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My personal favourite is the charcoal barbecue; I find it gives any meats I cook a delicious, smoke-kissed flavour. However, a lot of my friends use gas barbecues, for handiness more than anything else, as they heat instantly and don’t have to be cleaned out!
To make sure that your barbecue is ready for use, firstly clean the grate. Do this by heating the barbecue, and while the grate is warming up, use a wire brush to remove any debris. Then, use a tongs to dip some kitchen paper in oil, and brush it along the grate. This not only cleans the grate, but also oils it at the same time.
When your barbecue is ready to use, light it well in advance before you start cooking, and don’t start until the coals are glowing and you have a slight layer of ash. It’s also important to have a tight fitting lid - this will allow you to create an oven environment where heat builds up more quickly and surrounds the meats, for a more effective alternative to grilling.
I was lucky enough to visit the Food & Wine Festival in Austin, Texas (which is the home of good barbecue), where I spoke to Aaron Franklin, a man who has barbecuing in his blood. Aaron’s parents had run a small barbecue place in their hometown, and they were his initial inspiration.
I will probably have to spend more time closer to home, perhaps in my pub, ‘The Local’, watching the game with the lads.
He started off in a small trailer in Austin, and now runs one of the most successful BBQ eateries in the city. His secret is to cook good beef well, and not to over-complicate the flavours - as far as he’s concerned, to get the best flavour from his beef, he just seasons it with salt and pepper. In the US, they take their barbecues seriously, smoking mostly whole briskets and turkeys overnight, then slicing their delicious, cooked-to-perfection smoky meats the next day.
In order to hold a successful barbecue, no matter how big or how small, just remember that preparation is the key – plan in advance and defrost food slowly in the bottom of the fridge. As a successful barbecue requires food to be cooked correctly without burning, try and cook indoors where possible, before finishing on the barbecue.
Some of my favourite barbecue recipes are available on my summer barbecue recipes section, and if I’d have to pick one, for me it has to be a burger, with juices dribbling down your face as you bite into it.
I find that one way of getting my children to eat more seafood and fish is to get them involved in the skewer preparation; threading the prawns and vegetables onto skewers gives them a choice to create what they will eat. They also love corn on the cob from the barbecue.
A few of my handy tips for a healthy and safe barbecue would be:
I hope that your barbecue is bestowed with good food, good wine, good friends and GOOD WEATHER!!!