National Barbecue Week: ready, flame, fire

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

National Barbecue Week: ready, flame, fire

Related tags Barbecue

National barbecue week is upon us and operators are firing up their grills across the country as the weather takes a turn for the better to cash in on consumer demand for charred and marinated delights.

Top tips

Jon Finch, managing director and founder of barbecue festival Grillstock, which takes place in Manchester (30 – 31 May), Bristol (11 – 12 July) and London (5 – 6 September), has shared his top tips for operators wanting to put on a brilliant barbecue:

  • Set Up a 2-Zone / Indirect Cooking Area

Set up your BBQ so you have two cooking zones, one directly over the flames for searing, the other cooler to allow the meat to cook through indirectly. You can cook anything from sausages and burgers through to whole joints of meat this way. With a charcoal grill just pile your coals to one side. With a gas grill keep the burners medium-high on one side and low-off on the other.

  • Don’t get Saucy Until the End.

BBQ sauces and glazes have a high sugar content that will burn very quickly and go bitter. Cook your meat through and then glaze/sauce towards the end and allow to go sticky over indirect heat.

  • Check for Done-ness

Overcooking is as sinful as undercooking. Invest in a good instant read thermometer so you know the exact temperature of the meat and takes away the guesswork. You’ll always know the chicken is cooked through and you’ll be able to serve up the perfect medium rare steak.

  • Play With Smoke

Smoke is a seasoning so learn to add subtle smoke flavour to your food. Wrap woodchips up in a couple of layers of thick foil and pierce a few times before throwing onto the grill over the gas burners. With a charcoal BBQ, just throw the chips straight onto the coals and close the lid. Our favourite woods to smoke with are cherry, pecan and hickory.

Exotic eats

Research commissioned by AAK Foodservice recently reported increasing demand for more exotic meats when eating out, with 81% of 18-24 year olds saying they wanted to see a wider range of options on offer.

Ben Bartlett, chef and food consultant, said: “Whether you are a pub or restaurant serving up barbecue food grilled in the kitchen or flinging open the back doors and getting the coals and gas going, the world is literally your oyster, from tropical chicken incorporating juicy pineapple and passion fruit and Oriental vegetable kebabs with a peanut dressing, to Hungarian paprika chicken with barbecue corn on the cobs.”

Other global meats becoming more commonly available in the UK include crocodile, buffalo, elk and springbok, which can be bought from select butchers.

Customer enthusiasm for barbecue sauces is also high, with 73% of the study’s respondents saying barbecue sauces considerably enhanced meat. 

34% agreed barbecue sauces enhanced vegetables and 29% said they enhanced fish.


Whisked away

American whiskey has historic ties with barbecue culture, both as an accompaniment and an ingredient for sauces and marinades.

Nidal Ramini, head of advocacy at Brown-Forman, said offering whiskey alongside barbecued meat can create a powerful selling point for customers.

He said: “American whiskey is an integral part of the barbecue experience, particularly for Jack Daniel’s. The whiskey and meat opportunity is ever-growing for outlets as TV shows such as Mad Men ​and Boardwalk Empire​have resurrected the vintage glamour and sophistication of urban American culture.

“This has led to a resurgence of classic American whiskey cocktails and drink serves, such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, being the choice of drink to have before, after and during a meal.”

To celebrate the relationship between whiskey and meat, Jack Daniel’s is set to make appearances at several barbecue festivals across the summer, including Grillstock festivals in Manchester, Bristol and London.

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