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Brilliant Barbi Tips

Marinated food tastes great and grills better, as apart from enhanced flavour, it also helps protect food against high grill temperatures. Normally the longer the better, but a simple tip to cut marinating time is to place food in a sealed plastic bag, massage in marinade and place in fridge. This cuts marinating time by half.

Introduce some colour to your Barbi food, red, green or yellow bell peppers are great flame-roasted to enhance flavours. Once skin has blackened, place in a plastic bag to cool. The skin will then easily peel-off. Green and yellow courgettes also grill well as do chilies, asparagus and aubergine.

Choose a theme, the US, South America, especially following the Olympics last year, South Africa and of course Australia after the Commonwealth Games are all good. It also helps that they have great wine and beer too! The Caribbean & Mexico are also cool. Remember great Barbi parties are based on the three ‘B’s’ – Blues (or any music you fancy), Booze & BBQ’s.

Most first time BBQ’ers buy a simple charcoal grill, but gas grills can now cost under £50. So just what’s the best? Well; gas is simpler to use and more easily controllable. Whilst charcoal is more traditional and adds that essential BBQ taste. A simple guide is ‘gas for ease’ and ‘charcoal for taste’.

A good guide to grill temperatures is the hand test. Hold your hand around 6” from the grill; if you can only keep it there for around 30 seconds, the temperature is too hot, 1-2 minutes is high and an ideal searing heat. 2-3 minutes means a medium temperature, ideal for normal grilling. 3-5 minutes is fairly warm and good for keeping food warm. Any longer and the grill is not ready.

BBQ is not a race against time, so don’t grill too quickly or on too high a heat as this causes food to burn on the outside whilst being under cooked in the middle. The trick is to ‘sear on high’ and then take it ‘low and slow’. It helps if the grill-bars are well oiled, but don’t turn food to often as this reduces heat.

Enhancing that true smoky BBQ taste is best done on charcoal by throwing wet wood chips, herb branches on the coals. Try different types of wood, apple is good or vine clippings. A similar, although not quite as good, a similar effect can be achieved on a gas grill with a lava rock bed.

Create some Barbi-theatre, by ‘fanning-the-flames’. Quickly press down on meats or poultry with a long-handled spatula; this releases natural fats, causing a brief ‘flare-up’. Please take great care when attempting and keep any clothing well clear. Do NOT attempt to enhance effect by adding extra oil.

To achieve professional, cross-hatch grill-lines, sear meat, fish, poultry or fruit/vegetables on a hi-heat, lengthwise to the grill-bars. Remove and quickly wipe grill bars with oil and repeat at right-angles. Once both sides are seared return to normal cooking, turning infrequently.

Position BBQ’s on level ground, well away from hedges, fences, or overhanging shrubbery. When lighting charcoal, only use proper BBQ lighter fuel, never, ever use petrol or other flammable liquids. If using gas ensure grill lights immediately, if it fails, turn off gas, leave for a few minutes and try again.