Ten things your butcher wants everyone, who BBQs, to do or at least know!

We all know the stereotype surrounding the British BBQ! A few sausages and burgers thrown on that bit of rusted tin down the bottom of the garden. A few drinks too many, sunstroke, and an upset stomach next day. 

British BBQ with sausages over charcoal

We can do better than that folks. With a bit of planning, preparation and practice you could become a BBQing boss!

Here is our advice…

  1. Get the right kit - You do not need a whole lot other than the BBQ. We suggest starting with…
    • For those using charcoal. Chemical free fire starters then maybe a chimney starter would be a good investment later. Anything just so you do not need to use lighter fluid or easy light charcoal.
    • A good pair of tongues, long handled if possible, keeping hands away from the heat
    • A sharp scraper for flipping burgers cutting sausage rings and cleaning the food from grill surface whilst its still hot.
    • Thick oven cloth – because, boy the equipment is hot!
    • Apron - keeping you clean for the drinks afterwards
    • Probe to make sure everything is cooked through. 

…You can jump into the wonderful world of gadgets, gizmos, and gear later.

  1. Befriend your local butcher - They can give you tips on what products work well on a BBQ. They can also prepare any produce so its ready to go, saving you time and effort, from spatchcocking a chicken to marinating your pork ribs. Look here for inspiration

Marinated diced chicken kebabs on skewere

  1. Ready?... Plan ahead, in plenty of time, at least the day before
    • Fuel – whether its gas or coal if you do not have enough it is literally a non-starter.
    • Has the kit been left clean from last time, as nothing puts you off more than mouldy food baked on the griddle. Scrape old food off when you have done and whilst its still hot then soak overnight remembering to oil it next day to prevent rust and the food from sticking next time.
    • Have you got the food to cook? Better to have the time to go to a good quality butchers, bakers & greengrocers, rather than a last-minute supermarket dash on your way home from work, frantically defrosting cheap rubbish before the guests arrive. #ShopLocal
    • It’s not just about the meat you can grill fish or vegetables too. Other important factors to a successful cook is vital items like bread, sauces, salads, and drinks. Just get quality stuff
    • Have a plan B – It can all go wrong, it rained or killer bees are in the garden but hey, don’t worry, you can cook the stuff in your kitchen or even pick up the phone and treat yourself to a takeaway.
  1. Set… Preparation – A few hours before you start
    • Marinating and skewering meats in plenty of time can improve taste and texture immensely. For best results you should do it the night before.
    • Make up your salads etc
    • Get the drinks in the fridge. No warm beer!!!
Have you thought of part cooking or precooking your food? We have been known to sous-vide a load of sausages, so we just need add colour last minute at a big event. It saved a bucket of time and stress. You could put stuff in a low temp oven.  
  1. GO… Are you ready? - Just before you start to cook.
    • Take the meat out of the fridge, an hour before cooking. You want it upto room temperature, making it easier for the centre of the meat to be cooked through, helping avoid food poisoning.
    • Clean the BBQ of old food, grease and spent charcoal
    • Light the BBQ. Charcoal takes longer than gas. Use firelighters or a chimney.
    • Got a lid? Use it, keeping the heat in!
    • Got your utensils clean and ready? You cannot use the same utensils for raw and cooked food. Do you have somewhere for the food waiting to go on the grill and afterwards like a table. Where are you plating up? Drink!?!
  1. Direct & Indirect cooking – if you do not know what this means, this could be the one thing that revolutionises your BBQing.
    • Direct means the food cooked is directly over the heat source whether its wood, charcoal, or gas. Think burgers and steaks searing in the heat.
    • Indirect is when the food is adjacent to the heat source but still is being cooked by that heat, albeit slower. Think spatchcock chicken or ribs in an oven. You really need a lid for this to work properly.

And while we are on about lids - leave the lid down. ‘If you keep looking… its not cooking!’

Set up your charcoal BBQ by keeping the fuel loaded in one part leaving the other part for indirect heat i.e. either one side or in the middle. Similarly, you can have one of the burners turned down or even off on a gas BBQ.  You need to get head around how the air vents work and what happens with different settings.

Here are the basics. Its all about airflow. Heat rises and fire needs oxygen,

    • If the vents are all fully open, then the temperature will rise because of the extra oxygen.
    • Close them off and the temp will fall because of the lack of oxygen.
    • Do not put the vent directly above the heat source as the heat goes straight up and out. You need to force the heat to pass through the indirect area cooking the food... Well indirectly!

Indirect v direct cooking on BBQ. Chicken on webber kettle

  1. Bring out your inner caveman. We cannot believe it but not everyone has steak at their BBQ. I know! Steak and flames go so well together. Ug! Follow these steps to the perfect steak on a BBQ (or in the kitchen)
    • Buy quality. Dry aged or better still salt aged. Buy the cut that works for you.
    • It is imperative that you let steak reach room temperature before you start to grill, or it will be tough.
    • Use this time to coat in olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper
    • Watch the dog!
    • Make sure the grill (or frying pan) is extremely hot!
    • Leave it alone until you need to turn it and just turn once. For extra points turn twice but rotate giving crisscross marks.
    • If your steak is extra thick, once its seared both sides move it away from the direct heat to carry on cooking in the indirect part (or in an oven)
    • How do you like yours cooked? This is the only time you can eat something from a BBQ that not got to that magic 70c.
      • Rare Bloody (delicious)                            49c
      • Medium Rare Line of blood                                      54c
      • Medium Pink throughout no blood             60c
      • Medium Well A little pink but starting brown   66c
      • Well Ruined, just ruined.                         77c
    • Always let it rest for at least 10 minutes. It will carry on cooking a little more the juices will be reabsorbed make it juicy and tender. Wrap in foil for extra merit
  1. Timing of cook – have a think what takes the longest time and get them on. Thin sausages will be burnt to a crisp before a Spatchcock Chicken even changes colour. It is now when you could decide that the precook would have been a great idea!
  1. Is it cooked properly? – We recommend you buy a probe and test that everything (except steak) is over 70c before serving. Remember it needs cleaning between each test.
  1. Rest – All food improves if you just let it sit there for a moment or two. 10 minutes for steaks and larger cuts. The temperature evens out and juices get sucked back into the meat making it more tender.  

young family enjoying BBQ. Boys with orange. Mum and dad over BBQ kettle

After all that just have fun and practice, practice, practice! As they say… ‘If its worth doing, its worth doing well!’ Buy the best produce you can afford and if there is no one local we can order from us here at The Cheshire Butcher 

So, keep going and once you master something, you can move to the next level and try something else whether it be a new cut of meat or a new BBQ. It is after all a full-blown, delicious hobby now!

We have, what we think, is the most versatile BBQ system in the world with the Kamado Joe. You can grill burgers or pop down the lid and its an oven for slow cooking and smoking. You can add so many accessories like a Pizza Stone or a rotisserie.

Kamado Joe. Cheshire, Wilmslow

Cooking chicken on a Kamado Joe. Cheshire, Wilmslow

view from above a Kamado Joe. Cheshire, Wilmslow

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