Nothing says Summer than a good old BBQ. And rightly or wrongly we happily pass all BBQ’ing duties to our other halves and leave it in their self-professed expert hands. We are quite happy attending to the cocktail bar… But it’s easy to take your eye off the ball whilst catching up with friends over the hot coals,  a beer in hand and children running feral around the garden. So to leave nothing to chance we’ve pulled together our top BBQ tips to ensure your your burgers aren’t incinerated enough to resemble hockey pucks!

Top bbq tips

Do get that grate clean

Like any good relationship you need to put a bit of love into your charcoal grate. The easiest way to clean it is to wait until the charcoal has heated up for about 5 minutes to loosen any debris from the last grilling. Use a good quality BBQ brush to sweep any remains back into the charcoal.  To avoid food sticking to the grate, soak a folded sheet of kitchen paper in vegetable oil and using your tongs rub the oil along the grate.

Do pump up the flavour with your charcoal

Gas BBQ’s are great as they can be used all year round and are super quick and easy however you just can’t beat the flavour you get from charcoal. Different charcoals and woods infuse varying flavours depending on which tree it comes from. For example oak flavoured coals give a smokey tone which are prefect for steaks. Beech gives a sweeter all round flavour that works well for chicken or fish.  The Oxford Charcoal Company sell specific flavour coals for different meats and fish.

Consider hickory or oak wood chips to add to your coals. Soak them in water and add to the coals when you are ready to grill. This way the water from the chips will create steam and will intensify the flavour.  Another clever tip is to sprinkle your favourite dried herbs on the charcoal prior to grilling.

Do control the grill temperature

Just because it’s a charcoal grill doesn’t mean you can’t control the temperature and the grilling. The easiest way to create direct and indirect heat is to only have charcoal on half the grill. The other side (with no coal) will be your indirect heat for warming cooked food or slower cooking.

Timing is key. Waiting until the coals turn white hot is the best time to start grilling. But how do you know how hot is hot? We love Jamie Olivers’ temperature test tip which actually sounds more like a drunken dare test than anything (however we recommend doing it sober!) but it does make sense. Place your hand about 5 inches above the grill and see how long you can hold it there comfortably without screaming your head off. 6 seconds? you’ve got a nice low heat. 4 seconds? That’d be an even medium heat. 2 seconds? Hot as heck! 0 seconds? OK, so you may need a visit to the hospital!

Do marinade for as long as you can

When recipes call for marinades to steep overnight we generally think oh a couple of hours will do right? Wrong. You might get away with that for oven cooking but for BBQ’s it’s even more important to marinade for the prescribed time so that the meat flavours aren’t over ridden by the smoke. It’s a good idea to brush the meat with the marinade every 5-10 minutes through grilling to retain the flavour and lock in moisture. And while we’re at it – another top BBQ tip is to make sure your meat or veg is out of the fridge at least 20 mins before grilling so that it’s at room temperature.

Don’t forget the veg

Vegetables and fruit and even some cheeses are great options for BBQ’ing that we often forget. Next time the coals are hot try grilling wides slices of halloumi, corn on the cob, wrapped in foil potatoes, peppers, aubergine or even onions. For a sweet finish pineapple or peaches are beautiful from the grate served with fresh cream or ice cream. See our Sticky Pineapple and Onion Lollipops BBQ recipes.

Don’t Press on the meat!

Tempting though it may be don’t press down on the mean whilst grilling. You’ll just be squeezing the juice out and once it’s out it’s out. So hands off that patty flipper! While we’re on the subject, don’t keep poking the meat to check it’s done. If you’re unsure invest in a digital probe thermometer so you’ll know when the meat is cooked through.

Don’t forget the sides

We know BBQ’s bring out the carnivore cavemen in us but don’t forget the salads. We have lots of Morello salad options to inspire you – just click on any of the links below for the recipes.

Griddled asparagus Salad

Duck watermelon and cashew nut salad

Jo’s Crunchy Nut Salad

Griddled Nectarine, parma Ham and Mozzarella Salad,

Beetroot, Feta and Pomegranate Salad

Ottolenghi’s Tomato & Pomegranate salad 

Broccoli Salad

And of course no occasion, BBQ or not, is complete without Carrie’s Pistachio Dip.

We hope you’ve found these BBQ tips helpful … happy grilling!