The ultimate barbecue

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!! It doesn't have to be a sunny bank holiday to have a barbecue but it sure is a good excuse!

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. Choose high quality meat from naturally reared, slow growing native breed animals, and don’t just limit yourself to bangers and burgers. Better to spend more on better meat for a special occasion than cheap cuts every day.

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.

Charcoal: 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!

Charcoal Closeup: 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.

And here's what you need...

Maldon Sea Salt: Big salt crystals are essential for seasoning meat before cooking, it enhances taste and helps build that all important char crusts. As salt draws out moisture, make sure to season your meat just before you put on the grill and only with black pepper once the meat has come off the barbecue so it doesn’t catch on the flames and burn. TIP: When carving meat after resting, mix salt in your hands with some cracked black pepper and sprinkle a little on the inside of the meat.

Meat probe: It’s not always easy to tell if meat is done or not on a barbecue, and the last thing you want to do is give your guests under or overcooked meat. A meat thermometer is a great way to judge if time’s up. Insert into the thickest part of the cut and leave for a few seconds for the dial to reach a stable temperature. The below is a rough guide of temperatures to give you the confidence to serve perfectly cooked meat:

Rare

Medium Rare

Medium

Well Done

Beef

48–52°C

55–59°C

60–66°C

67–71°C

Lamb

48–52°C

55–59°C

60–66°C

67–71°C

Veal

60°C

70°C

Pork

60°C

70°C

Chicken

75°C

 

The long handled meat fork: a favourite for Ginger Pig’s founder and owner, Tim Wilson, no messing about with fiddly tongs, get stuck in with a proper meat fork.

Wire grill brush: This is one of the most popular tools to use throughout the barbecue to keep the grill clean. A clean grill will ensure the meat doesn’t stick, and will give you a fantastic char. Brush the grill during cooking to stop juices from the meat sticking and burning. TIP: Make sure your brush is in good condition so the wire bristles don’t dislodge and stick to your barbecue!

If you don't have one of these, slice a lemon in half and rub on the grill. It cleans the grease off like nothing else!