Tender diced lambs grilled on a skewers and served on a bed of rice. Safron is expensive, but the delicious taste is worth the money. The taste comes out best if the saffron is soaked for a while in water or broth.
Juicy, browned steaks of pork are a typical Yugoslavian specialty. Originally this was a favorite dish for excursions ending in a picnics. A shallow hole was dug in the ground making a primitive barbecue fired with wood found around picnic spot. The meat was stuck on wooden sticks and fried over the fire. Initially, the heat should be strong, forming a good brown crust on the meat. The heat was then dampened by covering the flames with ashes and the meat was cooked till done. The meat was repeatedly brushed with oil, but was first seasoned after it was done.
Contrary to mythology, barbecue was not an American invention. Barbecue is older than homo sapiens and anthropologists even think that it was mastery of fire that permanently altered our evolutionary path and it is this primeval link that makes us still love cooking over open flames.
Around one million years ago Homo erectus, the homonid just before Neanderthal man, first tasted cooked meat.
Nobody knows for sure, but here’s how I think it happened: A tribe of these proto-humans were padding warily through the warm ashes of a forest fire following their noses to a particularly seductive scent. When they stumbled upon the charred carcass of a wild boar they squatted and poked their hands into its side. They sniffed their fragrant fingers, then licked the greasy digits. The magical blend of warm protein, molten fat, and unctuous collagen in roasted meat is a narcotic elixir and it addicted them on first bite. They became focused, obsessed with tugging and scraping the bones clean, moaning, and shaking their heads. The sensuous aromas made their nostrils smile and the fulsome flavors caused their mouths to weep. Before long mortals were making sacrifices and burnt offerings to their gods, certain the immortals would like to try their heavenly recipes.
Cooking makes it easier for animals to extract energy from food. That meant that there were more calories available for larger brains, which of course was an evolutionary advantage. It also took much much less time to eat, leaving time to hunt, socialize and form tribes and communities, and procreate.
Evolution favored traits that enhanced the ability of these early homonids to hunt and eat cooked meat: Smaller hips and flatter feet for running speed, better hand articulation, communication skills, and smaller jaws. Eventually they learned to domesticate dogs to help with the hunt, and then they learned to herd and husband the animals that tasted best. The family circle and tribal structure evolved so that men became hunters and women became cooks. Ergo, the first pitmasters were probably women.
In 2007 Israeli scientists at University of Haifa uncovered evidence that early humans living in the area around Carmel, about 200,000 years ago were serious about barbecue. From bone and tool evidence, these early hunters preferred large mature animals and cuts of meat that had plenty of flesh on them. They left heads and hooves in the field. Three of their favorites were an ancestor of cattle, deer, and boars. From burn marks around the joints and scrape marks on the bones, there is evidence that these cave dwellers knew how to cook.
Early barbecue cooking implements will likely never be found because they were probably made of wood. The first meats were probably just tossed into a wood infereno.
They quickly learned that the food tasted better if the food was held above or to the side of the fire. According to barbecue historian Dr. Howard L. Taylor, the first cooking implements were almost certainly “a wooden fork or spit to hold the meat over the fire.
Eventually they built racks of green sticks to hold the food above the flames, and learned that the temperature was easier to regulate and the flavor better if the if they let the logs burn down to coals before the meat was put in place.
Spit roasting is common around the world and for many years was the major barbecue cooking method. Baking an animal, vegetables, or bread in a hot pit in the ground was also an early development. Wooden frames were later used to hold meat over the fire, but they often held the meat well above the fire to keep the wood from burning, which resulted in the meat cooking slowly and absorbing smoke. The gridiron [similar to a grate on a modern grill] was developed soon after the Iron Age started, which led to grilling as we know it. Iliad, Book IX, Lines 205-235 and The Odyssey, Book III, lines 460-468 mention spits and five-pronged forks used to roast meat, basted with salt and wine at outdoor feasts in ancient Greece. Such feasts at the end of a battle or long march were common throughout history.” Below is a grill from the Stoö of Attalus Museum in Athens in a photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto. It is estimated to be from sometime between the 4th and 6th century BC.
Smoked foods not only tasted swell, they kept longer. We now know this is because there are antimicrobial compounds in smoke, because smoke drove off flies, and because slow smoking dehydrated foods and bacteria need moisture to grow. In the days before refrigeration, smoking, drying, and salting meat were clever strategies for preserving perishable foods. This allowed hunting tribes to make a kill and, unlike other animals, they did not have to gorge themselves before the prey spoiled. If they were migratory, they could smoke, dry, and salt foods and take it on the road with them.
