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Food

Food trend alert: how to cook burnt food and recipes to try

by Abigail Spooner
Food trend alert: how to cook burnt food and recipes to try
Image: Martin Poole

The words burnt, blistered and blackened are cropping up on restaurant menus up and down the country. This so-called 'burnt movement' is a food trend that spans meat, vegetables, desserts and everything in between, with the aim of adding smoky or caramelised flavour and contrasting textures.

Cooking over charcoal is something London-based chef Josh Katz takes pride in at his Berber & Q group of restaurants and latest venture Carmel. You can expect vegetable dishes on the menu such as charred hispi cabbage amongst hefty cuts of meat like smoked lamb neck shawarma. Food writer Helen Graves also loves to experiment with blackened food and her wide repertoire of recipes include burnt leeks with warm yogurt sauce and coffee and chipotle barbecue short ribs.

So reach for the blacker end of the cooking spectrum and take inspiration from our round-up of recipes below. Next time your smoke alarm goes off, it might not be the result of culinary catastrophe…

Burnt Basque cheesecake with sangria compote

Burnt Basque cheesecake with sangria compote

Burning a cheesecake may go against all your instincts, but it’s the higher cooking temperature and burnished crust that makes this Spanish dessert so iconic. Originating from San Sebastián, this heavenly cheesecake has a light and creamy centre and bittersweet caramelisation on top.

 

Get the recipe for burnt Basque cheesecake with sangria compote

Spatchcock barbecue chicken with burnt onion aïoli and caramelised lemons

Spatchcock barbecue chicken with burnt onion aïoli and caramelised lemons

Blackened onions strike the perfect balance of sweet and smoky and elevate aïoli into a delicious dipping sauce for crisp-skinned barbecue chicken. And while you have the flames flickering, grill lemon halves too for extra depth and flavour.

 

Get the recipe for spatchcock BBQ chicken with burnt onion aïoli and caramelised lemons 

Butterflied lamb with Kentucky mop sauce

Butterflied lamb with Kentucky mop sauce

Fire up the barbecue for the flavours of America’s Deep South this summer. Butterflied lamb leg in a herby buttermilk marinade is cooked until blackened and smoky on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. The Kentucky mop sauce for dipping is finger-lickin’ good too.

 

Get the recipe for butterflied lamb with Kentucky mop sauce

Lemon crème brûlées

Lemon crème brûlées

Think you’re new to the burnt food trend? Think again. Translating as ‘burnt cream’, crème brûlées are one of the most well-known examples of torching food. Is there anything better than cracking into a perfectly caramelised sugar crust to reveal a rich, creamy custard underneath? Here, we’ve swapped the classic vanilla flavour for lemon zest and extract for a lovely citrus hit.

 

Get the recipe for lemon crème brûlées

Griddled courgettes with lemon and garlic

Griddled courgettes with lemon and garlic

Sliced courgettes take on char and smokiness with ease and make a great vegetarian side dish. If you want to get ahead, marinate the veg with lemon, garlic and rosemary overnight so you’re barbecue ready the next day.

 

Get the recipe for griddled courgettes with lemon and garlic

Charred chorizo, peach and pitta panzanella

Charred chorizo, peach and pitta panzanella

Yes, you can blister and scorch peaches too. They make a great addition to this riff on a Tuscan panzanella salad with charred pitta pieces, smoky chorizo and mozzarella pearls. Rustle up for a flavour-packed alfresco lunch.

 

Get the recipe for charred chorizo, peach & pitta panzanella

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