1. Marinate any meat the day before!
Best not to use extra olive oil in marinades as it smokes and burns. Marinate in strong plastic bags, tied securely to prevent leakage when you turn them. And then shake off any excess marinade so that you don’t burn the meat.
2. Prepare the barbecue fire to light before your guests arrive
We prefer real fires so set the fire ready to light before the guests arrive. Better still if you know they are coming at say 7pm light the fire at 6.45 and the smell will guide them to your place!
3. Plan what you need in advance
People tend to eat more meat at a barbecue and it is always better to over cater and then use up any leftovers for lunch the following day! So work out what you need and prepare the meat in advance – marinade your chicken and ribs and set aside the burgers and sausages
4. Prepare the accompaniments
We usually prepare corn, potatoes and 1 or 2 salads which can all be put together ahead of time.
5. Take the meat out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking
In fact I pre-cook the bbq chicken in the oven and finish it off on the bbq to get the smoky flavor. Set aside the red meat so that you don’t cook it straight from the fridge otherwise you get burnt meat on the outside while pink on the inside!
6. Use a dry rub instead of marinading for lean cuts of meat. A rub is a blend of salt, sugar and spices that is dusted over the meat and the moisture from the meat blends with the rub when you start to cook to instantly marinate it.
7. The coals should be grey for cooking
Don’t cook over flames or red coals – wait until the coals are grey before starting to cook
8. When you start cooking make sure you shuffle the food around from the hot coals to cooler places on the grill. If possible use a rack system with different heights to cook the meat with burning. And make sure you have tongs and spatulas with long handles – we got a really great set for Father’s day from Argos that were really inexpensive and had everything you need!
9. Resting meats after barbecuing allows the meat to reabsorb the juices which would otherwise flow out when you cut it leaving the meat tough and dry. Rest the meat on a warmed tray on the top rack or in a warmer oven. This also allows you to bring everything to the table at the same time so you can all tuck in without leaving the barbecue chef to grill while you tuck in.
10. Don’t take your salad leaves out of the fridge until you are ready to serve, otherwise they will wilt. Another tip is to dress the salad at the very last minute so that the salad stay fresh and crunchy and doesn’t soak up the dressing and become soggy.
And my finale is something I heard about recently. It’s called the Australian shuffle where the barbecue chef grills and tends the meat until he runs out of drink. He then goes to get another drink and the person nearest the barbecue then takes over, until he, or she runs out of drink and so on. My husband spends the whole evening at the barbecue and a few of his good mates stand by for company and make sure he always has a drink going – but I love the Australian shuffle idea and I am going to try and get it to take off in the UK!