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Barbecue, (also spelled barbeque, or abbreviated BBQ) is a method of cooking food with the radiant heat and/or hot gasses of a fire, the cooking of food in a sauce that includes vinegar, the end-result of cooking by one of these methods, or a party that includes such food.
Barbecue is usually cooked in a covered environment heated by an outdoor open flame of wood, charcoal, natural gas or propane. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.
Last Updated - 15th October 2005
- Have everything at hand when barbecuing. The culinary term is mis en place, which means simply to have everything you need close by. Place everything on a side table next to the barbecue to eliminate too many trips to the kitchen. This allows you to not only keep a constant eye on the barbecue but also to spend more time enjoying the company of your guests.
- It is essential when barbecuing to marinate the meat, fish, or poultry before it hits the grill. Marinades ensure flavour and help with tenderising. Give them at least 20 minutes to start working and for some foods like red meats, pork or poultry, you may want to marinate them overnight.
- Fish requires only about 20-30 minutes marinating time before cooking because the acid in the marinade will cook the fish if left on overnight.
- Do as much preparation as you can the day before your party. Make the marinades, and if appropriate, marinate the meat or poultry. Make the side dishes and prepare an easy dessert that just needs finishing off on the day.
- Cook in foil: the French term for cooking food in a bag is en pappillotte and is ideal for cooking foods that can easily fall apart, stick or burn, like fish. Tear off a sheet of foil, brush with oil, add the fish fillet skin side down, salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of white wine. Seal it by folding together the corners and then barbecue for about 3 minutes on each side.
- Use a patio heater. Its an essential tool for keeping your guests comfortable in the garden. It will also ensure that the party keeps on going, even after the sun has gone down.
Clean your barbecue
Don't let your barbecue succumb to grease buildup and corrosion. Clean it every time you use it. Greasy food drippings can clog the burner's gas ports and short out the igniter's flame. This will make the grill difficult to start and can cause an uneven flame, possibly resulting in longer grilling times or burnt food. A simple way to clean your grill without using a bristle brush is to use aluminum foil. Crumple up a ball of aluminum foil and rub the grill, making sure to remove any excess grease buildup.
Less stick, more enjoyment
If you're the type of person who forgets to clean the barbecue, here's a special tip. Before firing up the barbecue, simply coat the grill with a non-stick spray. Applying the spray will decrease the amount of grease buildup and leave your marinades, spices, and seasonings on your food and not on the barbecue grill.
Marinades Can Add Life to Your Food
A marinade is a highly seasoned liquid mixture used to add flavor and, in some cases, tenderize cuts of meat like beef chuck, round, skirt, and flank. A flavoring marinade enhances the flavor of meat in approximately 15 minutes to 2 hours, while a tenderizing marinade requires at least 6 hours to affect the quality of the meat. The tenderizing marinade makes leaner cuts of meat more tender and juicy, providing the taste of a premium steak at an economical price. Enzymes in the marinade that tenderize the meat can come from acidic foods like lemon juice, yogurt, wine, or vinegar or natural enzymes found in fresh papaya, ginger, pineapple, and figs.
Add Taste with a Seasoned Rub
This is a great tip for all types of meat. A rub is a mixture of wet and dry herbs, peppers, spices, or seasonings pressed onto the surface of the meat before cooking. They are used to add flavor or, in some cases, seal in juices and form a delicious crust by coating the outside of the meat. Depending on the degree of flavor preferred, rubs can be applied either prior to grilling or, for a more concentrated flavor, several hours earlier. If you apply the mixture ahead of time, remember to refrigerate the food until just before cooking. The idea is to produce a great flavor, but not make it so strong that one can pick out the ingredients.
Smoke Your Food for Intense Flavor
A variation of smoking food with a smoker is using a barbecue, especially one that uses charcoal. This method of flavoring is based on low temperatures and long cooking times. The long period of cooking can release unbelievable flavor, and the meat is tender and succulent. To smoke your food, go out and purchase flavored wood chips that you'll soak and place over your heat source (the barbecue). Setting the heat to low, the flames or heat will smolder the wood chips releasing flavored smoke that circulates and penetrates the food above leaving a delicious flavor and aroma behind. There's an unlimited variety of wood chips ranging in flavor from apple, hickory, and pecan to guava or peach. Although this preparation technique requires a little more of your time, it's definitely worth the wait.
Grill Your Vegetables
For those of you who feel vegetables can only ever be a side dish, this tip will surely change your mind. Take the vegetables of your choice and select various spices to season them with paprika, cumin, or a general seasoning salt are good choices. Once you've decided on the spices, apply them and place the vegetables either directly on the grill or on the grill wrapped in foil and cook to preference. The result: flavorful vegetables that will delight your senses.
Stuff to Add Variety
A simple way to add diversity to your diet is to stuff your meat, poultry, and fish. The possible flavors that can be created in five minutes are unbelievable. Make sure to use thinly cut portions of meat for preparing this type of meal. Create a stuffing from scratch or use a pre-made stuffing of your choice and place it on top of your portion of meat or inside your fish. Use toothpicks or several pieces of string to tie your food together, making sure the stuffing is not lost during the cooking process. Cook, serve, and enjoy the range of flavors you've created.
Use the "Firmness to Touch" Technique
The simplest and quickest tip for those of you who aren't sure as to the readiness of your food is to use your hand. Your hand gives you the ability to check whether your meat is done without having to lose precious juices inside as result of cutting it open. Sacrificing the juices from your meat can turn a king's feast into dog scraps. Use the firmness to touch technique, in which steak doneness is compared to the human hand. For a rare meal, cook the meat until it feels like the muscle between the thumb and the index finger of your hand in a relaxed state. Medium-cooked meats should feel similar to the same muscle of the hand when it is stretched out, and for well-done firmness, compare the meat against the muscle when the hand is clenched in a fist.
Tools for barbecuing:
- Tongs - the most essential tool which saves you from burning your fingers.
- Spatula - perfect for flipping anything on the grill.
- Basting brush - to ensure you dont waste your marinade. Brush the meat/fish to add that extra flavour while cooking.
- Water spray bottle - grease fires are the enemy as they give food that bitter, charred taste, so keep this on hand to stop any flare-ups.
- Oven mitts - an essential when the heat is turned up.
- Grill fork - great for turning food and lifting big pieces off the barbecue.
- Wire brush - Its important to keep the grill clean while youre cooking. This tool will help keep your grill free from burnt on bits.
- Gas barbecues have come along way in the past few years. You cant beat them for speed and ease of use. The key is to start barbecuing on a grill that has been pre-heated for at least 10 minutes. The intense heat will seal in the flavour and ensure those sought-after char marks.
- When youve finished cooking its easier to clean the gas barbecue whilst its still warm, using a wire brush.
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