Chef Nico Reynolds is giving us his top grilling tips in RTÉ’s new cooking series All Fired Up. Here, he shares some of his foodie thoughts
By the time summer rolls around, we can all be a little rusty on the barbecuing front. But whether you’re a novice griller or a pro, chef Nico Reynolds has come armed with all the skills, tips and recipes to help you up your grilling game in his new cooking series on RTÉ: All Fired Up.
By walking us through some of his signature barbecue dishes, he shows us that anything you can cook inside, you can cook outside; from breakfast through to dessert. Here, Nico shares some of his thoughts on summer cooking and dining al fresco.
1. How has your Jamaican heritage inspired your cookery skillset?
My Jamaican granny would bring informal bottles of scotch bonnet hot sauce by the litre to Dublin that I would in turn, bring back to South America on my travels and introduce into creative projects with chefs from around the world. This became the starting point for my recipes; adding them to colourful South American palates. Finding different ways to use my granny’s sauce for marinades, sauces, dips and bases became an obsession.
2. What is your favourite dish to cook in the series and why?
The fish dish in episode six. I love cooking fish over the coals. It’s a lot more delicate than meat, but there’s something so natural about cooking food from the sea over coals, the char and the flavour combine so well.
3. What is your idea of comfort food?
A mixture of nostalgia and warmth. Comfort food doesn’t have to be anything with grandeur or pizazz, just something that brings you back every time you take a bite, like a hefty bag of cod and chips rinsed in garlic mayo.
4. What is your favourite thing about cooking and dining al fresco?
Sitting and watching the world go by with a glass of wine and a full belly is a gift. Also, not having to sweep up the spices that get on the floor.
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5. What are your top three tips for novice grillers?
- Don’t panic, if you’ve lit up the grill you have time, if you have time you can relax, if you’re relaxed you won’t panic.
- Start small; with a small fire and a small meal.
- There’s an intuition in everyone of what fire feels like, we know when it’s too hot or smothered, so trust that intuition.
6. Are there any barbecuing blind spots people tend to overlook when grilling?
Grilling preparation is the most important thing. It’s always best to concentrate on the winner of the meal. For example, make the sides before the main dish, or get someone else to take care of those smaller tasks. Also, If you think of charcoal as a flavour and not just a heat source, your grilling will take on a whole new dimension.
7. In the first episode, your “foolproof” barbecue trick sees you twist newspaper pages and use them to form a circle in the base of the pit, before surrounding it with coal. Why is this an important step in the barbecue preparations?
The main reason why it works so well is airflow; the fire has to be able to breathe to ignite the little newspaper volcano properly, which in turn, creates the ideal environment for the oxygen to circulate.
8. What is your go-to quick and easy meal for those busy summer days on the go?
A grilled prawn sandwich is always a winner, with some crispy iceberg lettuce, mayo and hot sauce.
9. What career highs are you most proud of to date?
I filmed one episode for the series with my grandmother, and she was so natural and comfortable with the whole process. I will never forget it.
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10. Have you any exciting plans in the pipeline that you can share?
It’s only been a short time that I’ve been at this, but I’ve been taking it all in my stride. I’ve been busy working in London with ITV on some potential future gigs, and hopefully we will get a series two of All Fired Up.
All Fired Up airs on RTÉ One every Tuesday at 7pm until July 19th, and is available to stream on RTÉ Player.