Charlie Hibbert at Thyme has been telling us his secrets for success when it comes to barbecues. Check out these barbecue tips, they will make your summers sizzle.
- If you have a choice between lumpwood and briquettes, go lumpwood every time – it gives a much more natural aroma
- Woody herbs like rosemary and thyme make brilliant basting brushes and I love olive oil for basting. Don’t pour olive oil or extra marinade onto meat, fish or veg when cooking, as it will cause the flames to flare up and burn what you’re cooking
- Treat your meat, fish or veg with the same respect for the barbecue as you would in your kitchen. Bring meat & fish up to room temperature well in advance. Go easy on the salt in marinades, as it draws out the juices from the meat or fish. And, if it’s convenient, keep an oven on a low temp to keep everything hot until you’re ready to serve… there’s nothing worse than people finishing their food when you’re still sweating over a hot grill!
- Wait for the coals to go white and then always close the lid. It will stop your coal burning away in 10 minutes and will also smoke your food as it cooks
- Blanch your sausages by putting them into a pan of cold water, bringing it to the boil and boiling for 3 minutes. Drain and then put onto the barbecue to cook. This will start the cooking process and will also seal the meat, so that the sausages don’t burst during cooking
- If you want something to have a hint of barbecue, but it’s too delicate to put onto the grill directly, you can wrap it in tinfoil and put tiny pin pricks all over the foil for the barbecue taste to infuse
- When cooking chicken joints on the barbecue, make a sticky marinade for the chicken or simply season with salt & pepper. An hour before putting the chicken on the barbecue, put it into a low oven (around 100°C) in its marinade so that its three quarters cooked before going onto the barbecue. This will result in juicy, tasty, tender chicken. Smaller spatchcockedpoussins do really well on the barbecue
- Any root veg wrapped in tinfoil and dropped into the fire pit after the most intense part of the barbecuing has been done make a lovely late treat
- Cook your steaks, bangers or burgers steadily until rich, aromatic and browned, and then turn gently just once. Use long handled tongs rather than a fork that may pierce the meat and allow valuable juices to escape
- It’s all too easy to overcook on a barbecue, leading to charred, leathery or dry meat. Excessive flames turn the oil to carbon, leaving an acrid taste on the meat… so avoid. To ensure even cooking, use the 60/40 method. Cook the meat for 60% of the time on the first side, then turn and cook for the remaining 40%. As soon as the meat browns, move it further away from the heat source so that the inside can cook before the surface burns (exceptions are thin cuts). Raise the rack so that it is about 30cm above the charcoal – at this height the temperature should be perfect
- Knowing the meat is how you like it is the most difficult part of barbecuing. A good thermometer will ensure that everything is cooked to perfection. Guides below:
- Beef – medium rare: 54°C
- Lamb – pink: 58°C
- Pork – juicy: 65°C
- Poultry – safe to eat: 75°C
- Bangers: 75°C
- Once the meat is cooked to your liking, rest it. During resting, the temperatures will continue to rise as the juices in the middle move to the outside and it becomes warm, moist and tender all the way through. To rest your meat, put it on a rack so that it doesn’t lie in its own juices. Cover with tinfoil and leave in a warm place for up to 20 minutes. It’s always better to over-rest meat than under-rest it!
- Salads and grilled veg are an essential part of the process… make sure you’re full prepped on that front before you start cooking because there won’t be time for that afterwards.
- Serve a crowd-pleasing pudding at a barbecue, because you won’t have time or the will to start making a fussy pudding during the evening.I always do a fruit pavlova or an Eton mess
- Take time over laying the table and making it look good (but leaving plenty of room for all the different dishes).Then get everyone to sit down and eat together… barbecues can be very piecemeal if you don’t inject a little organised chaos and the sharing part is what I love about a barbecue
You can try Charlie Hibbert’s food at the Ox Barn at Thyme and in the not-too-distant future, at the re-furbished Swan at Southrop (we’ll be bringing you more about that in a future edition) www.thyme.co.uk/eat or take one of Thyme’s cookery courses: www.thyme.co.uk/happenings/cookery-classes
To check out some of Charlie Hibbert's mouth-watering recipes for L-Shaped, please click here.