Having a hard time getting your bbq right? Don’t worry, we’ve been there. Barbecuing for the first time can be frustrating especially, if you end up with meat that’s dry and overcooked or still cold and raw. Here is my list of perfect bbq tips and tools for beginners that would help you become an expert in no time.
Things to Remember When You Barbecue
1. Know your charcoal
Charcoal is the favorite (and most common) cooking material for grilling. There are two types of charcoals you can work with: lump charcoal and briquettes.
Lump charcoal is hotter but it’s a bit difficult to make the heat consistent thus needs more hands-on management but it brings out the best flavors from your bbq.
Briquettes are leftover wood chunks clumped together with chemicals to make them burn faster. The benefit is that you can get consistent and stable heat with it.
It’s best for beginners to use briquettes especially those who may find it troublesome to manage heat while grilling. However, if you know your way with lump charcoal, then you may use any that you’d prefer.
2. Preheat and oil
Always preheat your grill for about 10 to 15 minutes then oil the grill to prevent meat from sticking. Now, you’re ready to get a beautiful sear on your meat.
3. Turn when the meat releases
You’ve probably heard that you should cook your meat 30 minutes on each side, right? It’s not always true. The meat releases or unsticks from the grill by itself when it’s ready and then you can turn it. You can use your spatula to test if your bbq is ready to turn.
4. Always work with defrosted meat
This is a common mistake for beginners, applying heat on meat to make it defrost is not a good idea. Cooking frozen food never yields to a great tasting meal. Directly cooking frozen meat on your grill will alter the taste of the meat negatively mainly because the ice (as it melts) brings with it the flavors of your meat. You will also end up with a sloppy grill that is unevenly cooked.
5. Know your zones!
There are two grilling zones: the direct and the indirect grilling zones. Knowing the right grilling zone for different types of food would help you cook great tasting food.
Direct grilling refers to direct exposure to your heat source. This is perfect for smaller meat portions that will easily cook over intense heat.
Indirect grilling, on the other hand, is barbecuing your food with the heat source away. Your food cooks a if it were in an oven, it relies on convection.
6. Patience is key
No good barbecue will ever come out of an impatient griller’s station. Old-fashioned barbecuing requires time and patience in order to cook perfectly grilled meat to be served on your dining table.
BBQ Grill Basics
Getting the perfect barbecue isn’t just about the right marinade, it’s more on the right way of cooking it. Here are a few tips on how you would be able to set the right environment for your grilling station.
Choosing the best grill
The grill is the most important equipment that you need to have with you when cooking your barbecue. And when choosing a barbecue grill, you need to consider the following:
Size always depends on how much space you have. A large backyard or patio can hold a full-sized grilling station while a small balcony can only have a simple griller. Size isn’t always the greatest factor but it is a very important element to consider.
Ample grilling space
If you love hosting a BBQ party at home, you may want to choose a larger grill but not all massive grilling stations have a wide grilling space. You’d like a griller with a wide cooking area so that you can barbecue more food, meat and veggies or so you can grill without issues.
Yes, this is important. A grill cover helps the lock-in the moisture of the meat and make it plump and juicy. Aside from that, it also creates a hot environment that will help cook your barbecue faster.
Small grillers don’t often have a shelving space, forcing you to have a table where you can put the rest of your sauces and equipment. Most grill stations have everything you need. But, you need to choose a griller that has enough space to put your meat, sauces, and tools.
Some say that you essentially need 10 tools in cooking BBQ, well, I think that’s just too much. I have listed several items that are necessary for you to use in every barbecue grilling activity. Any other items should be optional.
Skewers are a definite must in my list. It makes flipping so much easier. Skewers are best used with smaller chunks of meat and vegetables; especially, in cooking them evenly. Plus, it saves a lot of space.
Skewers can also be used in cooking large meat portions. Sometimes when barbecuing whole ribs, using two pairs of tongs won’t allow you to have a good grip. I use skewers instead so I can flip my ribs with ease. Here’s how:
- Stick your skewer on both ends of your meat. Make sure that one skewer is on the top left and the other is on the bottom right or on any opposite ends of your bbq.
- With a steel spatula, loosen the ribs or meat off the grill to prevent the meat from ripping off and sticking onto the grill.
- Gently raise your ribs off the grill.
- Flip the meat as fast as you can and gently lay it back on the grill.
Grill Tool Set (fork, tongs, steel spatula)
I call this the golden trio. A fork, a pair of tongs, and a steel spatula are the main tools you need to grill. The fork helps in puncturing holes and to test if your meat is cooked just right. The steel spatula helps you loosen the meat off the grill while the tongs aid in turning your bbq or collecting meat from the grill.
For safety purposes, I recommend the use of grill gloves especially for beginners.
This is best for foods that should be barbecued indirectly. Not all grill stations have a built-in grill pan. Using a grill pan is best for cooking large meat portions. Large slabs of meat need time to cook and cooking them over fire will just burn the meat.
My Final Say…
Barbecuing doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are working with the right equipment, the right manner of barbecuing will easily follow. One of the major factors that will help you be an expert griller is by using the right tools and mastering their use. I hope this simple guide of bbq-ing tips and tools would help you master grilling bbq in no time. Remember though that the key attitude in grilling is patience. Grilling is quite tedious at first but it is a fun activity and patience will surely teach you the art of barbecuing.
About the Author
EL Mehdi is the founder of Desired Cuisine, a community geared towards sharing insights and interests regarding kitchen and dining ideas around the world. Our goal is to make the world a better place through sharing our ideas on how to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle by offering helpful tips and recipes and also by giving a list of products that are safe and are of good quality.