Food Club May 2017

Best Barbecue Tips for the summer

With the early clement weather we had in April (not so much now!), the aroma of barbecue smoke was already faint in the air, as we dusted off our trusty machines that had been gathering dust in the garage or on the patio. So we felt it was about time to get into gear and let you know some of our barbecue secrets, including some marinade recipes that will make your food zing.

The barbecue season tends to bring out the males of the species, who normally would need a satnav to find the kitchen! Most men seem to think they are specialists in the art, but more often is the case (we apologise for those that are good chefs on the barbecue!) that food can be cremated, or the opposite, undercooked! There is much more skill to cooking food this way than many people realise.

True barbecues are charcoal – many of us have invested in expensive gas ones, but not to worry – you just don’t get that wonderful ‘smoky’ taste, but some decent marinades will at least impart flavour into your cooking – otherwise you may just as well cook it in the oven. Make sure you use the lid of your barbecue to shut in the flavour and make sure the temperature is constant. That is the best and most important tip you will ever have.

If you are cooking on a charcoal barbecue, try to buy lumpwood charcoal, it will impart the best flavour and it’s natural. If you have never used them before, add wood chips, which come in a variety of flavours but the most common are hickory and oak, or for a bit of extra sweetness, you can try cherry and apple wood. Best tip – soak some of the chips in water – it gives a much better smoke!

Make sure that the flame has died down on the charcoal, and it is merely glowing nicely – many people make the mistake of cooking onto flame – the best and most even heat is pale grey and glowing.

Marinades

Ensure you marinade for as long as possible – a couple of hours is not really enough, so overnight or even longer in the fridge will provide the best flavour, particularly if you are using a gas barbecue. Make sure you have a good brush to re-coat your meat or fish with the marinade as it is cooking. It adds moisture, extra flavour and that lovely bit of caramelisation.

Think about what meats or fish you are using and what combination of marinades will complement the ingredients most. Here are some of our suggestions.

Chicken

Where you can, incorporate some fruit and spices into cooking chicken, as it can be fairly bland. In this marinade, we use our famous ‘verjuice’ as opposed to white wine (keep that to drink!)

Mix together 2tbsp olive oil, 75ml water, as much garlic as you can tolerate (!) juice of 1 lime, 125ml verjuice, and a combination of dried mixed herbs such as oregano, thyme and coriander, with a touch of onion powder. Add a medium sized mango, peeled and diced. Thoroughly combine for a delicious marinade, then pour ¾ of it over your chicken breasts. For sweetness add honey to taste, or for spice, try sweet chilli sauce (to taste) and still get that slight sugary taste to improve caramlisation. Cover and leave in the fridge for as long as possible. Reserve remaining marinade for brushing.

Steaks

Steaks benefit from more acidic marinades. Mix together equal portions (about 125mls) of Worcestershire Sauce, red wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce. Add approximately 2tsp minced or finely chopped garlic, 2tsp dried parsley, 2tsp Dijon mustard, and a good grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Alternatively use something like a Schwartz steak seasoning to replace the salt and pepper. Mix well, reserve some for brushing and marinate the steaks in the remainder for at least overnight. To add some sweetness, you could use pomegranate molasses for an unusual sweeter taste.Remember to gently ‘bash’ your steaks to relax the muscles to make them more tender.

Make sure you are equipped with tools

Barbecues have a life of their own, so certain tools are essential, particularly when you lose something down the side or through the grill (sausage and burgers tend to be the offending culprits). Arm yourself with tongs with long handles to prevent burning yourself, a thick oven glove, a ‘slice’ or metal spatula for flipping and a fish clamp if you want to grill large pieces or a whole fish. You are ready to BBQ!

Have plenty of skewers at hand if you decide to go the kebab route. Metal is obviously good, but if you use bamboo, always soak in water to prevent burning.

That’s it folks! If you need any more help, always feel free to contact us! Happy grilling and have a great summer outdoors.

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