Barbecuing doesn’t need to mean just burgers and sausages – there are plenty of meats and fish that are perfect for cooking over coals in the great outdoors. Check out our simple guide.
The thigh, leg and wing of the chicken have a rich-flavoured, darker meat that stays juicy during cooking. Chicken breasts are a popular cut, but they can dry out quickly over a high heat. Buy free-range or organic chicken portions if you can, and marinade them for extra flavour. Always make sure chicken is fully cooked and that the juices run clear before serving.
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Choose firm fish, such as salmon and tuna. Avoid fish with a more delicate texture – they’ll flake up and stick to the barbecue, and always leave the skin on; it will help keep the fish together in one piece. Barbecue whole fish or fillets straight on the grill or wrap fish loosely in foil, adding lemon slices, white wine or vegetables. The fish is cooked when it’s opaque all the way through – tease a few flakes apart with a sharp knife to check. Also, try to avoid touching, prodding or turning the fish too much – even the most robust fillet of salmon will disintegrate with too much interference.
Thread scallops, raw prawns and squid slices onto skewers for seafood kebabs. Seafood cooks in just a few minutes. Always buy raw prawns, and not the pre-cooked varieties as the extra cooking will make them tough and chewy. King prawns with the shell still on are great for barbecuing, as the shell adds flavour while they’re cooking and keeps in the moisture. Prawns are cooked when they’ve turned from grey to pink all the way through. Mussels, clams and razor clams can also be barbecued – sit them on a piece of foil if you’re worried they’ll fall through the bars of the grill, and discard any shellfish that haven’t opened.
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Steaks and chops
Steaks are usually cooked at a high temperature so they’re perfect for barbecuing. Just rub them with oil and a little salt and pepper and place straight on the grill. And don’t just think beef - lamb, pork and turkey steaks can all be barbecued – just turn them often to make sure they cook evenly. Lamb chops make perfect barbecue finger food – marinade them first, and once cooked, nibble the meat from the bones.
Joints and whole birds
We tend to think of larger joints of meat and whole birds as only being roasted in the oven, but with a little preparation they can also be cooked on the barbecue. Ask your butcher to spatchcock a chicken – this involves flattening the bird out along the backbone, which reduces the cooking time. Try barbecuing smaller spatchcocked birds too, such as poussins and quails. A leg of lamb can be ‘butterflied’ (flattened out) and its flavour will stand up to strong marinades, too. Just check that all meat and poultry is cooked thoroughly before serving.
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Burgers and sausages
Classic barbecue food. But you don’t have to just slap them on the grill as they are. Slather sausages in spicy marinades, and try cooking chorizo on the barbecue. Make your own burgers and brush a smoky barbecue glaze over them while they’re cooking. And don’t just think beef: try pork, tofu, lamb or buffalo as well.
What are your favourite meats and fish for the barbecue?