With the summer upon us what better way to enjoy the weekend than with a BBQ? From succulent steaks to vegetable skewers, cooking outside can be a great way to spend time with the family and friends whilst enjoying some good food.
We understand that BBQ’s can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, so we have put together a BBQ Bible with the help of Squire’s Garden Centre to keep you safe and let you make the most of your outdoor cooking.
First things first: Away from the controls of a kitchen, cooking on an open fire outside can be dangerous if you don’t follow some rules of general safety:
- Ensure the barbecue is on a flat site, well away from a shed, trees or shrubs.
- Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.
- Never leave the barbecue unattended.
- Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies.
- Ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it.
If you haven’t already bought your BBQ, it is worth considering whether you want a charcoal or gas BBQ, because both follow different rules:
- Use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).
- Only use recognised fire lighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals – use the minimum necessary and never use petrol.
- Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin – they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.
- After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe work is used up.
- Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.
- Change cylinders outdoors if possible or in a well ventilated area.
Finally, it is also important to remember food hygiene. You may be outside but that doesn’t mean you need to eat like a cave man! Always put your cooked food on a clean plate or chopping board and never add marinate to cooked meat that was just used on raw meat.
Now you’ve mastered the safety basics, you’ll need to learn that the way you treat the food you cook is different from how you would indoors too. Rather than just throwing a lasagne in the oven, you will most likely be handling raw meat, and whilst that is easy to cook on a BBQ, you can make it even better by following these 5 handy tips:
- Don’t cook cold meat: Allow meat to reach room temperature before cooking. This will allow the meat in the centre to cook before you have made charcoal on the surface.
- Thin is in: The thinner the meat, the less likely it is you are going to burn the surface. If a steak is 2 inches or more thick, you may need to considering searing it on the BBQ and then finishing it off in the oven.
- Do not prod more than is needed: In order to get a nice BBQ crust, you need lots of juice in the meat. The more you prod and move it about, the more moisture will escape.
- Preheat the BBQ: The BBQ will need to be nice and hot to get a good BBQ crust. This will also help if you didn’t quite get around to cleaning the BBQ properly from last year!
- Leave the meat to rest: By letting the meat rest you allow the muscle fibres to relax. This allows the juices to flow easier, creating a tastier meat!
Finally, to whet your appetite for the next available BBQ afternoon, why not try eating outside of the box and cook up something you wouldn’t normally expect to find on a BBQ?
Allow some dough to cool to room temperature and form into tennis ball sized balls. Roll out and place directly onto the grill. After grill marks begin to appear, flip with the tongs and coat the cooked side with olive oil. Once grill marks appear on the new bottom side, flip it over and throw your toppings on. Leave for 2 minutes and you’ll have yourself a BBQ’d pizza!
BBQ’s aren’t just about the meat. For a great dessert, experiment with some fruit on the grill. When choosing the fruit opt for the more firm pieces as they will hold together better under the heat. Why not try grilled peach halves cooked on cinnamon sticks? Or for something more exotic, try pineapples with black pepper, lime juice and honey. Delicious!
So get the family outside this weekend and cook up a storm with a BBQ. For a great range of BBQ’s and BBQ accessories visit your nearest Squire’s Garden Centre or take a look online at http://www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk/