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Barbecues are one of the highlights of a glamorous family summer, however, the perfect barbecue is not always easily achieved, and there are some things you will need to think about before you get on the barbecue grill.
So, what should you be considering? Well, this is what we want to talk to you about today. From considering how you get yourself started, to which type of barbecue you should use, to tips and finally, what you should be cooking up on the Barbecue.
We have it all, so get your notepad out and start making notes, because we are going to tell you to have to be the best barbecue chef in the neighborhood, no one else will stand a chance,
It’s time to be the boss of the Barbie, whatever you are cooking up, however, you can be barbecuing it, this is where your journey begins.
So, how do you get started? Well, have you ever used a barbecue before? If you are new to it, or if you are a bit worried about how you light it, do not worry, there is nothing to be afraid of. It is not as scary as it may seem.
If you need to go and buy a barbecue then the first part of it will be what type of barbecue you will get. But more on that in a moment.
One thing you should remember is that in spite of how barbecuing is totally safe, do remember that it is safe if you follow the correct procedures. It can be dangerous if you are uncomfortable with it.
We are always more likely to make dangerous mistakes when we are nervous or anxious. If you are ever in doubt when barbecuing, always consult the user manual and safety warnings. Remember, it is hot.
What Barbecue Are You Going To Use?
One thing to start with is which barbecue you will be using. Not all are the same, we cannot go over safety procedures for this reason, every appliance will have its own risks and safety precautions.
So, you should consider what you are using. There are two types, charcoal or gas, which we will talk about more in a moment. However, which you use will affect how you cook it. So, remember to choose carefully if you are buying your first barbecue.
You can also get propane and electric, but charcoal and gas are the best options.
You should identify your appliance type, and understand how it will affect your cooking. If your barbecue has no knobs or buttons and kind of looks like it is a hollowed out drum of sorts then this is probably a charcoal barbecue.
This is one of the easiest ways to identify your barbecue type.
Prep Is Key
Always remember to prepare your barbecue. You will need to clean it, a clean grill on your barbecue will reap better results in cooking. Most barbecues will have a steel or cast iron grate.
To clean these, you should use a stiff bristled brush to get off any dirt, gunk, rust, and grime off of the grates.
Some may be porcelain-coated, or have some form of non-stick coating, and for these you should use a nylon brush to prevent scratching off any of the non-stick elements.
Do not forget to make sure that the bottom of your barbecue has no debris. Things can always get stuck when you are cooking, this is especially common with charcoal barbecues. Ash and goals from your last cook could still be left inside of it.
Do not forget to apply a thin layer of oil to your grates before cooking if your barbecue does not have a non-stick element.
Let’s not forget equipment. What you need will depend on what type of barbecue you have, as a charcoal barbecue will need different equipment than a gas barbecue will need. A charcoal barbecue will need charcoal, a gas barbecue will need gas.
However, you should also remember cooking utensils, this includes tongs, spatula, and so on. Then there is the cleaning equipment as well, the oils, the cleaning brush, and so on.
If you have a charcoal barbecue, you might want to invest in a timer as well.
One of the most important things to have is the user manual with instructions and safety information, as this is absolutely essential to the safe running of a barbecue.
It is also good to keep a fire extinguisher handy, or even a fire blanket in the event that the worst happens, although it is unlikely that anything so bad will happen, it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Charcoal Barbecues Vs. Gas Barbecues
We have spoken a bit already about these two options. These are the best barbecues you can get, and they are equally as popular.
If you are trying to choose a barbecue, this is where we help you choose. But we won’t drag it out, giving you all the tiny details left, right, and center, instead we will state exactly what we know you want to know.
Yes, pros and cons of each type, all you need to know to choose!
Gets Extremely Hot
The first thing we want to note is how good charcoal barbecues are. Charcoal barbecues are fueled with charcoal and are used with REAL fire. They do take a while to heat of course, but the real fire makes them very hot.
This means your food will cook well and fast when the flames are jumping high.
Provides Food With A Smoky Flavor
This is something people tend to love about charcoal barbecues. They will give you that smokey flavoring every time you cook with it. It is the cliché, niche flavor that most of us have a hankering for when we say we want a barbecue.
Because you are cooking with real fire you get this flavor, as the smoke rises from the flames you will get this flavor. However, there are some negative sides, and extra efforts you need to put in to get this as a consistency.
Gets Extremely Hot
While this is a pro, it is also a con. The heat that it produces means that your food will cook faster, which is not ideal for every single thing you want to cook, it also means that burning food is easier.
Let’s not forget that it being hot does also pose safety concerns as well.
Needs To Be Manually Lit
A bit of a pain, but you cannot just press or turn a button and have an active barbecue, you need to manually light this type of barbecue. You need to light the coals and also keep it hot and burning as well, which is not always easy.
Tough To Keep Consistent Temperature Throughout Cooking Time.
Speaking of which, you do need to constantly be monitoring your barbecue. It will be difficult to keep at the same temperature. A charcoal barbecue uses the coals as the fuel, and coals are not endless, they will run out eventually.
So maintaining the same heat throughout the time you cook can be trying.
Easy To Clean
Gas barbecues are easier to clean than charcoal barbecues, this is mainly due to the fact that they do not use coals. You do not have to worry about the ashes and coals that you get in a charcoal barbecue.
Able To Decide If you Want A Smoky Or Non-Smokey Flavor
Having a smokey or non-smokey option allows you to control the flavor of what you cook. You can add in wood chips with a smoker box if your gas barbecue has this option.
So you do not miss out on the flavor, but if you don’t want it, you can avoid it.
Due to the ease of cleaning, and not having to mess around with coals, or worry about the temperature dropping you have more convenience with a gas barbecue. It is just easier to use and maintain as you cook, although you do lose that ‘traditional’ aspect of cooking with coals.
More Complicated Grill
The only real downside to gas barbecues is how complicated they are. Unlike charcoal grills there are more parts. There are knobs and switches and more settings. Sure, they are more convenient to use, but this convenience does come at a cost.
With more complicated settings and more parts, this just means that there are more parts which can break. Obviously, you shouldn’t be expecting your barbecue to break, but if it does suffer issues or problems, it is not as easy to fix as a charcoal grill.
So, it can be more costly if it has issues.
Barbecuing can be a great way to enjoy a tasty meal outside in the summer, it can bring families and friends together around the dinner table and the food.
However, what makes all this so much better is when it is done to perfection. So, to help you reach that level of perfection, we will give you some top tips to make sure that your barbecuing goes perfectly to plan.
Some of our tips may be obvious, but others are often missed, even by experienced barbecues. So, start taking notes now!
Start With A Clean Grill
When you start on your barbecuing journey, you have to make sure you start with a nice clean barbecue. With a steel or iron grate, clean it with a steel bristle brush, for a non-stick grate, use a nylon brush.
You may even get a barbecue that has a specific tool which will fit the contours of the grates in your barbecue. If you get one of these, you should use this.
Now, you will need to ensure that the base of your barbecue has no debris in it. Sometimes, you will find that things can get stuck in there and may block the heat from coming through properly, this is especially true for charcoal barbecues.
Ash and coals can easily get jammed in there from your previous cook.
Do Not Puncture Your Meat
When you are cooking meat on your barbecue it can be tempting to puncture the meat to check if the meat is done yet. However, this is a bad idea.
Even when you are cooking in other ways, you should never puncture your meat, puncturing your meat will actually ruin the cook.
You need to trust the temperature and the time to cook. If you are unsure if your meat is done, use a thermometer and pay mind to FDA guidelines.
If you puncture the meat then you are letting in additional heat and your meat will cook too fast, it is also likely to dry it out, and you will use the juices.
Do Not Push Your Meat Down Towards The Grates
Much like the previous tip, you should be mindful of how you cook your meat. It can be tempting to get food to cook quicker by pushing the meat down on the grate. Some of us can be so guilty of this.
For many it can be a bad habit that we do when frying meat, and it can easily carry over to barbecuing as well.
However, while it is not recommended in any cooking, it is especially not recommended when barbecuing. Doing so could initiate a flare up. These are dangerous, and can lead to burning food.
So, don’t push your meat down on the grate, and just be safe, and cook food safely and without burning.
Don’t Move Food Around
Once your food is on the grate, leave it where it is. Moving food around on the barbecue is a bad idea, especially on a charcoal barbecue.
This is because there will be certain areas of your barbecue that are hotter than others, and due to this, if you start moving the food around, it will not cook as well as in its original place.
