The finer details are the vital ingredient people often miss when barbecuing. That's why we've got BBQ expert Michael Gratz to give us the lowdown on all the tricks he has picked up from years in the trade. So, before you poison your guests or put the house up in flames, read Michael's guide below!
How do you grill smaller items? Skewer them together or put them on a separate rack/grill?
If an item is small enough to fall through the grill then skewering them together is a good idea. Make sure they’re all roughly the same size and require similar cook times. Also, make sure you soak the skewers in water beforehand so they don’t catch fire.
When grilling with charcoal for consecutive hours, how often should you add new charcoal; how much should you add; and when should you add it?
This really depends on the charcoal. Lump burns hotter and faster whereas briquettes are more steady. If grilling I like to use lump, as typically I won’t be grilling for more than a couple of hours. If smoking, then briquettes are more reliable and easier to manage. Depending on brand and cook temp, I’d replenish every 2-3 hours or so. Make sure that you don’t use ‘instant light’ briquettes as they can impart a bitter creosote flavour to the food.
Best fish to BBQ and how to do it?
I like salmon on a cedar plank, and also mackerel as it’s nice and oily. It tends to stay moist when grilling or smoking. It’s a very forgiving fish, plus it’s nice, cheap and very sustainable.
Best cuts of meat to use and avoid?
When grilling I avoid cuts of meat with particularly high amounts of cartilage as it doesn’t tenderise in time - such as ox tail, shin, brisket etc. Rump, sirloin, ribeye and fillet are the king of the grill, although skirt, flank, KC strip and hanger steaks are beautiful when done properly! When smoking, almost anything goes!
What are the telltale signs to when you should put the meat on?
Once the coals have died down, stopped flaming, and are completely white with ash.
What are the most unusual things you can BBQ?
Shellfish always gets a bad rap as people tend to be scared of food poisoning. I like mussels, razor clams and octopus on the grill. Also, don’t forget fruit! The natural sugars in a pineapple caramelise beautifully on a grill.
What are your top tips for BBQing?
Know your BBQ! There will always be hot spots and cold spots on a BBQ, so don’t be afraid to practice often so you can figure it out. Make sure you clean and oil the grates, 'a clean grill is a happy grill' as grill maestro Steven Raichlen likes to say. Be prepared to get up early for the best bits (brisket can take up to 16 hours) and don’t be scared of the rain, just buy an umbrella. Also, buy a good internal thermometer and read up on meat temperatures, you don’t want to have to cut into every piece of meat to see if it’s done. Without a doubt, practice makes perfect.
Edited by George Cheley