How to BBQ: Beginner’s guide to barbecuing
Barbecuing is the cooking method of choice for many Aussies all through summer! If you want to get succulent meats, beautifully charred vegetables and more fantastic meals all cooked on the barbie, this guide is what you need.
Beginners and experts alike will find these tips helpful to take your BBQs to the next level.
1. Learn about your BBQ
Barbecues on the market vary so much, so take some time to get to know yours. It may have only grills, both grills and flat plates, be made of stainless steel or cast iron, and it may run on gas, electricity or charcoal. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set you up for success.
2. Preheat your BBQ
Your BBQ should already be clean (see how to clean your BBQ below), so you can get preheating right away.
Wipe the cooking surfaces with vegetable oil. Preheat using all the burners on the highest heat and put the lid down after lighting (if it has one). Leave it for about 20 minutes to completely heat the plates and racks.
3. How to manage the temperature on your BBQ
Once you have preheated the BBQ, reduce the temperature. Medium-high is good for red meats and hard vegetables, medium is good for more delicate ingredients like seafood and other veggies or fruits.
Cook with the hood closed as much as possible to trap the heat, cooking your food more efficiently (and also conveniently saving on fuel).
Unlike an oven, BBQs don’t have thermostats, so you have to control the heat manually as you would a gas stove.
4. Don’t BBQ food straight from the fridge
Take meats and vegetables out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before cooking. This will take the chill off, and your food will cook more evenly. You’ll also get a much better char = great grill lines!
5. Don’t fiddle with your meats
Heed to the “only turn once” rule when cooking meat, chicken and fish. Turning food too soon or too much can leave you with dry, unevenly cooked meat.
If you’re cooking a thick cut of red meat, you may have to resist the urge to touch it for up to 5-7 minutes. Seafood only needs 2-3 minutes per side. Watch the sides of your food, it should change colour to about halfway up before flipping.
Also avoid the temptation to prick, poke or squash the food. Moving the food will stop it from developing a good golden crust, while poking and squashing can release all the moisture. Allow the food to cook naturally to keep it moist and flavourful.
6. Don’t overcrowd your BBQ
Adding too much food at once to your preheated BBQ plates causes the plates to drop in temperature. This means the food will stew instead of sear, and become rubbery instead of juicy and tender.
Leave 2-3cm of space around each cut of meat to avoid overcrowding. If cooking for a group you may have to cook in batches, which is okay because of the next step!
7. Always rest your meats
Resting meat before serving allows the juices to settle and proteins to relax, leaving you with a juicier, more tender meal.
To rest meat, remove from the heat and partially cover with foil for at least 10 minutes.
A good tip is to slightly undercook your meat on the BBQ, and as it rests the residual heat will finish the rest of the work.
8. How to clean a BBQ
A clean BBQ is a lot safer and healthier to cook on. Avoid food and grease build up by following these steps after cooking:
- After cooking, scrape off food residue with a BBQ scraper and leave the burners on for 5 minutes. This helps to burn off any grease.
- Turn off the BBQ and gas bottle and allow to cool slightly before pouring over about ¼ cup of water onto the flat plates. It should sizzle and begin to evaporate.
- Wipe off fats using paper towels or chux. Repeat this process until the plates are clean.
- Clean grills using wet chux or paper towel in the same manner as the plates, wiping up and down to remove excess fat. Repeat as necessary.
- Allow plates to dry completely and brush or spray lightly with a small amount of oil.
- Cool completely before covering.
Now you know the BBQ basics, it's time to get cooking! Check out the recipes below for great BBQ ideas, or click to check out a huge collection of BBQ recipes.
Don't forget, you can collect these recipes in your ecookbooks and create your own recipes using your free myfoodbook account. If you don't have an account yet, click here to sign up.