In Asia they like their BBQ hot and spicy, in Argentina it is considered the national dish, for Americans it has to be extra large cuts of meat, smoked slowly over a low heat with say oak or hickory. And for us Brits? Well I guess people would probably say ‘charred’?!?! When it comes to BBQ, every country has its own style of grilling and tastes. But the UK’s reputation for over-cooking is a little unfair in our opinion. As a nation, we love to BBQ, and for some of us, even the lousy weather doesn’t put us off…
We even have our own BBQ associations! So come on, give us a break. The UK BBQ Association is dedicated to progressing the prevalence of BBQ in the UK, and to increasing the quantity and quality of competitions events and international-standard competition teams. They offer all sorts of advice, run competitions, BBQ cooking classes etc.
And then there’s also The British BBQ Society. Setup in 2008 by Toby Shea, a BBQ enthusiast of many years, the British BBQ Society is the primary barbecue forum in the UK. It is free to use and covers all aspects of barbecue, from grilling techniques to competitions.
I see many an article published asking the same question, will us Brits ever really understand what barbecue is all about? But to borrow the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’! Yes it is still true that many people simply don’t get barbecues, its just a way of cooking outside when the British weather permits.
And yes it is definitely true that food always tastes better outdoors, so even a bad barbecue will sometimes taste good, especially if a little alcohol is involved. But more and more of us are starting to respect and appreciate that barbecuing is a different kind of cooking altogether.
The key to a great BBQ is to strike that fine balance between the taste of the food you’re cooking and the practicality of cooking outside over an open flame. You can cook food in your kitchen with no fuss. But the big plus of the BBQ is getting that smoke to slowly flavour the food.
Yes a BBQ should be simple, but there’s more technique to it than just cooking over an open flame. You have to add the right fuel at the right time, preparation is critical, the temperature must be just so, perhaps adjust the height of the food, invest in quality cuts of meat, and so on and so forth. Trust me, all this adds up to creating a ‘good’ BBQ.
But us Brits are learning… We’re developing a respect for barbecue cooking, and we’re developing a taste for fine barbecue too. And these are just of few of the lastest BBQ trends and techniques that will hot (pardon the pun) this summer.
Slow & Low Cooking
In recent years, a few of us more foodie types (well I like to think I am anyway) have begun to realise the glories of the slow and low BBQ. The Ranch kettle from Weber (pictured above) is great for this.
Smoking is how the Americans BBQ. It allows you to slow cook and flavour food in new and imaginative ways. Weber has always been at the cutting edge of creative techniques and they have a range of barbecues and accessories that’ll ensure your food is succulent and tender with that all important distinctive flavour. By using wood chips and wood papers, everyone can create the perfect smoked BBQ meal.
Burgers with a twist
Personalised burgers are shaking up the traditional BBQ… From the Brie Burger to the Italian Foccacia Burger, there is some great alternative recipes out there. No excuses to serve your guests with a boring burger, in a limp bap, and a dollop of tomato sauce. Look for something a little different!
A big fave at the Lazy Susan HQ is the Zaatar burger. A little sumac, some roasted sesame seeds, ground thyme, all ground together in a pestle and mortar and mixed with lean ground beef or lamb, finely chopped onion and garlic… Wahey, thee perfect east meets west inspired burger. The West of Persia blog has a fab recipe (pictured above).
5 Minute BBQ Marinade
The preparation time for many a marinade is generally over night, or at least two hours. And yes many of them taste great, because all that time allows the marinade’s flavour to permeate the meat, fish or veggies. But sometimes you don’t have that time. Quite often the family and I will have a spur of the moment, post work BBQ is the sun is shining. You need a quick marinade that delivers big flavor in less time than it takes to fire up the barbeque…
Well this simple BBQ sauce delivers. In a pan, mix 350g of tomato ketchup, 1 x bay leaf, 2 tbsp of worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp of smoked paprika, a dash of Tabasco sauce and a 1tsp of lemon juice. Heat until bubbling hot, turn down and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Simple!
South American Asado
Chorizo, morcilla (black pudding), chinchulines (intestines), mollejas (sweetbreads), and other organs are all cooked on an open fire or brasero. They’re often accompanied by provoleta, an Argintinian cheese, which is served as a starter while the cuts that require longer cooking times are still on the grill. Chorizos may be served with marraqueta or baguette. After appetizers, costillas or asado de tira (ribs) can be served. Next comes the vacío (steak), matambre and possibly chicken and chivito (goat).
The meat for an Asado is not marinated, the only preparation being the application of salt before and during the cooking period. Also, the heat and distance from the coals are controlled to provide a slow cooking; it usually takes around two hours to cook an asado BBQ. And it’s not the national dish of Argentina for no reason, it really is a true BBQ feast! To learn more, take a look at the excellent ‘In Asado Heaven’ article by Rick Browne on fiery-foods.com.
Clean BBQ Grilling
Grease, charcoal, and heat are the perfect combination for making a mess. Post barbecue your grill is not an easy thing to clean, especially if like me, you have a tendency to leave it standing outside for a few days before you get around to cleaning it. If you can start your BBQ safe in the knowledge that you’ll have little to no cleaning, then wouldn’t the experience be more enjoyable?
Well now you can… From cooking sheets that keep your grill clean but still retain the all important grill marks on your food, to the Grillbot (pictured above), a robot specifically designed to clean the grease and grime off your grill with minimal effort. There is some fab innovations on the market that reduce the effort needed to clean your barbecue. No longer will you have to scrub those racks with a scouring pad!
The key to a good barbecue is to keep it stress-free, don’t rush the cooking process, enjoy being outside. Today’s outdoor cooking products and accessories are designed to make the job of chef a little easier, and at Lazy Susan we’re seeing some great new innovations hitting the shops this year. 2013 seems to be the year of the BBQ gadget, and at Lazy Susan we’ve seen an abundance to great new grilling tools that make outdoor cooking easy.
From burger presses to forks with built in basters, there is some great new products designed specifically for the BBQ connoisseur. The ProQ Amigo food smoker is a personal favourite at Lazy Susan HQ… You can turn your British suburban garden into a little bit of Texas with this great smoker. It can slow-cook meat for hours, just like you see on programs such as ‘Man vs Food’, until it’s beautifully tender and super tasty.
Next month we will be publishing some of our favourite BBQ recipes from the around the globe, so be sure to pop back and give it a read… Fingers crossed we get a summer and some happy BBQ-ing!