burgers and vegetables in the charcoal grill

Autumn has officially arrived in the Algarve and what better way to celebrate it than with a barbecue party. Significant social events that cannot be missing in the terraces and gardens in the region. We are fortunate to live in southern Portugal. This place allows us to grill throughout the year and not have to store our BBQs during winter. In any case, what is clear is that grilling and barbecuing is a more complex activity than most people think. This is the reason why today we are presenting BBQ tips from grill experts and meat cookers.

A good barbecue is not just lighting the fire and putting the meat. We must take into account a series of tips (or secrets) that will make our barbecue a success. Keep reading to obtain different points of view from experts that explain the steps to get the perfect barbecue.

If meat isn’t cooked correctly, there is the risk of food poisoning – charred on the outside doesn’t always mean cooked on the inside, as the Food Standards Agency points out. 

When it comes to barbecuing burgers, sausages, kebabs, chicken and pork, they advise that before serving meat that you have cooked on the barbecue, always check that:

  • The meat is steaming hot throughout.
  • There is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part.
  • Meat juices run clear.
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Once you’ve mastered the basics of safely cooking the meat, here are a few BBQ tips from grill experts to take your barbecue feast to a whole new level.

Take the meat out of the fridge in advance

If you’re cooking a steak, it’s essential to take the meat out of the fridge to come to room temperature. It will lower the steak’s cooking time as well as aid even cooking of the meat. If the steak is cold when you start to cook it, the outer part of the flesh will overcook, thus drying it out.

When cooking thick steaks, start them on the cooler side of the grill and cook with the lid on until they reach about ten degrees below final serving temperature. Finish them off on the hot side of the grill for a great crust. For thinner steaks (about an inch or less), cook them over the hot side the entire time—they’ll be prepared to medium-rare by the time a good crust has developed.

For the ones who love coal

Gas, coal or electric? In this regard, experts usually agree with their response. Although it is true, today we can find a great variety of grills and different barbecues in the market, and everything will depend on the budget and the space we have at home. Now, if you are lucky enough to have an edible garden or terrace, we advise you to to cook with coals, but only if you are going to give it a lot of use and if you usually have many guests at the table.

If your house is small or you only have a small balcony or terrace, you might be interested in an electric or gas barbecue, which allows you to control the temperature more efficiently. Among the electric, many portable models adapt to the desktop, you have the possibility to use it indoors.

Some experts recommend charcoal grills both for the taste and the smell that it gives to the meat. Along the same lines, the grill, the fire, and the smoke are always better with a charcoal grill. Experts recommend using coal, but if possible firewood and if it comes from fruit trees (oak, olive, orange), is a guarantor of a good barbecue.

Coal in the grill ready to cook chicken
Coal is always a better option due to the smokey flavours added to the meat

Season the meat in advance

Good seasoning is as essential as using the proper cooking technique. We suggest using high-quality sea salt, as the high mineral content brings the “iron” flavour to the meat. 

The fragrant oils in the black pepper combined with celery seed, paprika, onion and garlic ensure that the meat is seared with a delicious crust. The seasoning needs sufficient time to permeate the meat, so do this in advance.

The type of salt used is a personal choice. The three most common types of salt are rock salt, table salt and salt flakes. Rock salt is also known as halite. It is different to sea or river salt because you can find it on a solid form underground and then mined, like sea or river salt it is rich in minerals.

Table salt is produced from the solid or rock salt, and it is heavily processed to eliminate impurities, which also removes minerals such as calcium and potassium, an anti-caking agent is added and sometimes iodine.

Sea flakes are produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes and rivers, usually with little processing. Depending on the water source, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements. The minerals add flavour and colour to salt flakes, which comes in a variety of coarseness levels.

In this sense, we recommend investing your time on a great seasoning. You can place the meat with the fat side down to tenderise it. You can then use one part brown sugar, one part salt, rosemary, garlic and black pepper. Try doing this 24 hours before cooking so later you can reduce the marinating liquid to a syrup to use as a glaze. Remember you can also serve your meat with sauces like guacamole of pico de gallo.

Always rest the meat

Grill your meat until it’s 10-15 degrees below the ideal temperature, then take it off and let it sit. Doing this allows the beef to catch up with itself and disperses the heat evenly throughout. The result? Very juicy steaks for the family and friends. This is one of the most relevant and unknown BBQ tips from grill experts.

Follow an order when grilling

If we are clear that “the order of the factors does not alter the product”, in no case, we could apply it to the world of barbecues. The order established on the grill will eventually tip the balance towards success or failure.

In this sense, we advise that sausages and more fatty pieces, such as sausages or chistorra, should be cooked first. They are made very fast and with live flames, and usually, release fat. Then, and while the diners take these starters, you can cook the pieces of pork and chicken. This pieces take a little longer, and also take the opportunity to prepare the large and bone pieces, placing them first on the outermost part so that they do not receive too hot at the beginning.

Meat and fish on the grill recommended by grill experts
You should always follow an order when grilling

Finally, veal steaks and lamb ribs will be the last meat to cook. They need only about 5 minutes on each side. Also, you can cook some vegetables in a somewhat separate part at the same time as the chicken.

Remember that everything is about to enjoy a good company with great food, with no stress. The perfect barbecue is the one well planned by controlling the times of the embers and cooking, to serve each dish at its point. Many experts advise that the key is in the balance. Firstly, serve some starters. Then, place the first meats and then an excellent main course accompanied by its garnish and sauces to taste. 

In summer the dessert should be fresh and light, seasonal fruit or ice cream. And you should never forget to collect and clean everything thoroughly after finishing.

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