Common Problems Affecting Barbecues And Their Solutions
Common Problems Affecting Barbecues and Their SolutionsUsing a barbecue provides a fun and easy way to cook delicious food that you can enjoy eatingoutside. And what could be better than relaxing with friends in your garden, burger in onehand, cold beer in the other and not a care in the world? But occasionally things can go wrong,particularly if you are not an expert when it comes to using a barbecue. Luckily, the mostcommon problems that you might encounter when using your barbecue all have simplesolutions.Here are some of the most common problems affecting barbecues – and more importantly,how to solve them:The coals aren’t getting hot enough to cook the foodUnlike a conventional oven, there is no convenient temperature gauge on a charcoal barbecueto tell you when the coals are at the right temperature but a simple way to tell is to hold yourhand about 10cm above the grill rack. If you can only hold your hand there for a couple ofseconds, then the barbecue is hot enough. If you can hold your hand there comfortably formore than a couple of seconds, then it needs to be hotter. You can either wait for the coals toget hotter by themselves, or create a double layer of coals which will give off more heat than asingle layer.The coals are too hot and the food is burningIf you find that your food is burning on the outside before it is cooked on the inside, check thatyou only have a single layer of coals. If the coals are piled on top of each other, rake them into asingle layer using a long-handled barbecue utensil.If your barbecue lets you adjust the height of the grill rack, check that you have it at the highestlevel – i.e. as far away from the coals as possible.The barbecue looks like it’s going outDon’t be mistaken in thinking that just because the flames have disappeared the barbecue hasgone out. A barbecue is ready to use when the flames have subsided and the coals have turnedwhite – this means that they are hot enough to cook on. If you see flames, then you need towait a little longer until they have died down before cooking.If you have been using the BBQ for an hour or so and need to keep it going, you can add extracoals around the edge.
I can’t light the barbecueCheck you are using the right fuel and the right method to light your barbecue. The best way tolight a barbecue is to place some kindling wood or twigs in the barbecue along with a couple offirelighters, then pile your coal on top in a pyramid shape, Using a long match, light thefirelighters and wait for the coals to catch light. It will then take at least 30 minutes for the coalsto turn to a glowing red and then eventually hot-white colour before they are ready forcooking.The food is sticking to the grillThe best way to stop food sticking to the grill is to use cooking oil such as vegetable oil or oliveoil. Never pour cooking oil onto barbecues that are already alight – instead brush the food withoil before placing it on the barbecue. Alternatively, you can oil the grill by lightly spraying it withcooking oil. Ensure that you do this away from the heat before putting the grill into position.Flames are flaring upFlare ups are usually caused by the fat from meat dripping onto the hot coals below. Toovercome this, use the indirect grilling method by pushing the coals to one half of the barbecueand place your meat on the grill at the other side. Pop a drip tray below the meat to catch anyfat that drips. Close the lid of your barbecue and wait for the food to cook and leave for therequired cooking time, turning occasionally.The food is falling apart and dropping through the grillIf you are cooking delicate food such as fish which is prone to falling apart, then it can dropthrough the BBQ grill and onto the coals below. For fragile foods such as fish, invest in a ‘grillbasket’ utensil which holds the food in a metal cage allowing you to place it on the barbecueand turn it safely.For vegetables or other small items such as prawns, try threading them onto wooden skewers(soak the skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes first so that they don’t catch light)before placing on the barbecue.
The food is burnt on the outside but raw insideWhen cooking on a barbecue it’s essential to make sure that the food is thoroughly cooked,otherwise you and your guests could suffer from a nasty case of food poisoning. If you find thatfood is burning on the outside before it’s cooked within, it could be because the coals belowthe food are too hot, or because you have put the food onto the barbecue before the flameshave died down.Always wait for the flames to die down before you start cooking and if the coals are too hot, trythe indirect grilling method described above.The barbecue is causing too much smokeIf your barbecue is creating billows of smoke, it’s not going to be very pleasant for your guestsand you’re not going to be very popular with the neighbours. The most common cause forexcessive smoke is putting extra coal on top of the already hot coals. If you feel that you needextra coals to keep the barbecue going, add them gradually from the edges, rather than pilingthem into the middle. Avoid adding the coals to the middle or BBQs have the tendency to flareup and possibly overcook/burn the food.