There’s an in joke between me and my mates.
I will BBQ anywhere at any time.
It all started in Spain on an end of school trip to a friend’s villa in Spain. We had the weather and the equipment. BBQ’s were a norm for lunch or dinner. The comments started to come when I started cooking breakfast on it. Then lunch, then dinner. It literally was, BBQ at anytime.
I’ve always wanted to be able to BBQ well. There is cooking on a BBQ and then there is BBQ’ing. It can be so much more than just heating up some food. I think as Brits we are pretty amateur when it comes to BBQ. Using it as just another heat source but in recent years it has become more and more popular and Smokehouses are becoming more popular on the high street.
When I started to research and learn about BBQ I got lost in all of the information there is out there and loved learning about it all, frustrated that I couldn’t do any of it for lack of suitable BBQ, garden space and the ever elusive clear British summer’s day.
Nevertheless, I was gripped to find out more and realised that I was not a fool for wanting to cook everything on a BBQ after all.
Beginners Guide to BBQ
Here is some real basics to BBQ to kick off what we hopefully be a series on BBQ and cooking in general now I have a new house and finally a garden to actually BBQ in!
This most common way of cooking on BBQ. When you have a standard coal BBQ and you place your food on a grill directly over the coals so they receive direct radiated heat. This is the hottest part of a coal BBQ and will lead to the quickest way of cooking, charring but also burning.
When you move the hot coals to one side and put your food on the opposite side. It usually helps if you have a BBQ with a hood but this is indirect heat. It lets you cook “low and slow” or help maintain heat once something is near done. This is the same method used to smoke.
Sometimes a recipe or food calls for ultimate direct heat – putting the food directly on or surrounded by the coals. No metal grill, no rack or skewers held above. Think of prawns, a well marinated shell-on prawn thrown directly on coals cooks quickly, seals in the marinade and gives and awesome taste. Cooking bell peppers this way too and peeling off the the black skin is also a cool technique. Food wrapped in foil, like baked potatoes or bananas are best this way too.
For gas BBQ’s. You lose the smokey taste with gas but it does give you a quick way to BBQ and have a constant controllable heat. I used to knock gas BBQ’s until I owned one and then I started using it much more as it was so easy. For the full and proper experience I would still only use coals but for convenience, gas is great and opens up most of BBQ too.
The “Daddy” of BBQ. Smoking involves having an off-coal setup where either you push the coals off to one side and have the lid on or have a dedicated smoker. A smoker has a section for the hot coals that is away from the cooking area. It also has a section where you can adds wood chips for better smokey taste. This is the ultimate “low and slow” method and makes meat in particular, tender, impeccably cooked and able to soak in all the flavour of the smoke and marinades. More on smoking in another post soon.
This is where you cook your food either above the heat source (grilling) or below (broiling – US only). Standard BBQ is basically grilling and putting a dish under the grill in an oven is broiling.
Spit refers to the large skewer that meat or veg is placed on while cooking. Spit roast lamb at a South African friends 21st bday party is the best spit roast I have ever had. Potentially the best lamb I’ve ever had. I really like rotisserie chicken and hog roasts. Each of which are a type of spit roast. The spit should be continuously rotated to allow the juices to move around the meat and keep it really tender while ensuring an even cook. For lack of rack equipment, holding a spit as simple as a bamboo skewer or stick over an open fire, will get you a good meal. Though my favourite spit roast is Spit Roast Marshmallow ;-)
That’s a quick beginners guide to BBQ and the most common terms relating to ways of BBQ’ing.
Just the start
But that’s less than half of it, maybe only 20%.
The next post will be on the Prep. Prep is just as if not more important than how you BBQ because the flavours you infuse and what you put on the BBQ is going to be the majority of what you taste.