Ready to make this BBQ season the best one yet? In this article, Mike Hardman, from catering supplier Alliance Online, shares his five-step process to help you prep an unbeatable barbecue.
After a damp and dreary May, it looks like summer is finally on the waybut are you prepared for it? Since the pandemic prevented us from enjoying last summer to the full, the chances are you're looking to go all out and make this sunny season one to remember. And nothing spells summer quite like a barbecue!
To make your barbecues extra special this year, use the following five-step process to wow your friends and family with a mouth-watering spread.
All the gear, right idea
Stock up on all the appropriate equipment beforehand in order to keep yourself safe and give your guests the best tasting food. Make sure you have the following at hand:
Tongs and a spatula: Opt for long-handled utensils to keep your hands burn-free
Food thermometer: To check it's working correctly, stick it in a glass of ice. If the temperature goes down to 0°C (or 32°F) in around a minute, it's good to use.
Apron and oven mitt: Go for an apron with a front pocket, to keep essentials at hand.
Basting brush: Invest in a couple and use one for basting and the other for marinating.
Cooling bag or box: Keeping all the essentials in one place by your barbeque will mean you don't need to keep running backwards and forwards to the fridge.
Make sure you know how to use this gear correctly before getting stuck in. Firstly, never use your spatula to press down on a burger patty, as this squeezes the juice out of the meat and leaves it dry. You should also remember to make the most of your thermometer, as it can be difficult to tell when things are done just by eye. Stick it through the side of the burger to get the most accurate reading. And finally, always remember to preheat your grill before getting stuck in.
Marinating is the key to a perfect barbecue: it has the power to completely transform the flavour and texture of the meat. Most marinades are made up of three key elements: an oil, an acid or a dairy product, and a flavouring agent. To fill your marinade with flavour, prepare it the day before.
Apply the marinade to the meat an hour or so before you start grilling. You don’t need to leave it on overnight, as the sauce is only absorbed by the outer layer of meat. Once on the grill, use a basting brush to reapply marinade every ten minutes to trap the flavour and moisture. If you're stuck for inspiration, these simple but tasty marinade recipes can be whipped up in no time.
Firing up the grill
When it comes to finding the right gas for your barbecue, most people in the UK opt for propane over butane. This is because propane works better in cooler temperatures, so a typical British summer won't stop you from firing up the grill. Plus, propane is incredibly easy to use —ou simply plug it in and it heats up instantly. For charcoal grills, opt for hardwood charcoal over briquettes, for a smokier taste.
When it comes to finding the ideal temperature, the general rule of thumb is the longer the food takes to cook, the lower the heat. For example, a meat kebab should be grilled on high heat, whilst a pork tenderloin should be grilled on medium-low heat.
Star side dishes
It's easy to forget about the side dishes when preparing a barbecue, since so much of your effort is going to the main event. But side dishes aren't just there to complement the meat: they can be the star of the show, too. So rather than filling your trolley up with packaged coleslaw, try preparing your own side dishes.
Most of them are easy to make, and as they're usually served cold, you can prepare them in advance. Some of the most popular barbecue side dishes include potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. If you're feeling adventurous, think of ways to add a twist to your recipes. For example, try adding horseradish to the potato salad to give it a kick!
Love your leftovers
If your eyes are bigger than your belly and you cook more than you can manage, don't worry as there are plenty of ways to use the leftovers. Make sure to refrigerate meat within two hours of being cooked, and store it in an air-tight container to keep it as fresh as possible.
If you're looking for some inspiration, leftover grilled chicken works perfectly in Mexican cuisine. Stick the meat in some fajitas or quesadillas for a tasty summer dinner. For leftover burgers, jazz them up by wrapping them in bacon and sticking them on the grill again. Or, if you're after something completely different, crumble up the patty and use the meat in sloppy joes, tacos, or shepherd's pie.
Looking for the highest quality meat to make your BBQ extra special? Check out the premium selection of BBQ meat packs on offer at Rendalls.