Rich and salty smoked meat calls for something sharp to cut through it. Pickles allow you to play around with different vinegars, aromatics and vegetables, which often lend a bit of texture, too. This is our favourite pickle brine.
Prep 10 min
Cook 20 min
Pickle 4-5 days
Makes 1 litre
1 litre white wine vinegar
300g caster sugar
20g coriander seeds
20g cumin seeds
20g mustard seeds
20g pink peppercorns
1kg vegetables such as cucumber, radishes, fennel or chilli, sliced as thinly as possible (about 1-2mm thick) on the diagonal
Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil then turn off the heat. To pickle more robust vegetables such as fennel or chillies, add them to the brine while it is still hot so they soften a bit. For other, more delicate, vegetables such as cucumber or radishes, chill the brine right down (to around 4C) to maintain the texture and colour of the vegetables. Put in a sterilised jar and refrigerate for four to five days, although the pickles will last for weeks.
Wild garlic and mint chimichurri
This south American sauce is especially good with beef and lamb. When wild garlic goes out of season, substitute with two to three garlic cloves and 500g spinach or rocket leaves.
Prep 20 min
Makes 20 portions
500g wild garlic
150ml red-wine vinegar
50ml sugar syrup, or honey or maple syrup, to balance sweetness
Maldon salt, to taste
Simply blitz all the ingredients together.
Classic barbecue sauce
This is an all-purpose barbecue sauce that can be served with any grilled or smoked meat. We also use it as a marinade for pork and beef ribs before glazing them with the sauce while they are cooking over a direct heat, turning every couple of minutes repeatedly so they caramelise nicely. This is made possible by the sauce’s high sugar content, building depth of flavour and charring. What barbecue is all about!
Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Makes 1 litre
250g onions, peeled and chopped
25g garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
250ml cider vinegar
375ml apple juice
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
40ml Worcestershire sauce
Sweat the onions until translucent – about 10 minutes – then add the garlic, and cook for two to three minutes. Add the cider vinegar and reduce to a syrup – about 20 minutes – then add the apple juice and reduce the mixture by half its volume.
In a separate, dry pan, toast the red chilli flakes and cumin, then add to the mixture and stir in. Add the sugar and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sugar caramelises with the other ingredients, then add the Worcestershire sauce. Finally, add the ketchup and cook for another 30 minutes on a medium-low heat.
Use to marinate, glaze or to serve alongside cooked meat.
Smokestak is a bar and grill in east London; smokestak.co.uk
- Food styling: Rosie Birkett. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins