Make the most of the British sunshine this weekend by throwing an impromptu barbecue party. The best barbecues involve great friends and quality meat, and your local neighbourhood pal The Hampstead Butcher & Providore can certainly help you source the latter.
We caught up with Philip from The Hampstead Butcher & Providore to find out exactly what needs to be done to throw a great barbecue this weekend.
How to throw a great BBQ
1) Marinade, marinade, marinade
For maximum flavour marinade the day before the barbecue or buy marinated BBQ-ready cuts. If you’re marinading yourself use strong plastic bags tied securely to prevent leakage when turning. Alternatively marinade in non-reactive containers (glass or stainless steel) and cover tightly with clingfilm.
Use light olive oil or vegetable oil in your marinade. Avoid extra virgin olive oil as it burns and smokes on contact with the barbecue.
3) Shake it off
Rub or shake off any excess marinade, especially if there is any oil in it, before placing meat on the barbecue. This prevent burning or flaring – and the consequent smoky bitter flavour.
4) Light the barbecue early
Light the barbecue before guest arrives; you don’t want to cook on lots of flames and smoke, just the red-hot embers.
5) Chill out
Meat needs to be at room temperature before it hits the BBQ, so take it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you need to cook it.
Your meat is needy and requires constant attention. Never leave cooking food unattended as it will probably burn when your back is turned!
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Keep a spray bottle of water on hand so you can extinguish excessive flames (should they appear).
8) How to tell if the meat is cooked
To determine if meat is cooked cut into the centre of the meat with a small sharp knife. Cut all the way down to the bone (if there is one) to check that the flesh is cooked and juices are running clear.
9) How to tell if the fish is cooked?
To check if flaky fish like salmon is cooked, press the flesh with your finger or a fork to check that the flakes come apart. If they do, it’s ready to eat.
Rest the meat straight from the BBQ to prevent all the juices squeezing out. You need to let the muscle fibres relax and take back the juices after the intensity of the heat. To do this rest the meat away from direct heat, loosely covered in foil, for 5-10 minutes (small chicken joints and steaks) or a minimum of 15 minutes for large joints.
Season meat after it has come off the grill with sea salt. If you do it before it will draw moisture from the food making it stick more easily – and dry.
12) Safety first (tip 1)
Keep things hygienic with a bowl of warm soapy water or baby wipes nearby for when you need to wash your hands.
13) Safety first (tip 2)
Keep raw and cooked food trays, bowls, chopping boards and marinades separate. Never put cooked meat back onto the same dish you used for marinating the raw food – always use a clean serving dish or plate.