I’m not very good at barbecue food. I’m not very good at meat in general, and I’m especially not good at meat that comes in big greasy hunks, with bones and fatty parts still attached. And although I like sausages, I prefer them gently and evenly cooked through rather than burned to a crisp (and still pink on the inside), a phenomenon which only the very skilled barbecue chef seems able to avoid.
So whenever I’m invited to a barbecue, I bring kebabs, because the best way to get food evenly cooked is to chop it up small, and because even if you don’t like one of the ingredients, it’s not long until you get to the next one. I quite often do veggie kebabs, but this weekend we had some chicken pieces in the freezer and a chorizo in the fridge, so I made about a dozen spicy chicken and mushroom kebabs, and about a dozen halloumi and chorizo.
The easiest way to get grilled vegetables wrong is to let them dry out, so I started by chopping two red onions, two orange and yellow peppers and a handful of what I think were portobello mushrooms, pouring a couple of tablespoonfuls of olive oil over them, adding a liberal amount of pepper and slightly less salt, and stirring it all together.
(Courgettes are another good addition, but I had used up all our courgettes the night before, making a lovely simple grated courgette and lemon zest sauce for pasta courtesy of a proper food writer, the recipe for which I can’t find now but will link to once I’m able to dig it out.)
The halloumi and chorizo kebabs were easy: I just alternated the cheese and meat with pieces of onion and pepper – the important thing here is to make sure the components have a similar density, so they cook at about the same time. And use slices of onion, not chunks, or the insides will make your eyes water.
I cut the chicken into 3cm pieces and marinated them for a couple of hours in an adapted version of a recipe from Nigel Slater, where you mix groundnut oil (I used pistachio oil, because it was the closest I had), chillis, paprika, spring onions, runny honey (I used maple syrup), lemon juice and crushed garlic, and coat the chicken in it.
I soaked the skewers in cold water for as long as I could before I made up the kebabs, which just about stopped them from catching fire, and I transported the whole thing on a plastic tray which I bought at our local Costcutter, having realised too late that I had nothing big enough to put them in:
One tip: halloumi can be quite crumbly when it’s uncooked, and it’s easy to split it when you skewer it. I found it helped if I stabbed it very quickly and firmly, rather than trying to do it gently.
They need cooking for about five minutes on each side, although there’s nothing in the non-chicken ones that will do you any harm if they’re a bit underdone. Colourful, flavoursome and easy to share with newfound friends, they beat a burnt sausage any day.