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*Charcoal* BBQ/Grilling

  • 18-04-2009 5:23pm
    Registered Users Posts: 15,443 ✭✭✭✭bonkey


    So MAJD put the idea in my head and I've done nothing about it. I'm gonna at least start this thread now, so that while I'm getting my a** in gear, others can share their expertise, tips, etc.

    The idea for the thread is easy. This is all about BBQing / grilling. Its not my if you have tips, recipes, or whatever....please...feel free.

    I'm gonna write up a few articles over the coming while...some about how I cook on a grill, and some about what I cook on a grill.

    I'm not a pro. I don't even know if I'd call myself a talented amateur. I am, however, an enthusiastic one...and with spring having arrived and summer on the way, my grill season is in full in a sense, this will also be a bit of "bonkey's grill blog". first tip is this...

    Its all about the charcoal (if you're not a gas-griller).

    Never underestimate the difference that good charcoal will make.

    For years, I used whatever was cheap...and varied between those preformed "briquettes" and real charcoal. Sometimes it was great, sometimes not.

    Then, about two seasons ago, I happened to get some (still cheap) stuff in a different shop nearby, and the difference was mindblowing. It was a charcoal made from (managed) hardwood. The bag was mostly full of mid-to-large chunks...almost no flakes, almost no powder, even right down to the end of the bag.

    The stuff burns forever. This took me a while to get used to...I had to start using less of it, and actually spreading it out, so that I'd have literally single chunks sitting seperated from each other, rather than a thin layer of charcoal across the entire base.

    It burns long and slow, so it doesn't matter if I'm doing multiple courses, or want to roast somethign for a couple of hours.

    It's hard to put it out...I can close the lid and all the airvents, and let the temps some right down, but even if its been like that for 20-30 minutes, the stuff will still heat right back up (and quickly) if I reopen the lid.

    As I took me a while to get used to decent charcoal. I dunno what the market is like in Ireland, so this may not be an easy (or cheap) one to follow up on...but seriously...if you chook with charcoal, then quality will tell.

    If, of course, you cook with gas, then you don't have this problem. You can just laugh and point, while people like me are cursing over wrong temperatures, or bad charcoal, or whatever.



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 12,108 CMod ✭✭✭✭Dizzyblonde

    My tip is about barbecuing spare ribs.
    Bring them to the boil in a pot of water and simmer them for around 20 minutes (you can do this early in the day and let them sit in the water if you like). Then you'll only have to put sauce on them and cook them on the BBQ for about 10-15 minutes. They'll be nice and tender and you won't have to burn them to be sure they're fully cooked.

    Also, if you pour boiling water over sausages and let them sit in it for 10 minutes before throwing them on the BBQ, they'll stay plump and moist.

    Equal parts Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and honey (2 tablespoons of each), makes a lovely BBQ sauce. You could add garlic and/or chilli if you wanted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 32,290 ✭✭✭✭rubadub

    If using frozen burgers I defrost them fully in the fridge the day before. Also you should only turn burgers once, or twice at most if you have to, this stops them drying out as you will see fat pooling on top and if you keep turning it keeps dropping off and flaming up. For really thin burgers I get tinfoil sheets and squish fresh mince or a defrosted burger out on the tinfoil so it is really thin. Then you put the tinfoil onto the BBQ, this cooks the underside of the burger which binds it, so it is not so weak as to fall through or sag into the metal grill. You then flip if over and the tinfoil should just easily peel off. Then flip that side over once more to get properly BBQ'd.

    The parboiling/cooking tips above are good, you can also boil up chicken portions and finish on the grill.

    Besides undercooking and using the same utensils for cooked/raw food the biggest BBQ mistake is people putting food on charcoal BBQs far too soon. There should be no flames from the charcoal, the coals should be grey and look like they are almost gone out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,658 ✭✭✭✭The Sweeper

    My tip is a rub for lamb - butterfly a leg of lamb (remove the bone, keeping the meat in a single piece). Rub with a mixture of equal parts sea salt, smoked paprika and ground cumin. Allow to sit until it reaches room temperature. Then lie on hot grill and grill, both sides, until desired effect is achieved - medium, rare, well done, whatever. Allow to rest, covered in tin foil, for at least 20 minutes.

    Fantastic sliced and served in flatbreads with hummous, chili sauce, mixed salad and yoghurt with mint.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,906 ✭✭✭✭CJhaughey

    My tip is to have one of those trigger spray bottles of water handy, the type that you use for window cleaning, any flareups when grilling food that is less than lean can be put out and the food rescued while the grease fire burns it self away.
    Otherwise you end up with black streaky bits on the food.
    Oh and the rules of Barbie mean that the BBQ'er has to be fed and watered.:D
    Leaving the grill is to invite disaster if some grease catches while you are away.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,774 ✭✭✭Minder

    Marinade cubes of lamb in pomergranate molasses with some salt and a squeeze of lemon before threading onto skewers and grilling - about two hours in the marinade will do. Any shop selling middle eastern produce should be able to get it.

