Grill king Adam Purnell shows you how to fire up the BBQ this Bank Holiday
Adam Purnell is The Shropshire Lad. “I am what it says on the tin,” he says.
“A lad, from Shropshire with a passion for cooking, fishing, and this beautiful county full of amazing ingredients and produce.”
As temperatures rise and we look forward to Spring Bank Holiday on Monday, there is no one better qualified to lead our celebration of barbecue.
Adam is a self-taught home cook who has never set foot in a professional kitchen, but aims to create innovative, inspiring dishes that are exciting and accessible.
He said: “My father is a great cook, and so from a young age I was exposed to some incredible food and allowed to play with a fully equipped kitchen and an array of interesting ingredients.
"Pretty soon I worked out that cooking for myself and others was almost as good as the eating part, and over the years my passion for cooking accelerated.
“Recently a good friend persuaded me to start documenting some of what I love to do on camera and launch a YouTube channel to share my passion with anyone interested. I have enjoyed this more than I ever expected that I would.”
Adam is a regular on TV and has addition to featured on Escape to the Country in addition to starring on Channel 4 and Netflix show Crazy Delicious.
The Channel 4 show featured three Food Gods, chefs Heston Blumenthal, Carla Hall and Niklas Ekstedt, who judged his dishes.
Top 10 outdoor cooking tips
- Buy a charcoal chimney starter, electric probe thermometer and heatproof gloves. You will thank me later...
- Use quality, British charcoal. Many of the cheaper options are unsustainably sourced from South America and unfortunately mean it is likely that you are cooking your sausages over wood from a rainforest. Support local.
- Never completely fill your grill with charcoal, always ensure that you have hot, medium and cold areas that food can be moved around to if rendoring fat causes flair ups. This is particularly helpful when cooking high fat items like burgers and sausages.
- Use locally sourced meat from an independent butcher whenever possible. It’s just better! Also if you have a good relationship with your butcher they will be able to advise and provide you with interesting cuts of meat that are often not available in the supermarket.
- Any grill that has a lid, and vents can be set up like an oven or hot smoker by simply putting the coals at one end, and food at the other (google indirect grilling) which is great for cooking large pieces of meat.
- Don’t overlook the vegetables. Charred veggies taste amazing, and rhere’s nothing you can’t cook on a charcoal grill.
- Experiment by adding different hardwood chunks or chips to your coals to bring new smokey flavours to your food. Some of my favourites are oak with beef, cherry with chicken and apple with pork. Smoke is an incredible ingredient, have fun with it.
- The internet is your friend. If you’re not sure how to do something you can bet your life there will be someone on YouTube who knows! Also there are some great online communities with lots of help and advice available. Check out ‘country wood smoke’ and ‘the British BBQ Society’ on Facebook (or drop me a message, always happy to help)
- Firepits are fun, and create great ambience. I love nothing more than cooking over an open fire, and sitting around it drinking and chatting with friends until the early hours, outdoor cooking isn’t just about the food.
- Challenge yourself to use your grill to char fruit and put interesting twists on desserts and cocktails. The possibilities are endless.
Adam said: “It was absolutely awesome to be selected for such a ground-breaking, food-focused TV show, and to have the chance to present my food to three of my chef heroes was incredibly humbling.
“The aim of the show is to inspire Brits who eat the same meal every week to be more inventive and passionate about the meals they are preparing, which is a concept I love.
“The challenge was to take a commonplace ingredient, such as a carrot, and then create a sensational feast using some extraordinary products, foraged from an enchanted garden.”
Adam had been due to spend the summer at food festivals and other events – but has instead turned his hands to providing recipes and BBQ tips. By day he is a youth worker, often sharing his passion for cooking with the young people that he works with.
“Food is an amazing tool to utilise when building relationships and bringing communities together and so I utilise my skills and enthusiasm at every opportunity.
“I hope people enjoy my website, and are able to take some inspiration from my dishes for your own cooking. Following recipes to the gram isn’t half as fun as taking an idea and putting your own twist on it.
"Cooking is a creative art, so make it your own. I would love to see what people come up with, so they shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch and share.”
Meals to try out
DRUNKEN BAVETTE SKEWERS
These naughty little skewers are packed full of flavour and satisfaction! I don’t usually tend to mess around with good beef too much as more often than not salt and pepper is all it needs, but for these I make an exception. The rum and soy sauce bring a unique depth and richness of flavour that can almost be likened to a long ageing process and turn these bitesized pieces of steak into something a little bit special. Skewers can be served as they are as an appetizer, but are also great pulled from the skewer and put into flatbreads to make a delicious kebab.
Serves 10 (20 small skewers)
2kgs Bavette steak
35cl dark rum
100ml dark soy sauce
5 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp salt
Take the bavette steak and carefully trim any of the silverskin before chopping it all into 1 inch cubes.
Place steak into a watertight plastic bag, add all of the other ingredients and mix everything together. Squeeze the air out of the bag and tie it off and leave in the fridge to marinade for 24 hours.
Remove the steak cubes and skewer up neatly, butting up the cubes together.
Bring up to room temperature before searing over screaming hot coals until a crust is formed to seal in the juices.
Cook until the cubes hit an internal temp of 50c for medium.
Rest for roughly half the cooking time, and then serve immediately
VIETNAMESE PORK BELLY BANH MI
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
1 large french baguette
1 kilo pork belly strips (ask your butcher for the rind
seperately to make crackling to sprinkle on for
additional texture if you desire)
1 thumb of ginger
5 cloves garlic
2-3 red chillis
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
FOR THE PICKLES
2 carrots grated
1 red chilli thinly sliced
Wild garlic seed heads
1 cup Rice wine vinegar
or white distilled vinegar
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp salt
6-8 wild garlic leaves
Take the ginger, garlic, chilli, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey and water and blitz in a blender until you have a smooth marinade.
Take a bowl, add the pork belly strips and then pour over 3/4 of the marinade, saving the last 1/4 to make a glaze later on. Ensure the pork is fully coated by the marinade and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight.
Add the honey to the remaining marinade and save to use as a glaze later.
Meanwhile to make the pickles take the grated carrot, chilli and wild garlic seeds and add to a bowl with the warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Make sure the water is warm enough to dissolve the sugar but not so hot to cook the vegetables and make them soggy.
To make a simple wild garlic mayonnaise simply take the wild garlic leaves and chop as fine as possible. Add them to your mayonnaise and mix thoroughly.
When ready to cook the pork and put the banh mi together, light your coals and set up the grill to cook directly over them, making sure you still have a cool area as this will give you somewhere to move the strips to if the fat starts to cause flair ups.
Once the coals are hot and white all over, grill the pork belly strips ‘hot and fast’ as you would a steak, turning regularly and moving the strips around.
As the strips start to caramelise, and you can see the fat dancing the strips are nearly done. It’s at this point you need to brush on the leftover marinade and honey glaze. Cook for another minute or so on each side, and then pull the strips off to rest (adding the glaze at the end will prevent the sugar in the honey from burning). Total cooking time is probably around 8-10 minutes (this is not the low and slow pork belly we are used to).
Whilst the pork is resting, slice the baguette into four sections and then again across the middle to open each section up ready for loading. You might choose to quickly toast the bread on the grill at this point.
Load up the bread with a generous amount of wild garlic mayo, and a handful of the drained pickles.
Chop the pork belly into bite-sized pieces and add them to the baguette and finish with fresh corriander, mint, cucumber, crackling pieces (if you made some with the spare rind), a squeeze of lime juice and serve immediately.