Bring on the Barbecue!

30 Nov 2011

Dubai’s Hunters Room and Grill Chef Mark Hannon shows us how to barbecue starters, mains and even dessert!

Chef Mark Hannon has travelled the long way around to arrive in Dubai from his native New York. An early introduction to food in his father’s seafood restaurant eventually led him to the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 2003. Following graduation, he embarked upon a road trip that ultimately led him back east and to the acclaimed oriental fine-diner, Azul. Helming kitchens in London and Australia served to broaden his culinary horizons before he landed in Dubai a year ago. Chef Mark welcomed us to the Westin Dubai’s Hunters Room and Grill where he created a fabulous three-course barbeque dinner for us while we, erm, grilled him on how best to recreate some of his Hunters flavours at home.

With more acidic marinades that use lemon, lime or vinegar you need to marinate for no more than an hour, especially with fish as the flesh is delicate; the acidity cures the meat and if you leave it too long it will just destroy the meat’s natural flavour.

However good your marinade is you’ll still need to season the steak at the end, but don’t add salt at the start – that’s a big mistake; it will draw flavour and moisture out of the meat, when you want to do the opposite.

You shouldn’t need to tenderise the steak. If it’s a good cut and you can see it’s streaked with a reasonable amount of fat, that should melt and keep the meat moist and tender. For home I like the selection at Waitrose; they have wagyu, and although it’s not cheap the quality is good and there’s plenty of choice. I also love the new place in the Gold and Diamond Park, Prime Gourmet, whose suppliers also provide our cuts at Hunters.

For home cooking a whole fish is often a better bet than steaks or fillets: it’s easy and less likely to dry out and disintegrate from overcooking.

We use a gas grill in the restaurant that gives a consistent heat that lasts all night, plus the flames go around the grilling area instead of directly underneath, so the heat is less harsh. My father swears up and down on charcoal grills, but you have to know how to use them. At home your average charcoal grill will get very hot very quickly and most people are in a rush to get the meat on there, so it chars without cooking through. Charcoal requires a bit of patience to get to that nice 30 minute window of consistent heat after the coals have cooled to a glow and you’ve spread them out. So I’d light it then open up a bottle of wine and relax until it’s reached that optimum temperature!

Fiery Oxtail Tacos


The Oxtails
8 taco shells
4kg oxtails
100ml vegetable oil
10g ground cumin
10g ground coriander
5g cinnamon
10g fresh coriander

The Grilled Corn Salsa
2 corn cobs
1 roasted pepper
1 red onion
Fresh coriander to taste
½ a lime
Salt and pepper to taste
60ml olive oil
Sour cream to taste
White cheddar cheese to taste

The Barbeque braise
100ml vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half
3 litres beef stock
10g peppercorns
10g ground cumin
10g ground coriander
5g cinnamon
40g brown sugar
100g ketchup
100g mustard
100g tomato paste
10g salt
30g fresh coriander

Serves: Four


1. Marinate the oxtails with the ground cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, fresh coriander and vegetable oil, making sure everything is coated evenly. Allow to sit overnight in the fridge.
2. Grill the oxtails on high heat to achieve good grill marks. This will add a nice smokey flavour as they will be cooked in the barbeque sauce.
3. For the barbeque braise, start with a large saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for three minutes until translucent and fragrant.
4. Add the carrot, celery and allow to cook for a further five minutes.
5. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for two minutes.
6. Next add the ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon and allow to cook for two minutes.
7. Add the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar whilst stirring to ensure that everything is incorporated.
8. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil.
9. Add the grilled oxtails, turn the heat to low and cook for three to four hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
10. When the oxtails are ready remove the bones and put the meat aside. Blend the barbeque sauce with the fresh coriander until smooth. If it’s too thin, reduce it with gentle heat until the consistency is more sauce-like. If it’s too thick add some water and seasoning. Fold the sauce through the oxtail meat for the tacos.

1. Grill the corn cobs until lightly charred, then remove the corn. Dice the roasted peppers and red onion to a similar size to the corn pieces and mix all three ingredients in a bowl. Chop the coriander finely and add to the bowl, mixing thoroughly with the olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime and salt and pepper.
2. Place the meat in the taco shells, top with salsa, along with grated cheese and sour cream, if you’re feeling decadent.

Chipotle and Cocoa-rubbed ribeye

Serves: Four


Meat and marinade
4 ribeye steaks (320g)
1 jar puréed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
10g cocoa powder
5g sugar
60ml vegetable oil

20g parsley
10g basil
10g thyme
20g coriander
50ml lemon juice
30g garlic
5g salt
5g pepper
100ml olive oil

4 sweet long capsicums
10g sea salt
30ml olive oil

1. Mix the chipotle pepper purée, cocoa powder, sugar and oil together in a mixing bowl. Rub onto the steaks and marinate for two hours.
2. Grill on a high heat to the desired temperature.

Mark says, “This works great with rib-eye but I wouldn’t recommend it for tenderloin as there isn’t enough fat in the meat to balance the marinade. As I have time to prepare in advance here I marinade in a vacuum-sealed bag for 24 hours, then put the whole thing in a water bath at 50°C for a couple of hours before I grill it. You can do that at home with a zip-lock bag or double-wrapped cling-film and a sink of hot water. But don’t let the water get hotter than 50°C as that will melt the plastic. This helps give an even temperature through the meat for a medium-rare finish when it’s seared on the grill and avoids the meat drying out, since it needs less time on the grill.”

Chimichurri Sauce
1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender, except the olive oil. That should be added slowly as you blend to make a smooth mixture. Serve on the side.
2. The capsicum should be tossed in the olive oil and sea salt flakes and grilled until it’s nicely marked on the outside and it’s soft.

The S’Mores

150g white sugar
30g cornstarch
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
2g salt
600ml milk
120ml whipping cream
4 egg yolks
120g semi sweet chocolate
7ml vanilla extract
14g butter
1 bag of Marshmallows
10 Graham Crackers (digestive biscuits are an alternative)
Wooden skewers

Serves: Four

1. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Then whisk in 120ml of the milk until you have a thick paste.
2. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking to blend them into the cocoa paste mixture. Set aside while you heat the milk and cream. Have a fine, medium-sized strainer and bowl ready as you will need to strain the mousse when it is cooked.
3. Into a heavy saucepan pour the remaining milk and cream. Bring this mixture just to the boil then remove the heat. Slowly pour the mixture into the cocoa paste, whilst whisking until smooth.
4. Transfer the whole mixture to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-low heat. Cook whilst stirring until the mixture takes on the consistency of mayonnaise. This should take three to five minutes. Remove from the heat and strain to remove any lumps.
5. Allow the mousse to cool then place into a piping bag to create the dessert on a plate in the design of your choosing.
6. Place the marshmallows on the skewers and use the grill flames to burn their outsides.
7. Place on the mousse and garnish with the crackers as you wish.