It’s National Barbecue Week from July 2nd-11th – though you wouldn’t think it from the weather – but when the summer returns we all want to know how to avoid barbecue cooking disasters. Check out these tips from the experts at MEATER, the meat thermometer that works with your smartphone.
National Barbecue Week has not only helped change all of our attitudes towards BBQ and summer eating, but it’s also helped grow the BBQ market from just 9 million occasions back then to over 150 million in 2020, with 15 million being held over last year’s sunny Easter Holiday. Despite the recent awful weather, all indications are that we’ll hit the 200 million mark this year!
Try this recipe from NBW for your next outdoor eats. Simple to both prepare and barbecue, these ribs taste great, bein, sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time!
ENCHANTING CHILLI & PINEAPPLE SPARE-RIBS
- Pork spare ribs x 6
- Small canned pineapple, finely chopped, plus juice
- Birds Eye chillies – finely chopped/deseeded
- Red onion – finely chopped
- 4 crushed garlic cloves & 30g grated ginger
- 50ml x tomato puree – lime juice – runny honey
- 70g EV olive oil + sea salt, black pepper
- Separate ribs and simmer in salted water for 30 mins – drain & cool
- Pan-fry garlic, ginger, onion & chillies with oil until soft then add in chopped pineapple. Add pineapple juice, tomato puree & honey. Season to taste and boil till thick – leave to cool.
- Brush mixture over ribs and grill over medium heat for around 15 mins, or until sauce becomes crusty/brown.
Barbecue tips from MEATER
ITS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER that warm weather and outdoor cooking can produce the perfect conditions for the bacteria that cause food poisoning, so it is vital to ensure you take great care with your garden culinary exploits.
Choosing the right charcoal is super important:
Most of us use poor quality charcoal jammed together with accelerants which is what created the need to wait for coals to turn white before cooking. The sorts of charcoal found on petrol station forecourts, or any that claim ‘easy light’ or ‘quick’, have nasty binders and accelerants which can affect the taste of your food and aren’t environmentally friendly. It is much better to use single species or specified source charcoal. It is, after-all, the most important ingredient for your BBQ endeavors. Using a quality charcoal will give you a clean and healthier cooking experience.
• Try birch lump wood, birch briquettes or an artisanal charcoal called Binchotan for those special occasions.
Lighting au naturel:
The best and most efficient way to start a charcoal barbecue is to use natural firelighters in conjunction with a starter chimney. Largely made from wood shavings and bees wax, natural wood firelighters are better for the environment and much more sustainable.
Simply add a handful of charcoal into your chimney, light the firelighters and place the chimney on top. Wait until the coals (or briquettes) have a good burn going, but not totally white and roaring – or you are wasting valuable cooking time on good quality charcoal – and (with a heat-proof glove / protected hand) pour onto a bed of unlit coals at the front of the barbecue only.
• You can easily find a good quality starter chimney online for less than £20.
The art of fire management – lids and vents:
Fire management is vital to avoid burning. It is about having fire where you want it and controlling how it behaves. This is where the real art of barbecue comes in and is best practiced with a grill that has a lid and adjustable air vents.
When lighting and establishing your fire, it is best to have the lid off and air vents fully open. When your fire is properly lit, and your coals are burning consistently, you can restrict your fire from turning into a raging inferno and help it maintain a nice, consistent temperature by half closing the vents and closing the lid. Then, restrict or increase the intensity of the heat by adjusting the vents throughout the cook.
Cooking methods – Smoking or Flaming:
When the grill is at a stable temperature, there are two main cooking options to choose from.
Direct – Hot and fast searing is ideal for fish and meats, such as steak, that need less time to cook.
Indirect – This method uses smoke and heat rather than the flame to cook. Using a ‘safe-zone’ away from the coals, your meat and fish can be cooked more gradually. By keeping the temperature at an ideal 125°C, your cook can stay in the smoke longer which helps to develop flavour and even break down fat in more complex cuts such as brisket, beef ribs or pork belly.
To get the best from indirect cooking, close your barbecue’s lid and have the exhaust vent located directly above the food three quarters open. This will encourage heat and smoke to rise and penetrate whatever you are cooking on its way to escaping the BBQ. Rotate your meats throughout at semi regular intervals to encourage an even cook, but don’t open the lid too often – if you’re looking, it’s not cooking!
• Every barbecue behaves differently. Play with the air vents of your set-up at home to see what works best for you.
• If you have a barbecue with no lid, simply ensure there are ‘cool zones’ with no charcoal where food can be moved to so that you can let it escape the intense ‘direct’ heat.
• If you are indirectly cooking sausages, large steaks or most cuts of chicken, finish them directly over the coals to add a little flame grilled character to your food. This is called a ‘reverse sear’.
Is it definitely cooked?
This is probably the most important and frequent question every grill chef asks themselves. But a modern temperature probe does away with any such worry.
Using a smart wireless meat thermometer ensures your meat and fish are cooked to perfection and safe to eat. The MEATER Plus includes a free app that provides you with the ability to monitor food on the BBQ without consistently manning it, so you can step away to entertain guests, make some sides in the kitchen or just relax. The best part about using the MEATER Plus is that you don’t need to open the lid of your BBQ to check the progress because it sends you a notification when your cook is done.
• Medium rare steaks are ready at 55°C, chicken is safe and succulent at 74°C and pork is perfectly juicy at 65°C.