LICENSEES with little experience preparing barbecued food needn’t worry, because there are a set of golden rules for cooking the perfect barbecue, according to one professional chef.
Barbecue specialist Richard Holden, who last month teamed with thermometer brand Thermapen for promotional activity around National BBQ Week, said his top tips can ensure venues are able to provide consistently high quality barbecued food.
“Not only is barbecued food delicious but with a bit of ‘know-how’ it’s a healthy and quick way to cook and can be done any time you like,” said Holden.
The starting point is to ensure meat is brought up to room temperature for about 30 to 40 minutes before being cooked, said the chef. Similarly, the grill should be preheated for at least ten minutes before cooking anything on it.
Preheating will burn off any leftover food from the last time the grill was used, as well as sterilising the cooking grate and helping to maintain temperature while actually cooking. All cooking should be carried out at 250 degrees Celsius.
However, a small area of the barbecue should be left without fuel in order to create a ‘safe zone’ where meat can be placed to cook through without burning.
After preheating, but before adding any food, the cooking grates should be cleaned with a wire brush to make sure they are smooth.
Holden recommends cooking with rapeseed oil, which has a higher burning point than olive oil and so is less likely to adversely affect the flavour of the food.
The cooking itself should be carried out using a lid, said Holden. Not only will this ensure food cooks faster, it will also help to create aromatic smoke as fats drip onto the hot coals.
Meat should be handled with two sets of tools: one for interacting with the raw, uncooked meat and the other for taking the cooked food off of the grill. Keeping these separate will prevent contaminating cooked meat with any bacteria found on the raw food.
After cooking, meat should be left to rest to make for a more tender, juicy serving. Steaks and smaller cuts will take around ten minutes, with larger pieces such as joints taking around 20 to 30 minutes.
Lastly, Holden advised licensees to always use a thermometer to ensure food is cooked through before serving.