Winter is well and truly here and we’re all looking for ways to keep the cold weather blues away. Why not invite your friends and family around for a barbecue? Pop on the grill, get the meat ready and make sure you have plenty of gluten free BBQ sauce handy!
History of the barbecue
Let’s start with the basics. The word barbecue is believed to come from the Spanish term ‘barbacoa’, which refers to a specific way of cooking meat. When Columbus, accompanied by Spanish explorers, landed in America in the late 15th century, he discovered Indigenous tribes (the Taino) roasting meat over a fire, using a framework built from sticks. The Indigenous word for this method of cooking was then adapted by the Spanish, French, Portegeuse, and English, amongst other European countries.
Barbecues, therefore, have a long and distinguished history in the United States. Many people would argue that barbecue is the national dish of the country. Roasting meat on sticks over a fire posed many advantages for people hundreds of years ago, as it enabled them to make the most of an entire animal, such as a pig or even an alligator.
Flash forward to the 1950s and the barbecue played another important role in American culture. By this time, the U.S was in the early stages of what was to be a long Cold War with the USSR. The barbecue was seen as a quintessentially American tradition, one that cemented familial roles and promoted the benefits of capitalism and home ownership.
Today, barbecues are enjoyed for the delicious smoky taste of the meat (and veggies) and the opportunity they provide for big groups of family and friends to catch up.
Guide to buying and cooking your barbecue ingredients
Barbecues have come a long way in the past five hundred years, particularly given the increasing number of people who are following a vegetarian diet.
However, the basic principles remain the same — get some good quality produce (be it red meat, white meat, fake meat, or vegetables) and throw it on the grill! Here are some top tips for buying barbecue ingredients:
The first step to putting together the perfect barbecue is understanding the different cuts of red meat that are available. ‘Prime cuts’ are those that feature very little connective tissue. They are tender and generally don’t take as long to cook as tougher cuts.
When purchasing meat, it’s a great idea to ask your butcher for cooking advice. They will be able to give you personalised tips on how long your cuts of meat need to be cooked for and at what temperature.
Whenever possible, try to purchase your meat from a local, organic butcher. You will not only be supporting local business, but you can be confident that you are purchasing quality produce.
White meat includes both fish and chicken.
Everyone knows how absolutely delicious barbecue chicken is, particularly when marinated in gluten free BBQ sauce. Grilling chicken on the barbecue is a relatively easy process, particularly if you have a boneless cut of meat. It’s best to cook your chicken using a medium heat and don’t forget to clean the grill completely when you are done — particularly if you have used a sticky marinade.
Many people are put off by the idea of cooking fish on the barbecue as they see it as being too difficult. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Tougher fish, including tuna, salmon, and swordfish, can be cooked directly on the grill. Other cuts of fish that are more tender, including flounder, are often better off being wrapped in foil.
To prevent the fish from sticking to the grill, make sure it is very clean and the fish has a generous coating of oil. You should also try to avoid flipping the fish too often — as tempting as it might be to see how the meat is progressing, you are more likely to get an even, whole cook if you leave the produce to rest.
The fake meat market has really taken off in recent years, as more and more people opt to follow a vegetarian diet.
There are two main types of fake meat — ‘fresh’ and frozen. ‘Fresh’ sausages and patties often attempt to mimic real meat through both texture and appearance. The main question that people have when working with fake meat is, how do I know when it’s really cooked?
There’s no real danger to undercooking a veggie pattie, it just won’t taste particularly good! Look for a golden exterior, grill marks, and check the inside with a knife to make sure it is heated all the way through.
No barbecue is complete with a side of delicious vegetables. Grilled veggies — be they marinated in gluten free BBQ sauce or simply coated in oil — pair well with red and white meat.
Make sure you know how long your vegetables will take to cook before putting them on the barbecue. Some will only take a few minutes while others are likely to take a little longer. You should also consider placing smaller vegetables on a skewer, to stop them falling between the grill.
Barbecues are a great way of getting loved ones together, all the while enjoying some delicious, home cooked food. What more could you want!?