How to Barbecue, Masterclass, Gourmet BBQ Recipes, Tips, Menu Ideas
It is easy to produce burnt offerings on the backyard barbecue but what are the secrets of a great gourmet barbecue? Its a bit like photography. If you take a wonderful photograph the first thing everyone says is "what camera do you use?"
But its not the equipment that matters but the preparation, menu choices, recipes and respect and understanding of the food and what you are trying to do with it.
This article provides a Barbecue Masterclass that aims to turn those burnt BBQ offerings into gourmet meals that you will be proud of and will impress your friends.
So its time for a re-think and so lets start from scratch and review how to do it properly. There are some great recipes at the end of the article.
Respect and Understand your Food Ingredients
Why so many people would buy a beautiful prime cut of meat or buy top quality vegetables and mushrooms and then burn them beyond recognition so that they lose their character and quality is a major mystery. People assume that if they have the Rolls Royce BBQ with all the bells and whistles and buy top quality ingredients assumimg their barbecue foods will be magnificent. Nothing is further from the truth. The key is how you treat your ingredients, understand what's required to cook them well. Begin by showing respect for the ingredients.
It is a big mistake to get the steaks from the fridge just before cooking them and put them straight onto the barbecue. The meat needs to be brought to room temperature, seasoned appropriately, and excess marinade removed and lightly coated with olive oil just prior to cooking.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the cooking surface of the BBQ every time. Nothing ruins a lovely piece if meat quicker than cooking it on a dirty hotplate or grill. The worst offender is the marinade. Always remember to shake off any excess marinade so that it doesn't create flames and burn the outside of the steak. Consider rinsing the marinade off before cooking. You can add marinade to the food once it is cooked, but NEVER reuse liquid used to marinade the meat as it may be contaminated with bacteria. Set aside a small quantity of fresh marinade for this purpose.
Flames look Good but are a Bad Idea
Cooking with flames may looks fancy and professional as is done by the professional Celebrity chefs on TV to add flavor. Doing it at home on the BBQ is too hard to control and will generally burn the meat. Cooking on hot coals, not flames, create the magical taste for meat cooked over a wood or charcoal fire. Timing when the flames have just died down on a wood fire is critical to stop the fire flaring up when you add the meat and the fat drips down to fire up the flame
Using flames from a gas-fired barbecue to produce flames is simply going to engulf and ruin your food. Flames will blacken the steak and will often overcook the meat. Only add small amounts of cooking oil to a hot plate as the oil may catch fire whacking it on the grill. Steaks only need a small splash of olive oil and a little salt before being barbecued
Get to Know your BBQ
As with preparing any meal, you need to get organised well before you start barbecuing. Make sure you have everything ready near the BBQ as walking away to get things after you have started can be disastrous.
Critical to any successful BBQ is knowing the right temperatures needed for the dishes you are cooking and how to control those temperatures. It gets complicated when you are cooking different types of meat and vegetables on the same BBQ surface. Timing is also critical, both in terms of the amount of time required for each type of food and having everything cooked to perfection at the end of the BBQ session. If you just throw everything on together and hope for the best it generally be a disaster - some items will be over cooked, some will be undercooked and all the unique individual flavors will be lost.
It is a matter of knowing where the hot spots are on you BBQ, using the hot plate and grill for different purposes and cooking each of the items individually even if on the same surface. Some items may need to be cooked on high heat for a short period of time and then moved to a cooler areas when just about cooked. This is where the art of a good BBQ cook comes to the fore - knowing when to add each item, moving them around on the cooking surface to control temperatures and having everything cooked to perfection at the same time at the end of the cooking period.
Making Sure the Temperature is Correct
Prepare the wood or charcoal fire about 30 minutes or more before grilling. For wood make sure the flames have died down and cook over the hot coals. Wait until the temperature is correct. Generally the bbq heat source should be medium-hot with a layer of coals and no flames. To test the temperature hold your hand over the fire at cooking height, palm side down:
- HOT - your hand can remain for only 1 - 2 seconds.
- MEDIUM-HOT - your hand can remain for 3 - 4 seconds.
- MEDIUM - your hand can remain for 4 - 5 seconds.
Be patient and wait until the temperature is right. Toss in a few aromatic wood chips for a 'smoked flavor' using mesquite, alder, hickory or fruitwood chips.
To increase the heat - push the coals together, lower the grilling surface, or fan the fire. Leave an area with few coals to which you can move the items if the flames flare up. If the fire flare-ups, remove the food briefly and spray water lightly over the flames. Keep a squirt bottle of water handy for flare-ups, or keep a hose nearby for larger BBQs.
Creating a Beautiful BBQ Meal
Remember that most of the flavor in a BBQ dish comes from the raw ingredients enhanced with spices, the marinade and the sauce added after the food is cooked. Juts about anything
can be done on a barbecue, especially one that has a wok and roasting hood. Below are several tips and hints.
- Add salt and spies towards the end of the cooking. Many spices will burn if added too early. Adding salt or soy sauce to items on the BBQ before they are removed appears to enhance the flavor. There are many spices that enhance the flavor of meat and vegetable on a BBQ.
- Fresh seafood is also a delight when cooked on a BBQ. Start with a clean slate and choose thick cutlets from species such as tuna, swordfish or salmon that remain firm when cooked. Large prawns can be cooked directly on the plate or grill. You can wrap mussels, clams, pippies and small prawns in small foil packages to cook on the BBQ. Soft fish or whole fish can be barbecued in a foil packet.
- Ratatouille is a fabulous barbecue dish for summer, but the trick is not to overcook the vegetables.
- Grilled vegetables - The high heat will cook them quickly with delightful taste. Asparagus can be easily cooked by drizzling with olive oil, seasoning and grilling until tender. Vegetable shish kebabs can also be tasty. Corn cobs are beautiful on a BBQ. They can be husked and placed directly on the grill or wrapped in foil. Some people like corn cobs cooked in their husks directly on the BBQ. Dunk in water to stop the husks burning.
- Make sure that you wash everything after handling the raw meat. Don't put the cooked meat back onto the same plate you used for the uncooked meat.
- Coat the grate or grill with a fine layer of vegetable cooking spray, or brush the food with cooking oil to prevent it from sticking.
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson
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