It’s finally happened – after weeks of moaning about the weather, we’ve been treated to our first glimpse of the sunshine. At Which? HQ we’ve been swapping our best barbecue tips. Got any of your own to share?
I love a good barbecue. Having some friends round and sharing good food and drink in the sunshine – what’s not to like? And I like to think that having grown up in a vegetarian family I’m a dab-hand at making sure everyone’s catered for.
My personal barbecue tip is to think outside the freezer box when it comes to veggie food – meat-free burgers and sausages don’t tend to do well on barbecues. So I usually pick up some halloumi from the supermarket and combine with fresh veg to make delicious halloumi kebabs. A marinade of olive oil crushed with garlic and basil makes sure they cook really nicely.
If you’re nervous about cooking meat for safety reasons, Sue Davies in our food policy team had some great advice:
‘You don’t want to put raw chicken on a BBQ if it’s going to come into contact with food that’s finished cooking. If you’re cooking chicken, make sure it’s thoroughly cooked before you add other food to the grill. If you want to play it safe, try pre-cooking your chicken in the oven then adding at the last minute for a nice BBQ flavour with less risk of contamination. Be careful with burgers and sausages as well – although some meat (like steaks) can be served ‘rare’, anything with minced meat should be cooked all the way through.’
A recipe for success
Our Australian colleague Simon wanted to shore up his country’s reputation as barbecue specialists:
‘Breadcrumb salsa on steaks has won me heaps of friends – make breadcrumbs from fresh sourdough and add pan-fried garlic, thyme, olive oil and a dash of red wine or vinegar. Whack a bit on top of the steaks when they’re cooked – fantastic.’
Lisa Barber, deputy editor of Which? magazine, has a tip for making everything smell even more delicious:
‘Chuck some fresh herbs from your garden on to the barbecue coals – you get a lovely smell and flavour from the smoke.’
One out of left field from Florence:
‘I was quite shocked by the news last week on how many fires are caused by people barbecuing while they’re drunk. It sounds like an obvious tip, but clearly bears repeating – if you’re the one in charge of the sizzling, don’t get sozzled! There’s plenty of time for relaxation when all the food’s been cooked.’
Avoid burning the sausages…
Patrick’s got a tip to help deal with the issue of slightly charred food:
‘Although it’s good to spread the coals evenly when you’re lighting a barbecue, once they’re lit shuffle most of them over to one side so you have a ‘high’ and a ‘low’ section. Then you can put food that takes longer (like sausages) on the ‘low’ section so it can slowly cook without burning. The ‘high’ section can then be used for fast barbecuing, such as for steaks.
‘And don’t be limited by the fact that your barbecue’s just a grill – I regularly use saucepans on the barbecue to heat up bits and pieces (fried onions, etc) that would otherwise have to be done on a stove.’
I’m certainly going to be following Patrick’s advice – a burger is always miles better with a bit of fried onion. And I have to admit I didn’t realise you couldn’t serve them rare, so Sue’s advice could mean my friends are less likely to get food poisoning this year. What are your top barbecue tips?