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Barbecue Cooking, Planning and Safety Tips

 

Go to:-   BBQ Recipes |  BBQ Cooking Time-Charts  |    BBQ AccessoriesNational BBQ Week   |   Buy BBQ Equipment

 

 

Jump to:-    Lighting and Positioning of Coals  |  Cooking Food on the BBQ  |  Safety

 

 

BBQ Forward Planning

 

Certainly in the UK, it's not often that we can plan a BBQ days in advance, however barbecue food can be made into gastronomic wonders which are worthy of cooking in the kitchen (if the day gets washed out by rain). Just an hour or two is sufficient time to prepare delicious and exciting food.

 

DO - use ingredients you may not have associated with BBQs.  One very underused item is fish - fillets, steaks, whole - especially the firmer fishes such as swordfish,  fresh tuna and monkfish.

 

DO - Marinate fish, poultry and meat. Some people like their food plainly cooked. That's fine.  But what a difference added seasoning makes, turning an everyday ingredient into something to tantalise the taste buds. With BBQs marinating is a God-send. Not only does it add flavour, but with meat and fowl, it has the added benefit of tenderising it. Marinating for even half an hour or so will benefit most meats.  Most of us have the basic ingredients in our kitchens....oil, some sort of acid (lemon juice, wine or even a decent vinegar), seasonings such as onion, garlic, pepper and herbs....even dried herbs will do. USE THEM....EXPERIMENT ....BE BOLD!  And if it rains, it's good enough to be cooked indoors.

 

DO - cook EVERYTHING on the BBQ - 1st course, main course, vegetable accompaniments and desserts, especially good in foil parcels laced with butter or olive oil and a sprinkling of  fresh herbs.

 

DON'T -  stick to sausages, burgers and chicken drumsticks. There are too many other fabulous foods which taste great when barbecued.

 

Lighting and building the charcoal base

 

Think of the BBQ as an oven whose thermostat isn't working. The object is to get the middle part of the BBQ very hot, with the outer parts a little cooler, which,  if one follows most manufacturers instructions is a doddle.

Pile fuel in the centre, light it and WAIT until it's covered with white ash. This can take as long as 30 minutes depending on the type of charcoal used. Smaller lump wood pieces will light far more quickly than dense briquettes.

Once the surface is completely covered in a thin white ash, spread the charcoal over the entire base, keeping the centre part a little deeper, and the outer parts quite shallow. 

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Cooking Foods on the Barbecue

 

Vigilance is the key. A common mistake often made is to put the food on the bbq grill then leave it and go off to have a glass of wine and a chat for 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a lifetime in bbq-world. No-one would put a chicken breast under a very hot grill then leave it without checking how it's doing, probably lowering the heat at some point and turning or basting it. With bbqs it's even more important.

Place food in the centre over the very hot coals and seal on all sides so it's a good colour but not too dark. By the time that's done, the outer parts of the BBQ have burned away enough to be further away from the grill enabling food to be moved to those parts to cook through without charring.
 

This also enables you to cook different types of foods at the same time much as you would in the kitchen. So, for example, if you are cooking chicken quarters, sausages and burgers, you should start the chicken in the centre of the bbq first as this takes the longest time to cook. Once they are well browned on all sides, move them towards the outer edges of the grill and place the sausages in the centre.  Once they are browned, move those towards the outside and place the burgers in the centre. Voila! all your bbq meats will be ready at the same time.

 

Make use of the various holes bbq manufacturers have provided to raise or lower the grill. They are there for a reason, primarily because charcoal has a mind of its own and once alight, will just burn away selfishly with no thought of temperature or the fact the cook wants to enjoy the sunshine and have a laugh with their friends.  It's so easy just to transfer the partially cooked food to a plate,  move the HOT grill up or down, making sure you protect your hands with oven gloves,  then replace the food on the grill.  Alternatively, special racks can be purchased which can be positioned around the edges or in the slots provided to keep food away from the fiercest part of the coals.

 

Frequent Turning and repositioning  is also very important, especially if you have a fixed bbq grill.

 

Baste .... often .... with the marinade or other liquids such as olive oil or melted butter. Keeps the food moist and succulent.

 

Don't forget to take a look at our BBQ Cooking Times page for general timings (there's a link at the top of this page).

 

 

Barbecue Safety

 

Below are a few tips for safe barbecuing courtesy of  www.nationalbbq.co.uk

 

  Keep children and animals well away from the BBQ.

 

Wash your hands before preparing food, after touching raw meat and before serving and eating.

Unless the cooking instructions say otherwise, always ensure that frozen meat is completely defrosted before BBQ'ing so it cooks evenly.

Always keep raw and cooked meats separate and keep uncooked meat, fish and vegetables separate from each other when preparing.

In very hot weather throw away BBQ'd food left out for more than an hour.

BBQ'd food may look well cooked when it isn't. Burgers, sausages and chicken should be cut open and checked. If necessary continue grilling until cooked through.

Never part-cook on a BBQ and finish cooking later. However, you can par-cook, or par-boil poultry in the kitchen, keep it chilled, and then finish it off on the BBQ to add flavour.

To light charcoal, always use proper BBQ lighter fuel; never ever use petrol or other inflammable liquids.

If using gas, ensure that the grill is lit immediately.  If the grill fails to light at first or second attempt, turn off gas immediately and leave for a few minutes before relighting.

Position BBQ's on level ground, well away from fences, hedges and trees, or anything that could catch fire.

Ensure that you have sufficient preparation and serving areas and keep these two apart. If using separate tables ensure that they are kept away from the hot grill.

  Use long handled utensils such as tongs and turners or spatulas when cooking food on the barbecue as it can be deceptively hot even 1 ft away from the coals.

 

  Make sure that all knives and cooking utensils are securely stored when not in use and regularly wipe down all utensils and surfaces between use with a disinfected cloth.

Remember that BBQ's can be dangerous, the grill is very hot and can cause nasty burns, or even serious fires if knocked over.

Have a fire blanket or water spray for charcoal handy at all times.

Ensure the charcoal is cold and/or the gas securely turned off or disconnected before retiring for the night

 

Click HERE for lots of savoury and sweet BBQ recipes

 

 

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