    For a minced lamb kebab, you need a wide flat skewer, at least a centimeter wide - the meat will fall off a round skewer. Wet your hands and form the meat around the skewer, then chill the kebabs for a couple of hours before cooking. We have a couple of steel rails that we lay across the grill at the front and back - they are slightly raised and as a result the mince kebabs don't touch the grill bars - this stops the meat from sticking to the grill and the whole thing coming apart.

    Lastly, a request. Has anyone seen this for sale - A Nipoori Tandoori bbq. Afaik, the company who make these is no longer producing them, so I'm really looking for a supplier who might have some old stock.

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 627 ✭✭✭preilly79

    people are warned about cooking chicken on BBQ's all the time but I regularly cook whole chickens on my small BBQ.

    I spatchcock the chicken and make deep cuts into the legs, thighs and breasts. I'll either make up a marinade or use something from a bottle. I then take a loooong sheet of baking foil and fold it many times to make a dish for the chicken (with the edges turned up to stop the fat falling on the coals).

    for the BBQ, I get it started as normal but when the coals are ready I move them all to the edges so that there won't be any directly under the chicken. The chicken cooks with the lid on for about an hour, and towards the end I throw in some water-soaked wood chips to give it a smokey flavour. Delish!

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,055 ✭✭✭✭Sparks

    My tip for BBQs is to get a house.
    Apartment dwellers just get to wish they had a BBQ grill. Or neighbours who didn't get antsy when you BBQ on the balcony.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,443 ✭✭✭✭bonkey

    So...part two of how I cook...

    Heat management & where to put your coals

    My (main) grill is pretty well set up for heat management. It has airvents front and back, at a height just above the coals, but below the grill. The grill itself is height-adjustable, and there's a hinged lid with an airvent at the top. All three vents have "sliders" so I can control how open/closed they are.

    I'm not always so luck other grill (holiday home) has no air vents and no lid, but still has 3 different heights I can set the grill on.

    You work with what you got, but heat management is always important.

    Think about what you're cooking...before you even light the coals.

    If its a nice slab of steak and you're like me and eat it rare or blue, you might want at least part of your grill cooking at thermonuclear 9. If you're trying to roast something big (e.g. a leg of lamb or goat or something), you may want an approach like preilly79 recommended for chicken above...where you have the coals spread around where the meat is cooking,

    Similarly, for sausages and other fatty-foods, you'll want part of your grill (front or back third, usually) to be coal-free, so you can move stuff there when its dripping too much fat, or if you're waiting for a fat-fire to burn off. This trick is also handy if you get some of your timing wrong, and need to keep something warm while waiting for something else to finish off.

    This reminds me...perhaps the most useful tool any grill-chef can have, is a stick :) No...seriously...make sure you have something for poking coals around a bit if you need to...but just make sure its not something that'll roar into flames if it gets hot.

    Also...unless you have oceans of fat running off something, then if you have your coal-temps right, the fat will smoke on the coals but not catch fire....and can add fantastic flavour. Its all about preventing the temps getting too high (which is where judicious use of the lid and air-vents comes in). Which reminds me...I use a bottle of beer instead of CJhaugey's trigger-spray water bottle for flame management...but always be careful of spraying anything on a charcoal grill with burning fat. Stuff can spit - including embers or globs of burning fat.

    For those of you with gas grills...remember that you can always heat up your grill with all burners, then turn off all the burners on one side...then cook the really fatty stuff there. Lid closed to keep the heat (and smoke flavour) in, of course.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,136 ✭✭✭olaola

    A good tongs, not a crappy BBQ one - but a decent pair of cook's tongs. It will save a good few saussies dropped for the dog.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 440 ✭✭ Amina Millions Spacesuit

    Here's one I used last summer and it went down a treat. Cube some chicken fillets and but them in a plastic bag with a suitable amount of olive oil, fresh mint, lemon zest and lemon juice and leave in the fridge overnight. Skewer up with some courgettes, cherry tomatoes and yellow peppers. Sear in a hot spot and then cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. This should keep the chicken from drying out. There is a fresh, zingy taste off the chicken and the rest of the skewer compliments it nicely.

    On a different note I pulled the grill out of the shed on saturday and couldn't for the life of me remember my timings for the steaks. Gave them just over 3 minutes a side - turns out it was a touch too long :o.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 29 Paul24

    This is one I guarantee will go down well.

    Cut a couple of chicken breast into long thin strips and marinade them in the following marinade.

