The best thing about BBQ is that it is easy entertaining
And since it is mostly prepared ahead of time, it allows the host/ess 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 on offer the actual BBQ, the eating experience is not short on its own fun as well!
The basics of a BBQ are very simple – be it the basics for planning, or the basics for food prep – and all will be covered here. Read on, and fire that grill, because you are about 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.
Plan, and do your grocery shopping ahead of time for a more relaxed BBQ. Any how, food tastes better when marinated ahead of time, as it will have absorbed all the flavours so preparing ahead will also result in more tender meats. Do that, and you will be able to enjoy your guests, which really is the best thing about BBQs.
As you plan, think of everyone.
Does any your guests have any specific dietary needs? Are there any vegan 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 warm and welcoming message to all the 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 sincere social interaction.
You know you have a designer in you.
One of the best things about hosting parties and gatherings, is that you get a chance to unleash the inner designer. So do set the scene. Set up and decorate the venue, be it your garden, or a rented space. Decide what you are in the mood for, and set the scene accordingly. Feel free to use different moods and styles every time! You will be amazed at how impressive set up gets, and it allows space for different conversations amongst your guests. This way not only will your guests look forward to trying your food, but they will also look forward to see what you come up with next. Basically, they will learn to look forward for Your Experience!
Don’t worry about taking the not-so-traditional approach 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, such as a garden trolley for instance or clean planting pots, perhaps a large bucket or barrel…. Since BBQs are a casual affair, use lots of colour and contrasts… set up stations… use labels… create signs, blow bubbles, have music on and have fun! (watch the video above for some cool tips)
The Basic Food Preparations for a BBQ
This technique is used to add flavour, moisten and/or tenderise foods. This is especially used with meats, however works with fruits and vegetables too. Marinades can be savoury, sweet, spicy, fruity, exotic or fragrant…etc.
- Oil-based marinades: best used for dry foods like white fish, lean meats…etc.
- Vinegar or wine-based marinades: best used for richer foods with higher fat content, such as lamb, pork…etc.
- Do not salt your marinades: salt will draw juices out of your meats, instead salt meats right before cooking.
- How much marinade? For 500g of food, about 2/3 cup of marinade is enough.
- How to marinate? 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 the marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- How long to marinate? Any where from 30 minutes to several hours to even overnight at times. It depends on the food and desired intensity of flavour.
- 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.
- Which marinades to go for? 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. (Check out the links at the end of this article for some inspirations).
This is when you frequently brushing the meat with marinade, butter, or oil while they are grilling. This technique is used in order to keep the food moist.
Instead of using the usual basting brush, create your own using fresh herb sprigs. Not only will they baste, but will also lend their flavours to the food. Rosemary is a good option. Also try, dills, coriander, Oriental Basil…etc.
Different Meats, Different Methods
The Basic Grilling Techniques For Different Kinds of Meats.
- The intense dry heat is best used for oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. For leaner fish make sure the heat is lower and you need to baste the leaner fish types frequently during the grilling, in order for them not to dry out.
- Asian Marinades including spring onions, lemongrass, teriyaki… go very well with fish. Also herbed oils make very flavourful, yet simple fish marinades.
- While on the grill, make sure the fish steaks are at least 3-4 inches away from the heat source.
- 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, then brush the pieces with oil, or melted butter to prepare them for cooking. These coatings can always be seasoned and herbed.
- Place the pieces 4-6 inches away from the heat. If they brown too quickly reduce the heat slightly (method explained in Understanding BBQ 1, see the links at the end of this post).
- Allow 30-35 minutes for poussin, chicken breasts, drumsticks or thighs. 10- 15 minutes for skinless, boneless chicken or duck breasts. Turn halfway through the cooking time.
- The dry heat of grilling suits the naturally tender cuts of beef, lamb and pork. These cuts are usually no thicker than an inch.
- Brush meats with oil, butter or your preferred basting sauce before grilling.
- Place these meats about 3 inches away from heat and turn during cooking.
- Steaks are usually 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
This is where the true art of flavouring kicks in
- Use relishes such as chutneys , mango or cucumbers relish, pickles and salsas as well as home-made sauces to add flavour to your end product. Sausages, hot dogs, burgers, pulled meat sandwiches…etc. will all benefit from such condiments and relishes.These accompaniments, bring out the flavours of your food, and can add a kick and a bite to them.
- You can make a “relishes, sauces and accompaniments” section on the buffet or on the table and allow guests to create their own flavours. This will make the whole eating experience interactive and personalised too, which will definitely please your guests and add a wow factor to your BBQ.
- Don’t go for the same old all the time. Keep the classics but bring in creative new flavours and gorgeous new ingredients to the table. Experiment with different mustards, tomato sauces, salts, peppers, herbs…etc. You can even try the array of my beautiful relishes and sauces, which I know you will love.
- Keep the choice open for your guests to pick and choose.
Go on, plan BBQs, enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends. Follow all those steps, and you will definitely have one fabulous event to impress and please everyone 🙂