We went to a barbeque the other week and I spotted my brother-in-law committing some cardinal barbeque crimes! One of the great things about barbequing is the versatility - there are a fantastic amount of foods you can cook on the BBQ (something that a lot of English seem to forget!) and there are a lot of different barbeque techniques. I use a charcoal kettle style BBQ so that is what I have written about. I guess a lot of techniques will still apply for gas barbies, well all the cooking will anyway! If you enjoy this page you should also read my advice on holding a BBQ event.
Tips on BBQ Fuel
The first choice with any charcoal BBQ is which charcoal to use. Personally I reckon those fast lighting bags you can get (one match is all you need!) are pretty awful. They light fast and burn out fast and never really settle into a good cooking temperature. That said they are quite handy if you just want a quick barbeque (maybe for a steak or something) after work and can't light it in advance. My preferred choice is briquettes. They take a long time to reach optimum temperature (at least an hour) but then they stay at a good temperature for a long time too - I have cooked joints of ham on briquettes and still had heat enough after all that to cook longer. You can tell the optimum temperature by the thin layer of ash over the charcoal.
Tips on BBQ Flare-ups
Here's where it gets complicated - you need to think ahead. Some people keep a water sprayer by the side of the barbie in case of flare-ups. This is all well and good and is a good idea for a last resort but as soon as you spray water on those coals a nice puff of ash will rise up all over your food - not such a great idea unless you like that authentic cremated taste! Instead you should think about which foods are going to cause flare-ups and make sure they have enough room to rotate those around the BBQ so the flames die down quickly. Here are a couple of tips; try oiling the grill instead of the food and make sure there is no excess - it is quite difficult to master but if you get it right you shouldn't get any drips causing flare-ups but your food won't stick, or if you are cooking something fatty put it on a bit of tin foil to start of with to catch the oil/ fat then discard the foil and fat when you want to put your food directly on the heat to finish it off.
BBQ Recipe Tips
One of the benefits of using a kettle barbeque is the lid. With a good lot of coals burning well we can put the lid on the barbie and use it like an oven. This is really liberating when thinking of recipes - everyone can cook sausages and burgers but have you ever tried monkfish kebabs with butternut squash and asparagus? Tinfoil, a lid for your barbeque and a little imagination can give you some really diverse barbequed menus. It doesn't all have to be meat either, there are plenty of vegetarian BBQ dishes out there
Monkfish is one of the few fish that barbeques really well - it is just meaty enough to hold together well. We got a great recipe from Jamie Oliver - Monkfish kebabs on rosemary skewers with ciabatta and pancetta, beautiful! Salmon and tuna also go really well on the BBQ, but otherwise you would probably need to look at whole fish (possibly in foil!) like sea bass or trout if you want to cook fish on your BBQ.
There are some vegetables that go really well on the barbeque too. Try par boiling baby new potatoes then making a bag out of some tin foil add olive oil, seasoning and some fresh rosemary and pop them on the BBQ. You can use the same technique for most veggies but if you are cooking asparagus like that try to make sure to keep them flat so they all cook evenly. Sweet potatoes you can just rinse off and chuck on whole wrapped in foil. Butternut squash you will need to quarter and scoop out the seeds then wrap in foil. Timing these veggies is really quite difficult; as it will depend on the size of the veg and the temperature of the barbeque but I would say as a rule of thumb they will take about the same time as they would in an oven. Oh yeah, just remembered a tip for corn on the cob - buy it and barbeque it with the husks on. Then when it is about done use some oven gloves and pull the husks off - you will probably need a pair of scissors to make sure you have them completely off otherwise they will catch light.
If you can always choose organic meat as the flavour and texture is far superiour!
Ok so everyone surely knows to cook chicken in the oven first to make sure it is cooked through. As an alternative you could try taking the chicken off the bone laying it on a chopping board, covering it with cling film and bashing it (either with a meat mallet or a rolling pin) until it is about half a cm thick all over. It is important to make it the same thickness all over so it cooks at the same speed throughout. Crush a clove of garlic and mix with a teaspoon of paprika, a teaspoon of grainy mustard and a teaspoon of honey. Smother this mix over both sides of the chicken - but not so much that it drips - and chuck it straight on the barbie (alternatively you could pan fry this recipe). With the chicken so thin it will cook quickly and safely. You can make a sauce using the remainder of the paprika/mustard mixture - just heat it gently in a pan with either some plain Greek yoghurt or some double cream. Absolutely lovely and dead simple.
