Deja vu

I think there's something about living in a climate that is so brutally cold in the winter that makes you appreciate your springs and summers that much more. In Chicago, I never feel spoiled by the warmth, but grateful as soon as that last snow melts. This evening, I turned on the TV for tonight's evening news only to met with a certain deja vu. Randomly, severely clouded map of the UK flashed onto the screen with an ever-so-cheery weather woman droning on about the week's grim outlook. For a moment, I was back in London, thankful to be experiencing highs in the 60F range mid-summer while the rest of the country sank into the 50's range.

I'm not sure which I prefer, but living in Chicago with its extreme shifts in climate at least make for a more predictable barbecue season. I know I've droned on about barbecues in the past, but to me, there are endless possibilities when presented with hot coals.

Homemade barbecue sauce is definitely a great place to start. No matter what anyone tells you, nothing out of a jar can beat a sauce from scratch. I find most sauces from the jar are way to sweet and I like mine with certain kick. Last summer, our upstairs neighbor hand-delivered two different batches of ribs with a very special "secret sauce." The sauce was perfectly tangy and I'm planning on prying the recipe from Larry over a few glasses of wine at our summer party.

Here's a barbecue sauce you can tamper with on two levels. Firstly, choose your meat of choice: free range chicken - spatchcocked or cut into joints, or leg of lamb-on the bone, or pork ribs. Secondly, as with any barbecue sauce, you can play with the spices to get the perfect amount of kick for your taste buds. I added red chillies to mine.

I won't tell you how to barbecue all the above type meats- you can ask your favorite grill master for some tips. Start with this sauce and your more than half way there.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
5 cloves
2 red chillies, seeded and minced,
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped, a few sprigs reserved
zest and juice of 1 large orange
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled and finely chopped
4 heaped tsp sweet smoked paprika
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
8 tbsp olive oil
10 bay leaves

Grind the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cloves in a pestle and mortar with some salt and pepper. Combine the chopped thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, chillies, garlic, orange zest and orange juice. Mix with the spices and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir together and leave over night, if possible, in your refrigerator. Rub your chosen meat all over with the marinade and place in a snug fitting dish. Again, leave it covered, in the refrigerator and overnight if possible.

You can bake your meat first and then finish it off over hot coals. This prevents any issue of asking each other over and over again, "do you think it's done yet??" and any potential food poisoning.

Good luck and get grilling!

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