BBQ pros Jon Finch and Ben Merrington – the clever duo behind the Grillstock Festival – share their tips for grilling perfection!
Get Well Oiled Before You Begin
Before and after every session you should clean and oil your grill. Get it nice and hot to burn off any dirt then, using tongs, rub over with a kitchen towel dipped in a light cooking oil. When you have finished cooking for the day, open up all the vents and burn it clean again. This keeps your grill hygienic as well as helping prevent food from sticking to the bars.
Set Up a 2-Zone / Indirect Cooking Area
Set up your BBQ so you have two cooking zones, one directly over the flames for searing, the other cooler to allow the meat to cook through indirectly. With a charcoal grill just pile your coals to one side. With a gas grill keep the burners medium-high on one side and low-off on the other. It’s also a great technique you will use for cooking whole joints of meat too.
Slow things down, relax….
True BBQ takes time and patience. The meat is done, when it’s done – don’t try and rush things. Accept that this is a slow process and allow yourself to enjoy it. Find yourself a comfy chair and position near your smoker, fill a bucket with ice and some beers, turn on some tunes and spend the afternoon keeping your meat company and it goes on its smoky journey of love. If anyone tries to give you chores to do, sorry, you can’t help. You are busy cooking.
Don’t fiddle and poke
And definitely don’t squeeze. Once you’ve put the meat on the grill just leave it. You should only turn once or twice through grilling. Squashing burgers and steaks down on the grill just squeezes out all the lovely the juice and causes flare ups.
Don’t get Saucy Until the End.
BBQ sauces and glazes have a high sugar content that will burn very quickly and go bitter. Cook your meat through and then glaze/sauce towards the end and allow to go sticky over gentler indirect heat.
Check for Done-ness
Overcooking is as sinful as undercooking. Invest in a good instant read thermometer so you know the exact temperature of the meat and takes away the guesswork. You’ll always know the chicken is cooked through and you’ll be able to serve up the perfect medium rare steak.
It’s impossible to give accurate cooking times for true low ’n’ slow BBQ. There are so many variables in play – heat of your fire, the ambient air temp, the size of the joint of meat, the fat content, the distance from the coals you are cooking etc. It’s also impossible to give specific cooking temperatures – your BBQ cooks differently to your neighbours and many don’t have an accurate temperature gauge (or one at all!). You’ll get to know the way your BBQ cooks in good time but aiming for specific internal temperatures will make sure your pork pulls properly and your ribs have that perfect bite to them. Follow the basic rules of how to set up your cooker for the different styles and then let the meat tell you when it is done.