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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Understanding BBQ - Part 2: The Basics & The Techniques

Because food can be prepared ahead of time,
it allows the host to entertain the guests
The best thing about BBQ is that it is easy, and because it is mostly prepared ahead of time, it allows the host to socialise and entertain the guests during the gathering, rather than be stuck in the kitchen with the food prep. BBQs, being outdoors, have a very energetic and active vibe to them, which instills the fun factor right from the start. With the multi layers of flavours offered through the method of barbecuing, the eating experience becomes fun as well!

The basics of BBQ are very simple, be it the basics for planning, or the basics for food prep. All will be covered here, so read on, and know these basics, as they make for the success of your event, and allow you to host the best ever BBQ parties, every time!

Planning The Best BBQ get together
When planning any event, attention to details is what makes all the difference. This is what transforms an event from just another ordinary get together, to a fun-filled,impressive event, where all guests enjoy themselves.

Marinating Meats
Prepare ahead BBQ is all about preparing ahead. plan, and do your grocery shopping ahead of time. Food tastes better when Marinated ahead f time, as it will have absorbed all the flavours and also result in more tender meats.

Don't miss out on enjoying your guests by having to prepare everything while they are there. After all being able to enjoy your guests is one of the best things about BBQs.

Vegetarian skewers
Think of everyone When planning your event, think of your guests and whether any of them have any specific dietary needs! Are there any vegetarian guests? Is anyone on a specific diet? Are there any allergies, preferences, strong dislikes...etc after all who wants to cook all the wrong foods? There is nothing more elegant than a host who thinks of everyone and caters for all needs. this also sends a welcoming message to guests, and is a way to tell them that you have thought of them while planning the event and preparing the food. That is the essence of social interaction.

Be creative in your set up
Set the scene One of the best things about hosting parties and gatherings, is that you get a chance to unleash the inner designer. you get the chance to set up and decorate the venue, be it your garden, or a rented space. Find out what you are in the mood for, and set the scene accordingly. Feel free to use a different mood and style every time! You will be amazed at how impressive set up gets, and it creates for conversations amongst your guests. This way not only will your guests look forward to trying your food, but they will also look forward to be impressed by your style, decoration...etc. They will look forward for Your Experience!

Don't worry about taking the not-so-traditional road when it comes to set up. You do not have to use a proper icebox to keep your drinks cooled. be creative and use something you already have for icebox for instance. Since BBQs are a casual affair, use lots of colour, contratsts... set up stations, use labels, create signs, blow bubbles, have music on and have fun!

Use different ingredients to create
your unique Marinades
Invite people ahead of time, plan thank you notes, and think of giveaways, it is always nice to give your guests something to take home as closure to a fantastic day. Being a good host is really chic, so go for it and see for yourself how rewarding it can be.

The Basic Food Preparations for a BBQ
Is used to add flavour, moisten and/or tenderise foods. This is especially used with meats. Marinades can be savoury, sweet, spicy, fruity, exotic or fragrant...etc

Marinade Basics:
  • Oil-based marinades for dry foods like white fish, lean meats...etc
  • Venegar or wine-based marinades are best used for richer foods with higher fat content, such as lamb, pork...etc
  • Do not salt your marinades, as they will draw juices out of your meats, instead salt meats right before cooking.
  • for 500g of food, about 2/3 cup of marinade is enough.
  • In a bowl, mix together the marinade contents. Place the food in a shallow dish in a single layer, or in a plastic bag. Add marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate till ready to use. (from 30 mins to several hours)
  • If you want to use the marinade for basting, reserve some before getting in contact with the raw meets. Never use marinade that was in contact with raw food for basting.
  • There are classic Marinades which you can use, but feel free to come up with your own through the use of various herbs, spices, oils, crushed seeds, sugars, honey, juices...etc
create your own basting brush
Basting, is brushing the meat with marinade, butter, or oil frequently while grilling, in order to stay moist. Instead of using the usual basting brush, create your own using herb springs. Not only will they baste, but will also lend their flavours to the food. Rosemary is a good option. Also try, dills, corriander, Oriental Basil...etc

Different Meats, Different Methods
  • Fish The intense dry heat is best used for oily fish such as salmon, mackarel and tuna. Make sure the fish steaks are at least 3-4 inches away from heat source. For leaner fish you need to baste it frequently in order not to try out. Asian Marinades including spring onions, lemon grass, teriyaki... go very well with fish. Also herbed oils make for a very tasteful, yet simple marinade.
  • Poultry Pieces with even thickness such as the breasts are best for BBQ as they cook evenly. Use a thermometer to determine doneness especially when pieces are still attached to the bones. If not marinating, brush with oil, or melted butter to prepare for cooking. place 4-6 inches away from heat. if they brown too quickly reduce the heat slightly (method explained in part 1). Allow 30-35 minutes for poussin, chicken breats, drumsticks or thighs. 10- 15 minutes for skinless, boneless chicken or duck breasts. Turn halfway through the cooking time.

  • Meat: Dry heat of grilling suits the naturally tender cuts of beef, lamb and pork. these cuts are usually no thicker than an inch. brush these with oil, butter or your preferred basting sauce. Place these meats about 3 inches away from heat and turn during cooking.
Steaks are cooked to your desired doneness. Meat thermometers take the guess work out of the equation and make sure they are cooked to your specific liking.

Relishes are a great way to liven up your creations
Use relishes such as chutneys , cucumber relish, pickles and onions relish and home-made sauces to add to your end product, like sausages, hotdogs, burgers, sandwiches...etc. These bring out the flavours of your food, and can add a kick to them. You can make a relishes, sauces and accompaniments section in the buffet and allow guests to create their own flavours. This will definately impress and add a wow factor to your event. 

Experiment with different mustards, tomato sauces, relishes, salts, peppers, herbs...etc and keep the choice open for your guests. Follow all those steps, and you will definately have one fabulous event to impress everyone :)

Be a star and complete your BBQ Menu by offering your guests some of my favourite Beverages and refreshing coolers, they will really enjoy them.

Thank you for reading this post, hope you enjoyed it. Go on, plan BBQs, enjoy the outdoors and your family and friends. But before you do, leave me a comment. I love to hear from you :)
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