How to Use a BBQ
Article Author: Pascale Weeks
Translated by Jill Greve and Rachel Dignam
Edited by Gitanjali Roche
At Gourmandize, we officially declare BBQ season open!
I have to confess, I have yet to turn on a barbecue, let alone cook with one. I just prepare the sides, marinate the meat and make sure that the grill is clean. (And something tells me I am I not the only one!). With that said, I thought it would be best for everyone if I called upon Chef Christophe for some BBQ pointers and advice. As usual, he was full of creative tricks to improve not only the way we marinate, prepare sides and the clean the BBQ, but to give us the courage to finally approach the BBQ too!
Now let me share his wisdom with you:
How do you light a charcoal BBQ?
You can find small kindling or ‘fire-starter’ cubes at DIY (do –it-yourself) stores to help start your BBQ. You can even purchase a special ‘charcoal lighter fluid ‘. But careful! Don’t pour gasoline, rubbing alcohol or any other flammable liquid on the charcoal – you’re likely to end up in the emergency room or at the very least, release harmful substances into the air that are bad for you and your neighbors’ health.
An additional and much safer suggestion is to create your own kindling by rolling up sheets of newspaper. Light the newspaper and as it starts to burn, gradually add the charcoal to be sure not to suffocate the fire.
When can I start cooking?
When you start your fire, there will be small flames. When the coal begins to glow (red), there are embers and you can officially start cooking your food. When the coal becomes white, there are ashes. This is when you need to poke the charcoal with a BBQ utensil in an attempt to rekindle the embers.
How can I keep the embers going?
By throwing a handful of coarse salt onto charcoal, the embers will become more pronounced and will stay glowing for longer periods of time.
How do I position the grill?
Not too close to the coals because the food will cook too quickly on the outside, (and may even burn) while the inside will remain uncooked (even raw). To ensure your food is cooked inside and outside, it is best to position the grill 8 cm from the embers.
How often should I check up on my food?
Unlike cooking with a frying pan, you should return to the BBQ very regularly, flipping the meat or vegetables every few minutes. The grill retains the heat, so the food is cooked much faster than when the opposite side is given a chance to cool down. This method allows for a more even cooking and prevents food from drying out.
Do I have to close my barbecue?
Although it is possible on most BBQs, be aware that it is simply just transforming your grill into an oven., ie. with the main heat source coming from below.
A few tips for your gas barbeque
Gas barbecues are connected to propane tanks. Therefore, you just light a fire as you would on a gas stove. Don't forget to check that you have enough gas in your tank before having your friends over. The trick is to always have an extra refill on hand.
Do you have any expert tips on using a BBQ?
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