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Tips for a great BBQ

Dare to be different - Did you know you can grill, fry, roast and bake on the barbecue? If you have a barbecue with a lid this acts like an oven and is ideal for whole beef and lamb joints, whatever the weather.The most important rule when barbecuing, to ensure your food is safe to eat and cooked to perfection, is to make sure that any raw meat is handled carefully, kept separate from cooked meat, and cooked thoroughly. Even if the meat is charred on the outside, it may not be cooked in the middle. This is particularly important for burgers and kebabs made with mince.

Use the right tools

There are plenty of 'tools for the job' to choose from, ranging from BBQ forks and spatulas to 'high tec' burger baskets. If you decide to use wooden kebab sticks, make sure you soak them in cold water for at least 20 minutes before use to prevent charring.

Marination, Marination, Marination

Why not get the taste buds going with a delicious marinade. Marinades are great for tenderising meat fibres, adding an extra depth of flavour, and keeping the meat moist during cooking. For extra flavour place a handful of harder stemmed herbs such as fresh rosemary or thyme directly onto your barbecue coals. You'll be surprised at the results!

Patience is a virtue!

Light your barbecue well in advance, making sure you use enough charcoal. Wait for about 30 minutes for the coals to heat up to the desired temperature and the flames to die down. The coals should have a red glow with a powdery white surface before you start! Never use petrol or lighter fuel, as they will taint your food with the fumes and they can be a fire hazard. Use non-toxic firelighters instead. If using a gas barbecue ensure it's very hot before use.

Easy does it

By ensuring the flames have died down, you minimise the risk of serving food that is burned on the outside and raw on the inside, which can lead to possible upset stomachs. For best results check the correct cooking times for perfect beef and lamb on the barbecue. Cooking times are dependent on the cut and size of meat and if you prefer your meat rare, medium or well done.

For barbecue cooking times for beef and lamb cuts click here.

Don't interfere

If you persistently pierce and prod meat, the juices escape and the meat will become tough and chewy. Instead, turn regularly with meat tongs to ensure even cooking

Watch the fat

Remove excess fat from meat and remember to drain off any excess oil or sugar-based marinades before placing meat on to the barbecue - this will minimise burning and flaring flames.

Barbecue Safety:

  • Defrost frozen beef and lamb safely overnight in the fridge
  • Remember to wash your hands
  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat
  • Avoid putting raw meat next to cooked or partially cooked meat on the barbecue
  • Cook burgers until they are piping hot with an internal temperature of 80°C (for beef) and 75-80°C (for lamb), with no pink areas in the centre
  • To take the guesswork out of things, use a digital temperature probe or meat thermometer. If you are catering for a huge crowd and are really organised, meat can be partially cooked in the oven and finished off on the barbecue as friends arrive.
  • If you are marinating meat you have to take extra care to avoid food poisoning. Keep marinating meat in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Discard the marinade when you have put the meat on the BBQ, using a freshly made marinade to baste your meat while it cooks.