Barbecue Secrets - The Master Guide to Extraordinary


When you see the sun come out from behind the clouds, it’s time… for the Great British BBQ!

We Brits love this summer tradition, come rain or shine, food always tastes better outdoors but let’s be honest, we don’t have a great reputation for throwing the best barbies…the Aussies, Mexicans and Americans think we’re a bit below par when it comes to grilling meat…some would say that even when a British barbie seems to go right, it's wrong! The thing about barbecuing is that it's a different kind of cooking altogether, it’s not just cooking outside. The great news is you don’t need a top of the range barbecue to be the best chef in town, any cooker heats food, and just because a chicken wing comes off a £200 griddle doesn’t mean it tastes better than off a £30 one.

What really matters in barbecuing is that it’s the smoke that flavours the food… your set up can be as simple as a bit of chicken wire suspended over a few bricks, (which is how most meat gets grilled around the world, from the shashliks of Mongolia to the yakitori of Japan) what really matters is a little technique, and a bit of concentration before you kick back and crack open the beers…So…get fired up and show off your skills with these top tips and your barbecue will be so much more than a cremated sausage between a cold bap with a splat of ketchup :-)

For starters…

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a gas barbecue, a charcoal one will give you the extra smoky flavour which is what it’s all about. Even better if it has a lid, this means you can keep a constant temperature and lock in all the flavour.

Use the right fuel…

Fuel choice can make or break your BBQ and there are better options than a hastily grabbed bag of coals from outside a petrol station. Lumpwood charcoal is a great choice because it will give the best flavour and it’s natural. There is no need to fill your BBQ to the brim, one layer across the bottom of the pit is plenty to cook for 1-2 hours.

If you’re a bit of a pro, try adding wood chips to your charcoal and even a few sprigs of Rosemary will add extra flavour.

It’s all in the timing…

Slowly, slowly does it. Get it going at least 20 minutes before you’re ready to start cooking. You need to have the patience to wait for the flames to die down. You want the coals white hot – it's not ready until the smoke has cleared and white ash appears on the glowing charcoal. Cook slow and steady to avoid poisoning any guests and when it comes to bigger cuts of meat, slow cook in the oven first and finish off on the grill.

The heat is on…

Get the temperature bang on and you’ll be set for a great cooking experience. You can feel the depth of the heat by holding your hand about 5 inches above the grill and feeling the intensity, if a couple of seconds is almost unbearable that’s red, smoking hot, a few more bearable seconds is medium hot…a few more is a low heat. A good trick is to have an area where there are no coals so you have a mega hot section above the coals and an area without direct heat, and once food is cooked it can be moved to this area to avoid burnt offerings.

British Barbecue

Get some tools…

A good quality oven glove is a must along with a stylish apron and a decent pair of tongs as the absolute minimum. This will stop you damaging those valuable chef hands, ruining the outfit and losing sausages :-)

Rub it in…

Strong flavours are needed for a BBQ and that’s so they don’t get overpowered by the smokiness. Rubbing in a marinade will take care of the flavour and the tenderness of your meat – it’s the quickest route to mouth wateringly good food! You don’t need to buy expensive marinades, use a combination of oil, wine, herbs or garlic and rub cuts of meat and fish with this or ground spices and leave for a few hours, ideally overnight. During cooking, brush your meat or fish with the marinade every 10 minutes to trap in maximum flavour.

Make your own…

Homemade burgers are definitely better and will impress your guests. Buy mince with plenty of fat, add in simply salt and pepper and herbs and you’ll get juicy burgers that are ready for some delicious toppings.

A bit on the side…

Great British Condiments are an absolute requirement at every BBQ party. Whether you opt to go for your favourite iconic brands, make your own, or buy the supermarket own brand, decant them into small dishes or ramekins… Try our recipe for Homemade BBQ Sauce here>>


Don’t forget the veg…

Smoky fire does wonderful things to vegetables too, get a selection of your favourite vegetables, peppers, aubergine, radicchio, tomatoes, onions, corn, slice them thinly and grill straight away – no oil, no seasoning, aim to get lovely griddle marks on them and then season them when you've taken them off the BBQ, not before! 

Jacket potatoes are also a great addition to any BBQ. Boil them for 10mins, wrap in foil with 1tbs of butter sealing the edges and place on a hot BBQ for 20-30mins.

What do you call a group of men waiting for a haircut? A barbecue. 

Looking for BBQ gift ideas? Click here.

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