Choose The Best Barbecue For your Home
The barbecue is A symbol of conviviality, a reminder of the hours passed relaxing with friends, the barbecue now comes in different forms, materials, and colors. Horizontal or vertical, charcoal or electrically-fired, fixed or portable, simple or very sophisticated, you now just have to choose from an ever-growing range available.
A little history
Cooking directly on flames is a very ancient, even primitive, technique. Used since man discovered that food could be cooked, by numerous ancient populations, it was however reintroduced to western civilization fairly recently. This reintroduction coincided with the discovery of the New World. It is only in the 1700s that the term “barbecue” took on its current sense.
These are the most popular and most convivial. Meant for outdoor use, they are inexpensive and use charcoal to fire them. Purists will prefer vine or tree branches to get a better taste. A decent handyman can easily build a fixed version with bricks, breeze blocks or millstones. Those of you who are allergic to manual work can acquire a ready-made kit. The size should be chosen according to the intended use, allowing you space to store wood and the necessary utensils for the various preparations.
Some models can even be converted into bread or pizza ovens! Mobile models with wheels are available. These are very practical and generally light and can be moved throughout the garden. The lesser-known Argentinian barbecue has a grill with little channels that allow the fat to pour into a gutter which recuperates it, thus avoiding the toxic fat-burning process.
The hearth, composed of a central grill or a collection of metal prongs that allow for good air circulation, is positioned vertically. Cooking is done on both sides on a spit or in grills. Often portable, these models propose healthier cooking as the fat is never in contact with the embers. Easy to assemble, they give out little smoke and they are lit very quickly. They are fired with charcoal or coconut fiber disks which provide an ideal ember temperature in only two minutes.
Also for outdoor use, gas barbecues are more expensive. Their big advantage is that they are easy to light. They are quickly ready for use and the ideal temperature can be set immediately.
Often used indoors and placed on the table, cooking is done with little heat on a grill. They let off fewer odors and almost no smoke when cooking.
Cooking on a Barbecue
The inconvenience of barbecue cooking is that the fat runs from the meat and bursts into flame on contact with the embers – this carbonizes the food. But as barbecuing is seasonal, the carbonization of food can be avoided. Use the highest notch for your grill, usually at least 10 cms. from the embers. Remove the fattest parts of your meat before cooking. Don’t eat the blackened parts.
Barbecue Cooking Tips
Don’t just stop at the usual sausages, burgers and chicken drumsticks – get more adventurous with our ideas for marinating, saucing and spicing up what you put on the barbecue.
Lots can be done in advance, so on the day, you’ll just need to light the barbie, prepare the salads and cook the meat. We’ve got ideas for salads, salsas, dips, and bread to serve with your barbecue, and if you’ve got room for anything else, we’ve got desserts that you can bring out after you’ve recovered and had a good laze in the sun…
If the term ‘barbecue’ conjures up images of burnt sausages and blackened burgers, the time has come to consider a whole new cooking experience. Let our handy tips for cooking and safety guide you to better barbecuing.
Is there a rule book somewhere that says barbecued food must be black on the outside and grey in the middle? You’d think so given the barbecue efforts of many of us.
Read our do’s and don’ts below for tasty barbecued food, and stay safe too with our helpful hints on avoiding any nasty bugs! Don’t forget the right equipment helps too, so check out our specially selected barbecue equipment range.
do use marinades
Marinating prior to barbecuing helps tenderize meat, imparts flavor, and helps keep meats and vegetables moist throughout the cooking process. Try our delicious recipe for barbecue marinade.
do keep an eye on the time
Barbecuing is all about lots of flames and quick-cooking right? Wrong! The ‘scorch-and-torch’ school of grilling is out. Cooking like this will produce the classic ‘charred on the outside, pink on the inside’ look.
For best results find out the correct cooking time for all foods – ideally, look in the instruction booklet supplied with your barbecue. Take note that it takes at least half an hour for the coals to reach the desired temperature; they should be a dusty white color and have a reddish glow. Cooking time depends on the cut of meat and whether you prefer rare, medium or well-done. In general the larger the cut, the longer you cook it. Use a timer for the best results.
And if you want to speed up the cooking process, food can be cooked in the oven or microwave, but it must be done immediately before barbecuing.
do experiment with cooking methods
Use your barbecue to its full potential – modern barbecues can grill, fry, roast, and bake. If you have a barbecue with a lid, leaving it on acts like an oven so you can cook whole fish and meat joints, and any other food that needs longer cooking at low temperatures.
There is a common misconception that food must be constantly prodded with various utensils in order to cook properly. But if you constantly pierce your steaks and chicken legs the juices will escape and you’ll end up with a tough piece of leather.
don’t flip out
If you’re cooking directly over hot coals, meat should only be turned once. If you’re cooking with a lid on – similar to oven-roasting – there’s no need to turn the meat at all.
don’t resort to tin foil
Using tin foil in an effort to reduce the washing-up is a bad idea – adding anything to a barbecue is a fire hazard, and sheets of tin foil flapping about will obstruct the airflow and interfere with the cooking process.
We have trouble believing that our barbecues can cook without our help. Despite the new modern barbecues with lids, most of us persistently peek at the food, which increases the length of cooking time and increases the risk of flare-ups as air fans the flames.
more common sense cooking tips choose a sheltered site that is level and away from fences, trees or anything else that could catch fire.
- Remember to light your charcoal barbecue about 45 minutes before you want to start cooking. For a gas barbecue, 10 minutes preheating is sufficient.
- Spread two layers of charcoal over the base and build a neat pyramid in the center.
- Never use petrol, methylated spirit, paraffin or white spirit to light the barbecue.
- Add barbecue gel or firelighters, but always be careful to follow the instructions on the pack.
- When the coals begin to glow red, spread them evenly over the base and leave to heat up for 30 minutes.
- Only start cooking when all the flames have died down and the coals are glowing red under a thin layer of grey ash.
- To prolong the cooking time, add fresh coals around the hot coals. Placing them on top will kill the heat.
- Remember to use long-handled wooden tools and thick oven gloves when you are cooking with skewers and kebabs.
- To test the heat, carefully hold your hand about 13cm (5″) above the coals. If you can keep it there for only 1-2 seconds, it’s a ‘hot’ fire; 3-5 seconds and it’s a ‘medium’ fire, while, 6-8 seconds denotes a ‘cool’ fire.
- Before barbecuing, brush the cooking grid with oil to prevent food from sticking to it.
- Control the heat for cooking by increasing or decreasing the distance the grid is from the coals – the closer it is, the higher the heat.
- Give your cooking a flavor boost with bundles of fresh herbs or whole cloves of garlic thrown onto the coals. Or use soaked aromatic wood chips – try apple or plum.
- Flare-ups (sudden flames that leap up at the food, blackening it and spoiling the flavor) can happen when fat, juices and marinades drip on to the fire. Keep a spray bottle of cold water handy to douse the flames.
- Clean up: food left stuck to the cooking grids is a health hazard and will affect the taste of your next meal. Let it burn off, then, wearing thick rubber gloves, and while the barbecue is slightly warm, clean the grid with a wire brush. If necessary, wash it with hot, soapy water and a scouring pad.
Table of Contents
- 1 Choose The Best Barbecue For your Home
- 1.1 Cooking on a Barbecue