This means that the time will be off, and your food may not cook well. That being said, this is especially true for meats, not only are some meats dangerous to eat when not properly cooked, but moving them, like pressing down on them can also cause flare-ups.
Avoid Putting Cold Food Straight On The Grill
First of all, before you start cooking, do not put frozen meat on your grill. Make sure any frozen meat is thawed completely before you put it on your grill.
Some meats, especially white meats such as chicken and turkey, as well as fish are unsafe to eat when they are not properly cooked.
This means that in some cases it can be more ideal to warm up and start the cooking process in your home, in a pan or on the oven and then transfer it to your barbecue.
The main risks associated with barbecuing meats are the undercooking of meats and germs potentially being spread from raw meat onto readily cooked foods. Cooking inside then transferring to barbecue is a great way to prevent these issues.
Know Your Grill
Get to know your barbecue, and make sure you know it as well as you knew your high school crush. We use this metaphor because like every person is different, so is every barbecue.
You need to sit down and get cozy with your grills manual. The manual does not just tell you how to assemble the appliance, but how to turn it on, and work it, which can be dangerous if you do it incorrectly.
You do not want to be that guy who burned themselves before the burgers were even on the grate.
Use Metal Utensils
This may sound a bit like teaching grandma to suck eggs, but you need to make sure that you use metal utensils and not plastic ones. Plastic utensils will melt.
The best utensils to use for indoor cooking are bamboo ones, for outdoor cooking you should use metal utensils. This is because outside with a barbecue, especially a charcoal one, you are dealing with a flame.
You should also make sure that as you do this you have enough gas, or charcoal (whatever you are using) for your barbecue. This is all part of the prep.
A cooling drink wouldn’t go amiss either, it will be pretty hot over those flames, and you will want to stay cool.
Oil It Up
In some ways a barbecue is not all that different from your frying pan, especially in how you need to oil it up. This is not a fancy process, it will actually stop your food from sticking to the grate
So, before you even turn your barbecue on, you should get a paper towel and coat it in cooking oil and rub it all over the surface of the grate of your barbecue to prevent you losing any food from it sticking to the grate.
This will also make cleaning up easier, as there will be fewer debris if nothing sticks.
If you have turned on the barbecue, and then realize you forgot to oil up the grate, use some tongs to hold your oily towel as you do this, but do it carefully.
Keep Raw Foods Away From Cooked
For anyone who is accustomed to cooking it might sound like the most obvious thing ever, but do not keep your raw and cooked foods close together.
It might seem easier to take the raw burgers off one plate and put them on the same when cooked, but just do not. Doing this is a great way to give yourself food poisoning or salmonella.
Do not do this with any food, it is very unwise to do so. So, make sure you have a plate or tray ready for the cooked food, separate from the one you used for the raw food, especially for meats!
Create Heat Zones
Barbecuing gets difficult in some ways. It is not as simple as frying, or oven baking, when you are barbecuing you have to remember to create heat zones.
Realistically, you will want to have one part of the grate that is cooking at a high heat that will sear the outside of the foods, and one section that will cook at a low or medium heat that will cook the food thoroughly.
Avoid confusing which area is which when you are cooking as they will each have their own specific purposes for making your food perfect.
Check Air Circulation Regularly
Keep an eye on the circulation of air on your barbecue. Do not forget that your meat should not be touching anything, the only exception should be the surface it cooks on. It should not be touching other meat, or the sides of your barbecue either.
You should take a look at the size of your barbecue when you buy it and anticipate what you can fit on it. If you cannot fit the items you would ideally want to cook on it, then it is probably not ideal.
The meat should not be crushed up against the edges of your barbecue when you are cooking as it will not allow for airflow.
If you have a charcoal barbecue, remember that fire needs 3 components to burn, fuel, a fire starter, and air. If your meat is blocking airflow, then the fire will go out.
When you start up the barbecue, do not immediately put the food on there. You will need to wait for your barbecue to heat up once it has been turned on, or once you have lit the charcoal.
If you choose to use a charcoal grill, and you start it with lighter fluids or something similar, you will need to wait around 10 minutes before your fluid has burned off. This is to avoid it getting into the food. Not only would this taste foul, but it is not safe either.
What To Serve
So, now that we know all this, what can you be cooking up on your barbecue?
