Certainly in the UK, it's not often that we can plan a BBQ days in advance,
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- stick to sausages, burgers and
chicken drumsticks. There are too many other fabulous foods which
taste great when barbecued.
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.
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.
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
Frequent Turning and repositioning
is also very important, especially if you have a fixed bbq
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).