Steak is one of the best cuts of meat to barbeque, or you can even try some venison. It is kinda difficult to go wrong with steak but a common mistake is to turn it too often. Ideally you should only turn the steak once in my book. I like my steak nice and simple - scored on one side with some ground black pepper and brushed with olive oil to stop it sticking. And that's it just throw it on and leave it. Otherwise beef is pretty good for kebabs (if you are using wooden skewers remember to soak them thoroughly in cold water so they don't catch light).
This weekend we have a few friends coming over for a BBQ and I am planning to do this pork chop recipe:- garlic cloves crushed, mixed with some grated stem ginger, some ground cumin, ground coriander seeds and chilli powder with just enough sesame oil and dark soy to make it all sticky and gooey. Then I'm going to brush this onto the pork chops and throw them on the BBQ. Oh, one other thing though - I'm not going to throw the chops straight on - I'm going to hold them over the barbeque with tongs with the fat down so it crisps up nicely like instant crackling!
For the easiest bean salad go get some cans of mixed beans from the supermarket (we like Tesco's bean salad, but Sainsbury's mixed pulses will do) rinse them thoroughly and mix them with some canned sweetcorn, chopped spring onions and red peppers and a jar of salsa. This will go beautifully with heaps of barbequed meats.
Our friend Dan made the best ever potato salad - he added bacon! Genius!! And then we went one better by mixing a teaspoon of horseradish in with the mayonnaise! As far as we can tell now, we make the best potato salad humanly imaginable!
Simple tip for green salads - use some fresh herbs. If we serve a green salad with lamb, for example, we will add some fresh mint leaves. Or sage leaves in a salad to be served with pork. Anyway, there's a few simple tips for you - hope they help and happy barbequing!
P.S once you have finished BBQ'ing dont forget to clean the BBQ for next time.
"very good ideas!"
"There is no q in barbecue."
"Not a bad site I took a few tips but what I found most interesting was the potato salad I will tell you why, I like a BBQ and we always have potato salad but I was talking to a chef once and he said I will let you into a secret about cooking and this is what he said that I have never forgotten and a trick that has never let me down with any meal. What he said was if you are eating anything soft you will always remember the crunchy bits and this how he explained and its true if you have a Carbonara meal with crispy bacon in you will remember it the soft texture of spaghetti and the crunch, if you have a traditional English Sunday lunch with pork you will remember the crackling or the crunchy edge on the Yorkshire pudding, if you eat soup you may remember the crunchy croutons. The whole point is a meal is not just about taste and looks and smell, texture in the mouth plays a very big part that is often missed now if you have seen this you should be thinking yeh like cheese cake with the crunchy base and chocolate crisp on an ice cream you can go on and on so back to the Potato Salad hear is my lazy potato salad Open a tin of new potatoes drain/cut them up into reasonable gob sizes and pat dry with paper towel get the veg out of the fridge as you should always keep it there as long as possible to keep the crunch cut some onion up (my now not so good as it could be attempt at adding crunch) throw it in a bowl with the potato with a hand full of drained sweet corn and fresh peas shovel some mayonnaise on top and a dash of Paprika mix it in and enjoy just tell everyone it takes ages to prepare they will appreciate it even more with a vision of you flogging yourself for there plesure. But it will not be as good as added chopped up crispy bacon I can taste it now thanks "
"thanks for the tip about soaking the skewers. I am going to have a go at putting par cooked butternut squash on skewers as part of a veg kebab; suppose this is OK"
"Cracking site - much easier for me to prepare now for the first bbq of the year at our house - one thing you didn't tell us is the recipe for the potato salad ! I love the stuff so please - let us in on the secret ! "
"Hi, just about to buy a kettle bbq and discovered your site. Very good, just a few good tips and some great cooking ideas. Thank you for being bothered."