Expert 1: Ben Tish
Ben Tish, Chef Director of the Salt Yard Group, provides hot tips on how to get the most out of your summer barbecue:
What's best? Charcoal or briquettes?
Lump wood charcoal is superior in flavour to briquettes due to the fact there aren't any chemicals or binders in there to mask or skew the flavours. Most charcoal is from South Africa and will have been compressed so it travels better and doesn't break up in transit. I'd suggest British charcoal which is much lighter and burns better. Apple, hazel and oak all have their differing flavour qualities.
How should I lay out the charcoal?
A single base layer of charcoal and a couple of fire lighters on top is all that's needed. How much depends on the size of the BBQ, how much food you want to cook and how long the food is cooking for.
How far in advance should one light the barbie?
If it's good charcoal then 25-30 minutes before cooking and wait until it turns an ashen grey and there are no flames.
What's the best way to grill?
There are different methods of cooking on a barbecue. Without a lid is known as grilling or direct cooking. You'll need to keep an eye on the food as it's hard and fast and there's a danger of over cooking or burning quickly. Indirect cooking under a lid is what purists call proper barbecuing. Its using the smoke to flavour and slow cooking process. I use a plant spray or mister to tame any flare ups.
Which ingredients should go on the grill first?
Chicken legs will take a while so put them on first and then sausages depending on size. Fish is very quick to cook and kebabs, too, if cooking them medium rare.
What's the best type of wood chip for a classic smoky flavour?
It depends on what you are cooking really but if you want that Southern style then something like Mesquite.
What are your personal thoughts on charcoal vs gas?
There's a huge difference in terms of flavour. Gas doesn't create the smoky barbecue flavours that you only get with charcoal and wood. Gas certainly has its place in terms of consistency and convenience when cooking outside, but it defeats the object for me!