Barbecuing: advice from three Langa chefs

The warm season, with its beautiful days, is that time of year when one’s passion for cooking can be combined with a nice barbecue get-together.

If we’re lucky, all we need to do is meet our friends with some beer, a bottle of wine and maybe the right sauces, an omelet or a sweet.

But what about when we’re the ones who have to take care of lighting the fire and starting the grill?

As in the past, we don’t want to leave you alone, although this year it will be three young Langhe chefs who will be giving you a helping hand.

Andrea from the Ristorante Argaj, Beppe from the Antico Podere Tota Virginia and Giampiero Vento from the San Maurizio Truffle Bistrot will be telling us how they prepare the “perfect barbecue”.

What is the type of meat – and cut – you prefer to cook on the grill?

Andrea – L’Argaj

For a good barbecue, my favorite meat cut is the easiest to find: chicken wings.

Usually they’re placed on the grill first because they have a longer cooking time than other cuts and they’re eaten last.

Chicken wings


Chicken wings

They’re much more enjoyable because their skin offers crispness and softness at the same time.

Nevertheless, pork ribs too allow us to indulge in seasoning and processing, as well as giving great satisfaction when eaten.

Beppe – Tota Virginia

For my ideal barbecue I choose pork chops because they combines the right amount of fat with lean meat, making them unique and tasty.


Pork Chops – Photo credit”Giallo Zafferano”

Giampiero – Truffle Bistrot

The meat cuts I prefer are rib-eye steak (preferably Fassona) and lamb spareribs because I think this type of cooking exalts their qualities.


Rib-eye steak

Thanks to the high temperatures, the grill gives the meat a succulent inner sweetness and also a pleasant smoked fragrance.

What advice can you give when preparing and cooking this cut?

Andrea – L’Argaj

For both cuts (chicken wings and ribs) I like to prepare a marinated sauce a few days before cooking so as to acquire tastes that are then exalted by the charcoal fire.

I mean a dry, oil and fat free marinade with a mix of herbs and spices to create, along with the chicken skin or the crusty layer that is formed on the meat, a base that has an intense taste.

Beppe – Tota Virginia

With regard to preparing pork chops, we must first take the entire piece and marinate it with the various flavors (rosemary, marjoram, mint), then add some white wine and extra virgin olive oil for a few hours.

Shortly before cooking, when the grill is at the right temperature, it is cut, possibly not too thin, then soaked a few seconds in the marinade and placed on the grill.

Giampiero – Truffle Bistrot

I prefer marinating meat only with aromatic herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, lemon grass and laurel) along with good extra virgin olive oil and some organic lemon peel.

Furthermore, an “important” ingredient, often overlooked when grilling, is wood.

I prefer beech or cherry; in fact, these two types of wood give that typical aroma of a BBQ.

Which side dishes and sauces would you pair with the dishes you suggested?

Sauces

Andrea – L’Argaj

As a seasoning for chicken wings and ribs I would suggest herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage.

If you like sauces, I suggest you try some American-style barbecue sauces as well.

The classic side dish like red peppers, zucchini and eggplant can give a great result.

I suggest, if I may, to marinate the vegetables as well.

Beppe – Tota Virginia

As far as the ideal seasoning is concerned for pork chops I suggest tartar sauce, mustard and bagnetto verde (a sauce made with parsley and anchovies).

As a side dish we can prepare classic grilled vegetables, baked potatoes or a fresh tomatoes and green beans salad.

Giampiero – Truffle Bistrot

With regard to side dishes to pair with a good rib-eye steak, I would choose vegetables like eggplants, zucchini and artichokes which, having a bitter taste, exalt their flavor 100% on the grill.

Sauces too are very important because they close the tasting loop.

I don’t really like the ones that completely cover the meat and hide its taste, so I always recommend using simple sauces such as oil and lemon, oil and balsamic vinegar or Bernese sauce.

Do you have any advice to give in general to all those “barbecue beginners” who will be grilling on Ferragosto?

Andrea – l’Argaj

Be patient and… be careful with the temperature!

Our aim is to have the charcoal at the right temperature, that can cook without burning the meat, but not too low so as to avoid the “boiled” effect which is unacceptable when it comes to grilled meat!

Once you’ve lit the barbecue, you need to set aside a part of the charcoal that is extremely hot and that will stay warm over time so you can then redistribute it under the grill where the meat is cooked.

A second aspect, that is often taken for granted, is that patience is fundamental. There is nothing worse than removing a wing from the grill too soon ;-)

Beppe – Tota Virginia

My advice to “grilliators” is to avoid neglecting the raw material: remember the main ingredient on a grill is meat.

Always go to a supplier that provides good quality!

Giampiero – Truffle Bistrot

My first bit of advice to “barbecue beginners” is to use a good grill that can reach high temperatures and keep them constantly.

The second is to use high-quality meat: you can’t fix bad meat, even if you know all the right tricks.

But the main piece of advice is to have a barbecue in good company :-)

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