Despite our best intentions, the reality of a barbecue is usually a few burnt bangers, a pack of stale bread rolls and a crummy coleslaw. Good Housekeeping to the rescue! Follow our tips to achieve perfectly barbecued meat and learn how to create salads that will make the most die-hard meat-eaters salivate. We’ve even got ideas for barbecued sweet treats, so fire up those coals and get your apron on…
Smoking allowed bbq grill mat
Add wood chips to the barbecue to impart an even smokier flavour to your food, particularly if you’re cooking things over it for a longer time. Oak and apple wood chips are popular with the pros. Just soak them in water for a couple of hours, drain, then sprinkle the soaked chips over the coals, or consult the manufacturer’s instructions for how to add wood chips safely to your gas barbecue.
Some like it hot
Once the flames have died down, barbecues have a fierce heat only useful for cooking things which are done quickly. This is a good time to slap on steaks, burgers or fish. Leave thicker items like chicken portions and sausages until the heat reduces, or else they’ll be charred on the outside and raw on the inside.
Don’t sideline salads
Salad should never be an afterthought. Shredded iceberg and a few sad tomatoes won’t cut it these days. Think rustic boards piled with pretty leaves and tossed with interesting ingredients like pomegranate seeds, orange segments or watermelon. Serving a platter of multi-hued heirloom tomatoes with torn mozzarella will be sure to wow your guests.
Ribs are best cooked low and slow to get that soft, melting texture that everyone craves. Cooking them on a barbecue from the start can mean they stay tough, or end up burnt to a crisp. Start them off in the oven, then finish on the barbecue for a perfect chargrilled flavour.
Halloumi fares beautifully on a barbecue, but it can be difficult to flip and often slips through the grill bars, never to return. Remedy this by horizontally cutting the block into four big rectangles, so you end up with large sheets instead of little pieces. And buy enough halloumi for ALL your guests – it won’t just be the veggies reaching for it.
Play it safe
Don’t dice with the danger of undercooked meat. Eliminate all doubt by completely pre-cooking all your high-risk foods, then barbecuing them briefly afterwards to give a grilled flavour. Pop sausages in a pan of boiling water for 10-15min depending on thickness, or wrap chicken drumsticks in foil and cook for 25min in the oven until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted. Finish them on the barbecue when your guests are ready.