With no more restrictions on gatherings and the weather having hit 88F this week, many people will be dusting off their barbecues and enjoying delicious treats in the sunshine.
But many will make common mistakes while outdoor grilling which could leave them with some less than desirable dishes.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Mursal Saiq, co-founder of the wildly popular Afghan Guyanese BBQ specialists Cue Point, and their head chef Josh Moroney revealed how to avoid a grilling disaster.
‘It’s a common misconception that BBQ is all about pork, country music and beer. It’s really not anymore,’ Mursal, who runs a restaurant in Chiswick, west London, told FEMAIL.
‘We founded Cue Point in order to shake up the BBQ scene. We don’t serve pork, we’re completely inclusive for Muslims and Jewish people, vegans, the dairy intolerant, and our food is made in small batches with big flavours,’.
Here, she tells FEMAIL her top tips on barbecuing, from making a good marinade to keeping your fire under control…
DON’T FORGET TO MARINADE
‘Marinating is a big part of BBQ – but you can take it too far, with over-seasoning, brining and rubbing.
‘There is nothing wrong with creating a dry rub and putting it onto the meat, fish or veggies, straight onto the BBQ.
Remember to marinade! Mursal told FEMAIL: ‘There is nothing wrong with creating a dry rub and putting it onto the meat, fish or veggies, straight onto the BBQ’. (stock image)
‘We believe you do need to marinade white meat, but beef can just be cooked with a bit of herby salt and comes out just as moist and flavoursome.
‘Lamb on the other hand, because it’s more gamey, really benefits from a good marinade.
PREPERATION IS KEY
‘Get your trays, tongs and tea towels all ready to the side of the BBQ so you’re ready to serve up. Preferably with a cold glass of something nearby.
KEEP YOUR FIRE UNDER CONTROL
‘Burn marks do not mean that the food is cooked!
‘A lot of people assume that you can only cook on white charcoal, but you can cook slowly using less charcoal making sure not to overload your barbecue, slow cook on black coals rather than searing hot white coals, ensuring that meat in particular is cooked from within and throughout.
Don’t be afraid to slow cook! Mursal explained that slow cooking using less charcoal works well (stock image)
DON’T LEAVE YOUR MEAT ON THE GRILL WHEN IT’S GONE OFF
‘Picture the scene: you’ve got a BBQ in the garden or park, the fire’s gone out a bit, so you fan the coals with a bit of cardboard and before you know it the ashes have gone all over the food, into the drinks and all over your clothes. Don’t be lazy!
‘Take the time to remove the food from the barbie, ask everyone to move out of the way and get fanning in a safe way.
ALWAYS WEAR AN APRON
It’s a mucky business! Always wear and apron when barbecuing and clean it after cooking (stock image)
‘BBQ-ing can be a mucky business: they’re never totally clean when you start, so get it hot then invest in a really good BBQ cleaning brush and give it a rub down.
‘If you’re really organised, you can clean it after your BBQ too!
BUY A THERMOMETER
‘BBQ really is a scientific process and people don’t realise that!
‘Meat acts in different ways, and in different conditions. Just because you’ve always cooked thing a certain way doesn’t mean it’s going to come out the same way each time.
‘Darker meats that we smoke, such as brisket, should come out at around the 88º-92º degree level.
‘This works for any meat that you want to melt in the mouth.
‘Steaks would be around the 55º degree mark level, so that they come out juicy and gorgeous.
It’s a science! Mursal said using a thermometer is key – and that beef should be 88º-92º (stock image)
COOK YOUR VEGETABLES BEFORE THE MEAT
‘Sounds simple – but another people always forget.
‘Always cook your vegetables before the meat, so the veggies can eat it without a load of meat juice being all over it!
‘And don’t be afraid to par boil veggies, so they don’t come out stringy or hard. This works particularly well with corn on the cob, beetroot and asparagus. Veggies can often do well wrapped in tin foil.
Always cook your vegetables before the meat, so the veggies can eat it without a load of meat juice being all over it. Stock image
DISPOSE OF YOUR BBQ IN A METAL BUCJET
‘You need to think about where you place your BBQ.
‘Don’t put it right by your rose bush as the heat and ash will ruin it.
‘Buy yourself a metal ice bucket, stick some water in there and then put the charcoal in it so you can dispose of it safely.
And how to keep those pesky bugs away? Gardening expert reveals how to stay fly-free on the grill
A spokesperson for Gardening Express told FEMAIL: ‘There’s nothing worse than when you’re having a nice barbecue with friends and family and there’s bugs flying about.
‘They can be a real pain but there are a few inexpensive ways to keep them away.
‘These tricks are really simple and a lot of them involve using things most of us probably already have in our homes.’
1. Insect repellent plants
Plants like Lavender and Chrysanthemum can help to keep bugs away and they’ll also add some colour to your garden.
