Neil Rankin
Pit 01

The Instant Barbecue Challenge: Neil Rankin

In which we challenge a proper barbecue chef to make the best dish they can, using only instant barbecues. The chef may use as many barbecues as they like, modified within reason.

Our first challenger is Neil Rankin, owner/chef at Temper, a meat, wine and mezcal-filled fun palace in London’s Soho. His strategy appears to be modelled on the helmet dryers found only at the hairdressers, with four suspended barbecues facing off in a blazing show down, the dramatic four-way furnace bolstered by an extra tray down under.

Neil Rankin Barbecue Chicken

There were some hairy moments but that bird cooked through in a mere 15 minutes, the skin crisp and flesh juicy. Carved and served with a punchy chimichurri sauce, it made a fine lunch and a triumphant start to the competition.

Instant BBQ chicken

Chicken with Chimichurri

1 good quality, free range chicken
5 instant barbecues

Position four barbecues on their sides, around the chicken, which hangs in the centre. You will need some, like, hooks and stuff. Set another barbecue underneath. Light the barbecues. Remove the chicken when it is cooked.

Neil Rankin in Temper

For the chimichurri

Neil says: ‘There are many variations of this Argentinian steak sauce. I prefer it kept a little chunky and loose, but you can also stick it all in a blender or food processor and make a smoother sauce.’

Serves 4–6
2 red onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/2 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon mint, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
100ml vegetable oil
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons light soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Simply mix together all the ingredients. Do not be too shy to go extra-heavy on the herbs and lime. You can also play around with different herbs. This sauce can be kept for a few weeks in the fridge but will lose its vibrancy and freshness, so should ideally be consumed on the day it is made.

Photography by Robert Billington

Helen is an award-winning freelance food writer and author of Food Stories, one of the UK’s first and most influential food blogs. Helen is the proud owner of four BBQs, and loves carbs, cats, crabs and kebabs. She has a strong physical reaction to bad pulled pork.


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