Antony Worrall Thompson shares his top tips for the perfect barbecue!
I don’t know about you, but when the weather is fine, I relish the chance to do some outdoor cooking.
At my pub in Henley-on-Thames, The Greyhound, we often cook up lunchtime barbecues and hog roasts for our customers to eat in the garden. I find eating in the garden is an immediate de-stressor; it feels healthier and it’s an ideal way to get the family together to share a meal, relax and talk.
Here’s how you can take the guesswork out of grilling with ideas straight off The Greyhound barbecue:
Most food safety is common sense but common sense is often forgotten in the heat of the flames!
My basic rules are: wash your hands before cooking and eating; use a separate chopping board for raw and cooked foods (and always keep these foods apart); keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold; buy a meat probe to test whether the meat, especially poultry, is cooked properly. Poultry needs to register at least 75C/165F to kill harmful bacteria.
How to prepare a BBQ
Barbecuing is so much more than just sticking meat onto coals so take some time to master the techniques.
Always light a traditional barbecue at least half and hour before you want to use it and leave the charcoal alone until the flames have burned out.
Wipe off any excess marinade before placing it on the fire as these can create flare-ups that will burn the food, and, if you have a kettle barbecue, try cooking with the lid down so that the food is permeated with gorgeous smoky flavour.
Cook British produce
We’re famous for using local, seasonal produce at AWT Restaurants, and, as we’re also celebrating two royal weddings this year, it’s a fitting tribute to give your outdoor eating a sense of occasion.
Celebrate the best of British with asparagus, which is in season now, marinated in olive oil, basil, thyme, parsley and spring onion and then grilled.
Rub, rattle and roll
Supermarkets and butchers are trying a lot harder with marinades these days but for the most part, these have been commercially made, contain many unnatural products and are either too sweet or too sharp.
Bring a little flair and imagination to fish, chicken and pork by whizzing up a rub made from 1tsp cayenne pepper, 2tsp black mustard seeds, 4 chopped garlic cloves, zest and juice of two limes, 2tbsp toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt.
It’s not just red meat that benefits from barbecuing; firm fish such as monkfish or salmon work well too. Marinade for up to 30 minutes in something simple – olive oil, lemon juice salt and ground black pepper – as this allows you to enjoy the full flavour of the BBQ as well as the gentle aroma of the baked fish.
Make sure you have some veggie skewers too – onions, peppers and flat mushrooms all chargrill well – and crisp up potato skins by brushing in olive oil before grilling. Dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano, or a handful of fragrant wood chips on the coals, will infuse the food with delightfully aromatic flavours.
Groups can book Antony’s team to dish up a gastro-grill at The Greyhound. It’s even possible to arrange for AWT himself to do the cooking – and share top tips with customers. For more information, contact the pub direct on 0118 9722227
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