Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Money Supermarket's Charcoal Challenge

With the summer weather finally gracing us with its presence, it's safe to say that at least 80% of us will have spent our weekends outside in the sunshine (sorry to rub it in to those of you that had to work, poor things!) I love having barbecues at the best of times but when I stumbled across Money Supermarket's Charcoal Challenge, it made my usual love of barbecues into a challenge - a £50 budget to show that barbecuing for your friends and family is not only fun but also very do-able on a budget. You don't need to spend a fortune to have good food, good company and a lot of fun. My barbecue couldn't have been on a better day, not just for the weather but it was The Day we'd all be waiting for - The Men's Wimbledon Final with our own boy Murray facing the legendary Djokovic. 

So, the challenge - £50 to host my own barbecue. Obviously now I'm living back at home, my parents were on the guestlist, my grandma loves my cooking at the best of times and I was very overdue a catch up with my best friend Katie. That's the guests sorted, a nice group of 5 which means I can do some not-so-typical barbecue food. It might not be a raving party but with the sunshine, some nicer-than-normal barbecue foo and the men's final, that's all we needed.

I will admit, I used some of the condiments we had in (soy, ketchup, mayo, tabasco, herbs etc.) but most households have the basics in - and if you don't have fresh herbs, dried herbs are sufficient.

So my shopping list consisted of: a pack of 6 chicken breasts, 2 packs of tesco finest sausages (carmelised onion and pork and apple), prawns (the baby ones, not the jumbo kings!), 4 corn on the cob, a 4 pack of jacket potatoes, a 4 pack of portobello mushrooms, a packet of halloumi cheese, tesco finest bake at home ciabatta, a pack of one the vine tomatoes, 1 whole cucumber, a packet of feta cheese, a packet of butter, 3 onions (1 red, 2 white), strawberries and the most important thing...

Who can resist Pimms...especially when the words SPECIAL EDITION and blackberry and elderflower are blazed across it. Perfection in a bottle! (and the fruit to go with it of course)

Shopping? Check. TV set up for the tennis? Check. Absolutely beautiful and hot weather? Check.

Now it was time to get prepping. Eating at half past 1 (strategically planned for the match, of course!)

First of all the chicken needed popping in its marinade for an hour or two before it goes on for a grillin' .

All you need for this is: 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp runny honey, 1 tbsp sherry and 2 tsp (3 if you're a fan) wholegrain mustard - I also add some chilli flakes but that's not necessary.

Butterfly your chicken breasts (sharp knife, starting at the thick side of the chicken and slice in half)

When you've done all of the chicken breasts you're using, pop the chicken in the marinade. Cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour or two.

While the chicken is cooking, it's time to prep everything else.

For the corn - 50g butter, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chilli flakes, a handful of parsley (chopped), salt and lime juice.
Blend it allll up and smother the corn. Literally, as much as possible - it melts all over it and it's DAMN GOOD.

I knew my Grandma might not appreciate the paprika/chilli flavour so left a plain one for her!

Next, skewer those prawns. Spinkle over parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Pop in the fridge to keep cool.

Next, the wedges. I always do homemade wedges - they taste beautiful, you know what's going in them, no fluffy synthetic taste. Long story short, they're good. Make them!

Peel the potatoes, chop them up into wedge chunks (In half, halve again and again)

Throw a bit of basil in, fill with boiling water and simmer in boiling water for about 10 minutes

After 10 minutes. drain them of the water. Throw them onto a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. They will need 45 minutes to an hour in the oven. Check after about half an hour, turn them over and add extra oil.

Next, the mushrooms. Stuff them with a tasty basil and garlic butter. Yummy!

30g butter, a biiiig handful of basil, one garlic clove, a dash of oil and some pepper to season

Blend and pop a generous 'blob' into the centre of the mushrooms (the yellow-y blob on one mushroom is the leftover from the corn)

That's the chicken, corn, prawns, mushrooms prepared and the wedges cooking away in the oven.

Next, the sauces.

First is the infamous Special Sauce - ketchup, mayo and...the bit that makes it special...a couple of splashes of tabasco. You need equal amounts of ketchup and mayo. I'll let you be the judge as it'll depend how many guests you have. For 5 guests, I used about 5 tbsp of each and 4 dashes of tabasco.

Mix thoroughly to get a smooth pinky sauce.

The second sauce is homemade barbecue sauce - something I recently made for my homemade chilli and parsley burgers. Here's the recipe.

Next, chop up the halloumi into fairly thick slices and season with a little pepper.

As I'd done all the prepping, I let the man of the house do the job. But obviously under supervision. My Dad was running a very controlled system outside over his make shift BBQ. The sausages were all on sizzling away - starting off on a bit of foil to avoid completely chargrilling them to a crisp!

Keeping a watchful eye, I made sure the table was as set as possible at this point.

And my Mother was doing a fabulous job at trying to look busy...

Oh hey, Mum!

Back to the kitchen.

What would a barbecue be without sauteing a few onions. So simple and so delicious with burgers, sausages...anything really. Add a knob of butter, season with some salt and pepper and saute on a low heat for 15 minutes. Make sure you stir regularly so they don't burn. The idea is that they're a golden colour rather than a browned colour.

In between stirring the onions, I whipped up a simple salad - homegrown lettuce, a mix of red and white onions, a few of my tomatoes chopped up, cucumber...feta and avocado to be added later when everything else is almost ready.

As I had a little break in between needing to do anything...I prepped the Pimms. A Wimbledon final day wouldn't be right without a glass or two of delicious Pimms in the garden. And I have to say, the Special Edition Blackberry and Elderflower is particularly lovely - get some while you can!

With everything almost ready, the feta was crumbled over the salad and the avocado chopped with a few squeezes of lime over (to stop browning) and tossed on top

Rather than barbecue the mushrooms completely, I popped them until the grilled for a little while.

My turn to get stuck in...corn time!

So, everything done...time to get it all outside for everybody to get stuck in!

The salad was particularly nice and it shows you don't need to make a salad too fussy for a great taste.

My homemade Barbecue and Special Sauces out ready to be devoured.

Freshly baked ciabatta for the sausages and onions (make sure a bit of BBQ sauce and salad is thrown in there for good measure!)

While everybody plates up, I wait for the corn before feeding it to some very hungry mouths.

Everything done...time for me to dish up.
A bit of everything, thank you very much!

And beautiful weather to be sat outside.

Food out of the way....

And a spot of cheesecake (made on Saturday using this recipe)...
Sincerest apologies for the lack of pictures of actual people in this post (other than my corn turning) but the combination of cooking, heat and casually dressed meant refusal of photographs! We had a lovely day, the food was tasty (if I do say so myself) and the tennis...well, you all know.

MURRAY WON. And I did well up for him. The last set was INTENSE. And he thoroughly deserved it.

This barbecue might not have been loud music, masses of guests or anything too wild but it was a lovely day spent my family and my best friend...and that was exactly how I would have chosen to spend the day. 

It just shows you that on a budget of £50, it can provide you with beautiful barbecue food a little beyond the norm. You don't need to spend a fortune to have a good time!

Check out Money Supermarket's Charcoal Challenge and see what kind of fun you bloggers can have for £50 with your loved ones!

Visit Money Supermarket for more information.

N xo

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