If you aren’t a seasoned barbecue pro, then the chances are you will need some helpful pointers before you embark on hosting one. If done correctly, barbecuing is a very rewarding way to cook, and the effect it gives is amazing! Think caramelised meat sugars, soft smokey flavours and above all, those smells!!
Have a read through our barbecue tips below, and get grilling with confidence!
Quality Ingredients: Despite what popular practice infers, cooking outside does not magically turn cheap nasty supermarket sausages and burgers into a gastronomic delight. Don’t skimp on your ingredients! Choose high quality meat from naturally reared, slow growing native breed animals, and don’t just limit yourself to bangers and burgers – there is nothing better than a big slick slice of 45 day dry aged beef rump, sizzling away slowing on the grill.
Don’t be afraid to use the oven: Cooking over charcoal gives meat a wonderful flavour, but if you are tight on time, or have a lot to cook, starting the cooking process in the oven will give the meat (and chef) a helping hand. Similarly with the hob – use a large pan to get that even sear for larger cuts, before finishing off on a cool grill for slow cooking.
Choose good charcoal: Be sure to use good quality British-made proper lumpwood charcoal from sustainable coppiced woodland. The burning qualities of lump charcoal are fantastic in that they don’t need synthetic firelighters to get going, and are ready to use quicker than the standard briquettes. The burn journey from coppicing leaves a little of the wood character intact which gives your grilled meats a fantastic subtle smokey/wood flavour.
Getting your grill set up: To make a good grill fire you need clean and light coals of varying shapes and sizes so that oxygen can pass freely around them. In addition you do NOT need paraffin firelighters to start it, if it’s good charcoal, dry paper or natural firelighters will work.
Have a hot and cool end of the barbecue: This is a great technique to control the cooking speed on your grill to ensure perfectly cooked meat. Once your coals are burning white, stack more up on one side and have a very thin spread on the other. This means you can sear meat quickly on the hot side, but cook slowly on the cooler side. No more blackened outside and raw insides!
Let coals get properly hot before cooking – cook over embers not fire: Impatience is a cook’s worst enemy. As you’d let an oven heat up, let the coals go from a clean burning red to a settled light grey before starting cooking.
Be generous with your fuel: Start your barbecue with plenty of charcoal to light from the very beginning. You should never put fresh charcoal on the barbecue below food mid-grill. Avoid a refuelling mid-barbecue by being generous with the charcoal from the get-go.
Avoid flare-ups: Trim back excess fat from the edges of cuts such as pork or lamb chops. When the fat reaches a certain temperature it’ll render down and drip onto the hot coals, causing flare-ups which can potentially spoil the meat.
Another cause of flare ups is excess oil on the meat. If your meat’s been marinating, make sure to wipe or shake off excess oil, leaving just a thin film on your chosen cut. If marinated for ample time, the flavours will have permeated the meat enough so no need for the excess oil, it will only catch and burn.
Resting: Be sure to rest your meat after cooking by covering in tin foil and leaving for the same amount of time as it has spent on the grill. When meat cooks, the moisture on the outside evaporates, and the heat forces the meat’s remaining juices to the centre. Allowing the meat to rest before serving allows the juices to redistribute throughout the cut and be reabsorbed. As a result the meat will lose less moisture when you cut it and be far more tender and juicy to eat.
TIP: Use a tea towel on top of the foil if the meat needs more than 15 minutes resting time to keep the meat warm for serving.