11 Steps To Being a BBQ Pro

Chefs Mark Hix, Mark Gevaux (aka The Rib Man), and Neil Rankin (Smokehouse) lay down the law

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BBQ like a pro with our guide to the most important meal you'll cook all summer.

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All three experts agree – ditch the charcoal and get into wood.

“I swapped from charcoal to wood and the change was unbelievable” says Gevaux. “Only use good wood to smoke with and only use wood for a maximum time of four hours to avoid over-smoking,” says Rankin.

 


“For me it’s all about the quality of the meat you choose at the start and how it’s been reared,” says Gevaux. “Outdoor-reared is the most important for me. I’m not a believer in organic. As long as the animal has had a happy life, that’s what matters – a happy pig is a tasty pig.”
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“Beef feather blade is a cut you can still pick up relatively cheaply,” says Rankin. “It’s from the chuck area of the cow and is insanely versatile. You can slice it up into flat iron steaks for the grill and cook it rare, or cook it as a whole joint and feed a large family.”
 


Keep your meat in the fridge until the last minute” says Rankin. “The colder your meat the more smoke you will take on. Also, rough surfaces are better than smooth surfaces. Rough it up a bit if you want. It will draw smoke to the surface.”
 

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“For many people it's all about confidence, and they're just not confident cooking on the barbecue,” says Hix. “I've just got a Kamodo Joe in London. You can control the temperature so much. You need to learn to control the temperature, which is the crucial thing.”

 

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“Complex BBQ rubs are great but they’re really not necessary,” says Rankin. “I rub all my meats with a mixture of sea salt blitzed in a blender and cracked black pepper. Sprinkle on lightly from a height. It’s all you need.”

“The basis of any barbecue sauce is, for me, a dry spice rub mixed with olive oil, fried off to bring out that smoky flavour,” says Gevaux. “You don’t want a sauce that’s going to overpower everything. I prefer the smoky flavour of a sauce to the smoky flavour of the meat. In the US, they’ll cake a rub onto the meat until it builds into a crust. But I like the meat to do the talking.”

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“If I'm going to cook outside, I will try to base everything around that,” says Hix. “So roast vegetables for example — aubergines, courgettes, thick-cut onions or shallots cooked in the wood-fired oven. You can serve a salsa or pesto with it. For main course, whether it’s a lump of meat, a whole fish or a lobster, you can do everything on the barbecue — you don’t need to turn your oven on at all.”
 

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“If I’ve done a starter and main on the barbecue, I wouldn’t always bother with dessert, but you could,” says Hix. “You can do bananas in their skins, or slit them and put a few slices of chocolate in. Or pineapple is great – cut it in half, slash it, criss-cross it, put some honey over it or even agave syrup.”
 

 

“Falling apart or falling off the bone is actually over cooked,” says Rankin. ”It’s done when it’s soft and bouncy to the touch but not falling apart. ”

 

“In Dorset I've got a wood-fired Bernito oven, which is great,” says Hix. “For me that's the perfect barbecue kit. You can buy them off the shelf in all different shapes and sizes. It's basically a pizza oven, but I use it for cooking lobsters, chunks of meat and fish. You get that lovely charred wood flavour. Because of the heat it gets to inside, you can cook things really quickly. I've got some lobster pots, I can chop a lobster in half and they cook in about three or four minutes.”

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For maximum grill efficiency, sanity, and success, the first step is to learn to work your grill in three cooking zones: hot, medium, and low. Then you can grill anything. Steaks. Chops. Corn. Bacon. Clams. Fucking pineapple. Anything.

How to do it: For gas BBQs — if you’re that kind of person — adjust the burner controls to three temperatures. If you have a two-burner grill, suspend a rack above the grill to create the low zone.

For charcoal grills, arrange coals in sections: high pile for high heat, medium pile for medium heat, and the third zone bare. (The food above it will be slow-cooked by ambient heat.)
 

Tell us about your BBQ success in the comments

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