    3 Tablespoon Veg oil
    1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce.
    1 1/2 Tablespoon Soft Brown Sugar.
    1 Tablespoon Medium curry Powder.
    1 Teaspoon of Garlic Paste.
    1 Teaspoon of Basil Paste.
    Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

    Once marinaded, place the chicken strips directly onto the BBQ.
    The secret is DON'T turn them over. Let them cook through from one side only. If they are cut nice and thin then it wont take long and you will end up with a nice darkened crunchy side and a tender soft side on the other. This chicken is as nice cold as hot.

    My favourite and the kids love it also.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,658 ✭✭✭✭The Sweeper

    Thick steak on grill secret - only turn once. Wait until blood appears in spots on the top of the steak, then turn it over for the same time as side one. When done, let it rest, covered in foil, for 10 mins. Should come out medium (and by that I mean pink in the centre, not raw in the centre). We get 1.5" thick rib eye steaks on the bone and that's the only way to cook 'em.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 ✭✭✭foodaholic

    where do u get your rib eye steaks on the bone, sounds yum

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,443 ✭✭✭✭bonkey

    This evening, I played with smoking chips for the first time.

    My brother-in-law used them on his gas grill, and raved. He lit one side, put some chips in a foil container (the type Chinese takeaway used to come in) and put some chicken and other bits on the other (unlit) side. Lid left closed the whole time, so the meats cooked by indirect heat (so proper BBQ as opposed to grilling), and were smoked at the same time.

    I tried to recreate this on my charcoal grill. Coals on one side, let get plenty hot, then added the chips (in foil containers, put directly onto the coals, rather than on the cooking-grill). Meat on the far side, lid closed.

    Worked a treat, although I had to open the lid now and then to let the heat re-build...and occasionally add more chips.

    I did a set of spare ribs "plain", so they only picked up the smoke as flavour. Also did two full ribs (brustspitze, as they call them here), but these I basted with sauce (3 vinegar, 3 sugar, 2 ketchup, 1 soy...all cooked down a bit first to thicken it slightly)

    Surprisingly (or perhaps not-so-surprisingly, when I think about how it would work), the sauce-basted ribs picked up far more "smokiness" than the plain.

    The downside is that smoking-chips give off quite an acrid smoke while burning, even though the meat doesn't pick up the acridity (is that a word?) at all. There wasn't much breeze, so I wasn't too worried, but I'd think twice if there was a wind blowing this towards the neighbours.

    It also made me glad that I had on one of my "grilling t-shirts". These are whatever freebie t-shirts I've picked up at IT events over the years. I don't mind how dirty or stinky they get, and it doesn't matter if any charcoal/marinade stains I pick up don't wash out.

    Anyway...not sure I'd do it all the time...but certainly something I want to play with more.

    No idea what wood the chips were, in case anyone is wondering.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,711 ✭✭✭Gryzor

    excellent thread, just getting into this myself...

    had a gas grill for about 4 years, and was under the impression the flavour was good. That died a few weeks ago, and i picked up a few disposable ones, i couldn't believe the differance in flavour....never again gas!!

    picked up a weber kettle bbq, and a chimney starter. The chimney is great, coals are lit and ready to go in about 10-12 minutes with no lighter fluid or other chemicals used...

    anyone have any recommendation for charcoal that only contains decent sized chunks....the stuff i bought in woodies, contains alot of smaller pieces that just fall through the grill and block my vents at the bottom...

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,919 ✭✭✭shoutman

    Beer can chicken

    Can't take any of the kudos for this, but in the end you always end up with the juiciest chicken and the tastiest crunchy chicken skin.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,779 ✭✭✭Carawaystick

    those long red mediterranean peppers - grill em til they are black, peel the skin, use the pepper as one of your 5 a day....

    An unsliced pan - cut a doorstep, toast over the coals, butter with real butter.

    superquinn do minced lamb on a skewer, I guess you could get them elsewhere, 80 cents a go.

    Homemade burgers

    and the number 1 tip - have a barbeque often - for small crowds. practise makes perfect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,837 ✭✭✭Planet X

    My Weber Charcoal chimney. Just light underneath with two sheets of newspaper. No dodgy liquids or lighter blocks, no chemicals. Works a treat. perfect charcoal every time.

    Obviously I didn't light it on the table!!!! Just for demo.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,055 ✭✭✭✭Sparks

    And once the coals are lit in that chimney lighter, stick a grate across the top and you have a perfect way to sear tuna...

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    Just checking.

    It's a really bad idea to light a disposable barbecue on the hob under an extractor fan, right?

    I have a lot of meat and a lot of rain promised for tomorrow.

    Any other ways of getting that barbecue-y taste indoors?

    By the way, my grill and my oven are one in the same unfortunately.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 32,290 ✭✭✭✭rubadub

    Das Kitty wrote: »
    It's a really bad idea to light a disposable barbecue on the hob under an extractor fan, right?
    :eek: yes, a really bad idea.

