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Pitt Bros chef John Relihan on why it’s wrong to say that Ireland doesn’t do BBQ

Sponsored by Carlsberg
Sponsored by Carlsberg
Pitt Bros chef John Relihan on why it’s wrong to say that Ireland doesn’t do BBQ

We teamed up with Carlsberg and Pitt Bros Irish chef John Relihan to talk all things BBQ, food pairings and what the rest of us can learn from masters of the trade. 

A master of cooking over a fire and the genius behind the grill in Dublin’s Pitt Bros, there are few people on this island more qualified than John to offer advice for anyone looking to up their BBQ game.

Plenty has changed over the past two years, but if anything it has taught us to appreciate the simple pleasures of some good food and time spent with friends. Even though summer 2022 isn’t doing us any favours when it comes to the weather, there’s no reason why we can’t get outdoors as much as possible to cook some food over the grill.

John said that for him, the Covid pandemic proved beyond doubt how important it is to take the load off for a while and relax among friends. Something that has always been a part of traditional Danish culture, there is no reason why we can’t incorporate more of that into our lives here in Ireland.

“One of the key things that I took away from Covid is actually taking a step back instead of working all the time. But also taking a step back and spending time with other people, actually having some friends around,” John said.

Think about any attempts you may have made to find outdoor furniture between 2020 and 2021. Deck chairs and sun loungers were like gold dust as everyone wanted to spend more time outdoors, but John said it’s important that we keep that desire going long into the future.

“And now more so that we’re all kind of back in work, we’re actually doing it less. But that feeling that we had during lockdown, when you’re with family or in your little hub of people, you could be doing a barbeque.

“I was anyway! Enjoying the company of those around me, so that kind of appreciation 100% I think we need to carry on with that,” John said.

Cooking food over an open fire isn’t simply something that gives an extra bit of flavour, people have been cooking food like this for as long as anyone can remember. While traditional Irish cooking might not elicit images of barbequed meats and sunglasses, it’s always been a part of our culture.

“People say ‘Ireland doesn’t do barbeque.’ Well, actually in fact what we used to do in Ireland, to go well back in time, we were cooking over fires.

“That is technically barbeque,” he said.

If you are wondering what food to pair with your Carlsberg, John said you shouldn’t have to look much further than the simple BBQ classics we all adore. Specifically mentioning the combo platter at Pitt Bros, he said it all adds to the experience.

“Something like slow-cooked brisket with your Dijon mustard and you’ve got all your spices on top, and it’s smoked with the applewood and the oak wood. That with a little bit of barbeque sauce on top and on the same plate we have our pulled pork that’s just falling apart and juicy

“It’s delicious mixed with a little bit of sauce, and you’ve got your ribs and corn on the side and a nice slaw with a little bit of spice to it because it’s chipotle slaw and pickles for freshness.

“That with a Carlsberg, a Pilsner like that on a hot summer’s day. That would just go down a treat,” he said.

We recently teamed up with Pitt Bros and Carlsberg on Instagram to show you how to make some amazing BBQ dishes at home. Here’s how to make some delicious BBQ pork ribs and grilled corn on the cob and chicken skewers that will prove to the world that you are in fact a master of the grill.

Advice for other cooks

Cooking in the great outdoors is undeniably more memorable than doing your standard everyday cook in the kitchen. Not only is a smoking BBQ a great way to bring people together and get some good conversations going, but stepping outside your comfort zone a little bit only makes the food taste all the more delicious.

When asked what advice John would have for anyone thinking about making more trips outside to fire up the grill, he said there are certain words that all BBQ aficionados should live by.

“Never pour lighter fluid on your barbeque, be safe. Use amazing quality products, use really good charcoal for your fire and don’t buy the bog-standard charcoal because it’s full of fumes and they cut down forestry around the world, and there are a lot of chemicals that go into this charcoal.

“Buy a really good natural charcoal. Support your local butcher shop as well, go in and buy some cuts of meat from there. Buy Irish products, of course,” he says.

To understand his approach to cooking, you could take a look at his resume that includes training from the legendary Jamie Oliver and a long list of award-winning restaurants. On top of that incredibly impressive list of achievements, John’s passion for cooking becomes apparent within minutes of talking to him.

With his car always loaded up with BBQ gear, John is constantly ready to hit the road and cook some amazing food. While that may sound a little too optimistic on this particular island, something as inconsequential as the unpredictable Irish weather is never enough to slow him down.

 “I cook [outdoors] all year-round, any season. Even at Christmas I did the turkey on the BBQ. It was cold and rainy outside, but there was no cleaning to be done in the kitchen.

“Get out there, have fun. Cook over the gas, cook over the charcoal. I really don’t mind what you cook over, as long as you’re coming together having a bit of fun and a nice cold Carlsberg or Carlsberg Zero or whatever you want, you can drink a coffee or a tea.

“For me, my passion is bringing people together,” he said.

Whether you’re in deck shorts or a woolly jumper, there’s never a bad time to take John’s advice and step outside to enjoy some delicious food cooked over the grill.

Planning a BBQ with your mates this summer? Whether you’re whipping up some of John’s recommendations, or creating your own, pair it with an ice cold Carlsberg for ultimate BBQ vibes. To purchase Carlsberg Pilsner or 0.0 for your visit the link here.

Featured Image Credit: Pitt Bros BBQ

Topics: Ireland

Shane Winckworth

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