Summer is finally upon us and the recent nice weekends have inspired numerous barbeques in the Fitzpatrick household. We sell a range of charcoal and often get asked what is the best charcoal to use, and how to easily light a BBQ for an easy cooking experience. So, for our top tips, keep on reading.
To start with, a BBQ needs to be set up in an open space and ideally on a flat surface. It probably goes without saying, but the BBQ should be set away from any trees, hanging plants and fences. Essentially, anything that a BBQ could light a fire too.
Our favourite barbequing accessory is a tubular charcoal basket. This cooking aid has many benefits. It allows the coals to light easily, it directs the flow of initial smoking and also protects the coals from blowing out on a windy day. All you need to do is fill the basket with charcoal and then light the coals from the bottom. To light, we use firelighters. They burn through to nothing and do not leave any type of smell or taste on the food. They also light the coals three times faster than paper.
If you don’t have a charcoal basket for your barbeque, you can stack the charcoal together by hand, and put the firelighters in place from there. Once a few coals have been lit, the rest will catch on their own. From here, you will need to wait for the coals to be ready to cook on. If the charcoal is black or grey with flames, this is not ready cook with and needs to be left longer. The coals will be ready to cook on when they are an ashy white colour with red centers and no fire flame. If you start you cooking before the coals are ready, this is going to lead to uncooked, burnt food.
Arranging the coals:
If you are using a charcoal basket, you will need to arrange the coals on the grill once they are ready to cook with. We recommend emptying the basket, so the coals only cover one half of the BBQ. This gives you more control of the heat exposure on your food. Laying the charcoal across the whole of the BBQ would be like cooking your food in the oven at the highest temperature. This may be ok for food that needs a fast quick heat like thin cuts of meat, but anything that needs a longer will end up burning.
Arranging the hot coals on one side of the barbeque allows for a range of temperatures. You can use to side with no coals for something that takes longer to cook thoroughly or move cooked food off the direct heat to keep it warm before serving.
Our final tip is to use a cooking thermometer. This is by far the easiest way to ensure that your food is cooked properly. Different foods claim a different cooked temperature, for example, chicken, duck, and turkey are cooked when the thermometer reads 74 degrees, as whereas a medium done steak is around 63 degrees. You can find more about cooking temperatures here.
We hope you find this blog helpful! If you end up doing any barbecuing this summer, be sure to send us some pictures. We’re always looking for food inspiration!