Once the Sun is out, I love to cook and eat outside. I don’t know what it is is, but the food seems to taste better and appetites seem larger. In my opinion, and partly due to our unpredictable weather, keep it simple, so that you can make a last minute decision.
I prefer to cook most things indirectly rather than directly over the heat. This is similar to cooking in a conventional oven, you need to close the lid. See our BBQ guide. Whilst it takes longer to cook indirectly, food will not burn, there won’t be flare ups and it will be cooked through. It also gives more time for a drink. You can always brown any food if needed over the coals if preferred before serving.
Burgers and sausages are the barbecue staples, keep them in your freezer, they can be quickly thawed if needed. Buy quality, cheaper sausages and burgers have higher fat content so tend to shrivel up more and cause flare ups if cooked directly. I always cook both indirectly, browning the burgers if they look too light. For sausages I normally use the shelf and move to the edges of the main grill if they are cooking too much.
Chicken thighs or breasts are best marinated before cooking. Again cook indirectly, they must be cooked through before serving. I tend to stack them up a bit, this saves space on the grill and also helps to stop the marinade dripping through.
Steaks can be cooked quickly directly over the heat, how long depending on how you like them and their thickness. They are best cooked this way just before serving. Providing the coals are still hot enough, this can be done after you have finished your indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can brown the steaks with the lid off, and then move them to a cooler indirect area with lid on.
Whole Joints and birds can be cooked indirectly, with a charcoal grill it will probably be necessary to add some extra fuel during the cooking. I’d strongly advise checking with an oven thermometer before serving. Now you can even get one with a smartphone app to tell you when it’s ready.
Salmon barbecues well, as it is naturally fatty it doesn’t dry up. You can cook it skin down on the grill directly, if it’s not too hot, alternatively cook indirect. Wire cages are useful to stop it breaking up. If you like the skin browned, a short direct blast over the heat should do the trick.
In my opinion, white fish is to easily overcooked and dried up. Tuna steaks cook well over direct heat, but be careful not to overcook. Prawns cook well and fast, thread them onto skewer to make it easier to handle.
This cooks great on the barbecue, it can be cooked slowly as a brick indirectly, or cut into slices and cooked directly like a steak, or as with a meat steak, a combination of both.
Large field mushrooms filled with cheese are enjoyable for all, they cook quickly indirectly.
Garlic Bread and Focaccia can be quickly warmed on the barbecue as an easy and enjoyable starter, keep some in your freezer. For an easy substitute make your own garlic butter, spread in rolls and cover in foil. You can brown them (with the foil on) over direct heat, but some indirect cooking ensures they are warmed through.
Burger bun are quickly browned directly over the heat.
Parboil, part crush and mix with a herb butter. Place in a foil parcel and cook in the barbecue, I put these in at the beginning on the shelf, you can brown directly, but take care not too burn or to split the parcel open, a fish slice helps.
Corn on the Cob
Another classic, carefully cut the cobs in half, lightly oil and cook indirectly, I use the shelf and give them plenty of time to cook through. Brown directlt if you prefer.
Halved and lightly oiled are delicious and add colour. I brown them slightly directly over the heat and then finish them off indirectly so they are thoroughly cooked through.