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Spanish Tapas Is Perfect For A Barbecue Grill

Feb 17, 2008
"Going out to Spain again? How wonderful!" many friends say to me.

Well, no actually it isn't. Yes I admit the weather makes a pleasant change from the dreary precipitation of North West England and I do have some great friends where I work in Spain but at the end of the day it's not a holiday it's work.

Dressed in a suit and tie traveling on a plane full of holiday makers to Alicante is depressing enough but then it's the taxi to the plant, a full days work in an air conditioned office followed by the taxi to the hotel. Back to the plant in the morning, another full day etc. etc.....get the picture? What's the weather got to do with it?

The one saving grace for me on business trips is the food. Spanish food ranks right up there for me because like Italian food, it relies on the freshness of the ingredients and a simple cooking process. Unique to Spain though is the array of snacks available in the bars - Tapas.

Because of the simplicity of cooking and the variety, many tapas lend themselves to the barbecue grill and have found their way into my free barbecue recipes web pages. Every day I try a new bar, new tapas, ask the barman how it is prepared and then punch it out on the laptop during the flight home. Maybe there is an upside to business travel after all.

The word tapas (plural) originates from the word tapa meaning a cover. In the bars and bodegas of Andalucia in the days before air-con, the barman would provide a tapa to cover his customer's sherry glass to stop the flies getting in. It wasn't long before the barman would place a little bread on the tapa and this is where the tapas evolution started.

Technically tapas are appetizers designed to be eaten in the bar with an aperitif before going home for the main lunchtime meal and of course the siesta. The tapas revolution now means that they are available all hours and many can be eaten at the same time to make a meal in itself and it's this concept that makes tapas ideal for the barbecue grill.

Some do need a little adaptation and take for example Esgarrat which is bacalao (dried salted cod fish) and roasted red peppers in olive oil. The sweetness of the peppers combines beautifully with the salt of the cod to produce a wonderful combination of flavours. Share a plate with friends and dip your bread in the oil - fantastic on a hot summer's day!

Preparation of Esgarrat take time (a week) and uses two basic techniques of barbecue smoking, firstly curing and then fire roasting so here's how to do it.

Take 150g or 6oz cod loin fillet (skinned) and place it in a polythene bag with two tablespoons of salt. Seal the bag and slam it in the refrigerator for a week. On the day of consumption, remove the cod loin from the bag, wash under the tap and slice thinly as you would with smoked salmon. Technically bacalao should be dried in the air but I find the process above more than adequate and certainly the best that I can achieve in a damp maritime UK climate.

When the barbecue charcoal is good and hot, place two red peppers on the smoker grill and roast until the skin is black and blistered and the flesh is soft. When complete, place the peppers in a polythene bag, seal it and allow to cool. When cool, remove the peppers from the bag and peel away the black skin and you'll be left with a beautifully soft sweet pepper that's ready for slicing. Cut into strips, place in a shallow serving dish with the salt cod and gorge it in olive oil - job done, give it an hour just to let the flavours mingle and you are ready to serve.

Enjoy Esgarrat, enjoy the summer and above all, enjoy your barbecue grill.
About the Author
The Barbecue Smoker Recipe Man writes free barbecue recipes & outdoor smoker recipes on gas, charcoal or electric. Outdoor grilling tips, easy fire pit menus, healthy rotisserie suggestions and best homemade bbq sauce recipes are all available at Barbeque Smoker Recipes
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