    I do wonder if you could light it outside though on an old baking tray and once it is dyed down, no flames, and is cooking time, could you then bring it in?

    Or even start it in the fireplace if you had one. I would not cook in the fireplace as old soot might fall down. I used to wrap potatoes well in tinfoil when I was a kid and stick them into a dying fire, then cover with embers, used to have baked spuds in about an hour.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 ✭✭✭foodaholic

    has anyone actually tried the BBQ chicken beer can recipe

  • Registered Users Posts: 32,290 ✭✭✭✭rubadub

    foodaholic wrote: »
    has anyone actually tried the BBQ chicken beer can recipe

    I'd be worried about the paint on the can and the plastic inside giving off fumes, esp. if it boiled dry. If insisting on using a can I would pour the beer in a glass and put the can on the BBQ from the beginning to get it roasting hot and burn off all combustible paint & plastic so any fumes would be likely to be gone by then. Now let the can cool and pour the beer in. I think many cans have a very thin plastic lining inside.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 ✭✭✭foodaholic

    apparently its all the rage in australia, some good videos of it on u tube, would like to know what it tastes like

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,837 ✭✭✭Planet X

    foodaholic wrote: »
    has anyone actually tried the BBQ chicken beer can recipe

    Yep. Did a pair of chickens about three weeks ago, in weather like tonight, light rain. Actually, the day I got my new Weber kettle BBQ. Put some "Texas Dry Rub" all over the outside of the birds. Cooked them indirectly, only way, over charcoal. ie. charcoal either side (charcoal dividers supplied with Weber) Vent open top and bottom. About 1-2 hours. Try not to open the BBQ, afterall, it's acting as a large oven. 330ml can of half full beer in the cavity of each bird. Sit them down in the middle. No need to go near them for 1 and a half hours or so. Brilliant smoky, spicy flavour. Beer evapourates inside the birds and cooks them really well. In my opinion and my wife, better than cooked in the kitchen oven.

    You Tube full of videos of it.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty

    rubadub wrote: »
    :eek: yes, a really bad idea.

    I do wonder if you could light it outside though on an old baking tray and once it is dyed down, no flames, and is cooking time, could you then bring it in?

    Or even start it in the fireplace if you had one. I would not cook in the fireplace as old soot might fall down. I used to wrap potatoes well in tinfoil when I was a kid and stick them into a dying fire, then cover with embers, used to have baked spuds in about an hour.

    Nah, I've decided to do the lot in the oven. Got some really smoky BBQ sauce and the meat has been marinading all night in it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,443 ✭✭✭✭bonkey

    So its been a quiet few weeks.

    We moved apartment, which served as an excuse to buy a new grill. So I bought...exactly the same one again. Then someone amongst the various crew helping us move brought the old one from the old now I've got two (one with a green lid, one with a red lid), which is great when there's a ton of people to cook for.

    Cooking-wise, I've been getting more practice at temperature control. I'm finding more and more that I have at most 2/3 of my grill area with coals underneath it...usually only 1/2. This way, I have plenty of space if fat-fires start. Also, if I get my timing wrong, I can move stuff off the heat and leave it "warming" while I finish off the other bits.

    I'm using the lid more-and-more, as well as the height-control in the Meco grills as well...just to really get the temps where I want them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,443 ✭✭✭✭bonkey

    I'm beginning to hate chicken legs and wings.

    No...that's not fair. I'm beginning to feel my neighbours might hate me liking chicken legs and wings.

    The last two times I've been grilling, I've cooked these, and had my temps nicely under control. As a result, all the fat that cooked out dripped nice and slowly and didn't start a fat fire...instead just generating lots and lots and lots of smoke.

    Both times, the wind has changed direction just at the wrong moment, meaning that quite a bit of the smoke ended up heading straight for the neighbour's balcony :(

    On the plus side...all that smoke, with the lid keeping it in, meant for fantastic taste.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,614 ✭✭✭The Sparrow

    That Weber BBQ chimney looks the business. Does anyone know where you could pick one up? Do the likes of Woodies and B+Q stock them or would I need to find a more specialist shop? I've been using lighter cubes but they don't seem to work that well.

    It looks like it is going to be a great weekend so I have big plans for a bbq tomorrow and I'll definitely be using some of the recipes from this thread.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,711 ✭✭✭Gryzor

    woooo232 wrote: »
    That Weber BBQ chimney looks the business. Does anyone know where you could pick one up? Do the likes of Woodies and B+Q stock them or would I need to find a more specialist shop? I've been using lighter cubes but they don't seem to work that well.

    i've seen em in woodies and B&Q...they are about €25

    b&q have a pretty good selection of weber stuff...