Advanced BBQ Cooking Tips

BBQ cooking tips for the NZ grilling veteran or BBQ novice

♦  Food Safety: Keep it clean and keep it cold until you cook it or eat it.  Practice good food safety and preparation

♦  Seasoning the Grill: Pre-heat the clean grill and coat with cooking oil, using a brush or spray.  Close the grill and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes then wipe the grill clean with a fresh damp cloth.  The concept is the same as the seasoning of a cast iron fry pan.

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♦  BBQ Lid Position:  Just as some things are cooked on the kitchen cooktop and some in the oven, the type of food you are cooking will determine if you leave the BBQ lid up or down.  Generally speaking, do what you would do if you were cooking indoors.

♦  Over the Burner Cooking:  Steaks, burgers, and veggies, that need to be seared or cooked from the outside inward, should be placed directly over the burners.  A little olive oil brushed on the steak will prevent it from sticking.  Also, do NOT use salt on the meat before cooking, as it draws out the moisture and makes the meat dry.  If you do salt it as you start cooking, use coarse salt to get a nice salty crust.  A bit of coarse black pepper can be nice, too.

Searing & Crosshatching Steak♦  Searing & Crosshatching:  Always pre-heat the grill and take the meat out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before cooking.  Sear the meat for 90 seconds on high heat and then rotate it 1/8 of a turn (45 degrees) and sear again. This will give it an attractive crosshatch pattern, assuming you are not cooking on a flat plate grill, and help seal in the natural juices.  Remember to reduce heat to normal cooking temperature after searing.

♦  Leave it Alone and Give It Room:  You should only turn the meat once.  Be patient!  The meat needs room, too.  Don't overcrowd the grill or it can heat unevenly.  There should be at least 2cm between the pieces of meat.  Also, make sure you have enough gas so that the cooking session is uninterrupted.

♦  Avoid Using BBQ Forks:  To retain the natural juices, don’t poke holes in the meat!  This includes piercing the sausage skins.  Use long handled tongs or spatulas instead of forks.  Also, don't mash down on meat and burgers, as it forces out the natural juices and leaves you with dried out meat.

♦  Leave It Alone Part 2: Let your grilled meat "rest" for five minutes after cooking, covered loosely with foil, to ensure more tender and juicy results.  Letting the meat rest also applies to roasts and other cooked meats, as well.

♦  Away From the Burner Cooking:  Whole chickens, roasts, and most fish fillets require indirect heat.  Try preheating the grill with all burners then, when the grill is hot, turn off one side of grill, put the slow cooking food over the unlit burners and close the lid.  In effect, it becomes an oven.  This will help cook the meat evenly, browning it while keeping it juicy and tender.  Use a meat thermometer, where appropriate, to determine when it is done.

use aluminium foil to create little cooking pouches ♦  Using Aluminium Foil:  You can use aluminium foil to create little cooking pouches for delicate foods, like fish fillets.  Cook away from the lit burners or place the pouch on the warming rack, if you have one.

♦  Use Your Warming Rack:  You can toast bread, cook delicate foods or just keep cooked food warm by using your warming rack.

♦  Wood Chips:  Wood chip smoke can enhance the flavour of your food.  You put the wood chips in a steel smoker box or in a small aluminium foil tray within the BBQ.  Hickory is a good all-round choice, if you are just starting.  Smoker boxes and wood chips can be found at BBQ specialty stores.  Follow the wood chip supplier’s instructions.

♦  Reheating Pizza:  Did you know that a gas grill is the perfect way to reheat pizza?  Just set the BBQ on low, preheat, put the pizza directly on the grill and close the lid.  Heat until cheese starts to melt.

♦  Cooking Flare Ups: Use lean cuts of meat and/or trim away the fat to reduce the chance of flare ups.  Make sure the grease tray is empty before you start, too.  Very high temperatures should also be avoided.  However, if it does happen, flip down the grill lid and turn OFF all burners and the gas bottle, if safe to do so.  When the flare up is over, you can resume cooking. NEVER spray water on BBQ flare ups or on any grease fire.

♦  Marinades:  For more intense or varied flavours, consider using meat marinades.  You marinate the meat before you BBQ, as instructed by the marinade maker or recipe.  You can use large freezer bags for marinating.  Just put in the meat and marinade, seal and shake.  Refrigerate, shaking it occasionally, until you’re ready to BBQ.  Make sure you drain off any excess marinade before cooking and do NOT pour it over the meat while cooking.

♦  Side Burners:  If your BBQ is equipped with a side burner, you can use it just like a kitchen cooktop.  This adds to the selection of dishes you can choose to cook outdoors.

♦  Clean When Done:  Wearing protective gloves, clean the grill while it is still hot.  Use a good grill brush to clean cooking plates and racks.  Lightly coat cooking surfaces with cooking oil when clean.  Remember to empty the grease tray, too.  


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