Using A Barbecue Safely & Efficiently

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There's more to BBQ food that sausages and burgers and, if you have treated yourself to a gas BBQ with a lid, there are so many different foods and cooking styles you can try out.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your BBQ:-

1. Smoking - Buy yourself some smoking wood chips or planks for smoking your own meat. Different woods will give your meat a different flavour so experiment. Follow the instructions on the chips - some chips will need soaking for about half an hour in water whereas others can be used dry. If your BBQ has a smoking box, fill one side with the chips and the other with water. If you do not have a smoking box, you can make a pouch or envelope out of foil for your wood chips - make slits in it and position it above the heat under the grill bars. Close the lid of your BBQ and don't put the meat on until you see smoke coming out. Cook with the lid closed.

You will need to use a meat thermometer to check that the meat is cooked - some woods turn the meat pink so it will be hard to tell.

2. Keep pests away - Eating outside and enjoying your BBQ can be ruined by flies, wasps, gnats and mosquitoes. Use citronella candles, torches or lamps or cook with garlic to repel those pesky pests.

3. Hygiene - You don't want your guests to get food poisoning so here are a few hygiene tips:-

• - Use a meat thermometer to check meat is cooked properly.

• - Keep chopping boards clean and use separate ones for chopping raw meat and preparing salads and vegetables. Wash plastic boards in a dishwasher and clean wooden ones with hot, soapy water and then spray with a bleach solution and air dry.

• - Use separate cooking utensils for raw meat and taking cooked meat off the grill.

• - Use separate plates for carrying raw meat to the BBQ and carrying cooked meat.

4. Keep your BBQ clean - clean regularly with a wire brush and scraper. Keeping the grill clean will stop food being contaminated with the flavours of past BBQs. BBQs are easier to clean when they are still warm.

5. Use marinades to flavour meat and fish - Marinade meat in a plastic container with a good seal or in a well-sealed plastic bag. You will then be able to turn the container or bag over at regular intervals to coat different sides of the meat.

6. Cook with the BBQ lid down to keep a constant temperature.

7. Keep food from sticking - Brush or spray the grill with oil before placing meat or fish on the grill.

8. Preheat the burners for at least 10 minutes - This helps to prevent food from sticking and will also give meat lovely grill lines/sears.

9. Check your gas level before entertaining and keep a spare tank handy.

10. Remember to soak wooden implements and skewers so that they don't burn.

So, now we have outlined some of the basics, you have no excuse for not unpacking the barbecue grill and firing it up again.

Find BBQ recipes online and remember that you can also cook fruit and desserts on your BBQ.

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