Achieve great results with a little preparation
I’ve cooked on many outdoor grills and barbecues, and can safely say that delicious though burgers and sausages are, there are so many other cooking options to try. Have fun and experiment, but I hope you find these practical tips useful too.
1. Get yourself a mini preparation table to sit alongside your barbecue - somewhere you can slice meat and hold any utensils you may need. Your barbecue may have a side table but you’ll want to be away from the heat as you prep.
2. Have some hot soapy water with you and a clean towel within reach - it’s easy to get dirty hands when cooking, and you don’t want any of it getting on to your food.
3. Use a barbecue with a lid/hood wherever possible – it helps to cook your food better, giving it the great barbecue taste but keeping it moist inside.
After all – you wouldn’t cook with the oven door open would you?
4. Always try and use your local farm shop, butcher or fresh meat counter at your local Waitrose for your meat if possible – they’ll give you a much better range of cuts to try something different, rather than just picking up pre-packed meat.
5. Try to use small cuts of meat when possible – they’ll cook more evenly, and are less likely to burn
6. Pre-butterfly chicken breasts- they cook a lot quicker, remain moist and tender, and it’s easier to see if they’re properly cooked.
7. Try ‘Beer can chicken’ ; take a small whole chicken and remove any giblets. Open a can of beer or lager, and drink or dispose of about a third of the liquid. Insert the beer can into the cavity (open end up) and place the base of the can on to the barbecue grill. (If you remember the turkey scene in Friends, you’ll have an idea of what it looks like!) The steam generated by the beer being heated penetrates the chicken and makes it very moist. It’ll take up to about an hour to cook to perfection.
8. For fish, wrap it in greaseproof paper, and then tin foil – place it on the barbecue to steam, and then finish it directly on the grill just to give it some colour when it’s more or less cooked, and that way it won’t dry out.
9. If you’re using a sweet marinade, they’re prone to burning, so try and brush it on at the last minute to ensure you keep the taste without the charred bits.
10. Always pre-season, and brush vegetables with olive oil - this will give you a better flavour and more even cooking. Try asparagus spears or butternut squash as well as the usual sweetcorn and peppers – delicious!