Hosting a BBQ for family and friends can be a joyful experience, but it can also be grim if it’s not done well. Whatever your approach, here’s the lowdown on how to get the best out of your BBQ.
Almost anything can be cooked on the BBQ, but Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef truly excels on it. Michelin star and award-winning top chefs and BBQ aficionados alike share a passion for grilling and smoking this naturally delicious produce.
With a Michelin star at Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms, Gareth Ward is no stranger to cooking with the finest local produce, and Welsh Lamb is no exception. While Welsh Lamb can be cooked in many ways, Gareth likes to cook his slowly and on a low temperature but chars the meat first. “Charring the lamb over hot coals just gives it that smoky flavour you can’t quite get in a griddle pan. I also tenderise the meat before cooking as this breaks down the sinews, and it just makes it easier when you’re marinating the meat. You really can’t go wrong with Welsh Lamb on the BBQ.”
Hywel Griffith, chef director at Beach House Restaurant, Oxwich is also a huge fan of Welsh Lamb. He says: “When it comes to cooking lamb on the BBQ or in a smoker, it lends itself absolutely perfectly. A shoulder or breast is best suited to longer and slower cooking, while the best end, rack of lamb and legs can be cooked medium rare – quickly and over a high heat. It’s absolutely delicious.”
While Welsh Lamb is regarded an excellent all-rounder on the grills, Welsh Beef also has a loyal flame-inspired fan base.
Sharing his sizzling burger secrets, Owain Hill of HILLS burger restaurant in Brecon says: “The secret to a good burger is the quality of the meat, and you can’t get better quality than Welsh Beef. It’s all down to the cuts of beef used in the mince, and the weight and temperature of each burger before cooking. A good sturdy bun, to embrace that all important juicy burger, is also a must!”
Getting to grips with the grill
Whether you’re a complete novice around a pair of tongs, or a pro on a parilla, here are some handy hints and tips for brilliant barbecuing.
1. Firstly, you need to use the best quality fuel you can afford. Lump wood charcoal is a good option if you’re using a charcoal BBQ. Add oak or hickory woodchips to the hot charcoal, or some fresh aromatic herbs, for some extra flavour.
2. Light the BBQ at least 30 minutes before cooking on it. It will be ready when the flames have died down and the charcoal looks a powdery grey-white and has a red glow underneath. If you start cooking on it too soon, it will not have reached its ideal cooking temperature and the flames will burn the meat on the outside and it will be raw on the inside.
3. While you wait for the BBQ to fire up, it’s an ideal time to get your meat ready (if you haven’t done so already!). To make sure the meat cooks evenly, take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before cooking. If marinating the meat, do this a few hours earlier or even the day before. And remember to time your prep well so that you start cooking only when the charcoal is glowing red underneath and has that grey-white appearance.
4. Another tip to consider when preparing the meat is to avoid using too much oil. Excess oil on the meat will drip onto the charcoal and fuel the flames. Before cooking, dab any excess oil from the meat with kitchen towel. It’s also worth noting that squashing burgers down flat on the grill can also create too many flames, so it’s best to avoid this – besides, you’ll be squeezing all the lovely juices out of them!
5. When it’s time to cook on the BBQ, make sure you have the right tools: long-handled tongs and forks, heat-resistant aprons and gloves etc. make the job a lot easier. If you’re not sure if the meat is cooked through and safe to eat, test it with a meat thermometer. Simply insert the probe into the centre of the meat and it will give you an accurate reading.
6. While marinades are a good way to add flavour to the meat, you can also add flavour in other ways. For example, you can use rosemary sprigs instead of stainless steel or wooden skewers. They will add flavour to the meat from the inside. And don’t forget your buns! Welsh Lamb and Beef burgers deserve the best tasting buns! Toast the insides of the buns on the grill for that extra BBQ flavour.
7. When the last morsels have left the grill, it’s time to alleviate the BBQ of its duties. Hot charcoal takes a while to cool down, so leave it for at least 12 hours before discarding it safely. And don’t forget to clean the grill after each use - those burnt-on bits are much harder to remove at a later date. Allow it to cool down and give it a good clean - it will save you time (and effort) the next time!