This summer was the first one that I owned an actual bbq yet had no man to helm it. Usually, the whole shebang goes something like this: I spend hours preparing the food while the guy drinks beer, then once I'm done, he fires up the bbq puts everything on there and gee whizz, a short time later, it is he who has cooked the meal and is the hero of the party. But is this bbq business really as hard as it looks? I put it to the test when I started cooking everything on my little Webber out on the deck this summer out of sheer avoidance of having a messy kitchen and having to clean the stovetop ( I know some people find it pleasurable, but gimme a vacuum job over a stovetop any day).
Dear readers, I know this will blow your mind but lo and behold, bbq-ing is not something only a male brain can understand! It is actually a really easy and versatile way of cooking that can be more foolproof than you think.
In my experimentations with the best bbq chicken recipes , I made up this drumstick recipe. I have a really good wings recipe involving molasses that is beyond delicious, but did you know that many people still don't like to think that their meat was once an animal with many bones? I needed to get a protein with less bones to appease my guests so this technique was born and it quickly became a favourite , not only for the flavour explosion but also the ease of putting it together in a hurry.
I made this for dinner last night and this picture was taken quickly as people were salivating around me. I am a terrible food stylist but I am an excellent hand swatter, and trust me, you will have to be one as well if you make this- it is that delicious that I recommend you get more chicken than what you think people will want to eat - I never have any chicken leftover and even the vegetarian friends sometimes get tempted into a bite ( can they still call themselves a vegetarian , idk, but I'm flattered either way)
This recipe is paleo, gluten, dairy and sugar free. Serves 2-3 people depending on your hunger levels
for the dry rub
- 6 organic chicken drumsticks
- 2 -3 tablespoons of sumac ( a dried berry spice)
- 1-2 level tablespoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (do change this for taste)
- good oil such as olive oil, tasteless coconut oil, grapeseed oil or expeller pressed sunflower oil
- salt and pepper
for the wet sauce
- 2 jalapeño peppers chopped
- half a bunch of garlic chives chopped
- 4 spring onions or scallions chopped
- juice of 2-3 limes
- a bunch of coriander/cilantro chopped
- olive oil + salt and pepper
In a large bowl, mix the chicken drumsticks with the spices, a good glug of oil and salt and pepper, making sure that the drumsticks are evenly coated with spices. You can do this ahead of time and keep in the fridge overnight for extra flavour, but I find that immediately before cooking is still yummy. Turn the bbq to high, then 5 minutes later, turn the bbq to medium low. Place the chicken on the bbq- it should be hot enough that you hear sizzling. I have found that 10 minutes on one side is a good amount of time to get lightly charcoaled and cooked through. I ended up doing 10 minutes on the skin side with the lid down, then 10 minutes on the other side with the lid down, and then I will do 3-5 minutes on the narrow curves that miss out right at the end with the lid open. This guarantees that the chicken is cooked through properly yet is still juicy. My chicken drumsticks are pretty small - if you have bigger ones and are unsure if the meat is cooked through, I recommend slicing open one of the legs to make sure. Nothing worse than still raw in the middle chicken served!
Whilst the legs are grilling, place all the wet sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix through. Once the chicken is plated, pour the wet sauce all over it. Voila!
I served this meal with quick sides. Small onions were dipped into olive oil and then thrown on the bbq, and were turned whenever the chicken was. I also made a salad of watercress, rocket, kalamata olives, goat's blue cheese and figs with a balsamic dressing for some healthy greens. I know everyone is so against carbs these days but I'm a total fan so I made some potato and sweet potato chips in the oven as they take just as long as the chicken to cook. I sliced the potato quite thin and added olive oil, sumac, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and whole garlic. I then sliced the sweet potato in double the thickness (because it takes less time to cook ) and mixed it with cinnamon, sumac, salt and pepper and of course oil , then added it to the same pan as the other chips. Fan grill on 200-220C and half an hour later you have chips that even the carb avoiders cannot deny.
PS: the beautiful plates are from In The Roundhouse
A few years ago, I decided I didn’t want to turn around when I am older and realize that I have run out of time to see all the places I’ve always wanted to go to, so I decided that I would travel to a couple of bucket list places each year until the day I give up the ghost.
This year, one of those places was Tuscany, the long revered and wistfully imagined Italian countryside. Italy, I have been to plenty,but Tuscany was always a little too far from the action of Rome, Milan or Capri to make a trek to when I was younger. Funny how things change as one gets older- now all I search for is a place where peace can overcome my whirring brain into blissful submission.
First thing to know about Tuscany is that it’s actually quite big. Not perhaps by Australian standards, but it became clear that to see the region you’d have to put aside at least 2 weeks of holiday, not just a long weekend. Winding country roads make for slow driving and that’s exactly how it should be when traversing rolling hills, ancient hamlets and the gold of summer wheat fields. Not that this impressed my 11 year old daughter Coco who wanted to know when we would get to a pool.
Our destination ; Castello Di Vicarello, a romantic boutique hotel set in an old castle run by two brothers passionate about preserving the best artesian techniques and marrying them with the most luxurious 21stcentury comforts. Boasting their own veggie garden, olive grove and vineyard plus game, wild mushroom and truffle hunting in the fall and spectacular wildflowers in the spring, the hotel also has extensive grounds, dual pools, excellent locally sourced produce, beautiful rooms and well, it’s perfect ok? We didn’t want to leave it’s literally that amazing
I packed light for this trip -just a few dresses, a couple of swimsuits and two pairs of shoes. Travelling light is a change for me but a perfect white dress in summer is non negotiable. This one made me feel like Brigitte Bardot by hugging my curves whilst miraculously giving me an actual cleavage.
( Sir the Label dress, vintage gold medallion necklace worn throughout)
I may be multitasking my clothes but my toiletries bag is well stocked, especially during the summer months when the heat and the sun’s rays become too drying. I always carry some coconut oil for my skin and hair (apply in the shower for ultimate hydration), then I follow it up with the John Masters Organics Blood Orange and Vanilla body Milk. For my face I love Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil followed up by the Hop & Cotton The Skinshield zinc protector, however if things get really dire I will do a La Praire Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask to get my skin back to life. My hair becomes brittle without the Damage Remedy Aveda shampoo and conditioner and the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Coconut Breeze leave in conditioner, and as far as make up; all I really do in the summer is a smidgen of Giorgio Armani’s power fabric foundation, Charlotte Tilbury beach stick in Moon Beach, Clarins Mascara Supra Volume, Shu Uemura eyebrow pencil and a good lip balm like Carla Oates Beauty Fix balm that can also double as an emergency moisturizer .
I love that the slow food movement originated in Italy – it is in Tuscany that you really notice how amazing ingredients equal incredible food. One of my favourite moments was eating wild boar pappardelle and artisanal copper stamped corzetti pasta with nettle, along with good chianti and a sunset dip in the pool ( Matteau swim)
It was hard leaving heaven but on our way back to Rome, we visited many beautiful villages and towns such as the incredible Pitigliano, Montepulciano and Cortona as well as Terme Di Saturnia, where warm healing mineral rich water bursts out of the ground in a waterfall seeping into a series of natural pools. Book dinner at the Ristorante Due Cippi or Bacco E Cerere for one last hit of Tuscany food porn. ( Zimmerman bikini, Prada sunglasses from Sunglass hut )
With thanks to Castello Di Vicarello and my daughter Coco