BBQ Barrel

BBQ gardenWhat could be better than a garden full of your favorite herbs and foods for the BBQ…than having it right next to the BBQ? Planting in a large pot or barrel makes it easy! Recipes below!

Ingredients

1 rosemary* plant
1 oregano* plant
1 thyme* plant
1 sage* plant
1 eggplant*
1 sweet pepper plant*
Large planting container, window box, or small garden plot

*Feel free to substitute other herbs/vegetables based on what you like

Location

You can plant this garden in a large pot/barrel or directly in the garden. While the perennial herbs can be planted in early springs,the warm-season crops (eggplant, peppers) should not be planted outdoors until after Western Washington’s last average frost-free date, May 15. Some years, when the spring is particularly cool and wet, it’s best to wait until the first of June.

Whether in a container or garden, herbs and vegetables need good light, soil, adequate space, and water. Choose a location that is somewhat flat and receives a minimum of 8-10 hours of full sunlight each day. More is always better. In addition, make sure you have a good source of water nearby. Western Washington summers are often very dry throughout July & August. Your BBQ garden will likely need a good watering at least once a week during the growing season and daily watering if in a container.

Soil Prep

If you are starting a new, in-ground garden, it’s a good idea to have the soil tested first. Your local conservation district should be able to help you with that task. You can also use raised beds or large pots/barrels. Fill them with clean soil and/or compost for an instant garden.

Mix 3-4 inches of compost into a new garden to improve its overall soil biology and health. If you already have a garden area, be sure to add 1-2 inches of compost each year to maintain soil health.

Fertility

To ensure adequate nutrition for your BBQ garden, add a complete organic fertilizer (available at most garden and nursery centers) to the planting hole for each plant. Mix it in well before planting. Herbs use much less fertilizer than other plants. Be sure to follow directions for the product you are using; generally use no more than 1/8 cup per herb plant. For  the eggplant and pepper, 1/2 to 1 cup per plant is best.

Planting

If growing in-ground, space the herbs up to 24 inches apart. Do the same for the eggplant and pepper. However, when planting in a container or window box, you can reduce that space by half or more. Just be sure to compensate by providing more water and fertilizer over the season.

When planting herbs, be sure to bury the entire rootball, about 1/2 inch deeper than the pots they were in. You can plant the eggplant and pepper deeper, up to 2-3 inches deeper than the pots they were in.

Maintenance

Weed, water, and nurture your plants through the summer. For more information, Home Vegetable Gardening in Washington is a great resource from WSU. Information on growing herbs can be found here.

Harvest

Peppers can be picked at any time after they have sized up. Hot peppers will get hotter as they become more mature. When onion tops start to flop over, the bulbs have stopped growing and you can harvest any time after that. Eggplant can be picked when the fruit is the size desired, but before the glossy fruit turns dull; that means they are overripe.

For best flavor, harvest herbs just before using. Careful drying preserves the flavor of most herbs for use in rubs and other recipes.

BBQ Recipes

Depending on what you planted, there are plenty of recipes and ways to use your BBQ barrel ingredients; here are a couple of examples to get you going.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

2 3–4-pound chickens, each cut into 4 pieces, backbones removed
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon
12 rosemary sprigs, divided
10 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
1 large pinch smoked paprika

Arrange chicken in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup oil and lemon juice. Coarsely chop leaves from 10 rosemary sprigs. Toss chopped rosemary and garlic with chicken to coat; season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Cover; chill for 3 hours or overnight.

Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Let chicken come to room temperature. Brush off marinade; grill chicken, turning occasionally, until browned and almost cooked through, about 20-22 minutes for legs and thighs, 16–18 minutes for breasts. Pour remaining 1/4 cup oil into a small bowl. Dip 2 rosemary sprigs in oil; occasionally baste chicken with sprigs until cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

Let chicken rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cut lemon in half lengthwise, then cut thinly crosswise into half-moons. Add to chicken with any leftover basting oil; toss to coat and serve. Recipe courtesy www.epicurious.com.

Herb & Garlic Grilled Eggplant

This eggplant is equally fine hot off the grill, or at room temperature. Refrigeration throws off its balance of tastes and texture, so grill it no more than 4 hours before eating.

2 medium eggplants (2 to 2-1/4 pounds), sliced vertically into 1/4-inch thick slices
about 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tightly-packed cup each fresh basil and Italian parsley leaves, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper salt to taste

Lightly brush both sides of each eggplant slice with oil. Blend together the garlic, parsley, basil and pepper. Spread a little of the herb blend over each slice. Lay the slice side by side on a large platter, stacking them if necessary. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 2 to 4 hours.

Outdoors: Burn down a charcoal fire (using real wood charcoal briquets if possible), until a white ash has formed. Heat should be moderate. Sprinkle the slices with salt. Grill the undrained eggplant slices about 10 minutes, turning once, or until deep golden brown on each side and soft when pierced with a knife. Spoon any seasonings left on the platter over each slice after turning. Spread any seasonings left on the platter over each slice before turning. Do this in several batches unless your cooking surface is large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. Transfer the finished slices to a platter and serve.

Indoors: Grill undrained slices over medium heat on a gridded skillet or stove-top grill, until deep, golden brown on each side. Preheat broiler, adjusting broiler pan height so eggplant is about 4 inches from the flame. Spread any marinade left in the bowl over the slices, and have them in a single layer. Broil slowly until slices are deep golden brown on each side, and eggplant is soft when pierced. Transfer the finished slices to a platter and serve. Recipe courtesy splendidtable.org.

BBQ Spice Rub

1 tablespoon dried crushed parsley
2 tablespoons dried crushed sage
1 tablespoon dried crushed rosemary
1 tablespoon dried crushed thyme
1 tablespoon dried crushed oregano
1 tablespoon dried crushed basil
1 tablespoon dried crushed bay leaf
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Measure everything into a blender. Blend on medium for a few seconds, turn it off, and run it again. Continue pulsing about until you have a powder. Pour into a jar, label, and date it.

Lightly coat chicken, beef, pork, potatoes, asparagus, etc with vegetable oil or olive oil, sprinkle rub on liberally. If time permits, wrap in plastic and let the seasoned meat sit in the fridge for up to overnight. The oil is important because many of the flavors in the herbs are oil soluble and the time in the fridge helps the flavor permeate.

Grill, smoke, or roast. Recipe courtesy amazingribs.com.

Washington State University