For some time rains have stopped, temperatures have risen and the weather is perfect for barbecues. If you have bought your first barbecue and want to invite your friends, but are afraid of serving and eating burnt soles, our tips will help you.
You might not win a Best Barbecue award the first time, but you will surely make the first steps in the right direction, so in time and with the experience that you will gradually accumulate, you will know when to turn the steak, when the meatball is done and when you can serve the meat to your guests.
So make your first attempt with our advice and when you get the hang of it, organize a party for your friends with different meat products and many toothpicks.
Buy a BBQ of your taste
If you have not yet bought the basic equipment and are leaning towards a gas barbecue, in order to save the charcoal clutter, you need to keep in mind that your dishes will lack the specific taste, which meat has when cooked on charcoal. So in this case you need to decide what is more important to you, taste or order. Also as a beginner, you should not fall for some fancy models, but buy a classic barbecue, consistent with the space you have.
Only a barbecue, however, is not enough
In addition to the barbecue, you will also need a grill with handles, barbecue tongs, a slotted turner and aluminum foil. A meat thermometer is also useful, so that you can see exactly when the meat is cooked.
There are two options: briquettes or charcoal. Charcoal creates a cleaner and more intense heat, it is easier to ignite and it leaves less ash. Briquettes, which are produced from biomass, are cheaper, burn longer, but they contain more dust and other additives that can affect the taste of meat. So if you want to give a more natural taste to the meat, choose charcoal, but if you are now making your first steps and do not want to spend much money, briquettes are a good choice.
Light the Fire
Now we start with the more practical things - how to light a fire, on which you will cook. The simplest and safest way to start up a fire, without leaving traces on the environment is to use a device for the ignition of charcoal - namely a cylindrical metal tool, open at both ends. To light the fire, place crumpled newspaper in the bottom end, fill it with charcoal on top and light the newspaper. This method is safe, and above all economical, which is why you should try it first.
When is the fire ready?
Before you put the meat on you need to make sure that you have created the right conditions with regard to charcoal and temperature. A certain temperature needs to be reached without a flame, which can take from 15 to 40 minutes. The temperature is not ready, if the charcoal has not formed a thin layer of ash. To find out what the temperature is, use the classic "hand" method: if you can hold your hand 3 centimetres above the grill for 2 seconds, then the fire is quite hot. If you can hold your hand for 4 seconds, then the fire is medium hot, and for 6 seconds then it is moderate. Mix the charcoal in order to reach the required temperature, which means that if you want to lower the temperature you need to spread them out, and if you want to increase it, you need to put them in a pile.
Choose the right meat
A traditional barbecue always includes meat and when you go shopping, you should be very careful so that the dinner will not turn into a fiasco. Avoid thick pieces of meat and ask for steaks, 2.5 cm to 4 cm thick at most. Ask the butcher to remove excess fat or remove it as much as possible yourself so that it will not burn and the meal will be healthier. When selecting meat there are no limitations, as all types of meat can be grilled well, from chicken to pork chops and ribs to fish. Just remember that different kinds of meat react differently to different levels of temperature and require different grill times.
Cold or hot?
In the beginning you might have trouble, but over time you will see that for a better grill it is necessary to create a less hot fire in your barbecue. You will succeed in doing this by collecting charcoal from one side and leaving the other side at a lower temperature.
Do not open the barbecue lid more than necessary
We know you're anxious to see the results of your grilling skills and of course to eat your creations, but when you open the lid constantly the only thing you will achieve is to drive out the heat, and ultimately offer a dry piece of meat. Conversely, if you open the lid only once to turn the meat, time and temperature will do the rest, and you will not have to constantly hang over the grill, nor will you spoil the result. If you are making meatballs on the grill, avoid pricking them and moving them constantly. Limit yourself to turning them over.
Note the time
Grilling time in practice depends on the piece of meat, temperature and your personal preferences. Therefore, only through experience and mistakes will you understand how much time you need. In general, a steak, about 2.5 cm thick will be cooked on the outside but not inside, after about 8 minutes, and after 10-12 minutes it will be rare. Using a meat thermometer you can better judge whether it is cooked or not.
When you get used to the basics the time comes to start experimenting with the taste in order to impress others and yourself as well. Start trying out different marinades for meat before you put it on the grill. When making your first steps, choose a simple marinade, such as brine or vinaigrette sauce with pepper and spices, and remember that the marinade should be stored in a refrigerator.