Now, this might be old news to all the grizzled veteran BBQ’ers across the country but hopefully, some of this info will be eaten up (and tried!) quicker than a post-workout hungry Carnivore at an Athleat BBQ…
Following on from our article written by author and writer Joel Snape “How To Host A BBQ Throwdown”, we wanted to dig a little further into the cookery skills required to complement the physical exercise options and all-important social skills Joel has given us!
Many of the tips below are based on a Charcoal BBQ (the purists way to grill) rather than a Gas one, but there are lots more that apply to both! Athleat HQ has one of each type so you can have the ceremony of a Charcoal and the speedy meat on-demand version from the Gas one. The best of both worlds…
So! Here are our top ten tips to become a BBQ’ing KING or QUEEN!
1. Good Equipment
Chuck away that disposable BBQ (the clue is in the name) you bought at the supermarket and get yourself some awesome kit! It will make a massive difference.
Here is a list of the necessary items to grill like a King:
*Either a Charcoal Kettle BBQ or a Gas BBQ (both with a lid) – Weber is the market leader and for good reason.
*Chimney Starter – a foolproof way of getting the BBQ (and the party!) started without the need for any chemical assistance…
*Using a Charcoal BBQ? Lumpwood/Hardwood charcoal is your best friend (if you can get it), try and avoid those little briquettes you get – coated in nasty stuff that gets transferred to your food. Also Lumpwood Charcoal burns much hotter – great for searing those steaks!
*A good quality pair of long tongs (makes grabbing and saving your burning sausage from a certain fiery death less burny and painful).
*Jam jar with a lid and a new paintbrush. Yep, that’s right… Perfect for mixing up a very quick marinade/rub/glaze for your favourite meat. Chuck the spices in with some oil and little white wine vinegar, slather your meat by painting on the concoction and BANG – taste in a jam jar…just don’t overdo it. Otherwise, the quality of the meat won’t shine through.
*A few tea towels – good for mopping up, grabbing hot stuff, wiping sweat from the chef’s brow, making hats or even tea towel chickens…
*Wire brush for scraping off all the remnants of your BBQ triumph. Make sure to do it when the BBQ is still hot – makes it much easier!
2. Great Quality Meat!
Pretty simple really, you are always going to be disappointed if you are working with bad meat! You also need to choose your cuts of meat carefully depending on how you are cooking on the BBQ. Remember that more tender cuts need to be cooked “hard and fast” and the less tender cuts “low and slow”. We recommend a lovely Ribeye Steak, perfect with all that lovely Omega 3 laden marbling for the fast meat and our Pork Shoulder Roasting Joint for low and slow.
Regardless of what you have chosen, make sure that you bring the meat up to room temperature before putting those fine slabs of animal flesh over the raging hot fire. If marinating, see if you can manage to do this overnight…
3. A Cool Refreshing Beverage
Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Mocktails – whatever takes your fancy cos plain old water just ain’t gonna cut it!
It is especially important for the Chef to be well lubricated as it is a scientific fact that you cook better when you are. This will also help the guests to be patient while the Chef finishes “plating up” (eating some of the best bits without anyone looking).
4. Building The Right Fire
Surely you stick the coals in the bottom of the BBQ once lit then cook on them? DING. Wrong. The best way is to build a graduating fire with the coals piled up high on one side then slowly sloping down to a thin layer in the middle then no coals at all on the other side. This means you can cook the more tender meat “hot and hard” when required and slow cook thicker cuts without burning the outside. If using a Gas BBQ you need to make sure that the temperature is right before you start cooking by getting it on and leaving it to heat up with the lid down until smoking hot. You will notice the flame tube is positioned underneath the thicker sections of the iron grate so this is the hottest part of the grill, the area away from the flame is obviously slightly cooler.
There are a few other options if you are going for a smoke-roasted BBQ like “the ring of fire” but this will have to wait for now. Regardless of your hardware, the temperature of the grill needs to be just right.
