The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

City Life

A Foodie’s Guide to: Setting up a Summer BBQ

A Foodie’s Guide to: Setting up a Summer BBQ
    written by
    Wesam Masoud

    What’s not to like about the summer? The daylight hours are longer, you
    can wear shorts and sunglasses on the street, and suddenly the weekends are
    like mini-vacations spent tanning on the beach. However, if you’ve developed a
    case of midsummer event fatigue; then you may want to change up your repertoire
    a bit. Get some coal, drinks and friends; and grill some meat.

    Setting up a barbecue is not unlike organising a party. You need to
    think about location, equipment and menu as well as the guest list. Don’t make
    yourself crazy and try to wing it. Make a list and ask for help. Or read on.

    Location

    While the venue for a barbecue is less important than the menu or the
    guest list, it can help set the tone for the entire affair. A private beach or
    backyard tells your guests it’s ok to let loose, and they’ll be running around.
    Rooftops and Wadi Degla inform us that we’re adults; horseplay is at a minimum
    but there will be music and great conversation. Desert barbecues are not for
    everyone and require a special bit of planning, since you’re cut off from
    civilisation and don’t have a plan B if your ice has melted or you need more
    coal.

    Tools of the
    Trade

    Get yourself a nice grill. Things to look for are stability and space.
    You want enough space so that you can accommodate more than a few pieces of
    meat, and also so that you can manipulate the coals underneath by stacking them
    from an area of high heat down to an area of low heat. This allows flexibility
    when cooking and ensures even cooking throughout the meat. Cairo’s hypermarkets
    have very impressive selections of barbecue grills, both gas and coal powered;
    but unless you’ve got a great backyard spread (swimming pool included), you’re
    better off getting the modest coal-powered versions.

    You only ever need two pairs of tongs; one for the coals, and the other
    for the meat. Both tongs should have rubber handles to insulate your precious
    soft hands from the intense heat of the grill. Ebiary in Zamalek has an
    excellent selection of kitchen utensils, and you would be wise to check them
    out for any accessories you may need for the barbecue.

    Every barbecue needs foil trays and paper foil to keep the food warm once
    it’s done cooking. Coal can be purchased at any local spice merchant. Stay away
    from the self-lit coal; this stuff will add a gasoline note to whatever you’re
    cooking. It’s a slower method, but light the coals on a gas flame (if
    available) and use those coals to light the other coals. General rule of thumb
    is about one kilo of coal for three people; you may have some leftover, but you
    can use the dying embers to dance around like savages. Obviously, plates,
    spoons and forks are needed; but you don’t really need to hear that, do you?

    Guest List

    Vegetarians rightfully feel very out of place at barbecues– while
    everyone else is chewing on a rib of beef and playing Frisbee, veggie-lovers
    are sitting in a lonely corner next to a guitarist (there always is one)
    singing ’Wonderwall‘ with a plate of bean salad in their laps. Be sure to take
    into account the meal preferences of your guests; since it will inform your
    menu planning.

    And it has to be said: using a barbecue as a way to hook up/hit on/break
    up can be tricky. Don’t play cupid, stupid and stick to the plan: people, meat,
    fire and not necessarily in that order.

    Menu Planning

    Ribs, chicken legs, hot dogs and hamburgers are by far the most popular
    and reliable things to barbecue. Barbecuing relies on a slow cooking process;
    so be sure to give the meat enough time to cook; nothing takes two minutes on
    the grill. Metro markets and even some butchers actually have barbecue-ready
    meats for sale; these are pre-marinated and can taste pretty good.

    Chicken is a bit tricky: in the rush to get food out, most novices toss
    a raw leg onto a burning hot grill and once it’s charred call out ’Chicken’s
    done!’ Novice, meet your new friend, salmonella. A neat trick to get around
    this requires a little forethought and planning. Before the barbecue actually
    commences, put all your chicken legs into a deep pan, and cover with barbecue
    sauce. Cover with foil and put in an 180C-oven for an hour. Now when you’re
    barbecuing it, there is no question as to whether it’s cooked or not. Just give
    it a nice crispy char and serve it up.

    Sides and desserts are very simple to make on a barbecue. Almost any
    cairorevamp_user vegetable can be wrapped in foil and tossed into the coals, and retrieved
    15 to 20 minutes later with great effect. Onions and potatoes are the most
    popular options. Desserts are pretty easy; certain fruits lend themselves
    wonderfully to barbecuing; just choose firm fruits that won’t break down too
    much from the heat of the grill. Slightly under-ripe mangos, peaches and
    pineapples are perfect. Right before putting them onto the grill, just dust
    them with some cinnamon or mint and cook until you get those wonderful grill
    marks.

    When the grill has died down, sit back, rub your belly and bask in the
    adulation a great grill master deserves. You sir, are a living legend.

    recommended