Updated: Jul 7
National BBQ Week is back for another year, and this time it's bigger and better than ever. From the 4th to 10th of July, restaurants, pubs and homes across the country will be firing up their grills to celebrate over a quarter of a century of better British BBQing. To coincide with this, we've put together our top ten tips to ensure your food is cooked to perfection, your guests have a good time and you enjoy it, too. Read on to find out how.
It's fair to say, the British BBQ has come a long way since the early days of charcoal-encrusted pork sausages and dry burgers that shrink to a quarter of their initial size. In fact, BBQing has never been as popular, with three out of four homes in the UK now owning one. Our love for outdoor grilling is such that in 2021 the UK once again took the title of the leading BBQ nation in Europe, beating Germany into second place. Last year it’s estimated we hosted around 165 million Barbi’s, with 15 million being held over the 2021 Easter Bank Holiday alone.
So, whether you're a seasoned pro or a complete novice, make sure you get involved and join in the fun. And to help you cook-up a storm, here are our top ten tips to ultimate BBQ success.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
Before you fire up the grill, there are a few things you need to check off your list. First, make sure you have enough space. You don't want to be cramped while cooking, and you'll need some extra room to keep cooked and raw meat separate. Second, take inventory of your tools. Do you have everything you need to flip, tong, and skewer your food? Third, make sure your meat is marinated and removed from the fridge. And last but not least, give your grill a good cleaning. The best time to do this is once it's lit and heating up. Use a wire brush to remove the charred remains of previous meals. Once you've got a clean grill, you can oil it using a vegetable oil-soaked piece of kitchen towel to reduce sticking. By following these simple tips, you'll be on your way to grill mastery in no time!
Get into the zone
There is no doubt that grilling with charcoal is one of the most widely known fuel sources to use. It’s also a great way to impart a delicious smoky flavour into your food. But did, you know that you can position your charcoal in a way that gives you more control over your cooking?
Creating a 2-zone set-up - a hot side for searing and a cool side for finishing – will help you produce tastier results. To set up these zones, you’ll need to use charcoal briquettes. Put them all on one side of the grill so that you have a hot side and a cool side. Then, put a water-filled container on the cool side. This will help regulate the temperature and prevent the meat from drying out.
Now you’re ready to start cooking! Put the meat on the hot side of the grill and sear it for a few minutes on each side. Then, move it to the cool side and cover the grill so it cooks through. And that’s it! By following these steps, you’ll be able to make tender, succulent meat – even from tougher cuts!
Soak for success
Our next BBQ tip and one of the most important is to make sure you marinate! Marinades can make a big difference to the taste and texture of meat. Not only will learning the art of marinating add untold amounts of flavour to your barbecue creations, but it will also help you achieve juicier, tender meat, and help you get the most from cheaper, tougher cuts.
Marinades usually contain either an acid (such as lemon juice, vinegar or wine) or dairy (such as yoghurt). Both will begin to break down tissue in the outer layer, tenderizing the meat and allowing more moisture in. However, it is important to add flavour to your marinades as well. Oils, spices, herbs and seasonings will all improve your end result. Timewise, the longer the better. So if you're looking to up your BBQ game this summer, think about prepping your marinades the day before so your meat or veg can bathe overnight in it and absorb all those tantalising flavours.
Warm up to the event
Before you even start to fire up the coals, there's one important thing to keep in mind: take the raw meat or fish out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before barbecuing. If it's too cold when it hits the grill, there's a danger it could burn on the outside before it's cooked through to the middle. This is especially important with chicken, for obvious reasons, and pork products. But it's still essential to do this with beef burgers and steaks to ensure your meat is as rare or well done as you like it. So, next time you're prepping for a barbecue, make sure to give your meat enough time to lose its chill!
Sides and sauces to make you salivate
No barbecue is complete without a selection of sides to accompany the main event. Whether it's a juicy burger, sizzling steak, or smoky ribs, there's nothing like a few tasty sides to round out the meal. Popular options include BBQ corn, coleslaw, potato, pasta or rice salad, or even a crispy baked potato wrapped in foil and kept warm on the coals. But don't forget about the condiments! Mustard, ketchup, and jalapenos are always popular choices, and sliced gherkin or pickled cabbage can add a delicious tang to a burger.
Don’t forget about the veggies!
Grilling veggies is a great way to enjoy all the flavour of barbecued foods without the meat. By starting with the veggies, you can avoid having them take on a meaty flavour. And there are plenty of delicious ways to prepare them. Grilled vegetable skewers are always a hit, and you can marinate the veggies in your favourite BBQ sauce or seasonings. Halloumi and portobello mushrooms are also great grilled, and you can add them to salads or wraps for a tasty summer meal. Plus, there are now lots of terrific meat-substitutes available that will grill up just like the real thing. Whether it's a seitan burger or lentil sausage, you'll still get that wonderful smoky charcoal flavour from the coals.
