In approximately three to four minutes, you’re becoming the sorta guy who brings a whole octopus to a BBQ. The sort of guy the world needs a lot more of right now.
Imagine it: you’ve just arrived to the grill-out. Couple of tepid tins in a couple of tired hands. Fifteen thousand identical Cumberland sausages over the coals. Dull chat about catchment areas over there, dull chat about the boot capacity of a Vauxhall Zafira over there, dull chat about the traffic over there and BAM! BAAAAM! BAM BAM BAM! A freakin’ octopus pulled out of your backpack, slammed onto the salad table, ready become the centrepiece of the BBQ and take this snorefest to crazy town.
Yep, now it’s a party. Now people are crushing the cans. Now people have something to talk about. Now you’re cooking, buddy.
And you’ve got these eight disciples of flame-cooking to thank, as they’ve detailed the most surprising and unusual meatstuffs that could possibly hit your outdoor heat source, and that will turn you into the saviour of summer grilling season.
“Oysters are built to be cooked on coals – they provide their own frying pan and cooking liquid. This recipe is everything I love about grilling on the beach.
“You just need a bed of coals, some really basic equipment and a few ingredients – 1tsp of paprika, 4 peeled and crushed garlic cloves, a small bunch of chopped coriander, 50g butter, the juice of a lemon and 12 oysters, all opened and with the meat loosened.
“Start by making a paprika butter by mixing everything but the oysters together with a fork. Then add a dollop of this to your oyster, and place the oyster shell-side down on the coals. Once the butter is bubbling, cook for 3-4 minutes. Enjoy these puppies while watching the sun drop!”
- DJ BBQ, YouTuber and author of Fire Food
“Not what you might initially think, this. You’re going to switch your pizza base for a chicken breast - not the easiest dish to do, but by no means the trickiest either! Do this, and you’ll discover the best festival food ever.
“Take a tin of San Marzano tomatoes, season, and simmer until reduced by half. Next, get your coals white hot and butterfly two large free-range chicken breasts. Oil them, then season them, and add them to the grill.
“Once you’ve got some decent colour on both sides, slather them tomato sauce. Add sliced mozzarella, salami and olives, and cover everything with a metal bowl so the cheese melts. Season, add fresh herbs, get it down your gob.”
- Scott Munro, founder of Red’s True BBQ
“My first experience of BBQ chicken hearts was on a trip to Taiwan. We were in a tiny village, visiting a friend, and when my girlfriend asked for something vegetarian they offered her grilled hearts! I ordered them anyway and discovered that, cooked right, they’re juicy and tender. The sweet and salty Yakitori style marinade works beautifully and is so easy to make.
“Just mix soy sauce, garlic puree, ginger puree, sugar, Mirin, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime juice, then marinade 32 hearts in it for ten minutes. Add them to wooden skewers then grill over a medium heat for a few minutes each side. Brush with extra marinade and serve immediately.”
- Basit Nasim, co-founder of HotBox
“Whole quail is a really great one for the BBQ, as it cooks really fast and stays moist. It’s also really sociable – people can just tear the meat off with their fingers.
“Ask your butcher to spatchcock six quail, then get to work making a great wild garlic pesto – blitz 150g of rapeseed oil, 90g wild garlic, 50g parmesan and a pinch of sea salt. That’s it. Season the quail then grill on a hot BBQ, skin side down, for 2-3 minutes each side.
“Remove from the heat, pop them on a plate, and cover with the pesto, with a squeeze of lemon. Any leftover pesto should be brushed over hot grilled sourdough bread for the most perfect garlic bread.”
- George Barson, head chef at Kitty Fisher’s
“Sure, you’ve BBQ’d bacon before. But have you BBQ’d bacon-wrapped bananas? The first time we did it was on This Morning, and I think it confused them enough to never invite us back! Since then we’ve pimped this one by adding some finely sliced fresh chillis and a ball of high-quality vanilla ice cream.
“Get your coals white hot, then peel two bananas and wrap them with enough streaky bacon to cover from top to bottom. Secure each end with a toothpick and add to the grill, until the bacon is crispy. Plate up your ice cream, whack the banana on top, sprinkle with sliced chilli, drown the lot in maple syrup and season with sea salt flakes.”
- Scott Munro, founder of Red’s True BBQ
“I’ve barbequed a lot of stuff in my time, but the most unusual is probably a whole freshwater eel. Not only does it taste wild, but it looks really impressive too.
“You want to cut it open to gut it and remove the bone, then weave it onto a long metal skewer (or cut into portions). Next, lightly oil it then set it over hot coals. To take it up a level, take an ordinary household spray bottle, and douse the eel intermittently with a mixture of sake, Mirin, soy and sugar, until the flesh is cooked through. You’ll be talk of the cook-out, I promise.”
- Scott Hallsworth, founder of Freak Scene
“When I was a child in Crete, we’d catch an octopus in the morning and hang it on our washing line in the garden until it dried out in the sun. Doing that creates a chewier texture, and a more concentrated and delicious flavour when cooking over charcoal.
“You should do the same this summer, or, if there’s no sunshine, hang it over the grill. Then cook the octopus very slowly, for hours, over a slow charcoal grill until cooked, then simply squeeze fresh lemon on top.”
- Marianna Leivaditaki, head chef at Morito
“Right, let’s get serious now. Ox heart. Big boy stuff. Remove all of the outside fat and the top of the ventricles – or, like, just ask your butcher to do it for you. I like to marinade them in lemongrass, fish sauce, chilli and garlic, then cut into strips. Grill them for a few minutes, serve medium, and buddy up with a cold IPA.”
- Ali Borer, head chef at Smoking Goat
“Sounds weird, tastes awesome. And if you’ve got good hustle, you can probably bag them for free from your butchers. And when it’s tasty and free, who gives a damn if it’s unhealthy, right?
“Start by marinating the skin in fish sauce, a little light soy sauce and a sprinkle of white pepper. Bring your barbecue to a low-to-medium heat, add the skin and close the lid. around 30-40 minutes later open the lid and allow to cool slightly and you’ll have a crispy chicken skin snack- perfect with a beer.”
- Sebby Holmes, founder of Farang
(Main image: David Loftus)