Nothing says summer like a good old-fashioned BBQ; somehow, everything tastes better when cooked outdoors with a soundtrack of sizzling and smoky air.
The May Bank Holiday coincides with the start of National BBQ Week 2023 – and with good weather forecast – making now the perfect time to dust off the grill and plan the tastiest of summer soirees.
Hosting a barbeque is a special occasion whatever the weather – and whilst we can’t guarantee the sun on these shores, we can help you cook up a feast worthy of braving any forecast thanks to Hoggy’s Grill, a BBQ School based near the banks of the stunning Rutland Water and owned by international cricketing legend, Matthew Hoggard MBE – aka Hoggy.
Take a look at Hoggy’s top tips for hosting a legendary – and easy – BBQ:
- Prep your Grill
Did you forget to clean the grill after the last BBQ of 2022? We’ve all been there! A deep clean ahead of the 2023 summer season will not only leave your BBQ sparkling, but will help improve the quality of your cooking.
Get started a few days in advance. First, check all your equipment for signs of damage over the winter, clearing any cobwebs or dust with a damp cloth. Use a brush or hoover to remove any ash. Soak your grates, handles and equipment in warm, soapy water, and then it’s time for a bit of good old fashioned elbow grease to remove burnt on food residue. It’s hard work but worth it!
- Pick your Fuel
When it comes to the fuel you use, quite simply: better quality charcoal equals a better BBQ. The fuel is the foundation of your BBQ, and Hoggy recommends buying the best quality charcoal you can afford to ensure a long and consistent burn with minimal chemicals or additives. This is especially important if you’re looking to slow cook on your BBQ.
- Light her up
Step away from the lighter fluid! Getting the BBQ off to a sizzling start can be frustrating. Higher quality charcoal will again be your best friend here, as it is made from high quality wood that will light and burn more easily. Investing in a Charcoal Chimney Starter will make life a lot easier – the chimney holds the coal together and controls the air flow, so they all heat up. If you don’t have a chimney, piling the coal in a stack will achieve a similar result.
- Use tools to help your perfect your cook
There are so many tools available for BBQ users, but the one Hoggy recommends investing in is a food thermometer to take away any worries about undercooked meats. They range from simple probes to Bluetooth-enabled devices that connect to your phone! If you aren’t checking temperature, make sure you are cutting into meat to check before serving – remember a BBQ may be different temperatures in different areas, so be sure to check more than one piece.
- Pick the right recipe
BBQs are a chance to be creative! Whilst we all love a good burger or hot dog, they require constant maintenance – who wants to spend an entire day flipping burgers and missing the party?! Think on. A terrific way to add flavour is to marinade your meats and veggies ahead of cooking, or why not be creative with your sides and add grilled vegetables or halloumi to a salad?
Hoggy suggests picking a recipe that can be prepped in advance and requires little maintenance on the day. This could be slow-cooking bigger joints on the grill, or check out his Chicken Wings recipe below for a finger-licking crowd pleaser!
Hoggy’s Chicken Wings
“If you’re anything like me, you want great food that’s not only easy to prep before the party, but is minimal maintenance and a crowd pleaser. This Chicken Wings recipe will definitely bowl you over,” says Hoggy.
All you need is enough Chicken Wings to feed your group, your favourite meat rub, a knob of butter and a glaze.
First, prep your wings with your favourite meat rub. Hoggy loves a Angus & Oink’s Pigasus and Hot & Hostile to get the perfect mix of hot and sweet. You could even make your own using your favourite spices. Try mixing smoked paprika with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne and a touch of dark brown sugar for a classic meat rub. Coat your wings so every surface is covered!
Get them onto your BBQ – if you have a heat gun, your target temperature is between 180-200c. If you don’t have a heat gun, there’s a simple test you can do: hold your hand about three inches above the grill grate and count how long you can leave it there before pulling away – your target is four-five seconds. Any longer and you need more heat, but pulling away quicker means your grill is too hot.
Once your wings are in, close the dome to cover them. After 15 mins, give them a flip and close the dome again to let them cook through for a further 15 mins.
Whilst they’re finishing off, prepare your glaze. Add your favourite glaze or sauces into a heat-proof bowl with some butter – Hoggy recommends BBQ and Sriracha mixed together for a sweet and spicy tang. Place the bowl under the dome for the last 5 mins of wing cooking time to melt the butter.
Check the internal temperature of your chicken – you’re looking for over 75c in the thickest part. Then mix up your glaze and get it over those wings! Finish off on the grill for a few more minutes to get that perfectly sticky, crispy finish.
There’s nothing left to do but get stuck in and enjoy!
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