My tips for the BBQ.. Choose the right Barbecue
Barbecues come in many different shapes and sizes and you need to ensure you choose the right barbecue for the type of grilling you want to do.
First you need to decide what kind of space you have available to grill in, what kinds of foods you intend to grill and what level of effort you want to go to.
The most important thing is to choose a sturdy barbecue which is the right size for the area you will grill in; and also that is able to cater for the number of people you want to cook for. For example a 30cm barbecue will not cater for a crowd of 20.
There is a choice of fuels to be had: charcoal or briquettes are ideal for giving that char-grilled flavour to your food but they take a bit of skill to get lit and to maintain a constant temperature - plus there is the smoke aspect and you need to consider your neighbours on this one.
Gas will give you heat at the touch of a button, but gas grills are generally more expensive; also the lava stones in a gas grill that are used to uniformly distribute the heat can become coated with dripping fat leading to flare-ups although the more expensive gas grills come with a drain to help prevent this.
If you are going to use charcoal, I would recommend briquettes over regular charcoal. These burn more slowly and more evenly and are far less a hit and miss affair.
Personally I favour the Weber dome-lidded barbecues as these are extremely reliable, and the dome lid allows you to turn the barbecue into a sort of oven for indirect grilling of which more later. The key to a successful barbecue?
This can be summarised with one word: preparation.
Before even lighting your barbecue, make sure you have all the foods you want to cook properly prepared, marinated and defrosted etc.
Once you are standing at your barbecue cooking, you must not leave it unattended as to do otherwise will result in burnt offerings for your guests. Remember safety and hygiene
The last thing you want is a visit from the Feuerwehr or your guests getting food poisoning. And for this you need to follow some simple rules.
First, a barbecue is extremely hot when lit, so you need to establish a “safety exclusion zone” of about one metre where children and pets must be kept away. Never light your barbecue indoors, or under a shelter or garage where there is a potential fire risk. Never throw hot ashes in the bin. Never put lighter fuel onto a hot barbecue. Always wear flameproof mitts when handling any part of a hot barbecue.
You also need to follow the same food hygiene rules as you would in your kitchen. This includes washing your hands after handling raw poultry, sausages, meats etc. Keeping meats in a cool place before you are ready to cook them. Make sure all meats are thoroughly defrosted before cooking.
Use a different set of utensils for turning raw meat than you do for putting cooked meat on a plate. Boil any marinades if you are going to use them for basting. And if perishable food has been out for more than a couple of hours then consider discarding it. Vegetarian Grilling - Not just a load of old Quorn burgers
The barbecue is not just the preserve of the steak lover - there are so many delicious ways you can prepare vegetables on the grill.
For a start there is our old friend corn on the cob which is gradually coming into season. You can just put this directly on the grill, turning it every minute or so to stop it burning. Alternatively why not boil your corn ears in salted water for a few minutes and drain them then toss the corn in a tablespoon or so of runny honey before placing on the grill. This is really to die for.
Another favourite of mine is what I call Nick’s magic mushrooms
which are just open gilled mushrooms with a filling of grated cheese, garlic, paprika and greek yoghurt.
Vegetables like fennel, spring onions, baby carrots, red onions, courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes also cook extremely well if you toss them in a little olive oil, lemon juice, chilli and garlic beforehand.
Indeed you might also try making a sort of barbecued ratatouille salad
by grilling aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and onions; adding them to a bowl when cooked and tossing while still warm with a little balsamic, rucola, basil and crumbled feta.
New potatoes cook particularly well on the Barbie. I usually scrub them and boil them with their skins on for no more than five minutes; then toss them in olive oil and sea salt flakes before putting them on skewers onto the grill. This also makes a nice side dish for the meat eaters. Direct and Indirect Grilling
The direct method is what the Americans call “broiling” which is cooking food directly over the heat source and this is perhaps the more “classical” idea that people associate with barbecuing. This method is particularly good for steaks, burgers, sausages etc.
The Indirect Method is one thing you can do with a lidded barbecue. Similar to roasting, but with the added benefits of that grilled texture, flavour, and appearance you can’t get from an oven. Heat rises, reflects off the lid and inside surfaces of the grill, and slowly cooks the food evenly on all sides. This allows you to do stuff like roasts, fish, ribs and so on.
To grill indirectly you arrange the charcoal evenly on either side of the charcoal grate. A drip pan is then placed in the centre of the charcoal grate between the coals is useful to collect drippings that can be used for gravies and sauces.
My favourite with this method is a whole chicken with a quartered lemon and garlic cloves
in the cavity, and a marinade of lemon juice, garlic, pepper, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, coriander,cloves and allspice.
This is a quite nice way of having your Sunday roast without slaving over a hot stove.
(Originally published on bastronomy.com