How to barbecue meat to perfection

Selection of meats and vegetables cooking on barbecue grill

Summer is the time to get out into the garden and enjoy a barbecue with family and friends. To help you make the most of this barbecue season, we’ve put together some tips on how to barbecue meat to perfection, and secure your position as the star of the grill.

Follow our barbecue guidelines for an al fresco dinner that won’t fail to impress.

Prepare and preheat your barbecue grill
If you didn’t clean the barbecue after you last used it, you should do so now. No one really wants a succulent fillet steak contaminated by old burnt bits of food.

An electric or gas barbecue will take around 10 or 20 minutes to get up to cooking temperature. On the other hand, if you’re using charcoal, allow about 45 minutes from ignition. You want the flames to have died down and the charcoal should be covered in an even layer of ash.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook, remove the meat from the refrigerator. This will give it plenty of time to reach room temperature. You really want to avoid barbecuing meat straight from the fridge. If you’re using a marinade and haven’t already applied it, now is the time to do so.

Cook
It is advisable to brush meat with oil as this will help with cooking and will stop it from sticking to the grill. Use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut oil or vegetable oil.

Lay the meat on the barbecue and cook gently until brown. You should only need to turn it once.

If possible, cover the barbecue during cooking. Food cooks more evenly this way and you will end up with a more authentic barbecue flavour and less possibility of flare-ups. In addition, it is a more efficient way of cooking larger items such as whole chickens and meat joints.

Be vigilant
Flames jumping up and licking at your steaks and burgers may look tantalising but it is best avoided. If anything looks in danger of burning, remove it from the grill or place it on a higher shelf.

Rest
Most meats, whether steaks, burgers, chicken, sausages and so on, benefit from a short resting period prior to being served. It gives the meat time to relax, making it juicier and more tender. So, having removed the meat from the barbecue, transfer to a plate and serve after ten minutes or so.

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