Veal is so hard to get hold of in regular grocery shops in Norway
that I’ve started to wonder if the cattle around this neck of the woods are born fully grown. If veal is more accessable where
you live you really should try this recipe
Halibut has a delicate fish flavor that can be further enhanced with fresh bell pepper butter. You can use canned peppers if you like. Serve the fish with grilled polenta.
The history of grilling begins shortly after the domestication of fire, some 500,000 years ago. The backyard ritual of grilling as we know it, though, is much more recent. Until well into the 1940s, grilling mostly happened at campsites and picnics. After World War II, as the middle class began to move to the suburbs, backyard grilling caught on, becoming all the rage by the 1950s.
In suburban Chicago, George Stephen, a metalworker by trade and a tinkerer by habit, had grown frustrated with the flat, open brazier-style grills common at the time. Once he inherited controlling interest in the Weber Bros. Metal Spinning Co, a company best-known as a maker of harbor buoys, he decided the buoy needed some modification. He cut it along its equator, added a grate, used the top as a lid and cut vents for controlling temperature. The Weber grill was born and backyard cooking has never been the same.
If man has been grilling since the Stone Age, he had to wait a good long time before he got his first taste of ‘barbecue.’ Just how long is a matter of debate, but the word’s etymology has been traced via the Spanish (‘barbacoa’) to a similar word used by the Arawak people of the Caribbean to denote a wooden structure on which they roasted meat. (The Arawak’s other contribution to the English language is the word ‘cannibal’.) Only the sense of a wooden framework survived the word’s transition to English; the context was lost. So, in the 17th century, you might use a ‘barbecue’ as shelving, or you might sleep on a ‘barbecue’ — but you definitely weren’t cooking with one.
Like so many of the most recognizably “American” of foods and foodways — hot dogs, Thanksgiving dinners, even milk on breakfast cereals — barbecue goes back to 18th-century colonial America, specifically the settlements along the Southeastern seaboard. The direct descendant of that original American barbecue is Eastern Carolina-style pit barbecue, which traditionally starts with the whole hog and, after as many as fourteen hours over coals, culminates in a glorious mess of pulled pork doused with vinegar sauce and eaten on a hamburger bun, with coleslaw on the side.
As the settlers spread westward, regional variations developed, leaving us today with four distinct styles of barbecue.
Carolina-style has split into Eastern, Western and South Carolina-style, with variations largely in the sauce: South Carolina uses a mustard sauce; Western Carolina uses a sweeter vinegar-and-tomato sauce.
Memphis barbecue is probably what most of us think of when we think of BBQ — pork ribs with a sticky sweet-and-sour tomato-based mopping sauce.
Texas, being cattle country, has always opted for beef, usually brisket, dry-rubbed and smoked over mesquite with a tomato-based sauce served on the side, almost as an afterthought.
Kansas City lies at the crossroads of BBQ nation. Fittingly, you’ll find a little bit of everything there — beef and pork, ribs and shoulder, etc. What brings it all together is the sauce: sweet-hot, tomato-based KC barbecue sauce is a classic in its own right, and the model for most supermarket BBQ sauces.
Meat and small new potatoes can be thread on the same skewer if the potatoes are boiled a little in advance. Beef can be grilled in the same way. If you have straight, small branches of rosemary, about 20 cm / 8 inche long, these can be used as skewers. Let them lay in water 2 hours before grilling, it makes for dramatic and unusual barbeque.
Salmon, arctic char, and halibut are great for steaks done on the grill. Steaks come from larger fish, and larger fish tend to be fattier, and fat equals flavor, of course. When buying, request slices that are at least 1″ thick.
Crisco is a brand of shortening produced by The J.M. Smucker Company popular in the United States. Introduced in June 1911 by Procter & Gamble, it was the first shortening to be made entirely of vegetable oil. Additional products marketed by Smucker under the Crisco brand include a cooking spray, various olive oils, and other cooking oils, including canola, corn, peanut, olive, sunflower, vegetable and blended oils.
If you’re living outside the US you can get hold of Crisco at My American Market if you want to try it in a typical American recipe – Ted
Skin and boneless chicken breasts fried on the grill gives fewer calories. If you want to make them even more juicy, serve them topped with a slice of lemon butter.
A quick and simple foil pack recipe found on tasteofhome.com
Aluminium foil is an absolute must when packing for a camping hike. Whether you packed a small gas cooker or you plan to do all your cooking on the campfire the foil will provide an easy and carefree way to prepare hot food. More recipes using foil will follow in this series – Ted 🙂