Celebrity Chef Ben Bartlett, author of Carry on BBQing has some suggestions on how to make the sweet succulent flavours and textures associated with this method of cooking feature in menus this season and beyond.
“It’s all in the planning so make a list of items you can prepare in advance. A rule of thumb is three items on the BBQ such as a burger, sea bass fillet and chicken thigh per person. Then add some salads and breads.
“Gas BBQs such as the commercial Crown Verity range are the best for quick volume al fresco catering.
“Using ready-made sauces makes it simple to offer a wide variety of flavours and cuisine styles, from Pan Asian and Middle Eastern to North and South American. The flavours and textures are already developed in line with customer expectations, removing the risk involved in introducing new recipes. With Lion sauces you can also pre-marinate meats such as beef, lamb or pork with mint, lemon & thyme, rosemary, garlic and chilli.
“Although key flavours in the last 10 years have been spicy, such as sweet chilli and piri-piri, Korean BBQ, with its mellow soy and ginger flavours, is now seeing a rapid growth across the UK.
“Use thinly sliced pork steaks and spray unsweetened apple juice put into a hand garden sprayer onto the meat every few minutes as it is cooking to keep it moist and give it a lovely caramelisation. Then during the final few minutes of cooking brush some warmed Lion Korean BBQ Sauce over the chargrilled meat. Topped with chopped red chilli and coriander, it makes a fantastic flavourful base for a tempting Asian-style wrap or salad.
“The trend for meat-free dining as a lifestyle choice for today’s health-conscious and environmentally aware consumer just continues to grow. Cater for veggie and vegan customers well and it is the key to customer loyalty in a crowded market place.
“Glaze slices of tofu with Thai Honey Sticky Sauce and griddle for a sweet and spicy taste sensation that suits most palates. Spice up veggie kebabs threaded with Quorn pieces, baby onions and colourful peppers with an Asian Ginger, Garlic and Chilli Sticky Sauce marinade or bring the tang of South Carolina’s sub-tropical coastline to chunks of halloumi and cherry tomatoes with South Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce.
“However, it’s not just the centre piece to your barbecue that deserves thought and consideration. Serve your barbecue food with a variety of colourful salads and dressings to ensure secondary spend.
“Crispy, golden Hasselback potatoes make a cost-effective but impressive side. Microwave Yukon Gold or white potatoes for five minutes and make slices 5mm apart with a sharp knife. Spray with oil and place on heavy aluminium foil cut side up and bake on an area of the BBQ prepared for indirect heat for 45-60 minutes. Drizzle with buttermilk dressing to serve.
“Corn on the cob is fantastic on the barbecue and something you can half-cook in advance. Cut the whole cob into three and boil in a saucepan for 20 minutes. Drain the water, cool and store in the fridge if prepared the day before. Sprinkle some paprika over the corn and place on the grill turning frequently and glaze with warmed BBQ sauce.
“Don’t forget desserts. Bananas, peaches and pineapple are fabulous on the barbecue. Wrap bananas in foil and place on the grill. When it’s soft to the touch, slice it open and pour in a slug of chocolate sauce or a generous splash of Irish cream for a decadent touch.”
Ben’s Top Tips for the perfect BBQ
- Season the grill with olive oil and rosemary before you start
- Bring meat to room temperature before cooking as it will cook through quicker and will also drain fat better
- Spice it up - by adding a powdered spice to your meat
- The biggest trick to grilling fish right is to make sure you oil your cooking grate before you start
- If you are using coals let them turn grey before you start cooking
- Choose a sheltered spot to eliminate wind that may delay cooking time
- Always have a bucket of water on standby for charcoal BBQs
- If you are grilling in the evening have ample lighting
- A clean grill burns better and doesn't leave a bad taste on foods
- When using wooden skewers always soak well in water before use
- Before cooking wrap chicken breasts in cling film and flatten them slightly to help them grill evenly
- If you marinate any meat in a zip lock bag it will take half the time
- Sugar burns very easily so if your sauce contains sugar apply it at the end of cooking
- Steaks and chops will benefit from being allowed to rest for a couple of minutes before serving
- Marinate overnight - it's magic, but remember to baste the meat during the last 5-10 minutes of grilling