Become The Barbeque King
Gas Or Charcoal
There’s no doubt that, if you can afford one, a gas-powered barbecue is quicker, easier and more reliable than a charcoal-powered one – but does pricier and more predictable necessarily mean better? Many grill-masters reckon not. Barbecuing over charcoal is the only way to get that authentic barbecued flavour. It adds a smoky note to the food that gas just can’t replicate, and the caramelisation of the food has a completely different flavour. Plus, there’s the satisfaction of cooking over a fire you created yourself and that evocative smell that can only mean summertime and good food.
In Fire Starters? No Lighter Fluid?
No problem (and anyway: lighter fluid and firelighters can seep into the flavour of your food). Andy Barr of ilovemybbq.com explains how to get those charcoals glowing without resorting to chemicals that could wind up scorching your eyebrows off.
1. “Take a piece of paper, and roll it across from the corner until you have a thin, cylindrical tube. Make three or four tubes, then fold along them so they’re zig-zagging.”
2. “Put a base layer of charcoal in your barbecue, creating a ‘well’ by adding a second layer around the edge. Place the zig-zaggy paper inside the well. Add a few coals on top.”
3. “Light the paper – the flames should be roaring in no time.”
Ditch The Cheap Coal
If you buy cheaply priced coal, it will produce so much smoke that you guests would start feeling suffocated, So try these eco-friendly coal coils that produce less smoke.
Smoking woodchips to add flavour to your food is true next-level barbecuing. Woodchips are placed into a smoker box (many fancy-arse barbecues have this built-in) to keep them away from flames – you want your chips to steadily expel smoke, rather than catch fire. To avoid chips catching the light, soak them in water – then dry them off – 15 minutes prior to use.
Bag o’ Chips
Smoking maple woodchips will give your food a nice, sweet twang. Other woods worth smoking out include mesquite, hickory, cherry and apple.
Pipe it in
Fill this metal tube with woodchips, place to the side of your barbecue (not over direct heat) and let the smoke infuse your food with deliciousness (and overwhelm your neighbours with fumes and jealousy).
The ‘50/50 method’ offers the best of both worlds: your meat is perfectly browned – with no burning – and thoroughly cooked-through. All it takes is a little bit of coal-shufflin’.
1. Pile your hot coals over to one side of the barbecue (if using a gas barbecue, simply turn off the flames on one side).
2. Brown your meat to perfection over the hot coals.
3. Move the meat over to the coal-free side of the grill, and place the lid on. The hot air will circulate, leaving your food cooked but un-scorched.
Marination or Devastation
Marinating your meat (ie. leaving it to soak in a seasoned liquid for anywhere between 10 minutes to overnight) is a must. Not only will a marinade add flavour to your chicken, beef, pork or fish, it’ll also make the flesh amazingly tender. Drooling down your chin yet?
Do the dry-rub
Not to be confused with the trousers-on teen pastime of dry-humping, a dry-rub is an alternative method of meat-flavouring to marinades. A dry-rub is a mixture of powders and spices (anything from paprika to brown sugar) that’s rubbed into meat prior to grilling.
Hot Enough For Ya?
Undercook your meat and you may need to spend the next 48 hours on a toilet. The UK Food Standards Agency advises that all meat – excluding rare steaks – should be cooked until the centre reaches 75°C. Reheated food should hit 82°C and should only ever be reheated once.
The Show-Stopper: Beer-Can Chicken
Looks so wrong, tastes so right. The beer soaks into the meat making it amazingly tender, while the yeast and malt turns the skin deliciously thin ’n’ crispy. Trust us: serve this up and you’ll be hailed as the all-time barbecue don.
1. Using a can opener, cut the top off a can of beer. Drink half the beer. Stuff the can up the chicken’s arse (don’t be shy, now).
2. Cook the chicken using an adaptation of the 50/50 method (tip #6): pile the coals either side of the chicken. A six pound chicken will take between two to three hours.
3. Once the chicken’s cooked, allow it to stand for 10 minutes before using tongs to remove the can. Then carve the meat up while salivating like an imbecile.
Look beyond those standard-issue chicken/pepper/onion kebabs – if you can slide it down a skewer, you can stick it on a barbie. Chris Whitmore, head chef at the Gordon Ramsay-owned Maze Grill, lines up eight game-changing, easy-to-achieve skewers.