Barbecuing season is close at hand, meaning mouthwatering flame-cooked food is within touching distance. To get you in the mood, Matt Blackwell dons his apron and dishes the advice
As the heat finally begins to recede after a long and sticky summer, many people emerge from their air-conditioned cocoons with thoughts of entertaining outdoors. And what better way to bring friends and family together than by firing up the grill for a good old barbecue?
The word “barbecue” is thought to have derived from “barabicu”, which was used by the Taíno people of the Caribbean and translates roughly to “sacred fire pit”. Indeed, what is often considered a sociable pastime is actually big business in the United States, with regular cook-offs taking place all over the country offering cash prizes that reach staggering heights of up to $110,000 (RO42,355).
For the rest of us, though, barbeques are more about the communal element and the chance to sample some seriously succulent food, from flame-grilled steaks and burgers to lighter options such as chicken and freshly caught fish.
So dust down the grill, stack up the charcoal, invite your nearest and dearest and let the menfolk fight for control of the flames while Y brings you everything you need for a great barbecue.
As many know, proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance and the six Ps that make up the military adage can be applied to barbecuing, too. Marinade your meat for at least two to three hours before cooking to lock in moisture and keep everything as juicy as possible. Try blending olive oil, lemon juice, honey, chopped chilies and pepper for a basic marinade, before experimenting to find your own favourite.
As the focal point of any barbecue, the meat deserves serious attention. Make a special trip to a quality butcher or speak to experts at a supermarket. They will be able to talk you through the advantages of different cuts. Not only will you be able to confidently trace the source of your food, you’ll also be supporting local traders.
Don’t Forget the Veggies
While meat is undisputed king of the barbecue, it’s certainly not the be all and end all. Halloumi is the go-to classic, but don’t be afraid to experiment. A sliced aubergine drizzled with oil and sprinkled in salt tastes great when lightly charred. And don’t forget those flame-grilled flatbreads. Stuffed peppers always go down a treat, too.
Although not the main event, side dishes undoubtedly play an important role in any barbecue. Ditch the predictable potato salad and the boring store-bought salsa and opt for some blackened Cajun wedges or multi-layered chilli-cheese nachos. Why not try smothering your usual corn on the cob with butter and basil or chili powder for an African-inspired twist?
The Right Equipment
Just as with any trade, all self-respecting masters of the barbecue need the correct tools to do the job properly. We recommend grill gloves to protect you from the heat, along with tongs and a spatula to aid with flipping and moving things around the grill. Last, but definitely not least, a meat thermometer is essential to ensure food is cooked to the correct temperatures. The last thing you want your guests leaving with is food poisoning!