We all love BBQs, except when the person that is doing the cooking does not have a clue. Apologies to anyone reading this that is about to make a fool of themselves on their first BBQ for friends and family. With a bit of luck, if that person could be you, it can be prevented from happening just by reading this.
Let me start this by saying that when I first started, I was that Numpty. All fired up, me I mean, and let’s get going! Lit the fire, meat on, disaster. OMG! Just what did go wrong? I know now, I didn’t even think of it then.
To avoid the embarrassment of blackened meat, as opposed to overcooked meat, you need first to know the basic principles of cooking on a BBQ. Bear in mind, your guests are just that, your guests. They don’t want to embarrass you so will tend to grin and think of better times. Be prepared for lots of waste. It would be a very good friend indeed that decided to ‘Beard the Lion’, and put you right, particularly after a few glasses of wine or beer. You need to know two things particularly. You need to know how to do the cooking and you need a basic BBQ recipe.
First things first. If you are using an open BBQ please make sure that the cooking rack has adjustable height when cooking, otherwise you risk the kiss of death and worse. Salmonella is available on your BBQ recipe free of charge if you serve blackened chicken that is raw inside.
Okay, first things first as we said earlier. Get yourself a barbecue, the BBQ recipe can wait. It can be solid fuel or gas, your choice. Bear in mind that the cooking rack MUST be adjustable.
Light the barbeque, and wait! In the case of a gas BBQ wait until it is completely smoke free. If the BBQ is new put it on max for at least 15 minutes before turning it down and starting to cook, then follow the instructions as if it were a solid fuel cooker. Instructions for solid fuel follow.
Whatever you are using to light the BBQ, be it liquid or solid, it MUST be totally burned off. Many lighting media are paraffin based, and unless it is completely burned off everyone will taste it in their food. Do yourself a favour. Do not overload the fuel tray and wait until it has stopped smoking and the coals have gone grey. This is vital. It is also why the adjustable cooking surface is so important. Remember that the coals are extremely hot, and this is good. You can use the heat to sear the meat or vegetables, and then lift the food on the adjustable cooking surface so that it can cook internally to an acceptable temperature.
I must admit that I don’t use one but an internal temperature prod is the safest way to serve BBQ’d food. 70 degrees centigrade (internal) is generally considered safe for Chicken, Pork and processed foods. Many people would prefer Beef and Lamb pink in the middle. Cook these meats slowly, after searing, higher on the BBQ, to raise the temperature internally. Health and safety is an issue in the West, so do be careful.
I want to put an absolute exception into the ‘pink meat’ argument, and watch this. Please be very careful with fish. My broad point is this. Do make sure that ANY fish that you BBQ falls off the bone when cooked. It does NOT need to be cremated, just make sure that the meat drops off the bone with a fork, so again, cook it slowly, but make sure that it does fall off the bone with a fork. It has become accepted by many that Salmon and Tuna can be served pink. Don’t be fooled by other peoples ignorance. To safely serve Salmon and Tuna pink it MUST have been frozen previously. The idea is to give your guests what they want and enjoy, not a nasty little surprise!
The author maintains a website that addresses food safety, more than one BBQ recipe and various recommended camping stoves. If you want a recommendation for an excellent BBQ grill where you will find video and several BBQ recipes, plus lots of choice on the type of cooker you may need to produce your own BBQ recipe, it is available here, have a look.