The perfect barbecue has a handful of ingredients; top quality cuts of meat, friends and family, the correct equipment, such as a spit roast machine, refreshing beverages, and a fun relaxed vibe - yet people still get it wrong.
Below, you will find 10 tips that will ensure you don’t lose a burger down the grill or turn an award-winning sausage into a lump of charcoal. Read on and put our helpful tips to good use at your next barbecue extravaganza.
Get the fire started before your guests arrive
There’s nothing worse than turning up for a BBQ and having to wait around as the host fiddles with a box of matches trying to get the grill fired up. Get the coals glowing red before they arrive as the ideal coals for cooking are when they are white hot, and that takes roughly an hour. If you are good with time management you can even start grilling up a few appetisers as the smell of cooking meat over burning coals will have your guests salivating as they arrive!
Make sure you prepare EVERYTHING beforehand, and this includes all your food (marinating the meat should be done the day before), drinks, cutlery, plates and even music playlists. By getting everything ready as best you can in advance it will lend to a stress-free and fun atmosphere.
Organise your barbecue station
Make sure you have enough space to work efficiently. You can do this by working out how many grill loads you will be cooking and allocating foil trays to each group of meat as you cook. Have utensils clean and hooked on to your barbecue ready for you to use. Keep a couple of kitchen towels to hand for any spillages, or to simply wipe your forehead as you sizzle next to the grill!
Use the best ingredients you can
You can pick up 20 burgers for £5 at the local supermarket, but are they really going to taste any good? Spend as much as you can afford at your local butchers on good quality free range meat. Not only will you be helping local businesses but the difference in taste will be a talking point among your guests. The same applies for any vegetables you plan on cooking up as well, opt for produce that is local and in season and you’ll have veggies that even the most hard-core of carnivores will feast on.
Ensure your meat is room temperature
If you’ve bought your meat in advance or have had it in the fridge marinating overnight always ensure the meat has had time to warm up before placing it on the grill. By allowing your meat to come up to room temperature ensures that it’s cooked evenly. If you don’t you’re at risk of your meat being burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside.
Making sure the fire is the right temperature to start cooking
The best way to test the heat of your BBQ is with your hand. Hold your hand roughly 12cm above the grill and see how long you can hold it there comfortably.
6 seconds = low heat
4 seconds = medium heat
2 seconds = high heat
0 seconds = Do not put anything on there!
Test that the meats ready
A common sight at many barbecues is that someone cooks a big batch of chicken wings and drumsticks when they are served they’re still on the pink side. All meat should be checked to make sure it is thoroughly cooked. Grab a sharp knife and cut into the thickest part, usually the centre, ensuring that the juices are running clear and the meat is cooked.
Always allow your meat to rest
Good things come to those that wait and this is very true when it comes to meat. There’s no use to cooking a delicious, mouth-watering rack of sirloin if you’re just going to carve it up fresh off the grill. You need to allow time for the meat to reabsorb all the delicious cooking juices which will make the meat melt in your mouth. Usually a good guide to go with is to allow the meat to rest for as long as it took to cook it.
As sides make up two thirds of the meal you should have some tantalising tasty sides to accompany your meat. Read our guide on five great side dishes here.
Nothing will put a dampener on your al fresco party than a host with a negative vibe. If you don’t enjoy standing by the grill with a cold beer in hand talking shop as you painstakingly watch the crust develop on a T-bone than you shouldn’t be having a BBQ party and secondly, what’s wrong with you?