Few things are as enjoyable as a good old fashioned summer barbecue. There’s something about cooking over coals and heat that makes food just taste better. That is, providing you can avoid producing cinders and ashes on the grill.
See, contrary to what our fathers thought, there is an art and science to performing a good barbecue. One which is somewhat more advanced than “shove a sausage into a roaring flame and then wonder why it’s black on the outside but pink in the middle”. Entire books have been written on the topic and recipes are shared freely online, but if you want to really make the best of your BBQ time, here’s a few things to get you started:
1) Flame Grilled Is not Best
Probably the number one crime at any BBQ is the over eager would-be grill master or mistress cooking while flames still burn from the drum. The key to proper cooking is to wait until the flames have gone down so that the heat from the coals cooks whatever it is you put on the Barbecue. Direct flame will simply scorch the surface of your meat, ensuring that the inside remains uncooked while the outside is frazzled and black.
This means that patience is required when cooking over coals. Alternatively if you want to be a bit quick, consider using a gas BBQ which generally avoids this particular problem.
2) Thickness Matters
The thicker your piece of meat the longer it will take to cook. This may sound obvious and that’s because it is. However the lesson to take away is that proper management of your cooking area is essential when working the BBQ. Chicken legs take much longer to cook than hamburgers, which means that it is far wiser to start cooking them early if you want your BBQ to be a success. Alternatively, consider filleting down thick pieces of meat so they cook faster.
3) Safety First!
When working with a Barbecue, don’t forget that you’re basically working with fire. Fire is not fussy about what it burns. Coal, wood, houses… it’s hardly choosy.
Taking proper precautions is essential. Have the means to put out a fire quickly if the BBQ gets out of control. Store fire starters and flammable liquids safely and away from the BBQ in action. Wear an apron and use proper tongs and other tools when moving things around the grill. You’ll probably still manage to get burned – it’s a right of passage for BBQ chefs – but you can avoid the worst of it.
4) Pick your Meats with Health in Mind
BBQ’s are a bit of a party thing it’s true, but that’s no reason to completely abandon one's diet plans. Choosing lower fat cuts of real meat can go a long way to keeping your BBQ and eating plans in harmony. While the urban legend of them being made with scraps from the factory floor is probably not true, it’s a sad fact that most hamburgers and sausages are typically made with less than ideal cuts of meat. Consider instead eating steaks and fillets rather than factory produced meat products.
5) Don’t Forget the Veg!
Despite having something of a reputation as something of a festival for carnivores, it’s not just meat that can be cooked on a BBQ. Vegetables grilled can be very tasty and are an excellent way to bring some other needed nutrients into a meal. Consider making skewers of meat mixed with chunks of vegetable. And what sort of BBQ neglects corn on the cob?
Have a tip for a better BBQ? Let us know in the comments!