Top chef Heston Blumenthal is a great lover of outdoor cooking, and has shared his tips.
The man who made The Fat Duck in Bray one of the world’s most famous restaurants has just launched a range of his own barbecues, the rather enigmatically-named ‘Everdure by Heston Blumenthal’.
They’re nicely-designed and full of nifty touches and gadgetry, including an electric lighting element which will get charcoal up to cooking temperature in 10 minutes, and built-in rotisserie motors. Heston cheekily describes them in the company literature as a ‘3 Michelin star barbecue range’ – and they have prices to match that billing, with the family-size ‘Fusion’ model coming in at a whopping £899. You food might not get burnt, but your wallet will.
Still, quality equipment is always worth paying for, and they did look impressive in action at the launch – and as well as unveiling his range, Heston also provided his top barbecue tips to make sure that you get perfect barbecue results every time.
Throw herbs on the charcoal for extra smokey flavour
A sprig of rosemary is perfect for lamb, and sage works well too. Herbs like these are sturdy enough to burn in the heat and release flavour over time, rather than quickly withering and burning away like lighter herbs like basil would. Spritz them with a little water first to prolong the infusing.
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Look out for the ash – it means you’ve reached perfect grilling temperature
Charcoal barbecues can reach a radiant temperature of over 1,000 degrees Celsius. Things start to settle down once the ash starts to form on the crust of each coal… once you see that, you’ll know you’re pretty much good to go.
Find the ‘sweet spot’ for perfect cooking
The sweet spot is the distance from the heat where food cooks best, and has a consistent heat of no more than 10% variance. This will vary on what you’re cooking, but generally the optimium grill height from the heat is 18.5% of the grill’s width. Luckily my barbecues have worked all that out for you so you won’t have to whip the ruler out.
The secret to barbecued fish is indirect cooking
If you’re cooking more delicate food, such as fish or thinly-sliced meat, then indirect cooking is probably your best bet. Placing food just away from the centre will help it find pockets of heat, without exposing it to the full temperature force.
Keeping things clean, and avoiding flare-ups
Flare ups are usually caused by a combination of extreme heat and build-up of oil. They’re nothing to worry about, but you can reduced the chances of one happening by cleaning your barbecue regularly… A good tip to prevent sticky build-up on grills during cooking is to give them a quick rub with cloth soaked in cooking oil before you start, and again after, to get them ready for next time.