With the food industry currently embracing pop-ups, food trucks, street food and all things artisan, there’s still one culinary style that can put a smile on any man’s face and get his stomach rumbling…. the humble BBQ!!
Fire and beer, is there a better combo?
Yet for some people, the idea of a BBQ conjures images of seriously over-cooked yet raw sausages and dodgy looking chicken wings that should be delivered with their own toilet roll. But take a look at our friends in the Southern States of America, now these guys know how to cook up a veritable BBQ feast.
Barbecuing must be the oldest and most simple form of cooking dating back from whenever. But where does the word “barbecue” originate from? Well, there are multiple theories, but for me the most plausible is that “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian term for slow-cooking meat over hot coals – “barbacoa”.
Then, of course, the South Africans have their “braai”, the Chileans their “asado”, the Japanese their “yakitori” and the Brazilians their “churrasco”. For us in the UK, any process which involves smoking and grilling a product over an indirect heat source for a period of time is praised as barbecue, but this method of cooking is not as highly regraded or appreciated as it is in other parts of the world, probably because of our approach!
Ask anyone who can BBQ like a Boss and they’ll offer one key piece of advice… “timing”. The secret to effective BBQ’ing is patience and time, take your time. Make sure the coals are heated to the right temperature, then keep your meat, fish and veggies on the grill for the right amount of time. Your guests want to be wowed by an expert who can do it better, much better, than they can. At no stage in the game should they be worried that what they’re served hits either end of the scale being seriously over-cooked or the opposite.
Consider what you’re putting on the grill. It shouldn’t just be about a simple pork sausage or basic burger. Pretty much anything within reason can be cooked on a BBQ, so why not try pork, chicken and even game, fish and vegetables?
If we’re taking the humble BBQ to another level, then we need to talk about marinades. These provide an explosion of flavour without detracting from the meat itself. Be careful with a citrus marinade as if you leave it on for too long before cooking it can in fact toughen the meat. And it needn’t be anything overly complicated – a mix of ketchup, fruit chutney and Worcestershire sauce makes a fantastic marinade for chicken.
Smoking works as a great technique for the larger cut of meat but it requires specialist equipment, a great deal of knowledge and, again, time. The art of grilling food over direct heat also is a delicious method of cooking and far quicker which helps for smaller cuts of meat.
Another great BBQ tip is not to over-turn the meat and to not press the meat too hard as this actually forces out the flavour. There are so many ways to cook fish on a BBQ despite the myth that all fish disintegrates when coked this way. Fish baskets, foil and skin on are just a few techniques to make you BBQ like a legend.
Soak wooden BBQ skewers in water prior to use to stop the sticks burning and in turn damaging the product. Oil vegetables before barbecuing to keep them from sticking to the grill. Sear vegetables on a high heat and then move to a cooler part of the BBQ to ensure that they are perfectly cooked with the most amazing flavour. Root vegetables love a bit of foil involvement and that keeps the taste in while they cook to a perfect crunch.
Let’s give fruit a chance too. Some fruits just don’t work and therefore shouldn’t be tackled. Apples, pears and quinces are all surprisingly tasty when barbecued but keep them big and chunky. A favourite is pineapple and then the classic full banana but why not abuse it with honey and chocolate buttons? The options are endless.
Nowadays we are governed by so many Health and Safety and Environmental policies and we are using a smaller surface and mixing products so due diligence is essential. Thermometers, separate chopping boards, prep stations, leaving adequate space between products, different utensils …ahhh its a minefield out there, but a tasty minefield.
I urge you to BBQ, why not? Show me a person who does not enjoy a good BBQ…. I thought not!!
Victus Consultancy can help you with all aspects of your food and beverage offering, including managing costs, pricing, menu design, allergen considerations, health & hygiene and… how to BBQ like a boss!