Sunday, 29 May 2011

Constitutionally, Its The Sausages You Have To Watch Out For.

So, today was the day. The day I chanced my arm at the lottery that is Barbecue cooking.

I had decided to not invite anyone else to this "practice" barbecue, mainly due to the high risk of me not cooking the food properly. Whilst I don't mind risking food poisoning, it is simply not done to expect your guests to do so - and as I couldn't promise a sickness free buffet, I opted to go this one alone.

Although I do have a fully functioning Fire Pit (and no, that is not a medical euphemism), I decided to "train" on one of those disposable barbecues. I found a sheltered corner of the garden, and lit the barbecue. Step one was complete! I stood back and watched the charcoal burn, my gaze following the wisps of smoke as they danced on the breeze......right to where my washing was hanging on the line.
A quick emergency clothing removal manoeuvre later, and all was well. The instructions for the barbecue said it could take up to 20 minutes for the flames to die down (and I quote) "depending on the conditions". I wondered if the manufacturer had included being doused in petrol, or being held underwater in the "conditions" they referred to - as I was fairly sure that conditions like that would have a large effect on the time it took for the flames to die down.

Who ordered the Salmonella platter?
Sure enough, after a period of time the flames died away, and all that was left was the smouldering coals (which incidentally sounds like a great name for a band). Like the stick I use to play pool, this was my cue - and I brought out the burgers and sausages to be cooked. I placed them on the barbecue, and stood back and watched the cooking take place. After a minute or so of watching, I became bored so I went into the kitchen and prepared some rolls and some salad bits. I was doing the whole shabang - oh yeah! I had some pre-packed fresh salad, and added some tomatoes (quartered), and some Beetroot (sliced by me). I do love a bit of Beetroot. In fact, I love a lot of Beetroot - I could happily eat it all day. And then not go out, because I'll have stained teeth and Beetroot breath.

Starting to cook
I kept popping out to the garden to check on the progress of my burgers and sausages, and pretty soon one thing became apparent: the burgers were cooking faster than the sausages. I don't know if this is a well known fact about burgers, but it was news to me. Clearly burgers are the "man" of the barbecue foods - ready is a short space of time, and still tasty with no worries about problems later. Sausages on the other hand are obviously the "woman" - taking ages to get ready, you and they never completely sure if they are properly ready, and if you have one there is a risk of being violently ill later on. The burgers were well on their way to being completed cooked, while the sausages were just getting the slightest hint of a tan. Undaunted, I carried on. And why wouldn't I? who ever heard of anyone being daunted by sausages?

Apart from vegetarians, that is.

Not long after, the burgers were ready. I brought out my plate laden with salad and tomato and beetroot and put two sliced buns on it. I put the cooked burgers in the buns, added some Branston Relish. The relish I had chosen was Spicy Chili and Jalapeno - which really was quite spicy (there's a surprise!). Now came the moment of truth; I picked up a bun with a burger in it, raised it to my mouth and took a bite. Instantly, I regretted it - not because the burger wasn't cooked, but because a big dollop of relish squelched out of the burger and splattered down my t-shirt. Typical. Mumbling a curse, I went inside and changed my top. Happily, that was the only downside of the burgers. Taste wise, they were fine, and I have every confidence in my ability to cook them from now on.

The sausages, however, would be another matter. As they sat on the barbecue slowly cooking, droplets of fat dripped onto the hot coals beneath. The hissing noise this made was not dissimilar to the noise a vampire makes when you show it a crucifix - and so I began to look upon the sausages as vessels of evil, sitting there cooking it their own juices, whispering to me "we're not cooked - we'll never be cooked properly!". Because that is the problem - you are never sure if sausages are cooked properly. I blame that advert that they show every year at the start of barbecue season, with the song "when will I see you again" in the background - you know the one, there's a shot of a blackened sausage on the barbecue and then they cut it open and it is not cooked inside. Because of that advert, I second guessed myself today about those sausages. In the end I spent an age crouched over that barbecue, turning the sausages to ensure they were cooked evenly. And when they looked cooked, every time I thought about taking them off, a little voice in my head said "give 'em a bit longer".

In the end, I made an executive decision and declared the sausages cooked. I put them in four finger rolls (that's four individual finger rolls, not rolls big enough to fit four fingers in), added some more relish - quite a bit more to be honest - and ate them. They tasted fine, but I will admit that ever since I ate them I have been waiting for the first pains of stomach cramps to kick in. At this present time we are at Sausages plus three hours, and all seems well. Have no fear, if I do end up vomiting my barbecue back up at some point tonight, I will give you all the details tomorrow.

All in all, I consider my practice barbecue a success. The disposable barbecue I purchased was a twin pack, so I can have another go at some point if I wish. Now all I have to do is get more chairs, invest in a beverage cooling system (a bucket and loads of ice), practice using the fire pit, invest in some barbecue toolage, and general stuff like that.

Easy peasy!!

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