BBQing this weekend, regardless of the weather? Here's a few expert tips from across the globe, which will turn you into the king of the summer barbie...
BBQ the South African way with ‘braai’, which is basically a 4-gallon steel oil drum. Not got one of those knocking around the house? It can also be made with a recycled beer keg or a large tin can.
“Cut it in half lengthwise to house the firewood and cover with cross-mesh metal. Fire it with dead branches, so the wood burns longer and smells better,” says Damian Trejo, head chef at London’s Manhattan Grill Steak Restaurant.
South Africans love BBQing so much they’ve got an annual holiday to celebrate it. So, you can probably trust their judgement on this one.
Got a few hours to spare or a whole animal to BBQ? The traditional Mexican way to cook meat is to simply chuck it into a pit in the ground.
“Create a pit – around two feet by three feet, line the pit with bricks or stones, and throw some twigs and dry cardboard in the bottom as fire-starters, then just add some logs. The meat goes inside the pit, on top of the logs and stones, and an iron sheet is then placed on top.”
Throw a killer summer BBQ and piss off your neighbours simultaneously. Nick a few of their tasteful patio decoration stones to heat up, just like they do in Mongolia.
“Nomadic Mongolians use palm-sized stones which they heat to a high temperature over an open fire, and then layer slices of lamb and stones in a pot, alternating each layer. The thermal heat from the stones cooks the lamb. The result? Delicious, moist lamb.”
Some serious BBQ knowledge for you: barbecues originate from the indigenous people of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
How did they start off this summer staple?
“Fashion a net tray out of green leaves and wood, and then hold it up over a fire with four long wooden posts to slow-cook your beast over an open fire.”
When the Spaniards, along with Christopher Columbus, saw this mad invention in the 15th Century, they dubbed it ‘barbacoa’. You can guess what happened next.
In the French and Swiss Alps, their version of BBQ-ing is called a ‘pierrade’. "What the hell is a pierrade?" we hear you cry.
“It basically involves heating a slab of stone (slate works best) over an open fire and shoving some meat on it to sizzle away,” says Chef Damian.
This is a good one for when the British weather is working against you - you can make a pierrade over the fireplace indoors. Just don’t try it with your mum’s fake gas one. Cos that definitely won’t end well.
In Finland, Canada and North America, plank-cooking is a great way of BBQ-ing strips of meat and creating a tasty, smoked-wood flavour. A couple of plank racks are either stood on the edge of open flames faced towards the fire, or placed directly above.
"The natural oils and moisture found in the wood infuses the food."
Fancy a change from meat? BBQ some crunchy insects. Alright, alright, don’t give up on us just yet. It’s not that weird - it’s a typical Chinese street food called ‘chuanr’.
“It’s kind of like a kebab - small pieces of meat, typically lamb, on skewers roasted over charcoal. But increasingly its made using various insects, bugs, birds and other exotic animals…?”
Spice it all up with cumin, chilli flakes, salt and sesame oil. And suddenly those insects won't seem... so... terrible?