Sun, strawberries, and the smell of charcoal smoke drifting in on the breeze; it’s safe to say that summer is finally here. Whilst the temperamental nature of the British weather can make being outside unpredictable in the summer months, in those moments of calm there’s nothing better than a good old barbeque.
If you’ve discovered you have a food intolerance, you’re probably used to having to explain to friends and family that you can’t eat certain foods. Whilst avoiding trigger foods can be easy when you know the ingredients, the ‘free for all’ nature of a BBQ can make this difficult. “Does that burger really have gluten in it? But it’s just meat!”
However, if you’re tired of being resigned to salad at summer gatherings, we’re here to help. If you follow a few simple tips, having a food-intolerance friendly BBQ can be a doddle.
1. Check for fillers
Sausages and burgers are summer favourites, and it seems difficult to imagine a British BBQ without them. However, if you’re intolerant to wheat, gluten or dairy, some meat products could be a no go.
If you are using shop bought burgers or sausages, you may find that breadcrumbs, egg, or even milk is often used as a filler or binder. This doesn’t just apply to cheaper products, but also to supposedly high end options. Heck, available in most supermarkets, has a range of sausages all of which are gluten free, The Black Farmer and Debbie & Andrews Harrogate 97% Pork Sausages are also gluten free.
When looking for gluten free burgers the options are few and far between. You will need to check the ingredient listings on the product to be sure it is gluten free. We suggest having a go at making your own. Homemade burgers are always much tastier than shop bought processed versions. Why not try this gluten free and egg free beef burger recipe:
500g Beef mince
1 Diced onion
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 Rashers smoked bacon diced
1 tbsp Cornflour
2 tbsp Dried Italian herbs
1 tbsp Olive oil and extra for frying
1 tsp Butter
Pepper and salt
1. Pour the oil and add in the butter to a medium pan over a medium heat.
2. Once hot add in the onion until soft alongside the diced bacon.
3. The next step is to add the tablespoon of mustard and fry for 2 minutes.
4. After this, take the mix out of the pan and set to one side. Once cool, add the mixture to the beef mince in a large bowl and mix together using your hands.
5. Shake in the herbs, salt and pepper and cornflour and, again, mix in with your hands.
6. Shape the mixture to your desired burger size and flatten in burger-like shapes with your hands.
7. Heat a small amount of oil in frying pan and add the burgers, flattening slightly. Fry until underneath is brown and a bit crispy. Turn and cook the other side until cooked through. Try not to have the heat too high to avoid burning.
When buying meat for your BBQ, always check the labels to make sure that trigger foods haven’t snuck in, or if in doubt try making your own.
2. Steer clear of processed sauces
Pre-made marinades and sauces might be a time saver, but a closer look at the ingredients list can be an eye opener. As well as often being full of unexpected amounts of sugar and additives, jarred or pre-made sauces are more often than not home to some common trigger foods.
Gluten, wheat, dairy, corn, egg and even shellfish are just some of the foods lurking in many common sauces. Often, the trigger food will be included within another ingredient; for example, soy sauce used to make a marinade can make this off limits for those with gluten, wheat, soy and yeast intolerances.
Whilst this puts most pre-made sauces off the menu, that doesn’t mean those with food intolerances have to go plain. Making your own sauces and marinades is easy too, and often more satisfying than opting for something pre-made. By experimenting with different cooking oils, citrus fruits, herbs and spices, you can quickly put together something that will wow any guests. You could even ditch marinades altogether and instead place herbs like rosemary, thyme or oregano directly on the coals to give a sweetly flavoured smoky flavour to your food.
A popular marinade combination to try is apple juice, olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning; marinade your choice of meat overnight for a delicious flavour on the BBQ, it also works well as a dressing for salads. Alternatively Clearspring and Sanchi offer a gluten free Tamari Soy sauce which is a delicious addition to many dishes, these can be found in most supermarkets.
A gluten free dairy free satay type sauce that goes well with meat or fish:
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter or almond nut butter
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
3 tbsp maple syrup
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Make up the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a blender and processing until smooth.
2. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and pour over the dressing. Massage in if necessary. Season to taste
3. Be creative
Having a food intolerance and adapting your diet, can ultimately encourage you to be more creative with the foods you use and what you eat.
This creativity is even more necessary at BBQ’s, where more often than not the same foods are on offer time and time again. Whilst having a food intolerance might seem like a pain on these kind of occasions, it could actually be a blessing in disguise, and a way to present a fresh take on BBQ classics.
For example, instead of using bread for burgers, sausages or kebabs, try using crisp, fresh greens such as romaine lettuce or Swiss chard. Not only is this a simple way to make your BBQ entirely free-from, it’s also healthier, and you’re less likely to fill up as quickly on buns and bread.
Homemade kebabs are delicious and can easily be made free from depending on the marinade used. Taking the time the evening before your BBQ to prepare your meat or fish in a marinade will certainly be worth it from a taste point of view. A piri piri marinade is a tasty option for chicken and is easily made from a few cupboard staples. Skewer the chicken along with tomato, peppers, onion and wedges of lemon for a homemade BBQ treat.
Piri Piri Marinade – Ideal as a marinade for chicken skewers
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chili flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Method is easy – simply mix it all together in a big bowl!
Fish dishes offer an alternative to meat on a BBQ and can be cooked on a kebab skewer or in foil;
Fish with ginger, garlic and lime cooked in foil
Meaty fish such as salmon
4 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1. Stir together soy sauce, chilli sauce, ginger and garlic together in a bowl. Mix in lime juice, lime zest and dark brown soft sugar.
2. Place the fish in foil parcels and spoon the sauce over the fish, crimping the edges of the foil to seal.
3. Place the fish on the side of the barbecue that does not have coals directly underneath it, and close the lid. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
4. When ready to serve, sprinkle with spring onions and cover in the cooking juices.
Honey Chilli Prawn Skewers
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp of honey
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 raw prawns, peeled and deveined
Lime wedges, to serve
A handful of Coriander, freshly chopped
1. Thread the prawns onto BBQ skewers and set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix together the honey, olive oil, lime juice, garlic and chilli.
3. Brush the mixture over the prawns, season with sea salt and ground black pepper and then place them under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes either side.
4. Serve these straight away with lime wedges and some freshly chopped coriander.
Whether you’re the host or a guest, having a free-from BBQ doesn’t have to be a hassle. With a little care, consideration, and creativity, you can make sure that everyone enjoys the food on offer. Just don’t count on the weather being as enjoyable as the food.