The time is almost upon us once more. That time of year when we take the dusty covers off of our grills, shovel out the ancient looking coals you left in there last summer, and retrieve our comedy cooking apron from the kitchen drawer. That’s right, it’s almost BBQ season.
This year is going to be an extra special year for a big blow out BBQ. At the time of writing, the global pandemic is slowly coming under control with the mass rollout of vaccines and the outlook for a relatively normal summer is looking good. As it stands, a traditional family BBQ like we had in the before times is very much on the cards.
As this is hopefully going to be a special year for BBQs you surely want to have an extra special bbq? Let’s do away with the hockey puck burgers, overcooked flank steak, and sausages that are better suited in the charcoal pit than they are on a plate. No, this year you’re going to really make a splash.
Pick your meat
While it is true that you can put in some extra work, prep, and time to make cheap steak taste like high-end steak, it’s not quite the same for a BBQ. A bbq is as much of a celebration of meat as it is a dining occasion.
When you and your relatives are sipping drinks and standing around the grill, you don’t want to be making excuses for the limp pieces of meat on the grill. You want to be regaling them with stories about the origins of the Txuleta steak you have sizzling away or how this piece of USDA Prime is going to blow the local steakhouse out of the water.
Invest in good quality steak and take full advantage of the unique flavours that a barbecue can impart into the meat. Flavours that you simply cannot get in your kitchen oven, you’ve waited a long time for this opportunity so make sure you grasp it with both hands.
Grab your grill
It would be very easy to just sit here and disparage has grills by stating that the gas contains hydrocarbons that release moisture which in turn can ruin your sear.
You could even make the valid case that most of you will already have a perfectly good gas-burning cooker in the kitchen anyway so what’s the point in just having another outside?
It would be very easy to state all of that and make a pretty convincing case that gas grills aren’t the best choice but what it really comes down to, what you yourself know deep down as a steak lover, is that you simply cannot beat the taste of a proper charcoal grill.
You can even go a step further and add small pieces of fruit woods to infuse your meat with these wonderful flavours. A personal favourite of mine is cherry wood but there are plenty of different types out there for you to explore.
Take care of the heat
BBQs are social affairs where you’re holding a conversation between flips of your steak, perhaps cracking a joke between sips of your favourite refreshment, or even tucking into some sides while your buns toast.
You may be a tentative cook in the kitchen but when it comes to a BBQ, it is very easy to get distracted.
The best way to mitigate risk and enjoy your BBQ to the maximum is to be smart about the heat you’re generating and how it is being used when you cook.
One of the simplest yet most effective ways of controlling heat in your bbq is not to fill the trough with hot charcoal but instead keep the hot charcoal to one side of the trough while keeping the other side empty. This may sound counterintuitive but it effectively gives you a hot zone for getting a gear sear and then a cooler zone where the meat can cook thoroughly throughout with minimal risk of overcooking.
Another benefit is you only use half the fuel so you’re getting a better cooked steak while saving cash. What more could you ask for?
Sauce it up.
As we said previously, a BBQ is a celebration of food, steak especially, so don’t be afraid to really get creative with your dinner. While you may not be one to douse your steak in sauce when you’re at a restaurant, a BBQ is the perfect place to add that little bit of extra kick to your meat.
A word of warning though. Many, if not most, BBQ sauces contain sugar and sugar burns very easily when exposed to the kinds of heat you’ll find on a bbq. A burnt sauce exterior can easily be mistaken for a blackened sear leaving you with a burnt exterior, a raw interior, and a decidedly red face so it’s always a better idea to add such towards the end of cooking.
If you follow these few simple tips you’ll be able to avoid the pitfalls that catch out the majority of amateur grill masters. Invest in good quality meat from a reputable provider, ditch the gas and grab the charcoals, be mindful of your directional heat, and sauce it up at the last minute.
It sounds almost too simple but BBQing isn’t supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be a relaxed occasion where you and your loved ones can gather around for a well-cooked dinner with lashings of flavour and fun. We sure do need it.