Barbecues and I have a long history – we go way back. Summers in my childhood were spent at the beach and the lunchtime beach barbie was the high point of the day. It’s a bit of a cliché that flipping burgers on a barbecue is the only time a lot of men ever attempt to do anything culinary. I think the appeal for a lot of men is the primeval nature of cooking in the open air – even if though we don’t kill the beast ourselves these days before roasting it over an open fire. So it will come as no surprise that I’m the one very much in charge when it comes to outdoor cooking in our household. It suits my wife just fine though – she’s happy to chill out in our portable hot tub with a glass of vino while I get on with it.
Anyway here are my top five barbecue tips, from a lifetime of barbecuing. And I think they’re great – hope you agree.
- Don’t just stack your coals in an even layer. Make them slope from one side of the barbecue to the other. That way you can place things that need a slower heat over the lower end and things that need to be cooked quickly over a high heat, like steak, at the other end.
- When the coals become grey throw on a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme so that they can infuse your cooking.
- When your barbecue first gets going the flames will be too hot for meat but they will be great for blistering vegetables like peppers and aubergines.
- Don’t turn meat over using a knife or other sharp instrument as you don’t want to pierce the flesh and let the juices out. It’s far better to turn meat carefully with tongs.
- When cooking fish, lightly oil the skin so that it doesn’t stick to the grill. Leave it to cook for several minutes before you turn it so that the skin can get nice and charred.
Just a couple of other things to bear in mind. Don’t go overboard on the number of different things you want to cook. It is far better to decide on one or two recipes and cook them really well than to attempt to cook anything and everything from sausages to burgers to chicken to kebabs – you get my drift. And when you do decide on a barbecue recipe or two only look on it as a guide. I think one of the joys of barbecuing is the fact that it is a freer way of cooking so don’t get bogged down in the detail – adapt ingredients as you see fit and just use your instinct. Early man didn’t have a cookbook to hand.