Looking to be a master of the barbeque this summer? Just remember these simple tips and tricks the next time you fire up the barbeque, and you’ll be well on your way to grilled perfection!
Barbequing can be tricky at the best of times, throw in the lovely Irish weather and often you’re left wondering why you even bothered. We can’t stop the rain, but we can give you some helpful hints for a stress-free barbequing experience.
Gas or Charcoal?
Let’s start with your flame. If you’re looking to give the food that smokey, grilled, charcoal flavour you’ll need to barbecue on coals. To get more of a distinct flavour, you can also use different types of wood chips with a charcoal grill. Bear in mind, charcoal barbeques can be a little more difficult in regulating temperature or keeping the flame, but for that authentic smokey taste it’s worth the extra effort.
That’s not to say gas barbeques aren’t great, the ease of lighting and temperature regulating is something that many people wouldn’t go without.
Top tip: Use an empty egg carton packed with coals for your own DIY firelighter. Check out this blog for more DIY firelighter ideas.
Clean when Hot
Ensure your barbeque is clean before you start cooking, this helps food cook evenly and prevents sticking. The easiest way to clean a grill is when it’s hot, so once it’s fired up simply brush the grate with a wire brush. You can also oil the grate with a little cooking oil for extra protection against sticking.
Top tip: If you don’t have a wire brush a scrunched-up ball of tinfoil will work just as well, use tongs to scrape the foil against the grate for a quick and easy clean.
Tools at the Ready
Having everything to hand when you begin cooking is essential. Leaving a BBQ to grab something might result in food overcooking so ensure you have everything you need to avoid any scorching mishaps. You’ll need a fork or tongs, and depending on what you’re making, skewers and a brush for sauces can be helpful as well.
Top tip: Instead of using just one skewer, opt for two to help prevent your meats and veggies from twirling around as you flip them.
Different foods usually require different levels of heat. To accommodate this, you can create heat zones. The more coals underneath the food, the hotter the temp so if wanting to cook slowly slide your food over to an area with fewer coals. Gas barbecues are conveniently adjustable to allow for this. Keeping the lid closed can also help with regulating temperature as air feeds the flame. If you’re new to barbecuing, here is an interactive beginner griller course that might help.
Top tip: If your flame is getting a little out of hand a drizzle of beer can calm the flame and also add additional flavour to your meat, win-win!
A burger naturally cooks more quickly on the edges. This can sometimes leave your center nice and moist but your edges dry. Here are two tips to ensure a perfectly cooked burger throughout.
- Make the center of your burger slightly thinner to ensure even cooking
- Or simply stuff your burger with a few small knobs of butter. As it cooks, the butter will melt and distribute much-needed moisture for a juicy, succulent burger.
Top tip: Seasoning any cut of meat an hour beforehand ensures the most flavourful end result. Pat dry before seasoning to ensure you get those beautiful grill marks.
Use a Thermometer
For thicker cuts, allow your meat to come to room temperature before you grill it in order to ensure even cooking.
Keep a thermometer handy to check the internal temperature of your meat, and make sure to let your steak rest once it’s finished cooking. Hold it in a warm spot and allow it to sit for a couple minutes before slicing to prevent moisture loss.
Don’t Forget the Veggies
We all love our grilled meats but there’s so much you can do with veggies on the barbeque. Did you know you can even grill lettuce? Try cutting a head of crisp lettuce, like romaine, in half. Brush it with oil and quickly grill it, cut-side down.
Or how about some barbequed salsa! Halve tomatoes, bell peppers, avocados, and onions and grill cut-side down. When cooked, remove from the grill, finely chop, and toss them all together with a squeeze of lime juice and a bunch of fresh coriander. Delish!
Safety comes first!
Here is a short checklist to ensure food stays safe to consume throughout the cooking process:
- Wash your hands before and after. It might sound obvious, but a 20-second wash with hot water before and after you handle your food is essential.
- Keep raw and ready to eat foods separate. Ready to eat foods such as salads, sauces etc. should always be kept away from uncooked meats as it could potentially contaminate the ready to eat food. Also, make sure to use different chopping boards/utensils for cooked and raw foods, and always ensure to wash your hands after handling raw foods.
- Ensure your foods is cooked thoroughly. Some harmful bacteria present in raw food like E-Coli and Salmonella can cause food poisoning and are killed by cooking. So, make sure your food is cooked all the way through before consuming. Burgers should always be cooked all the way through, and never eaten rare. Top tip: Check your meat by slicing a fork or knife into the thickest part of the meat. If it has any pink colouring then it needs to be cooked for longer.
- Serve immediately after cooking. Some harmful bacteria can grow on the cooked foods if left at room temperature. That’s why it’s essential to serve immediately or refrigerate and consume within 2 days.
- Food should always be covered. Flies can contaminate cooked foods, so it’s important to always keep food covered.
If you fancy making the BBQ process easier and tastier we have just the thing. Why not try our Middle Eastern Mixed Grill with spiced chicken skewers, kofta and za’atar halloumi, which are absolutely perfect for throwing on the barbecue.
These come complete with hummus, mint yoghurt and pomegranate couscous salad for a delicious BBQ meal in the sun!