10 Tips for the Best Family Barbecues
Here at Luxury Family Hotels we love a good barbecue. For those of you planning to cook alfresco at home, we’re shared our tips for getting the best out of your barbie, whether you’re cooking for the kids or entertaining friends or family.
• Rule number 1 is to stay by your barbecue – for safety’s sake (especially if there are children around), and also for the best cooking results.
• Start with top-quality ingredients. This can mean, among other things, home-made burgers (easy peasy), artisan sausages, whole fish and halloumi. Kids love things on sticks, so make sure to add in some chicken ‘lollipops’ (chicken legs with the meat cut loose from the small end and pushed to the other, then marinated) and lamb koftas.
• Marinade – both in advance (overnight if possible) and during cooking. Brushing meat or fish with marinade every 10 minutes or so keeps it moist, locks in the smoky flavour and helps it to form a caramelised exterior.
• Don’t forget the veg. Peppers, courgettes, aubergines and cherry tomatoes are all wonderful cooked on the barbie, but do make sure to grill without oil or seasoning to make sure they char. You can add olive oil to taste after cooking.
• Don’t overlook side dishes – they’re as much a part of the barbecue as what goes on the grill. Think corn on the cob, potato salad, flatbreads and a big dressed salad.
• Avoid gas barbecues – your food will lack the smoky flavour that is the whole point of cooking over fire. Choose your fuel carefully – natural lumpwood charcoal gives the best taste. Experiment with adding soaked cherry and apple wood to it to bring out the sweetness of meat, or, with fish or pork, try adding hickory and oak.
• Invest in the right tools – a sturdy pair of tongs, a fish slice and a very thick oven glove.
• Light your barbecue well in advance, especially if you are expecting guests. Also, take raw ingredients out of the fridge 20 minutes before use – if they’re too cold when they go on the grill, they might burn on the outside before the centre is cooked.
• Be patient! Wait until the flames have died down and your coals are glowing grey before you start cooking. Place all the coals on one side so you have one very hot area and one area without direct heat and thus can shuffle items around as necessary. Use a lid to stop the temperature fluctuating and to lock in flavour – and to smoke ribs and melt cheese on burgers.
• Make sure to rest meat after barbecuing so the sinews can reabsorb the juices.
Read more about eating and drinking at Luxury Family Hotels.