While panzanella and potato salad may be the star sideshows of the barbecue season it is fairly clear in most people’s minds cooking over hot coals means only one thing. Meat. But what does meat mean? It seems when summer finally appears and al fresco dining takes over, often a sense of wellbeing goes out the window. Especially where the animal is concerned. Cheap sausages, burgers and grillsteaks of questionable provenance are piled high on plates as we eat enough for a week in one sitting.
I think no matter what we are cooking on it’s important to connect with the life the animal has lived. Do I really want a wing from a chicken which has never had room to flap it, or a pork sausage from a caged pig that’s never had space to turn around once in its sorry life? If we view meat as a luxury to be savoured rather than a commodity to be devoured we all benefit. The animal, the planet, and our tastebuds. Sourcing meat from free range, sustainable and where possible organic sources will ensure a benefit for all three and I believe is vital when shopping.
One organic farm whose produce, both fresh and cured, that I really enjoy is Peelham Farm in Berwickshire. While veal is rapidly moving back into the consciousness of the nation as more and more farmers are producing rose veal from dairy herds, this ‘ruby veal’ from their organic pasture-grazed Aberdeen Angus and Luing cross suckler cows is richer in flavour but still with that fine veal texture. The cheaper cuts, like shoulder are perfect for these kebabs and a great option when the barbecue comes out.
Spiced ruby veal kebabs
(Makes 4 large kebabs)
3tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
500g ruby veal shoulder cut into 1” chunks
3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
½ tsp Red chilli powder
1 clove garlic grated
Salt to season
1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat then add the mustard seeds to temper them. You must do this to really release their flavour. When they start to pop remove from the heat and leave to cool;
2. In a large mixing bowl add the veal and a large pinch of salt, mix together to coat evenly then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and leave to marinade for 2-3 hours;
3. Divide between four skewers evenly and cook. The cooking time will vary with the temperature of your coals but I’d suggest 6-8 minutes and then turn over for a further 6-8 minutes is sufficient;
4. Serve alongside a green salad, panzanella or even kachumber if you’re feeling exotic.
First published in The Soil Association Better BBQ feature