The ultimate BBQ guide by The Fat Food Club
Predicting the British weather is a tough one, buying meat from the butcher on one day and planning to eat it the next is always a gamble. However, on those occasions when a weekend (or weekday) forecasts sunshine and warm weather, a BBQ can be an excellent way to spend time cooking up great food. Here's your guide to all the components of a damn good BBQ:
First up, marinating is essential. It is easy, quick and ensures excellent flavours once the fight for garden chef is over and the food is finally served. First rule to a marinade is fridge storage. I like sealed bags (ones with a zip lock) as then the fridge is free from any marinating overspill. Olive oil works best. One final rule is time. 24 hours left in the fridge is best for most marinating, but 3 hours is fine if you are short on time.
Any red meat works well on a BBQ (checkout the Buffalo Meat Selection). To begin with, meat like the sirloin or rib eye steak are an excellent start to any grilled food. They taste great on their own, but will have heads turning at any garden get together if one or two more flavours can be added. A tablespoon of olive oil, crushed garlic and a small handful of woody herbs like rosemary and thyme usually compliment the meat really well. Wrapped in cling film or a zip lock bag and left in the fridge a day before, the results are excellent.
The steaks should be cooked on a hot charcoal BBQ and seasoned with salt before they hit the heat, the results of any novice garden chef will certainly not be questioned. Here is the point, true BBQs need charcoal. Gas fire is easy, less hassle and easier to manage. A summers day playing with fire lighters and the anticipation of will it, wont it makes firing up a BBQ more rewarding. The end result, the food cooked will have those charred ends and deep flavour of which only charcoal BBQs can give.
Chicken should be cooked the same way, only with a touch of caution. Rare and medium meat do not exist where chicken is concerned, and they really do need a constant heat for at least 25 minutes depending on what cut of chicken is being cooked. (It can be a sensible idea to cook at 220 in an oven for 25 minutes before finishing off on the BBQ – this will also free up space for other meats taking centre stage on the outdoor grill.)
The coals need to be low down as not to burn and making sure the juice runs clear is advice any seasoned summer time garden cook would swear by. Similarly, chicken too should not be left without a marinade. Light flavours work well here, a squeeze of half a lemon with chopped chilli and one crushed garlic clove rubbed into scored chicken thighs work excellent (based on 8). Sealed into a plastic bag and with a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander, these simple flavours work well together.
Chicken wings work the same way, breasts do too. Cut up the breasts; marinate these before finally sticking them on skewers. Alternatively, try marinating whole scored chicken breasts over night before wrapping them in parma ham or the sliced Cornish Coppa to lock in the flavours as they do their job on the fiery furnace.
Alternatively, an Asian twist on outdoor food takes the BBQ into a new direction. Take a couple of tuna steaks or a good handful of prawns. Try marinating these with sliced spring onions, a tablespoon of soy sauce, fish sauce and olive oil. Squeeze in half a lime, add a chopped garlic clove, red chilli and a heaped teaspoon of brown sugar. Finally season this oriental mix with a grind of pepper. Don’t be put off by the smell of fish sauce, the stuff is amazing and makes up the backbone of most south east Asian cooking. It also serves well as a way to marinate any kind of meat.
Last but not least - Salad & Wine!
Final point, a BBQ is not a BBQ without the usual salads, sauces and dips (try Lucy’s Dressings for some inspiration here) Prep these ahead before kicking back, sampling decent wines and enjoying that truly British outdoor food.
Check out more recipes from The Fat Food Club here!