Passions: The art of The Scottish Barbecue
Amid a summer that can only be described as “torrential”, it's time for fellow grilled meat fans to embrace what my children laughingly call “The Scottish Barbecue”.
It is, frankly, the only BBQ game in town for the foreseeable future. It could feature our fine local produce, prepared in new and exotic ways, but its principal characteristic must be that it takes place in wildly unsuitable weather.
Not for us the sweating brows and iced water sported by competitors in Netflix's excellent Barbecue Showdown (shot in Covington, Georgia, where it'll top 30 degrees this week). No, The Scottish Barbecue begins with thought of how to light the thing in the prevailing heavy rain and gusty winds (yellow warning preferred) in which you must cook.
A lighting chimney – a piece of kit that looks like a big metal jug, but which has grating at the bottom and holes at the side – can keep those rolled-up Scotsman pages and charcoal dry while they light. A gas wand lighter, rather than matches, is a must. As the flames and smoke get going, your family may be tempted to gather by a window to watch from the comfort of indoors as you transfer the now red-hot coals to the grill. It's a moment of jeopardy, especially in whipping winds. Given the conditions, heatproof gloves – and a non-flammable waterproof – will ensure your nearest and dearest don’t get more of a spectacle than they expected.
Given The Scottish Barbecue will almost certainly be eaten inside, the staples of charred burgers and sausages won't make the grade. I turn to a splendid book – Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling – for inspiration. Meathead Goldwyn – for that is his name – will lead you to a variety of “low and slow”-cooked delights. You’ll need a grill with a hood, lest the rain dilute the flavour. So equipped, my favourites include a lamb dish made with “Dolly's Lamb Rub”, and his “Last Meal” ribs, both of which require a few hours in the rain.
And that, of course, leads you to the reason you were doing The Scottish Barbecue in the first place: for the very Scottish reason of wanting a little peace and quiet in the garden, your thoughts to yourself while doing something ostensibly useful. It certainly beats doing the pruning, especially in the midge-plagued sunshine.