“Every day is a school day” so the proverb goes . . . and this is particularly relevant when it comes to the world of BBQ and cooking outdoors . . . you truly do learn something each and every day.
I honestly see myself as a complete novice / beginner, however, through a lot of trial and error and talking to the awesome BBQ Community I’ve picked up quite a few tips and tricks during my adventure so far . . . and here I share some of them:
Warm that Burger Smasher
The first tip was shared by the BBQ legend that is ‘Spice Punch‘. Whilst many rely on parchment / wax paper to prevent the spatula sticking to the patties when smashing . . . simply heat the spatula a little before you smash and it will slide off beautifully.
Looking for Crispy Wings? Cornflour is your friend . . .
Add a few teaspoons of cornflour to your seasoning / rub and apply to wings after you’ve patted them dry. Grill indirect at around 180°c flipping half way through cooking.
Ease off on that Gasket
If you are lucky enough to have a Kamado Joe then one thing that I’ve seen people comment on is that the gasket needs replacing due to becoming permanently compressed and not providing a good seal. When mine is covered over and not in use I take the latch off to relieve the force constantly on the gasket. Simples!
Use Quality Fuel
It really does make a difference! When I first started cooking outside I looked around for the cheapest fuel I could find . . . thinking as long as it burnt, what difference could it possibly make. Don’t make the same mistake I made . . . spend a little more on the fuel and you’ll enjoy a clean and stable cook that imparts a fantastic flavour on your food. I rely on ‘Cue the BBQ‘ for general use and ‘Charcoal Guru™ Marabu Charcoal‘ for my longer cooks.
Cook to Temp, NOT Time
It’s OK to use time as an indication of cooking duration, but it’s true what they say . . . “It’s done when it’s done“. The other week I cooked a basic chicken in the oven and followed the instructions on the packet . . . this resulted in a chicken that finished at 91°c internal which is way past the temperature I usually take chicken too for that perfect juicy bird.
Hassle Free Clean-up
Let’s face it . . . cleaning a BBQ / Smoker is never fun . . . line drip trays / pans with foil to eliminate the really messy job.
You have Support
Without the BBQ community I wouldn’t have the confidence to cook most of what I do today. There is a fantastic support network on Instagram that is there for you to tap in to as much as you like and here is my recommendation on the top accounts you should all follow.
3 Stages of Flavour
Don’t limit yourself to only adding flavour during the cook . . . think about the other possibilities you have at your disposal.
- Before cooking – Marinating / brining
- During cooking – Heat / smoke / basting
- After cooking – Saucing, resting with butter or rub mix on your chopping board
Bring to Room Temp
When possible get your meat out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature before cooking. This is a highly subjective tip where people on the other side of the fence will say it doesn’t matter or smoke adheres better to cold meat . . . but . . . I’ve had better and more even cooks when I cook from room temp.
Direct and Indirect Zones
When grilling try to make sure you set up both direct and indirect zones, either by using a deflector or banking the fuel to one side. This gives you more control allowing you to move food around based on it’s temperature and char.
Perfect Melted Cheese
Every great burger needs to be topped with gooey melted cheese and the best way to achieve this is to add a splash of beer (or alterative liquid) adjacent to the burger before covering with a cloche, this creates steam which helps create the best finish to your cheesy topping.
Stop pricking, poking or squashing the food . . . all you are achieving is squishing all the moisture from the food item and ultimately destroying both the look and taste.
Don’t Sauce too Early
Don’t add sauce too early. Many sauces contain sugars which burn easily and ruin all your hard work. Instead add your sauce during the final 15 – 30 minutes of the cook.
. . . but most importantly
Enjoy the experience of cooking outside! Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to take the perfect picture / video of each cook . . . I did this at first and it takes some fun out of it.
Instead focus on the food, the event, the quality time spent with friends and family and if you’ve got the time to take a few cheeky photos . . . well . . . that’s a bonus!