Top tips for the perfect BBQ
With a heat wave and National BBQ Week this week, there has never been a better time to stock up on some delicious BBQ food and fire up the coals. But it takes more than a bit of sunshine and an extra day off to make a BBQ a success.
Here expert butcher Gary England, from GourmetMeatClub.co.uk, shares his top tips – whether you’re a guest or the host – on how to achieve BBQ greatness.
Go homemade – friends and family will always appreciate the extra effort that has gone into making dishes for the BBQ. Whether that is marinating the chicken with some of your favourite herbs and spices or making the burgers by hand – it puts a unique spin on the BBQ offering and a chance to impress everyone with your cooking skills.
Accommodate everyone – remember, not everyone eats meat, or there may be other specific dietary requirements. So make sure you’ve checked with all guests ahead of time and there’s enough food options for them to enjoy. If needed make sure you keep special dishes to one side, so they don’t get mixed up with the regular options, and always check if food needs cooking on a separate part of the grill.
Plan for the best, prepare for the worse – even if the weather forecast is saying the sun is shining, you can never be too sure. Rain clouds can come at any moment, but that shouldn’t mean the party has to end. Make sure you always have a back-up plan – whether that’s a gazebo or shelter for guests to sit or enough room indoors in case the weather really takes a turn for the worse. And why not decorate indoor areas with a tiki theme – so that way, even if the rain is pouring it still feels like summer.
BYOB – whether that’s bottle, burger or bun, if you’re a guest, don’t turn up empty handed. BBQs are meant to be fun and relaxing, a chance to soak up the sunshine and enjoy good company, but for hosts it can mean hours of preparation and a hefty food bill. So always show your gratitude by turning up with either something for the BBQ, drinks or a gift for the host – or better yet all three. That way you’ll always be invited back!
Don’t forget the condiments – who doesn’t love tomato ketchup on their burgers, but what about brown sauce, or mustard, or a relish? An interesting condiment selection can be the making of a BBQ for any foodie guest, so give them plenty of options of what to put on their bangers. If you were really fancy, you might even want to give guests the option of selecting from different types of wood for smoking meat, such as oak, cherry wood and hickory.
Keep it varied – when we asked 2,000 Brits what their favourite BBQ dish was, quality burgers (34 per cent) and sausages (20 per cent) came out on top. But that doesn’t mean that’s all you should offer. With BBQ weather happening so infrequently make the most of it and get adventurous. Nearly one in 10 in our survey favoured chicken kebabs (eight per cent) and steak (eight per cent), while one in 20 would opt for lamb, so give your guests plenty of variety.
Stay safe – cooking on a BBQ is known for being difficult; often food can look burnt when in fact it is still raw in the middle. For the sake of you and your guests, make sure food is cooked properly before serving. If you’re using coals always make sure the flames have died down so not to burn the outside and be sure to move meat around the grill, as it can be difficult to regulate a consistent heat. If you’re still not sure why not use a meat thermometer to check the temperature on the inside – it’s better to be safe than sorry.