The sun is out, the outdoor TV is programmed for a stunning line-up of entertainment, that can only mean one thing: it’s barbecue season.
Cooking up a good BBQ seems easy, just throw the meat on, turn it and serve. Only it doesn’t always turn out as tasty as you’d like. Getting that balance between crispy and pinkish is important, especially since you don’t want to send your friends and family home with food poisoning.
The reason behind all those poor cooking attempts is simple, real barbeque ability is not as slap-dash as it looks. Cooking on a BBQ takes serious commitment and concentration. Put a beer in our hand and a couple of close calls in a game and your sausages are done for.
BUT, if you learn some simple and easy to master barbecuing steps you can get a perfect feed every time that will leave your guests raving, and craving for more.
Buy a quality BBQ
The best barbeques offer you a range of options for flavour, like a charcoal grill section and a closable lid. This way you can actually taste the cooking while also locking in the flavour. A closed lid will also help regulate temperature and provide a wide range of cooking variations.
Wait for flames to die down before adding meat or sides. The right time to cook is when the coals are glowing white hot, this gives you the most concentrated heat that will be applied evenly to your food. Flames look hot but they only really give you an ashy crust.
Know if your temperature is right
This is a good one for campfire cooking as well. To know the temperature of your hotplate hold your hand about 12 cm above the plate at and see when you start to really notice the heat.
Low heat = 6 seconds
Medium heat = 4 seconds
High heat = 2 seconds
This will help you decide if you need to turn the heat up or down before you get to sizzling.
Using a grill with charcoal or split gas burners, set up one side on high heat and the other on medium or low so you can transfer cooked items across while others are sizzling and also sauté more delicate items on a lower heat.
Have your workstation prepped
Well before your guests arrive make sure you have everything you need on hand and available, that includes a full gas bottle, charcoal, oven mitt, oil, quality tongs and be sure to have a clean BBQ station.
Another really great preparation tip is to take your BBQ meat out of the fridge and have it at room temperature for ten minutes before you get cooking. If the flies are bad, keep the meat covered inside for this.
Expand your grill ingredients
One-upping is easy if you go for some variety. Red meat isn’t the only thing that goes great on a BBQ. Try heating pork ribs, whole fish (wrapped in foil and seasoned with herbs, butter and lemon slices), whole prawns, flat bread, corn on the cob, even watermelon goes great on the grill. At the same time don’t forget the BBQ favourites, without onion rings you might get some boycotts.
Get everyone to pitch in
You might be the BBQ king (or queen) but that doesn’t mean you need to think of everything. Get your guests to bring a side, nothing fancy just the standard BBQ fare; Coleslaw, potato salad, Greek style salad, the diced kabana and cheese plate or ask them to marinate some meat.
Use every drop of marinade
Make sure you marinade your meat for at least 24 hours. Stir the mix every now and again to keep everything evenly covered, that is especially essential for bony joints like pork ribs and chicken wings. When you remove the meat to cook you will notice a pool of marinade left in the container. Use a pastry brush (that is for BBQ use only) to spread the remaining paste or juice over the meat while it cooks, making sure you never use the raw juices just before serving.
There you go, perfect food for the perfect outdoor summer entertainment. Switch on and enjoy!