If you browse online BBQ articles you’ll be confronted with all manner of exotic equipment, but the truth is you really don’t need that much to get the most out of your outdoor cooking. It’s more than likely that you’ve already everything you need.
We’ve already covered simple BBQs and grills in our basics guide, so we’re going to focus here on the additional items that you’ll need. We’ll also look at planning and preparation, so that when you start to cook you can be sure that everything is in order.
If you’re using a solid fuel BBQ, a chimney starter is a great way to manage your fuel. It only requires a small amount of paper or firelighter to get the coals going, and quickly gets all the coals alight because of it’s shape. Once the coals are well lit, simply (carefully) pour them into the main BBQ. And if you need more coals as you cook, you can get them going in the starter and ready to cook with, rather than pouring new coals onto the grill and losing your cooking temperature.
Tongs, Spatula and Fork
You really do need the right tools for the job, and long handled utensils are key so ensure you don’t singe your fingers. As a minimum you’ll need tongs and a spatula, but if you’re grilling larger cuts then a fork is essential as well.
We’d say that good quality, heatproof gloves are another essential. With a good pair, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you can pick that large joint up directly, handle any metal utensils or pans without fear, or even adjust the logs and coals to keep the grill going.
Cheap and easy to find, a silicone brush is a great piece of kit for the BBQ. Use it for applying marinades, glazes and basting.
There’s absolutely no need to take a chance these days when cooking. Digital probes are now widely available and don’t cost that much, and are an easy way to make sure that everything is cooked to perfection, especially larger joints.
Before you start your BBQ, first thing to do is make sure that you assembled all your equipment. There’s nothing worse than rushing around trying to find your utensils as everything on the grill burns.
Check everything over, and make sure that it’s all clean, including the grill. The idea that a dirty grill imparts flavour is not only false, it’s downright dangerous. Importantly as well, the food is much less likely to stick to a clean grill.
Give yourself plenty of time to heat up the grill before you start. A solid fuel grill can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes before the coals are ready to cook. You want to wait until 2/3rds of the charcoal has turned white and the grill has stopped smoking before you start. If you only have a small grill, remember you can always use a chimney to get more coals up to temperature and add them as needed. Even a gas grill will need a good 10-15 minutes to come up to temperature.
Set out your area. Ensure that you grill well away from the house and anything flammable. Make sure that you have everything to hand before you start, or at least know where everything is. Keep items in the fridge until just before you need them, and consider briefing a couple of ‘runners’ in advance so that they can go get items when you ask. If you want to do the job well you need to keep a keen eye on proceedings at all times.
Finally, a golden rule is to keep raw and cooked foods separate. Keep a large plate or tray ready to receive any cooked foods. As and when you handle raw foods, remember to wash your hands. You may be in the garden away from the sink, but don’t be tempted to give this a miss… it’s the easiest way to an upset stomach or even something more serious.