The late May bank holiday marks the beginning of National Barbecue Week in the UK, and a mixture of hot weather and stay-at-home rules has prompted a surge of interest in outdoor grilling.
If you’re planning to fire up your gas or charcoal grill this National Barbecue Week, our advice can help you make the best of your barbecue and avoid any mishaps.
Read on to find out our top five tips for National Barbecue Week, which runs from 25-31 May 2020.
Or find yourself a shiny new grill by comparing our barbecue reviews.
Prep food in advance
If you’ve planned your barbecue for a specific time, you can save yourself effort on the day and enhance the taste of your food by prepping in advance.
Some of the best barbecue food needs marinating to hit its full potential. Although a couple of hours is sufficient, marinating overnight is the best way to give your food the greatest burst of flavour.
Perfectly marinated chicken grilled over a barbecue is certain to take your barbecue up to the next level. Here’s a simple blend of ingredients for making a tasty marinade:
- Olive oil
- Minced garlic cloves
- Curry powder
- Ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
Once nicely marinated, chicken should cook for roughly 15-20 minutes on each side – but make sure it’s cooked all the way through before eating it.
Need to pick up a few ingredients? Our Best Buy food and drink can help you buy the best the supermarkets have to offer.
Don’t labour over lighting
We’ve all been there. Your food is prepped and ready to go, and your stomach is rumbling, but the pile of discarded matches and firelighters seems to only get bigger.
You can save yourself the trouble of lighting your barbecue by opting for a gas or electric grill – but then you risk compromising on the smoky chargrilled flavour you get with charcoal.
A few ways to make lighting your charcoal barbecue easier include:
- Use vents – Problems with getting your coals lit are usually down to them not getting enough oxygen. If your barbecue has vents, keep them open. This helps your coals light and burn through quicker.
- Group your coals – Spreading them thinly over a wider area restricts the oxygen flow to the middle and prevents the flames from spreading.
- Use a barbecue chimney – They keep your coals grouped and stacked, and once burning, are removed before using a stoker to spread the coals out.
- Buy easy-light fuel bags – You just place the bag on its side in the drum and light the corners. It’s an easy way to light your barbecue, but the coals don’t last as long as proper briquettes and aren’t suitable for larger barbecues.
Want to see our top charcoal barbecue picks? Head to our top three best charcoal barbecues guide.
Organise your grill area
Once your barbecue is burning hot, it can be tempting to pile on as much food as will fit – but there are a couple of ways you can organise your grill area to keep your cooking orderly and avoid burning or undercooking:
- Spread your coals carefully – Varying amounts can give you a range of temperatures to work with. You can have an extra-hot area for charring your steak and a cooler area for cooking your sausages through without burning them.
- Group your food – Grouping food that’s been put on the grill at the same time makes it easier to keep track of how long different foods have cooked and avoids contaminating cooked food with raw meat.
Check out our gas versus charcoal barbecues guide to weigh up the pros and cons of cooking with each type.
Keep it clean
Nothing puts you off having a barbecue like the stuck-on grease and charred remains of your last one. Cleaning your barbecue is essential for both hygiene and the longevity of your grill.
Handy cleaning tips include:
- Give it a first scrub with hot soapy water to dislodge the larger bits – a scourer will do, but a wire brush with metal bristles works best.
- Oven cleaning gel or sprays will work for deeper cleaning, but combining warm water and vinegar or sprinkling on baking powder is a more environmentally friendly way to clean.
- Use a lint-free cloth to dry and buff your barbecue after cleaning to avoid rust and keep it looking smart.
For comprehensive advice on keeping your grill clean, head to our handy guide on how to care for your barbecue.
Check your local council advice
Although the sunshine can make having a barbecue very tempting, it’s important to be responsible. Some councils are advising against lighting barbecues, bonfires and wood-burning stoves during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is because of the smoke they produce and its potential to aggravate respiratory conditions. Make sure to check your local council’s website before getting ready to barbecue and check our recent news story rounding up the latest advice.
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