The Cook’s ABC – BBQ Basics

By Alan Lugton, Cookery Manager

The sun is shining so what better time is there to have a barbeque with friends? However don’t rush to light those charcoals, until you’ve read these helpful tips.

Control the heat

  • Step one: allow the charcoals to burn for 20 minutes before you cook. This will allow the heat to stabilise to a temperature better suited for cooking. If you cook too soon you will burn the outside and leave the inside undercooked.
  • Step two: check the hotspots. If you can, move the charcoals to one side so you have a hot zone and cool zone – this will allow you to sear your food then allow it to finish cooking in the cooler part of the grill without drying out.
  • Step three: prepare your food. If you are planning on cooking chicken or large cuts of meats, try and prepare them so that they are cut thinner or flattened out to help them cook. This is a great time to add your marinades or dry rubs for flavour and moisture retention. For some ideas check our previous blog on Marvellous Marinades.
  • Step four: Plan your cook. If you do have large items of food to cook – it is best to leave these until last when the grill is cooler. If you have a lid for the barbeque these are great for keeping the temperature constant while they cook away as well as capturing all that smoke which makes the food taste great.
  • Top tip: if you are in a hurry you can precook larger foods in your oven then finish them by searing them on the grill and catching those great barbeque flavours.

But what about the vegetarians?

Catering for vegetarian guests at a barbeque is a breeze, so there’s no need to panic if you receive a meat-free RSVP. As well as your vegetarian guests enjoying many of the side dishes that you’re providing alongside your barbeque, such as salads, couscous and pasta you can also grill up some delicious main courses such as veggie burgers, barbeque butternut squash, vegetable and tofu kebabs, grilled corn to name but a few – more suggestions here.

If you are lucky enough to own a large barbeque with separate shelves and lots of space – you can ensure that the meat and vegetables are cooked separately. However if like most of us, you have a smaller charcoal barbeque, then it’s best to cook the vegetarian items first. Although the meat eaters will have to wait a little – they will benefit from all the delicious caramel flavours left behind on the grill by the marinated vegetables.


It is really important to cook your food through – especially the meat items – so remember not to rush them, keep your cool and cook them on a moderate heat. Be aware of handling raw meat before handling cooked meat as this could make your barbeque memorable for the wrong reasons. It is always best to have separate tongs and plates for raw and cooked meats as well as hot water and hand wash nearby.

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