Simply place a couple of these near the barbecue to discourage flies and insects.
Citronella candles are great at repelling mosquitoes and other bugs and are fairly inexpensive.
Light a couple of these and you’re good to go.
3. Lemon and garlic
Some foods can actually help to deter bugs and flies away from the barbecue too.
Slice a couple of lemons in half and place a clove of garlic inside, place them on plates and spread them around the barbecue area to keep the insects well away.
4. Water and pennies
This unusual tip uses light reflection to confuse the flies and keep them away.
Fill up a few glasses of water and drop around three pennies into each cup. Place these near your barbecue and serving area and you’ll notice the flies won’t come past them.
Another option is to fill up half of a plastic bag with water and fill it with around five to seven pennies and hang these in different areas in your garden.
5. Brown paper bags
Wasps tend to stay far away from other wasp nests so this trick is perfect to keep them away.
Simply grab a brown paper bag and fill it out with some rubbish to help it resemble a wasp nest.
Hang this by the serving area and wasps will stay away
There are certain herbs that insects hate the smell on.
Throw some sage and rosemary on the grill as you cook your barbecue and the bugs will stay clear
7. Burning egg cartons
To deter any mosquitoes just light an empty egg carton and place it in a safe place away from your guests.
The burning smell will stop mosquitoes from entering the barbecue area.
8. Using LED lights
As evening approaches you may notice the garden lights are attracting bugs.
Consider switching the lights for LEDs as these are the lights which are least likely to attract bugs.
9. Cut the grass
Cutting the grass a day or two before a barbecue can get rid of any bugs hiding in the long grass that could potentially come out during a barbecue.
Judy Joo shares her top BBQ tips for Aldi’s Raising The Barbeque campaign, which aims to help Brits up their grill game this summer
Getting the fire started
The best way to get a grill started is using a chimney starter. If you don’t have one, lighter fluid alternatives that are generally available around the house are cardboard egg crates, newspaper (crinkled up into balls), any high proof alcohol, and it is a known fact that all crisps work for starting a fire. So layer in some Doritos or potato crisps in with your charcoal. They are slow burning, so they get your coals going in no time.
Don’t be afraid to use wood with your charcoal
Wood chips create more smoke, which adds flavour to the food you’re cooking. Vegetables, chicken, fish and burgers taste wonderful with a nice dose of woody BBQ smoke. Most pit masters will use large wood chunks to put in with their coals, but for the most casual back garden barbie, I suggest easy to handle wood chips. Just remember to soak them in water for at least an hour first as you don’t want them to burn too quickly – this also allows them to smoke for longer.
If you want to get more advanced you can use different types of woods for the different things you’re cooking – hickory, mesquite and fruitwood are probably the most common hardwoods used. Hickory works very well with pork, lending a slightly sweet aroma and flavour. Mesquite tends to be the top choice for beef. And fruitwood goes well with chicken and seafood. No woodchips? Just throw some fresh herbs on your coals—especially hearty ones like rosemary branches. You’ll get smoke and flavour.
Use a half-cut onion to clean your grill
Half cut onions come in handy for cleaning. Onions have anti-bacterial properties so when rubbed on a heated grill it helps remove grit and grime. And, the onion’s natural oils create a non-stick coating on the grates. When done, simply toss the onion in with the coals which will add some flavour to your smoke.
Create a two-zone fire pit
Having two zones of heat, direct and indirect, allows you to better control how you cook on the BBQ. After lighting your coals, push them to one side (direct high heat) and have the other side for lower temperature cooking (indirect lower heat). Use the high heat side for searing and cooking that requires intense temperature and use the low side more like an oven for slow cooking. You can also move food here if flare ups on the high heat side occur.
Try grilling on wooden planks
Wooden planks are a great way to impart flavour into your food. I love to use planks to cook fish. Cedar in particular imparts a subtle delicious flavour, but you can also use maple, cherry, alder and more. Just make sure you soak your board for at least 3 hours before – ideally overnight – and coat in vegetable oil before use. Want to take it a step further? Try adding some beer, wine, juices or herbs to the water you soak the plank in – this will add even more flavour!
Cook fish over a bed of citrus
Another great way to cook fish on the BBQ is to thinly slice citrus such as lemons or oranges one-quarter inch thick, and layer on your grill to create a bed to rest your fish on. Not only will this infuse flavour, it will help prevent your fish from breaking or sticking to the grill when cooking or flipping – especially important when using delicate cuts. You’ll gain plenty of presentation points by adding grilled lemon halves to serving plates too.
Try using pans and grilling baskets on the BBQ
Don’t limit what you cook on the BBQ because of the grill. Grilling baskets are a great way to cook fish or items that are hard to flip, like quesadillas. You can also use skillet pans on the BBQ – when it’s closed it’s just like an oven – just take care not to use a pan with any plastic or wood handles.