What’s the best way to enjoy a sunny day? I’m thinking out in the garden, of course, with a fiery grill and some ice-cold drinks! As nothing can beat a delicious BBQ outdoors, I’ve asked food writer and culinary expert Judi Rose about the best ways to grill meat and veggies, plus her top tips to help you barbecue and entertain like a pro.
Now, I guarantee that these ideas will make you head straight for the barbecue! Read on for Judi’s top tips…
Have snacks at the ready
The whole process of heating up the grill and cooking takes a bit, so have something on hand for everyone to snack on while the main course is underway. I like to brush some flatbread with a little water, then throw it on the the grill for a minute or so. Once guests arrive, serve it warm with a bowl of hummus or a simple yoghurt, garlic and cucumber dip.
To make life easier, prepare any sides and salads well ahead – one of my favourites is a gorgeous platter of garlic and herb-marinated grilled veggies.
Tame the heat
Make sure you don’t have the grill super hot unless you’re cooking steak or lamb chops. Otherwise, you can end up with the food that’s really done on the outside before the middle is even cooked.
All about the meat…
Remember that meat continues to cook even after it’s off the heat.
Use an instant read meat thermometer to see if it’s cooked in the centre. Once it’s done, don’t keep it on the BBQ or even on the warming rack as it will continue to cook – or, more likely, over-cook.
As soon as it’s at temperature, transfer it to a platter and cover it with foil to keep warm and rest, which will help make it juicier as the juices will be drawn back to the centre from the surface.
If you’re cooking chicken, choose thigh fillets or joints – they stay much juicier than breasts. If they have skin on, cook skin-side down for the first 10 minutes until golden, then turn them over.
Fish can be tricky. It tends to stick to the grill and fall apart when you try to take it off. Use firm fish like salmon or tuna and grill it on a bed of herbs, wrapped in lightly oiled foil, or – more fun – on a BBQ plank.
All about the vegetables…
If you’re planning to grill veggies in real time, remember that they take longer than you’d think – chunks of onion, peppers or mushrooms, sized so they don’t fall through the grill rack, are at their best cooked long and slow.
Either start them off before the protein or, easier still, toss them with a dash of oil and a pinch of sea salt and give them a blast in the microwave to soften slightly beforehand – you can do this several hours ahead, too.
This is especially useful for starchy vegetables such as potatoes, but isn’t necessary for tender greens such as asparagus or pak choy – but do toss them with oil and a dash of sea salt right before your throw them on the barbecue.
Think outside the burger
Much of the world’s most delicious street food is cooked on a barbecue. Whip up an easy marinade and you can wow your friends with world flavours such as Thai Gae Yang chicken, tandoori paneer, satay tofu, or Mexican fajitas.
Not forgetting the glorious flavours of the Mediterranean, from spicy lemon and oregano halloumi to succulent herbed lamb brochettes (skewers).
Last but not least, desserts
Halved fresh peaches, apricots and chunks of pineapple are wonderful when seared on a BBQ – the heat caramelises the surface bringing out their natural sweetness while the flesh become extra juicy. Thread mixed fruit on bamboo skewers that have been soaked for a couple of hours – or use metal ones.
Get more inspiration from lots of delicious recipes in Judi’s most recent book called To Life! Healthy Jewish Food, available on Amazon.
Featured image: iStock/ ozgurcankaya