What’s not to love about gathering the gang in the garden for a good old barbecue? And with al fresco dining very much on the menu this summer, 2021 is the year to nail your barbecue technique.
Before we share some of the tips from The Treehouse team, we would like to settle one thing. We know that gas barbecues are attractive. They are clean and shiny, come up to temperature quickly, come with side burners and other fancy features. But, in our opinion, they will never ever replace the smoky goodness that a good old-fashioned charcoal or wood BBQ delivers.
Here are our tips and tricks to help you barbecue like a pro!
Start your prep the day before. If you are marinating steaks, chops, chicken breasts or anything else for that matter, time is everything. The longer you marinate it, the tastier it will be. Ideally marinate overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
Be careful about the oil you use in your marinades. Make sure you use a light olive oil or vegetable oil in marinades. Extra virgin olive oil will burn on contact with the grill making it hard for you to cook things through properly without scorching the outside.
Line the bottom of the barbecue with tin foil. You will thank us when it comes to cleaning it!
Don’t use firelighters or lighter fuel to get things going. If you do, it will alter the smoky taste you are looking for. Use newspaper or kindling wood instead.
Charcoal barbecues need time to heat up. Light up well before your guests arrive. You need to wait for the flames to die down and the embers to turn white before you start cooking.
Add some wood chips: Change the smoky flavour profile by adding wood chips. We love apple wood.
Don’t cook meat or fish straight from the fridge. Take meat out of the fridge 20 – 30 minutes before you plan to put it on the grill. Allowing it to come back up to room temperature will ensure a more even cook.
Oil the meat and not the grill. Oiling the grill creates instant smoke. Oil the meat instead using a high-heat oil such as vegetable oil.
Don’t forget to season. Season your meat before you place it on the grill.
Give bigger items a head start. We’ve all struggled to cook large chicken breasts, big thick steaks and even sausages on the barbecue. Give them a head start by part cooking them in the oven before transferring onto the barbecue for the last ten minutes of cooking. For the juiciest sausages ever, poach them in a pan of simmering water for ten minutes before placing on the grill. Investing in a meat thermometer is also really useful, especially when grilling chicken and pork. Knowing that the temperature is correct will give you the peace of mind that things are cooked through properly.
Don’t use up all of the grill. Give yourself some spare space to move things around if the barbecue flares up.
Rest your meat. Five or ten minutes of resting will make the world of difference to the flavour of beef, pork and lamb. Take it off the grill, cover with foil and let the juices do their thing.
Don’t forget the sides. The sides are just as important as the food you cook on the grill. Potato salad, corn on the cob, caramelised onions, grilled vegetables, baked potatoes, salad greens, couscous salad, coleslaw…whatever takes your fancy.
Grill your burger rolls. A minute or two on the grill will transform an everyday burger roll into a fabulous burger roll.
Pimp up your mayo. All you need is one large jar of good shop-bought mayonnaise and a bit of imagination. Add your favourite flavours to create your own custom-made house mayo. Our favourites include lemon zest and fresh black pepper, sriracha sauce, freshly crushed garlic and chopped parsley, and honey and mustard.
And finally….we’ve all used a disposable barbecue at some point while on a picnic or sitting with family and friends on the beach. If you happen to use one this summer, please make sure that you light and dispose of it responsibly and only use it outdoors. When you have finished cooking, make sure that the barbeque is fully extinguished by pouring plenty of water or sand onto it, allow it to cool and then take it home and dispose of it in the general waste bin. Also, never place it within reach of children or where someone might step on it by accident.
All we need now is the weather!