Well, you have plenty of options on what you can cook. We all know the typical steak, burgers, and hot dogs on the barbecue, that’s just general knowledge, and stuff we pick up from the movies.
But, what about other things?
There is a lot you can cook on a barbecue that you may never have thought of, so, to finish up today we will give you a few ideas of new things you can try on your barbecue.
Who doesn’t love ribs, but you know what is even better than normal ribs? Barbecued ribs. The smokey taste of the barbecue with your ribs is absolutely heavenly. It is highly recommended. Marinade your ribs before you pop them on the barbecue too, and then add some barbecue sauce afterwards for a taste of heaven on earth, nothing beats it.
It doesn’t have to be traditional baby back pork ribs either, try beef ribs too, and mix up the sauces. Feel free to experiment with how you cook them.
Slowly barbecuing these ribs will also, make them really tender, and retain the juices, so not only do you get delicious smokey, tasty ribs, but also succulent and meat that will fall off the bone.
Variety Of Beef
Consider beef varieties too. Of course, burgers are the obvious choice, but there are so many other options including steaks; sirloin, rump, rib eye, and so on. However, you could also cook a brisket, or kabobs.
When you are cooking beef on the grill, always consider what it is and how you can go about cooking it. With steak, we often cook it to our liking, rare, medium, or well-done. You could do this on a barbecue, although it is not as easy.
A brisket can be delicious on a barbecue, however, but it will need a long cooking time.
If you are bored with the normal flavors of a chicken when you cook it in the oven or at a rotisserie, you might want to try cooking a delicious chicken on your barbecue.
This is done like the chicken at fairs. Doing a chicken on a barbecue will give you that succulent flavor, and those smoky undertones at your own home. You can use a whole chicken, or you could just do wings, legs, or breast.
You can season it as you like, and add flavors as you wish, but remember that like when cooking a brisket, the larger the chicken is, or part of the chicken, the longer it will need to cook.
You also do not want to cook chicken at full heat, you will want to cook it at a lower temperature so that it cooks evenly the whole way through.
Pork chops make for great barbecuing, they are delicious when normally done, but on the barbecue you can get so much more flavor from them.
With pork chops they should cook pretty quickly on the barbecue, however, if you can try cooking them in different ways. How long you cook them for will depend on their thickness. However, as long as your grate is hot when you put them on they should only take 5-15 minutes.
If using temperature as an indicator then you should aim for a temperature between 350 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Variety Of Vegetables
Vegetables also go nicely on a barbecue. The way in which you cook them is up to you. If you fancy trying some potatoes on the barbecue this is a favorite of ours.
Simply pre-boil the potatoes (small ones are best), then wrap them in tinfoil with some butter and put it on the barbecue. Once done you will be greeted with succulent potatoes crispy and with a gorgeous buttery flavor.
You can also cook broccoli in a similar way. Or you could try some asparagus.
Other vegetables that barbecue well includes; carrots, onions, bell peppers, and brussel sprouts.
Garnish For The Side
Do not forget to add a garnish to the side. When you have a barbecue, the food will be flavorful and hot, so consider a tasty side salad, or some slaw to counter the flavor and refresh your palate between smoky flavors,
A garnish should compliment your barbecued dish. Something that refreshes your palate is ideal as it will ensure your mouth is greeted with flavor every time you take a bite.
Add in sauces too, dressings and more. Sauces such as BBQ sauce, or a marinade for your meats, additional salads and condiments that compliment the barbecue flavor are ideal, think of sauces brown sauce, BBQ sauce, ranch, and so on.
What sauces you include will depend on what you are making, you will not want the same sauces for a rack of ribs as you would want for a brisket, or a chicken, so match your sauces well.
If you are feeling up to it, you could even create your own sauces from scratch!
Barbecuing might seem tricky at first glance, but it is not too hard once you get the hang of it. Just remember to be safe, and read the user manual of your barbecue upon purchase. Practice safety first, and experiment second.
Safety is key with barbecues, especially with charcoal ones that get super hot. So, practice safety first and foremost.
There are many ways you can use a barbecue to cook, and it can have astounding results to your dish, and reap very tasty benefits, just make sure you are safe, you care for your barbecue, and keep up with maintenance.
If you have not yet bought your own barbecue, we hope that we have given you all the information you need to inspire you to buy one and help you pick the right one for you. Having the right barbecue for your needs is half the battle.