● I try not to categorise food as “barbecue food”. Think of the fire in your barbecue as simply your heat source, just as you would your hob or oven. Once you grab hold of that mindset, you will realise that pretty much everything can be barbecued.
● One way to make barbecuing foolproof is to get ahead. Prepare everything you need in the kitchen in one go, then have it lined up and ready by the barbecue before you begincooking.
● The other way to make things easier is to practise. If you drag a dusty grill out of your garage twice a summer, it will probably always feel more challenging than foolproof.
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● At a minimum, I suggest seeking out a grill/barbecue
that has a lid. Put the lid down, and you get even, efficient,
● A chimney starter is the quickest, most efficient way to light your barbecue.
● The myth of cooking out your charcoal until it is white and ashed over is something you only need to do for cheap charcoal, to burn off any additives. With sustainable lumpwood charcoal, you can light it and be cooking on it in no time.
● If you want to add smoke, you need to add wood. I generally use chunks of wood rather than wood chips. Wood chips made for smoking burn hot and fast, and the effect of the smoke dissipates too quickly for maximum effect.
● Invest in a digital probe thermometer and you can be confident that your meat is cooked safely and to your liking. When barbecuing, the internal temperature is the best gauge, rather than a set cooking time. When cooking meat, remove it from the grill when it’s 5C to 8C (9C to 14F) below serving temperature, then let it rest. Resting it for 10 minutes is important to let the fibres relax, which increases tenderness.
● If you suddenly have flames raging around your barbecue, you have a flare-up on your hands. Flare-ups are caused by excessively fatty foods being too close to the fire, or greasy grill bars from previous cooks. The best thing to do is Remove the food from the grill and wait for the flames to subside. Brushing the grills with a wire brush helps, as does cooking fatty foods slightly indirectly.
● If the weather fails you, try using a griddle pan on the hob, although you may need to cook in a few batches if your pan is on the small side. And remember, just because you cook outside doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat outside.
Genevieve Taylor’s chicken yakitori with carrot and sesame slaw
700g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm cubes
Bunch spring onions, trimmed and sliced into 3cm lengths
1tbsp vegetable oil
For the tare sauce
7tbsp soy sauce
1cm fresh root ginger,
2tsp soft brown sugar
For the slaw
1 red pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 spring onions, sliced
2tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2tbsp sesame oil
2tbsp rice vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground
You will also need six long metal skewers for this recipe. Tare sauce is the sticky glaze that gives these skewers their flavour. The sauce It can burn quite easily, so watch the skewers as they cook and slide them away from the heat if necessary.
For the sauce, put the ingredients into a small saucepan set over a medium-low heat on the hob and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer steadily until reduced in volume by half (15 to 20 minutes). Divide between two small dishes and set aside to cool. One dish will be used as a dipping sauce, the other to glaze the skewers as they cook – separating them prevents cross-contamination from the raw meat.
Make the slaw by stirring together the red pepper, carrot and spring onions with the sesame seeds, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Thread the chicken pieces and sliced spring onions alternately on to the skewers and drizzle all over with the vegetable oil.
Light the barbecue and set up the fire for direct cooking.
Rest the skewers on the grill bars over the fire. Take one of the bowls of sauce and, using a silicone pastry brush, glaze the chicken all over. Lower the lid. After two to three minutes, turn the skewers and brush over more sauce. Keep turning and brushing the chicken with sauce until cooked through (10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness).
Serve the skewers with the slaw and the other dish of sauce for dipping into.
Genevieve Taylor’s pork belly with fennel and apple slaw
2tsp caraway seeds
1-2tsp chipotle chilli flakes, to taste
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2tsp dark soft brown sugar
1tbsp olive oil
250ml dark beer
1½kg pork belly, cut into thick slices
Sea salt and freshly ground
For the slaw
2 fennel bulbs, finely shredded (reserve a few chopped fronds to serve)
2 eating apples, finely chopped
½ bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
Small bunch tarragon, leaves chopped
2tbsp natural yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Pork belly benefits from long, slow cooking, so don’t be tempted to rush it over a higher heat. Slow, indirect cooking will guarantee succulence.
Start by roughly grinding the caraway seeds using a pestle and mortar. Add the chipotle flakes, garlic, brown sugar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then mix to a paste.
Transfer to a food bag, sit inside a bowl to keep it open, and pour in the beer. Add the pork belly slices and seal tightly, squeezing out as much air as possible, and turning the bag over a few times to mix everything together.
Transfer to the fridge to marinate for up to 24 hours – the longer, the better for maximum flavour.
When you are ready to cook, light the barbecue and set up the fire for indirect cooking. Add a few lumps of smoking wood for some extra smoky flavour.
Using tongs, lift the pork from the marinade (which you should reserve) and lay the slices snugly together on the grill bars furthest from the heat. Shut the lid and cook over indirect heat for about three hours.
Every 30 minutes, lift the lid and brush the pork with the marinade, turning over the slices as you go. Add a couple of lumps of charcoal every 30 minutes to keep the temperature low and steady.
While the pork is slowly cooking, make the slaw. Stir together the fennel, apple, spring onions and tarragon in a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, yoghurt and lemon juice then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until the pork is ready. Serve the pork hot and juicy straight from the grill with the slaw on the side, scattered with the chopped fennel fronds.
Both recipes from Foolproof BBQ by Genevieve Taylor (Quadrille, £12.99)