CHARCOAL BARBECUES: Charcoal is burnt wood. The beauty of


CHARCOAL BARBECUES: Charcoal is burnt wood. The beauty of
CHARCOAL BARBECUES: Charcoal is burnt wood. The beauty of cooking with it is that
it burns for a long time and holds heat really well. If you pile the charcoals up so they are
higher on one side of the barbecue than the other, you’ll have a hot side of the barbecue
for searing and cooking things quickly, and a cooler side for cooking things more slowly.
Controlling the heat this way is essential if you want food that’s cooked through properly.
Charcoal barbecues take a little while to set up because you need to light the fire and
give it time to get hot (allow roughly 1 hour for this). The coals will start to turn white
and glow red when it’s ready. This can be quite messy and dirty, but the smoky earthy
flavours charcoal gives your food are what barbecuing is all about.
GAS BARBECUES: These have gas jets that light up underneath the bars and provide
a constant heat source. You can adjust the flames and quickly turn the heat up or
down. They’re easy to light, easy to clean and you can start cooking almost instantly,
but some people feel they don’t give you that classic barbecue flavour.
If you’re choosing a new barbecue, look for one with thick heavy grill bars. The lighter
and flimsier the bars are, the more likely food is to stick to them. Make sure it’s sturdy
and stable and can’t be easily tipped over. If you can buy a barbecue with a pull-down
lid, that’s good; you’ll be able to mimic the effects of an oven and make even more
exciting dishes (see Barbecue cooking guide).
SAFETY: There are some precautions you
should take before setting up. Read through the
Barbecue safety guide before you start.
you set your barbecue up somewhere safe where
it’s not at risk of falling over. Don’t put it too
near to a house or tent; sparks can fly further
than you think. If you’re not cooking in your own
garden, make sure you have permission to light
the barbecue. Most countries have strict rules
about lighting fires in public places so whether
you’re at the beach or a festival, in the park or
camping, check before you get set up. And never
ever light a barbecue indoors!
© Jamie Oliver. Illustrations by Peter Hamilton.
WHAT TO USE: Remember that the smoke from any wood you burn will be flavouring
your food. Some barbecue aficionados use cedar or cherry wood because those woods
give off an incredible aroma as they burn. Use nice wood if you can get it, and stay clear
of old bits of furniture, plywood, MDF, or any wood with paint on it.
SPACE: Make room near the barbecue for your raw and cooked meats. These should be
on separate sides of the barbecue if possible. If they have to be on the same side, make
sure the raw food is closest to the barbecue; you don’t want the raw meat to pass over
anything cooked on it’s way to the grill as this can cause cross contamination (see Food
safety: avoiding cross contamination).
It’s a good idea to have these items on hand before you start cooking:
• A stiff wire barbecue brush or scrunched-up ball of tin foil for cleaning the bars
of your grill.
• Two pairs of tongs: one for raw food and one for cooked.
• A fish slice for lifting delicate things off the grill.
• Clean plates for cooked food.
• A trowel or something similar that you can move your coals around with.
• Platters and serving boards for dishing up.
© Jamie Oliver. Illustrations by Peter Hamilton.