It’s not official (he doesn’t wear a crown or anything). But in my book, my dad is the King of Barbecues.
Every summer, for as long as I can remember, he has donned his shorts and polo shirt (whatever the weather) and created a culinary masterpiece in the form of sweet barbecued sausages and softly charred chicken wings and melt-in-your mouth pork ribs. His passion for the barbecue began at the mere age of 15 in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), when he took over barbecue duties from his own father.
Never an under-cooked piece of meat in sight, my dad has perfected the art of the barbecue over many years…
We recently had my aunt Mercia, her husband David, cousin Mike and his girlfriend Becky over for lunch at my mum and dad’s house in Worcestershire. My dad proudly rolled out his well-used twenty two-year-old charcoal barbecue, which he proclaims is better than any gas version on the market. He recommends the Meco Swinger because it has levers which can put the griddle closer to the coals, giving the food a caramelised finish. Equally, it can raise the griddle higher to move the food away from the flames.
We enjoyed sipping on some Czech beers that my cousin Marc very kindly sent to me – a range of premium craft lager from Bear Brewery. I really enjoyed the low sugar blonde beer as it was easy to drink and refreshing. Perfect for a warm summer’s day!
My brother Ben and his girlfriend Cat were also there and they spent some time chilling in my parent’s summerhouse. It really was one of those perfect family sundays.
Meanwhile, my Dad shared his tips for barbecuing – and to him, charcoal is where it’s at. Here are his top barbecue tips…
- When selecting the food for your next barbecue, try to choose meat that has an even thickness. I wouldn’t recommend cooking chicken drumsticks on the barbecue, for example, because it’s difficult to get the meat cooked right throughout. Chicken wings and thighs are a much better choice!
- Make your own barbecue sauce and put loads of sauce on both sides of the meat just before they food is almost cooked. This will make it nice and sticky.
- Remember to seal all the vents and leave the barbecue lid on to smoke the food for the last five or six minutes of cooking. This gives the food extra flavour, plus it cuts the oxygen to the coals and kills the fire.
- I recommend a mix of charcoal briquettes with lumpwood charcoal for your barbecue. There really is no comparison between charcoal and gas as charcoal ALWAYS gives you a better flavour. You can always learn the basics on a gas barbecue if you’re a beginner then buy a good quality charcoal one once you’ve got some experience.
- If you use a charcoal barbecue, invest in a Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Pile all of the coals and briquettes into it and put scrunched up newspaper underneath and light it. This draws the fire right through the firestarter and the coals will be ready in around 30 minutes. This does away with the need for lighter fluid which can leave a petroleum smell and taste on the food.