Fire up the grill: tips for a spectacular summer BBQ

Top tips from Mike Hardman

12 Jun Fire up the grill: tips for a spectacular summer BBQ

bbq imageIs there anything better than the smell of a BBQ on a hot summer’s day? In this article, Mike Hardman, from catering supplier Alliance Online, shares a few top tips that will help you nail your barbeque technique.

While the lockdown might have put a stop to garden parties and big get-togethers for the foreseeable future, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy a family BBQ with members of your household. And, with the weather starting to warm up, now is the perfect time to throw your first BBQ of the season.

Almost anything cooked on a real barbeque will taste delicious: it’s all thanks to that smoky flavour. But, there’s more to having a really great grill-up in your garden than just flinging a few supermarket burgers on the barbie. For a really tasty BBQ, you’ll want to spend a bit of time planning your menu, getting the barbeque prepped, and making sure you have all right equipment. This way, you can be sure that everything will taste utterly delicious, and you’ll be able to relax and have some fun while you’re doing it, too. Here, I’ll share my tips for holding a spectacular summer BBQ.

Choose the right grill for your needs

If you’re planning to buy a new grill before your first BBQ of the season, you’ll want to do plenty of research to work out which type will be best for you. There are two main types of barbeque, and there are pros and cons to each:

Charcoal grills: This uses charcoal as fuel, which imparts a beautifully smoky flavour to any foods cooked on them. Some also have a lid to keep heat and smoke in, which speeds up cooking and intensifies the flavour. However, this type of barbeque can be quite messy and tricky to clean. They also tend to be a bit smaller in size, so while they’re good for smaller families and gardens, you may want to go for something a bigger if you have a lot of mouths to feed.

Gas-flame grills: Gas flame grills are the easiest type of barbeque to use, and there’s no need to fiddle around lighting it or waiting for the charcoal to get nice and hot. You can also adjust the temperature easily, for precision cooking. But, you will lose that smoky barbeque flavour that you get with a charcoal grill.

Prep all your raw ingredients ahead of time

After you’ve done a big supermarket run and stocked up on meat for your BBQ, it’s time to start prepping. I would recommend preparing any foods you want to cook on the barbeque well in advance of firing up the grill. So, if you plan to have a BBQ in the early afternoon, prep all the meat the morning or evening before. This way, you’ll have time to really enjoy the process of grilling your food, and won’t need to spend all afternoon in the kitchen getting everything ready.

Preparing your raw ingredients the night or morning before will also give it a chance to really soak up seasonings and marinades. Not only will this ensure a more intense flavour, but it will also help to stop food from drying out on the barbeque. Just be sure to store your prepped ingredients in a sealed food-safe container in the fridge to keep them fresh and safe to eat. And, never marinade foods in salt, lemon or lime juice for more than two hours: for best results, you’ll want to add these right before cooking.

Gather all the equipment you’ll need

To keep yourself safe, protect your clothing, and help stop food from falling apart the barbeque, you’ll need to have all the equipment ready before you light up and start cooking. I would recommend having the following essentials to hand:

  • An apron.
  • A barbeque mitt. If it’s not too hot, you can also wear a long-sleeve t-shirt to protect your arms from spitting fat.
  • Tongs, a meat fork, and a spatula.
  • Matches or a firestarter (for charcoal barbeques).
  • A basting brush, to re-baste meat during cooking.
  • A workspace or table next to your barbeque. This comes in very handy for plating up food and assembling burgers!
  • A food chiller. This way, you can have all your chilled ingredients to hand.
  • A food thermometer. You can also cut food open to see if it’s cooked through.
  • A barbeque cleaning brush, for later on.

Choose easy no-cook side dishes that complement your BBQ foods

Once the BBQ is all fired up and your carefully prepared meat dishes are sizzling away, the last thing you want to be doing is dashing in and out of the kitchen to try and prepare side dishes or cook food in the oven. Not only is it dangerous to leave a lit barbeque unattended, but it’s very easy to burn food to a crisp if you aren’t watching it closely.  So, do yourself a favour and choose side dishes that can either be cooked on the barbeque, or which can be prepped in advance and served cold.

There are loads of side dishes which work well for this. Cold dishes like pasta and potato salads, freshly made coleslaw, and quiches and are always winners at a BBQ, and they can easily be made the night before and are ready to eat straight out of the fridge. For hot sides, think baked potatoes, vegetable and halloumi skewers, and grilled corn cobs, all of which are super easy to prep and will taste great when cooked on a barbeque.

Take my tips on board, and you’ll be on track to blow your family away with your most delicious BBQ ever.