As we enter barbeque season and celebrate National BBQ Week, many people across the UK will be cleaning the dust off their BBQs and cooking burgers, sausages, chicken skewers, halloumi, and many other culinary treats.
However, although there is nothing better than a succulent beef burger, sunshine and beer, every year BBQ enthusiasts fall victim to the most common food poisoning bug in Britain – “the barbeque bug”!
To help you, our Chef Director Chris Holland has brought together his favourite tips for every BBQ enthusiast, including best practice health and safety when cooking and how to deliver superior results:
Health and Safety
It is no coincidence that the most common food poisoning bug in Britain is nicknamed the barbeque bug.
Campylobacter is usually contracted from undercooked poultry, shellfish and, a BBQ favourite, the burger! This can last up to a week and has severe symptoms. To ensure your guests don’t fall ill, follow these tips:
1. Use Hot Coals
Just as you would with the oven or hob, you need to allow coals to get hot before you start cooking food. This gives you more control over cooking time and lowers the risk of serving undercooked food.
When the coals are ready, they will be mostly an ash colour with a little red glow underneath.
2. Prevent Flames
Flames on the barbeque tend to burn the outside of the meat or fish, yet leave the centre cold and raw; likely to result in campylobacter or other types of food poisoning.
Flames are caused when too much air reaches the coals. To prevent this, I recommend cooking with the lid down and having a bottle of water with a spray lid in reach and ready to use to dampen them down.
3. Cook with a Sous Vide Machine
The sous vide cooking technique guarantees a safe BBQ as foods are properly cooked at precise temperatures and for the right length of time. By using a water bath and following correct cooking guidelines, your meat and fish will be cooked all the way through for safe and tender results.
Simply finish the food off on the BBQ to add a crust and moist finish.
If you want to impress your guests, it’s important that you deliver delicious flavours and precise cooking. Here is how you can guarantee superior results:
1. Use Quality Ingredients
There is nothing worse than having to eat dry, tough and bland food, but by using high quality ingredients you are more likely to deliver on both flavour and texture!
For example, when cooking meat proteins, quality products will contain more fat and this will help with moisture retaining.
2. Use Wood Chips
It is always a good idea to use wood chips if you want to achieve an authentic and delicious smoky flavour.
This is a straightforward process that only requires wood chips, a flavoured liquid and (occasionally) a smoking gun.
When using wood chips on barbequed food, all you have to do is add the chips to the coals once hot.
To prepare the chips, it is essential that you moisten them with a liquid first. This not only helps them release a steady stream of flavour, but prevents quick burning. Apple juice is perfect for mesquite chips, or if you’re using whiskey chips, soak them in a little whiskey.
For example, you could use Bourbon wood chips to enhance the flavour of our Bourbon and Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs.
And you don’t have to limit wood chips to just the foods you are going to cook on the BBQ! Wood chips are perfect for adding a smoky flavour to meat and fish, and can also be used to enhance your side dishes. Check out how you can make a flavoursome smoked side dish with our Smoky Guacamole recipe.
There are plenty of flavours, both coarse and fine, so just experiment and find your favourites! For example, if your BBQ isn’t complete without the accompaniment of BBQ Sauce, try Hickory Wood Chips for a subtle and sweet flavour.
View all of our wood chips.
3. Marinade for long enough
As well as transforming the flavour, marinades and rubs can help tenderise your food so that you can enjoy succulent results.
I recommend leaving the food to adopt the flavour for at least 3 hours, but if you can, leave it overnight for optimum flavour.
4. Use Sous Vide Techniques
Sous vide cooking methods and BBQs are a match made in heaven; you can perfect the balance of flavours, avoid dry meat, guarantee perfectly cooked food, and spend less time cooking and more time with friends and family.
The food can all be cooked in advance and popped back in the water bath to bring it back up to temperature on the day.
To help you achieve BBQ greatness, here are some of our favourite recipes perfect for National BBQ Week:
Sous Vide is also a healthy cooking option as the process requires little oil or fat, making it ideal if you want a healthy alternative. For example, enjoy a simple salmon portion, sousvide pineapple with rum and star anise, or boned out chicken thighs.
We’d love to see how you celebrate National BBQ Week – make sure you tweet us your food pictures to @sousvidetools!