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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Barbecue Italian Style

Article first published as Barbecue Italian Style on Technorati.

At first, we were a bit cautious: Would this gorgeous, spring weather last, or was it just a couple of nice, sunny days before falling back into winter mode? By now, we are no longer hesitant and are enjoying the bright and pleasant days. And what comes with the warm season? Barbecue time, of course!

In Italy, visitors are usually surprised by the vast range of recipes for open air grilling, and during the summer, a lot of restaurants will have this type of cooking on their menu too. Meat of course plays a big part, and it could not be easier and quicker, as pieces of beef, pork or poultry will as a rule not be marinated. Sea salt and black pepper, a small amount of pure olive oil, perhaps a quick rub with a garlic clove or a sprig of rosemary, and they are ready to be thrown onto the open fire.

Sausages are also very popular. They often contain only pork, although sometimes beef will be added. Hot and milder versions are available, depending on the chosen seasoning: Chilli flakes, fennel seeds, salt, black pepper, garlic, red wine vinegar, sugar, onions, parsley, anise seeds or paprika, the number of varieties on offer is seemingly endless! And as Italian sausages are most of the times raw, the barbecue method is a good way of ensuring that they will be cooked through.

Freshly caught fish is another beloved choice, and as a lot of Italian regions have a seacoast, there is no risk of a supply shortage. The secret of fish grilling is quite simple: It must be as fresh as possible, the grill very hot and you must constantly keep an eye on it while it is cooking. A whole fish is a better option than fish filets as it is easier to keep in one piece, and the use of a fish griller is a good idea.

Grilled vegetables as starters (antipasti) or side dishes (contorni) are also a must. Aubergines, zucchini, peppers in all colours, onions, mushrooms and artichoke hearts are a good selection. Once ready they make a colourful display on a big plate and only a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a garnish of basil leaves or bits of oregano are required before the dish makes its way to the table.

Slices of fresh ciabatta are a simple but tasty addition. They can also be dipped into a high quality olive oil, sometimes with a little bit of salt and pepper added. This type of bread can also be used to make bruschetta, which will be topped with a mixture chopped fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. Grilled focaccia, a flat, round bread, is delicious too.

Now all that is needed is for this fantastic weather to last!


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