Theo Michaels' Spring Barbecue Essentials

Cooking over fire is one of the purest forms of cooking, that rawness of simplicity and connection with the environment. Wood from the trees burnt to a glowing ash, fresh vegetables picked from the garden, a wonderful piece of fish straight out of the sea, or a rabbit caught and butchered that day. Wafts of smoke sparking from droplets of rendered fat, olive oil or lemon give their unique flavour...


The Essentials

  1. Wait for your charcoal to ashen and the flames to stop before cooking
  2. Direct heat is when foods are cooked directly above the charcoal - this is the hottest part of the bbq and great for fast searing heat.
  3. Indirect heat is when foods are cooked to the side of the charcoal and uses the ambient heat to finish cooking - this is great for larger cuts of meat and vegetables and for closing the lid and using the bbq as an oven.
  4. Stop poking your food! There’s really no need to keep moving bits about.
  5. Use glazes, marinades and rubs to up your BBQ game.
  6. Wrap dense root vegetables like potatoes and corn on the cob in foil and drop them straight on the coals. This is a great way to cook them while cooking other bits on the grill at the same time.
  7. BBQ is more than bangers and burgers; try cooking whole fish, skewered vegetables with halloumi and different cuts of meat to carve at the table.
  8. Don’t forget the salads! I love meat and fish but a bbq wouldn’t be complete without something a bit more refreshing. Speaking of salads...


Charred Caesar Salad

Share by Theo A. Michaels

I was introduced to the concept of barbecuing salad when my wife and I were visiting some friends on Vancouver Island. It totally changes the texture and delivers a delicate smokiness that I just love and the leaves stand up to the heat with the bravery of a firefighter! The secret here is to grill the leaves until they are well charred and the cheese is crispy.

60 ml/1⁄4 cup olive oil, plus extra for frying breadcrumbs

1 thick slice of seeded bread

2 Romaine/Cos lettuces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Caesar dressing:

1 garlic clove, crushed

60 ml/¼ cup good-quality mayonnaise

1⁄2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

30 g/scant ½ cup finely grated Parmesan

½ teaspoon clear, runny honey

3 canned anchovy fillets, finely chopped

(Serves 4)


Preheat the barbecue/outdoor grill to hot/high.

To make nice, rustic croutons, drizzle a little olive oil over the slice of bread, season it with salt and pepper and toast on the barbecue/grill, to the side of the coals, for a few minutes on each side until it has a deep golden hue then remove it and set aside to cool down.

Put all the caesar dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together to combine. Set aside until needed.

Halve the lettuces lengthways and spoon a couple of tablespoons of the caesar dressing over the cut side. Lift a few leaves and prize them open a little to get some of the dressing deeper inside, but don’t smother them.

Place the lettuce halves, dressing side-down, onto the hot barbecue/grill over direct heat and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the leaves are charred. You’ll lose some of the dressing onto the barbecue/grill and it will start to smoke – that’s all good. Turn the lettuces over and cook for a few minutes more on the other side, then remove from the heat. Place the lettuce leaves onto your board. Rip the toast into small chunks and scatter these over the top.


This recipe is from Share by Theo A. Michaels.  Find more delicious recipes from Theo in Rustica and Orexi! To get great blog posts like this one - direct to your inbox – be sure to sign up to our mailing list here.