Easily the best way to measure (without any need for thermometer gadgetry) is to use the hand method…..
Hold your open palm, about 3 inches above the grill grate, and count how many seconds you can keep it there before pulling it away. Then check the chart below for the corresponding temperature checks.
Hand check: 1 to 2 seconds
Hand check: 2 to 4 seconds
Hand check: 4 to 5 seconds
Hand check: 6 to 7 seconds
Hand check: 7 to 9 seconds
Oh… and another thing – make sure that before you start cooking on your charcoal that all the coals have the ash white coating on them. This means they are ready to go. You can always add more if you are cooking for a large bunch (both in numbers and size!).
5. Avoid Flare-Ups
No, I am not talking about that disagreement with a family member about the washing up or what is the best way to get lean for the summer with your bestie…
A flare-up is when fat drips onto the coals – there will be a big ol’ flame that will not only burn your meat but also cover it in a black coating of smoke. Not good! If this occurs, gently pick up the meat and carefully move to the area of the grill with no coals. Similarly, with a Gas BBQ, Avoid any yellow flames! Keep em blue!
6. Put A Lid On It Will You!
This is an absolute must. Gone are the days of that cremated sausage that is still completely raw on the inside. The lid being on means that it circulates the heat evenly so even though the meat is cooking over that lovely flame, it isn’t just burning the outside, but cooking the inside to perfection at the same time. If anyone tells you differently, gratefully decline the advice and hit them with the nearest BBQ implement.
7. Don’t Keep Turning The Meat Every Bloody 10 Seconds!
I know I know… it’s tradition for a group of guys (or gals) to stand around the BBQ commenting on the meat that is cooking, giving sage advice at every point while the tongmaster moves the meat around the grill with total abandon, prodding and poking the meat. The phrase “scoop that one up and put it back down in the exact same spot” & “mmm.. that’s cooking up real nice but it needs to be turned now” is common. Keep the meat in the same spot to create a nice flame-grilled effect (everyone loves making those stripes!) and then move it when necessary. The easiest way to check if your steak (if that is what you have chosen) is cooked the way you like it is to use the “finger method”.
You can gauge how done your steaks are by comparing the elasticity of the steak to the way the meaty part of your thumb feels as it progressively flexes.
It works like this: You touch your thumb to your index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers, and the further you reach, the harder your muscle becomes (*chuckle – I mean the pad of muscle at the bottom of your thumbs). Apparently, this should match up relatively well with rare, medium-rare, medium, and well-done steaks as you work your way from index to pinky.
8. Let The Meat Rest After Cooking
Just like you after your latest workout. The last thing you want to do is to run at full pelt out of the gym along the street for the 15-minute journey back to your office in your suit/dress. So give the meat some time to cool down and to let all the juices return. The best way is to warm some plates, wrap the meat in some foil and let it sit in there on the plate for 5 minutes. It makes a real difference!
For more tips on how to cook our full variety of steaks perfectly click here.
9. Make Up Some AWESOME Accompaniments
Okay, the meat is definitely the main event, but what you choose to go with it is really important too! If you are like me, once you have cooked the meat and the coals are still lovely to cook on you’ll want to cook something else… or at least burn some stuff. After all, you worked hard to get the BBQ perfect.
Now, the best way to really get the most out of those coals is to cook vegetables on there too. Easily my two favourites are Red Bell Peppers and Avocado (Or are these fruit? Who knows). These two little gems are a must-try. Simply coat in oil, season and grill until cooked. Avocado is a revelation… seriously. If you want to go Avacado bonkers then check out this awesome Authentic Guacamole too.
10. It Doesn’t Matter What The Weather Is Like
A BBQ is for life, not just the summer. Who cares if it is raining/snowing/cold. Stop being a pussy, stick your coat on, get yourself outside and go for it to cook the way cavemen & women intended.
Got any more tips? Get them in the comments below!