Tim Maddams 15 top barbecue tips
At a recent fab The White Company event we met chef Tim Maddams, who was on hand to give us 15 top tips on creating the perfect crowd-pleasing barbecue. So if, like me, your BBQ skills are a little lacklustre, and you always end up bailing out and just serving up burgers, follow along as he throws us some juicy seasonal grilling advice tidbits just in time for the summer barbecue season ahead.
1. Preparation is key! Makes sure you have all the kit your need to hand, long-handled tongs, more charcoal, serving dishes, seasoning and oven gloves are all a must, but think about chopping boards and knives and somewhere to rest meats.
2.You don’t need to blow your brains out on fancy kit – a simple kettle-type barbecue is fine for most things, make sure the grills are clean.
3. Let your location do the talking – if you are planning a BBQ on the beach, serve fish not chops and sausages
4. Site your BBQ as near to your dining tables and kitchen area as possible, you don’t want to spend your time running back and forth.
5. Don’t use imported charcoal. You want coppice charcoal from a sustainable British source, there are lots to choose from, it gets hot quickly and lights easily.
6. Light your fire in plenty of time, it will take a little longer than you think to be ready to cook on. Look for the flames to have died down and the embers to be glowing with a light covering of ash before you attempt to start cooking.
7. Have two different zones for your BBQ. Tim lights the fire on one side and keeps it going in there, As the embers spread to the other side he then knows where on the grill to cook as it’s easier to manage the heat, moving things that need to slow down to cooler places, and things that need a push to a hot spot.
8.Fat creates fired, so beware if you are cooking very fatty things, they will cause the fire to flare up and often burn things.
9. Allow enough time. Don’t try and rush a barbecue, it won’t work. Think about avoiding things that take time to be cooked thoroughly like chicken and sausages.
10. Use aromatics to deepen flavour – for example, Tim often grills sardines or mackerel on the barbecue and always lays branches of fresh bay leaves over the grill first to add flavour, but also as it stops them sticking to the grill and makes them far easier to handle.
11. Avoid sweet. sticky marinades on a hot barbecue, they tend to burn and add very little to the end dish except bitter, burnt sugar notes.
12. Use spices, oil and citrus along with fresh herbs to make up the flavour palate for barbecuing. Make sure everything to be cooked on the grill is at an ambient temperature before it goes on – fridge-cold meat, fish, and veg won’t cook so well.
13. When the grill is too hot for cooking meats, fish, veg or cheese it’s often perfect for getting some flat breads done. Serve these with a few dips as a quick starter that will help to take the edge off your guests’ hunger, buying you time and providing tasty treats.
14. Be creative with your sides, simple but different salads are the way to go, combined with carb-laden potato or pasta salad and some flat breads for those who like their meals heavy.
15. Relax and enjoy yourself, don’t rush, it’s all about easy dining. There are no rules. If it takes an hour to cook a whole leg of lamb to perfection, then do so. Simply cooking one great piece of meat and serving it with lots of prepared earlier side dishes is a great way to go.
With thanks to The White Company for an awesome day and to Tim Maddams for the amazing tips – you can catch more on what he’s up to here.