Different temps for different needs
When it comes to barbecuing, there are a few things you need to take into account in order to get the perfect cook. It all depends on what you're barbecuing - expensive cuts of beef like sirloin, rib-eye or fillet steaks are best cooked quickly at very high temperatures, searing the outer layer and maximising flavour without over-cooking. High temperatures won’t be so helpful when trying to cook things like chicken or sausages, which have a tendency to burn on the outside and remain raw inside. Take your time and utilise different temperature zones on the grill to ensure a nice even cook.
Perfect your presentation
Searing meat is a great way to get those perfect grill lines that you often see in restaurants. The trick is to sear your meat, chicken or vegetables at a high temperature then turn it at right angles. Once you’ve done this on both sides, you can reduce the heat and cook it through. This method not only creates beautiful grill marks, but it also helps to lock in the meat’s natural juices, resulting in a juicier and more flavourful peace of meat.
Enjoy a period of rest
One of the most important BBQ tips - and the easiest to follow - is to rest your meat once it's cooked. This is often forgotten but it's crucial if you want to avoid tough meat. Resting allows juices to be reabsorbed, which makes for a moister, more tender end result. And remember that meat will continue to cook a little while after it's taken off the heat, so factor that in when you're deciding how long to rest it for.
Choose the right meats
When it comes to grilling, not all meat is created equal. Some cuts are better suited for quick cooking over high heat, while others require a slower, gentler approach. In general, cheaper cuts of meat are better for grilling as they tend to be more tender and forgiving if overcooked. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing meats for grilling. First, consider the fat content - leaner meats will dry out more quickly, so they're best cooked over indirect heat. Second, think about the thickness of the cut - thinner pieces will cook faster than thicker ones. And finally, decide how you want your meat cooked - rare, medium, or well-done? With these factors in mind, you'll be able to choose the perfect cut of meat for your next barbecue.
No matter what kind of BBQ you're planning, the quality of your meat is crucial. That's why Beacon has a whole host of expert butchery partners on hand who can help you identify the best meats for your BBQs. Whether you're looking for the perfect juicy steak, chicken drumstick, or pork sausage, they'll be able to advise you on the best cuts and how to cook them. Take a look at a few of them below and if you’d like to open an account – just drop us a line via Live Chat and we’ll get you set up in no time. Click on the arrows to the left of each name to find out more about each supplier.
> British Premium Meats
Founded in 1986, British Premium Meats (BPM) is a family-run business that delivers quality meat products to food service providers across the UK. They pride themselves on their excellent service and quality products, and their head office and production facility are both accredited by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). They have a distribution centre in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, where they deliver daily to towns and cities south of the Midlands. Their Leeds depot offers a daily delivery service to all major towns and cities north of the Midlands. They're dedicated to providing their customers with the best possible service and are always happy to answer any questions you may have about their products or services. If you're looking for a top-quality food service butcher, look no further than British Premium Meats!
> Campbell Brothers
As Scotland's oldest traditional butcher, Campbell Brothers pride themselves on creating long term partnerships with both their arming partners and customers alike. Ethical sourcing, animal welfare, sustainability, provenance, and traceability are all paramount to everything they stand for. They've grown from a butcher shop in Scotland to catering butchers supplying the UK with a full range of top restaurant quality meats. Their depots based in Edinburgh and London are both BRC accredited sites and are managed by passionate people with many years’ experience in the meat industry. Whether you're looking for some locally sourced dry aged steak or a full range of UK poultry, including organic birds, Campbell Brothers have got you covered.
> Fairfax Meadow
At Fairfax Meadow, they know that great meat is essential for any catering business. That's why they've been putting great meat on the menu for almost 50 years. Their unrivalled heritage, scale and expertise allow them to provide great quality meat and excellent service, consistently. They offer a national supply of a huge range of meat products including their own Casterbridge West Country PGI Dry Aged Beef and award-winning burgers and sausages. They are also proud to have won Butcher and Supplier of the Year awards consistently over two decades. And they have a development team who will work with you to build an innovative menu whilst offering educational and inspiring farm and abattoir experience days including chef workshops.
Lomond Foods is a foodservice wholesaler delivering ambient, chilled and frozen goods all over Scotland. They're proud to be a Scottish-based company, sourcing much of their range from local producers and businesses, giving them the freshest produce possible. They offer a huge range of butchery products – from poultry and beef to game and lamb. Plus, their 2022 catalogue includes a whole host of tasty vegan and vegetarian products too. So, whether you're stocking up your restaurant or catering for a special event, Lomond Foods has everything you need.
> Reeves Butchers
Reeves Butchers has been established since the early 1960’s and is a family business that has seen three generations of Father and Son work together. They pride themselves on providing top-quality meats with a fantastic selection you'll find hard to beat. They stock specially selected Scotch Beef and Lamb and Free-Range Pork from the West Country and local Counties. You will also find a vast stock of Seasonal Game and Exotic Meats in-store and online, and they have experienced, friendly staff who are able to support you with any enquiry.