you could do it in the oven."
Pickled Pork Loin Sandwiches
"This is basically an old way of preserving pork, but you end up with a more moist texture and a big flavour. Leave the diced pork loin with the cooled pickling liquid in the fridge for three days then cook for 6-8 hours. Then shred the meat in a similar way to pulled pork. You can also get something called a bear claw that pulls the filaments and fibres of the meat apart, which is for larger amounts. Jalapeños go perfectly with this, but you could also just keep it in the fridge and eat it with sandwiches."
Full recipes are in Hog and Pitt Cue Co: The Cookbook, both out now (Mitchell Beazley)
(Images: Hog: Proper pork recipes from the snout to the squeak by Richard H. Turner, Photography by Paul Winch-Furness, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25, Octopus Books/Pitt Cue Co. - The Cookbook by Tom Adams, Jamie Berger, Richard H. Turner. Published by Mitchell Beazley, £25, Octopus Books)