Pumpkins and early evening sunsets illuminating the skies with bursts of turquoise and pink. It can only be autumn holidays in England;
British summers may be a bit of a running joke in terms of the weather, but we Brits certainly know how to make the most of whatever sunny days we are blessed with, and our love of a good barbecue is a prime example.
CLEAN AND OIL THE BBQ
Before and after every session, you should clean and oil your grill. Get it nice and hot to burn off any crud, then, using tongs, rub over with a kitchen towel dipped in a light cooking oil. This keeps your grill hygienic as well as helping prevent food from sticking to the bars.
GET IN THE ZONE
Set up your BBQ so you have two cooking zones, one directly over the flames for searing, the other cooler to allow the meat to cook through indirectly. You can cook anything from sausages and burgers through to whole joints of meat this way. With a charcoal grill, just pile your coals to one side. With a gas grill, keep the burners medium-high on one side and low-off on the other.
True BBQ takes time and patience. The meat is done when it’s done – don’t try to rush things. When grilling, learn to control your fire and keep the heat consistent. Keep a spritz bottle full of water handy and douse flames that start getting out of hand.
And definitely don’t squeeze. Once you’ve put the meat on the grill, just leave it. You should only turn once or twice through cooking. Squashing burgers and steaks down on the grill just squeezes out all the lovely the juice and causes flare-ups.
LEAVE SAUCES ‘TIL THE END
BBQ sauces and glazes have a high sugar content that will burn very quickly and go bitter. Cook your meat through and then glaze/sauce towards the end and allow to go sticky over indirect heat.
BUY A THERMOMETER
Overcooking is as sinful as undercooking. Invest in a good instant read thermometer – so you know the exact temperature of the meat – and take away the guesswork. You’ll always know the chicken is cooked through and you’ll be able to serve up the perfect medium-rare steak.
SMOKE IT OUT
Smoke is a seasoning so learn to add subtle smoke flavour to your food. Wrap woodchips up in a couple of layers of thick foil and pierce a few times before throwing onto the grill over the gas burners. With a charcoal BBQ, just throw the chips straight onto the coals and close the lid. Our favourite woods to smoke with are cherry, pecan and hickory.
GIVE IT A RUB
Meat, and meat alternatives benefit from a generous seasoning prior to cooking. This base rub will work well particularly on pork, quorn or chicken. Use this is a starting point to develop your own, according to the flavours you enjoy.
1tbsp celery salt or garlic powder
2tbsp white sugar
22 tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp chilli powder
2tbsp black pepper
1tbsp cayenne pepper or chipotle
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and store in an air tight container.
Finally what better to serve BBQ food than a delicious salad, see this recipe below..
- 1 kg Jersey Royals
- 2 bunches of fresh mint
- 1 red onion
- 200 g cornichon
- 250 ml red wine vinegar
- olive oil
Scrub the potatoes, pick and finely chop the mint, reserving the stalks, then peel and thinly slice the onion. Slice the cornichons into strips.
Cook the Jersey Royals and mint stalks in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and leave to cool in the colander (for the best flavour, avoid cooling the potatoes by rinsing in cold water).
While potatoes are cooling, place the onion in a bowl, pour over the red wine vinegar and leave to marinate.
Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, crush them slightly with your hands into a large salad bowl, drain and add the onions along with the cornichons and mint. Season, add a splash of oil and serve.