About Love2BBQ – My Story

I started Love2BBQ because I feel inspired to share the pleasure that I get from barbecue with others who may not have made that discovery. I want to change the perception (especially in the UK) that a barbecue just needs to be about sausages, burgers and chicken. There is nothing wrong doing with these food types but there are so many alternative simple options available.

It is not just about fair weather either but something that can be enjoyed all year round.

So what do I want to achieve:

  • Get more people using their barbecue all year round
  • Get people trying different foods on the barbecue
  • Change the perception it is only the domain of males
  • Show the healthy side of BBQ’ing
  • Share the pleasure of BBQ’s

There are so many enthusiasts out there and I would love to hear from you with your ideas together with content you would like to see on this site.

Pork Burnt EndsOne common theme you will hear me talk about on this site is the need to enjoy yourself when doing your barbecue. I read something recently that barbecue is an art not a science and I really do think is a great way to look at it (although a level of precision sometimes involved).

Art can mean something different to all of us, from the person who created the art to the person that is consuming it but it is a personal thing. What I am trying to get at here is there is not a single right way or wrong way to do a barbecue. You just need to get comfortable doing a barbecue your way!

There are tonnes of useful resources out there, so use Google, YouTube etc to get hints, tips and guidance. There are lots of us enthusiasts on the web so use us all for any advice you need.

Check out some great resources in the Useful Resources section.

Getting Started with the Barbecue

Regardless of whether you are cooking on gas or charcoal, there are some common items and techniques you need in order to barbecue.

  1. Food Preparation: Before you light the BBQ make sure you have done as much of the food preparation as you can. It might be that you are just doing sausages, burgers and chicken but make sure you know where the food is and when you are going to serve it so you can adjust your cooking times accordingly. It’s always good to have a ‘runner’ (i.e. spouse or kids) to get you the food. That way you don’t leave the grill and can keep your eyes on everything to ensure nothing burn.
  2. Clean & prep the BBQ: In an ideal world someone would invent a self-cleaning BBQ. Unfortunately, until then we need to keep the BBQ clean. If you have a charcoal BBQ make sure you have cleaned out the remnants of your last BBQ. With both gas and charcoal make sure the grill-plates are clean together with any warming shelves you may have. Finally, ensure drip trays are cleared out and ready to go to avoid any flare-ups.
  3. Light the BBQ: Get the BBQ lit well in advance of starting to cook. Again, this applies to both gas and charcoal. One item which is a must to invest in is a ‘Chimney Starter‘ which will really help to start your BBQ. This to me is an essential item you need to own if you have a ‘natural’ BBQ. It really helps to get you cooking as quickly as possible.I would also recommend paying a little extra for decent charcoal or briquettes. I tend to use briquettes and have 2 brands that I would highly recommend. One is the Weber long lasting briquettes and the other is the Australian Heat Beads. You may have to order these online but I feel it is well worth it. What is great about these coals is that they are long lasting which means you won’t be rushing to cook your food. In addition, because of the uniform size of the briquettes, they give a really consistent cook each time.Tip: Try to disperse the coals so you have variable heat areas in the BBQ. This will allow you better control the cooking process. See our article on direct/indirect cooking.
  4. Have the Right Tools: Make sure you have the right tools to enable you to manage your food. As a minimum you should make sure you have a good set of tongs and a good turner / fish slice. As you progress investing in a good basting brush is a must. Also, as mentioned previously, if you have a ‘natural’ BBQ get a Chimney Starter. If you go for a Chimney Starter make sure you have some heat proof gloves.  Keep visiting our News and Reviews area to read our latest reviews on different BBQ equipment you may find useful.
  5. Get Cooking: Now for the art!!! Personally, I like to cook gradually and serve my guest with each course. Others I know like to cook all the food up front and then serve all the food together. It’s just a matter of personal taste. Experiment, learn and enjoy yourself. You will be amazed how quickly you will be cooking great tasting food stamped with your own personality.

    When cooking try not to cook the food too quickly – you need to make sure you get the heat correct. Again, having different cooking zones on your BBQ will help you manage this.

    One final thing is try to put the lid on your BBQ when cooking food. It will help ‘trap’ some of the smoke and make sure your food gets infused with all those lovely smokey flavours, especially when using wood chunks or wood chips. Enjoy!

     

If your barbecue experience is limited to cooking a sausage or burger on a disposal barbecue you have yet to experience what can be a very exciting and rewarding way to cook food outdoors. As you learn new barbecue techniques, two key terms to understand are direct and indirect which are the basic methods of grilling.

Direct Grilling

Lamb RackDirect grilling means that the food is placed on the BBQ directly over the heat source, regardless of whether you are using gas or coals. Just about every food, from meats to vegetables, can be barbecued directly, including sausages, hamburgers, sausages, cheese (Houmous), lamb chops, boneless chicken breasts, beef tenderloins, and all types of fish and shellfish.

Grilling over direct heat sears the food, coating its exterior with a tasty brown crust that’s loaded with a smokey flavour.

The primary difficulty with direct grilling is that you must watch your food closely to prevent it from burning. The other thing you need to be wary of is not too cook your food too quickly where it is seared (burnt) on the outside but still not cooked on the inside, which can cause food poisoning.

On a charcoal grill, the coals should be spread in a solid layer that extends about 1 to 2 inches beyond the edges of the food.

Indirect Grilling

Indirect grilling grills foods slowly and can be likened to cooking in an oven. The food is placed off to one side of the heat source and brings a number of advantages when doing a BBQ:

  • It slows down the cooking process: How many times have you used direct grilling to cook chicken and ended up with skin charred beyond recognition and meat that’s practically raw in the center? With indirect grilling, food is cooked in a covered grill by heat that never directly touches it, and is comparable to oven roasting.

  • Indirect cooking actually gives you two types of fires (or two levels of heat) in one grill: You have a direct fire that can be used to sear food and an indirect fire to cook food slowly and thoroughly.

  • Indirect grilling eliminates the possibility of dangerous flare-ups: Fat drips from the food into the drip pan, rather than onto the hot coals, lava rocks, or ceramic briquettes.

Indirectly grill any large cuts of meat or whole birds, poultry pieces, pork tenderloins, ribs, or large roasts for delicious results. If you are using a gas barbecue you can also use a smoking box to help get some of those natural smokey flavours into your food.

BBQ Chicken KebabOne of the decisions you will need to make at some point is whether to purchase a gas or charcoal barbecue (unless of course you can afford to buy both). There are pro’s and con’s to both and I firmly believe it is down to personal preference which way you go.

Many BBQ purists will claim that food cooked on a gas grill does not taste as good as one cooked over charcoal. Until recently I would agree with this and to a certain extent I still do, but independent taste tests more often than not has food cooked over gas coming out as the favourite.

There are other options such as pellet grills that are also really worth looking into. Also if it really takes your fancy there are electric grills, some which are pretty high end.

Cooking on Gas

The main benefits of gas are convenience and control. I think gas makes the whole BBQ process simpler so if you are new to grilling this may be the better option.

When I owned a gas BBQ, I tended to use it mid-week when I got home from work a little later but still fancied some BBQ. It takes a few minutes to light the BBQ and bring it up to temperature. If you are only cooking for 1 or 2 people and just throwing some fish or a steak on the grill it is so much more convenient.

I also think it is much easier to control the temperature and create direct and indirect cooking zones.

Gas also helps from a cleaning perspective. Before I BBQ’ed (or sometimes after I had finished cooking) I just put all the hobs on max, get the BBQ really hot and then use a wire brush to clean the grates. You don’t have to clean up ash or charcoal remnants which again makes the whole process easier.

Some will argue you don’t get the same smokey taste with gas. It is possible to help this process by using a smoking box. These are great and really help infuse the meats with that authentic wood or smoke taste.

Cooking on Charcoal/Briquettes

So cards on the table this is my preferred way to cook a BBQ. I really enjoy the whole process and challenge of lighting the coals and controlling the temperature, but this is something I will tend to do when I have more time to prep.

It does take a little longer to get the BBQ going but you can speed up this process by using a chimney starter. This can be further enhanced when using accessories like the Padamo Quick Starter. These really help in getting your briquettes hot really quickly. If you do go down this route, from a safety perspective, I would recommend you purchase a good pair of fire-resistant gloves.

Chimney starters also are great if you need to top up your briquettes. Another advantage is that they make it easy to distribute your coals again so you can easily set up direct and indirect cooking zones.

I like the amount of smoke charcoal gives off. Briquettes aren’t as good and although some of the newer briquettes from Weber are 100% wood based they are not quite the same as using charcoal. Typically what I will do is use wood chunks (from Smokewood Shack) so add some natural smokiness to my food.

I would recommend buying a quality briquette as cheaper makes do have chemicals in that will tarnish your food slightly. My favourites are the Australian Heat Beads but I also like the Weber long lasting briquettes and the Natural Coconut briquettes.

Summary

There is no right or wrong answer here. I really think it comes down to personal preference, factors being how much time you have, what you want to BBQ and potentially budget.

BBQ is a great way to cook so just make the choice that is right for you and enjoy!!!!