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'Not everything cooks at the same speed': 6 BBQ mistakes you're probably making - and how to fix them

Firing up the grill this summer? Here’s how to do it right, according to the pros.
Jul 5th 2019, 1:08 PM 14,177 7

LET’S FACE IT, it’s not every day we’re blessed with the chance to have a BBQ in Ireland. And with our relatively low levels of experience, thanks to that ever changeable weather, we won’t be winning the award for best barbecuers in the world any time soon (sorry, dads of Ireland).

The sun comes out, we panic-buy the sausages, dust off the BBQ that hasn’t seen the light of day for a whole year and we all but throw the kitchen sink at it in an attempt to make the most of the glorious weather. And then we find ourselves eating more burnt bits than actual food.

Surely it can’t be that hard to get summer grilling right? Seeing as BBQ weather has finally arrived, we’ve recruited a few experts. They may be Ireland-based, but they know more about BBQing than most.

Here are a few BBQ mistakes you’ve probably been making – and how to fix them…

1. Thinking one rusty set of tongs will do

One of the most commonly made mistakes in back gardens across the country is that people don’t have the correct barbecuing tools, says Florin Vasilache, chef at Asador Barbecue and Grill:

Any good chef will tell you, you’re only as good as the ingredients you’re working with and the tools you have to cook with. The two main BBQ tools you will need are a set of stainless steel tongs (two sets – one extra-long to keep your hands safe!), and a a good grill brush.

The grill brush might seem like a non-essential to some, but Vasilache says a clean cooking grate is essential for creating those lovely grill marks,allowing food to cook evenly, and ensuring that delicate foods don’t stick. “A good grill brush is a tool you will use every time you fire up the coals,” he promises.

evan-wise-D99y38Na5Xo-unsplash Source: Shutterstock

2. Not marinating your meat and fish

Gareth Mullins, executive chef at the Marker Hotel, adds that the BBQ process should really start long before the BBQ itself lights up. For him, the secret lies in the pre-made marinade.

Saturday evening BBQ? Get your marinating out of the way on Saturday morning. “Marinades add so much additional flavour but will also tenderise the meat,” says Gareth.

3. Or forgetting that certain marinades can affect cooking time

“One thing to think about if you have honey or maple syrup in a marinade is that it will tend to caramelise quicker with the sugar content so be careful with the heat,” says Gareth.

A safer bet if you’re new to the game is to use oil, mustard, citrus fruits and herbs instead:

These are a good starting marinade, this acidity in fruit and mustard help tenderise the meat and when the food is nearly cooked, you can brush the food with a sweet bbq sauce or honey soy glaze, which helps to avoid the burning.

shutterstock_163772123 Source: Shutterstock

4. Accidentally charring everything to a burnt crisp

Cooking for a big group with a small BBQ? You’ll need to put some proper time in at the grill to make sure you don’t ruin your food. Not everything cooks at the same temperature or speed, warns Gareth:

People tend to overcook food on the BBQ because they don’t know how to control temperature and the grill gets far too hot. If you have a lot of food to cook, don’t be afraid to use your oven, to either start the cooking process or finish it.

And he offers some more pro tips for charcoal grillers:

The lid of your BBQ will have a vent and this will help you regulate temperature. For a charcoal BBQ the less air that get to the coals, the cooler they will be. When you are putting your charcoal in your BBQ, put less coal on one side as this will give you a cooler side to cook on if your food is getting too much heat.

5. Thinking the grill is for meat and meat alone

Burgers, steaks, maybe fish at a stretch, right? Wrong. Michelle Hunt, nutritional coach and founder of Peachy Palate sees a BBQ as the perfect place to add heaps of charred flavour to your veggies – and even to make dessert.

“Veggies and fruit skewers are incredible on the BBQ,” she says. “Sweet potatoes, peppers, pineapple and peaches work very well and if you make some banana parcels you can create an eic banana split with gooey melting chocolate filling.”

When cooking fruit or vegetables on the BBQ, remember to use separate tools that those you’re using for the meat, to ensure no cross contamination.

dan-gold-uaAclyxf0W0-unsplash Source: Unsplash

6. Or worse, forgetting about vegetarian guests entirely

“A lot of people forget about plant-based proteins [like beans, pulses or tofu] but without them your vegan and veggie guests will go hungry,” says Holly White, author of Vegan-ish.

Think of adding lentils to a salad, picking up some veggie burgers and don’t forget the filling power of hummus.

More: 7 easy summer dinners for when you don’t want to be in the kitchen>

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Caroline Foran


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