Contributed by Stephan Essex
The weather is beginning to get hotter, and summer will be here before you know it. That means only one thing. It’s almost barbecue season! Barbecues are a great excuse for getting all your friends and family together. They are also fantastic for showing off your culinary skills.
Instead of simply cooking up the same treats you made last year, it’s time to impress everyone with some new tricks. As the first day of Spring is right around the corner, you’ve now got plenty of time to practice your kitchen skills (and even learn some new ones!) To help you out, here are some awesome hacks to help you with your barbecue and to get all your guests’ mouths watering.
Cook Fish On Lemons
Cooking fish on a barbecue is a fantastic way to add a smoky flavour. You can skewer whole sardines or prawns for the grill. Many people also enjoy cooking salmon fillets on their barbecue. The one problem with barbecuing fish fillets is that some of the meat often sticks to the grill. This can be easy enough to clean off once the barbecue is cool. However, it means leaving some of that tasty fish behind! To make sure you get to eat all the delicious barbecued fish, place the fillets on sliced lemons as they cook. This way, they won’t stick to the grill, but will also come off with a refreshing citrus flavour!
Cook Burgers With Ice
You’ll probably already be familiar with the dimple in a burger trick. If you dimple a burger patty, it will stay flat during cooking and will retain all its moisture, helping it to stay juicy and succulent. Well, here’s a new trick to put up your sleeve. While you are shaping your burgers, add small slices of ice into the middle. As the burgers cook, the ice will melt and stop the burger from drying out. If you aren’t watching your cholesterol levels, use butter instead of ice. Want to get really clever? Make your very own herb butter for a fantastic taste.
If you are looking to update your outdoor kitchen, think about investing in a pit barbecue. Companies such as www.pitbarrelcooker.com sell all the equipment you’ll need at reasonable prices. Barbecue barrels are super easy to use. You can either hang your meat in them or use a regular grill. However you choose to cook, you’ll get perfectly cooked meat. Not too sure about the type of pit that’ll be best for you? Get in touch on social media, either on Facebook www.facebook.com/PitBarrelCookerCo or Twitter www.twitter.com/pitbarrelcooker.
Brine Your Fish
Another tip for all you fish lovers out there. We all know about the importance of glazing your meat to give it a fabulous flavour. Now you need to learn about brining fish. While it won’t add anything to the fish’s flavour, it does wonders for its texture and will stop it from falling apart on the grill. Simply stir one teaspoon of salt into four cups of water and sit the fish fillet in it for about 10 minutes. Once on the grill, the fish won’t shrink and will remain nice and juicy. Once you brine you’ll never go back!
Barbecue Your Pizzas
Impress your guests by serving up some yummy barbecue pizzas! That doesn’t mean just topping them with a barbecue sauce. You can actually cook them on the grill! The crust will be very crispy and taste just like it has been baked in a wood-burning oven. If you can afford one, a pizza stone will help spread the heat evenly throughout the pizza. However, they aren’t a necessary tool. You can just cook directly on the grill or, better yet, on a large enough baking tray. Dust the surface with semolina powder to help it slide off once cooked.
Spiral-Cut Your Hot Dogs
Don’t settle for a regular hot dog. All it takes to take them to the next level is a quick spiral cut. Pierce each dog with a skewer and roll the dog towards you on a chopping board. As you roll it, slice down it. As the sausage rotates it, you will create a spiral cut down the length of the hot dog, so it looks a bit like a helter skelter. This will help the dog to crisp up even more during cooking. Not only that but when you apply your ketchup or mustard, they’ll soak into the sausage much better than into a non-spiral-cut dog! There are more tips on spiral-cutting your dogs here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyieI2bxyIk
Make Smoky Lemons
Food may be a big part of a barbecue, but serving some awesome drinks will also help it go with a bang. And smoky lemons will almost certainly help your drinks take off! They are very easy to make. Just slice up a few lemons and place the slices on the grill until they are lightly roasted. These lemons will add a fantastic smoky flavour to traditional lemonade recipes. The also taste great when used as a garnish for lemon-flavoured liquors and cocktails.
Use Ingredients As Skewers
You know what tastes great with lamb? Rosemary. So, instead of using regular wooden skewers, why not use stalks of rosemary. You should be able to find thick enough stalks that can pierce and hold your lamb kebab meat. Once the meat is bubbling on the grill, the flavours from the rosemary will infuse into it. It also cuts down on waste, as you can compost the used rosemary! If you are making sweet kebabs out of fruit and marshmallows, you can use cinnamon sticks.
For some extra spice, grill up some jalapenos and serve them while your meat is cooking. This will give your guests something to nibble on while they wait. Jalapenos are super easy to prepare for the grill. Keep them whole, but hollow them out. Fill them with a good dollop of cream cheese and wrap them in bacon. Grill them for a couple of minutes until the bacon is cooked. And there you are, some spicy barbecued jalapenos! Grill some without the bacon so vegetarian guests can also enjoy some.
Marinate Your Meat In Beer
We all know just how delicious barbecued meat is. However, grilling meat at such high temperatures has a carcinogenic effect. It will create chemicals linked to cancers. But it’s not all bad news, though. It has now been shown that marinating meat in beer before grilling can reduce any negative effects. Marinate your meat in beer for four hours before it goes on the barbecue. This way, fewer carcinogens are created and, therefore, reduces your risk of cancer. For more information on this, take a look here: www.food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/inspiration/finally-healthy-reason-buy-more-beer-0154089/
Use Tortilla Chips Instead Of Firelighters
Instead of adding fuel-coated firelighters to your barbecue, you should use tortilla chips. It’s a little-known fact that these kinds of chips are very easy to light. So don’t worry about forgetting the fire lighters ever again! Pile up your chips around the coals and set a match to them. They will start burning in no time at all and will keep on burning for long enough to light the coals.
Clean With An Onion
After all the fun is over, you’ll have to take some time and clean your barbecue. This doesn’t have to be such a big chore as you might think! One very easy way to clean your grill is with an onion. So you can always use a leftover one you didn’t end up cooking with. Onions are full of natural disinfectant chemicals, so will kill any nasty germs and bacteria. If you rub half an onion over your grill while it is still warm, it will effectively remove any remaining food and grease. To ensure you don’t burn yourself, stick the onion onto a fork and then rub it over the grill. Now you’ll never need to spray your barbecue in any chemicals again.
Add Fresh Herbs To Your Coals
Sprinkle a handful of fresh herbs into your coals. Herbs that pair nicely with meats such as rosemary and thyme are the best. Then, the smoke from the grill will be infused with a great herby flavour. This will then make your meat taste delicious and full of flavour! Make sure you soak the herbs first. They will then be better at taking the heat and will last on the coals for longer. The moisture will also create a lot of smoke to help add flavour to your meats. You can find out more about herb and food pairing here: www.finecooking.com/articles/herb-food-pairings.aspx
So now you know all the secrets to a fantastic barbecue! Invite all your nearest and dearest round and impress them with your new-found skills. As well as the usual tasty meats, don’t forget to serve some fantastic sides, like salads and coleslaw. Fill the fridge with beers, wines and soft drinks as well! Everyone will then certainly think you’re the host with the most and will start looking forward to your next barbecue!