Fresh air makes you hungry! Cooking in the great outdoors has never been easier. BBQs, pizza ovens and grills – even smoking over a real fire is in vogue. It doesn’t come naturally to the British – we have our temperamental weather to thank for this. But with the uprising of the new BBQ culture – it’s time to throw caution to the wind and unlock flavours in different ways. Enter wood pellets for smoking and grilling!
As meat quality improves and as we are all made too aware of the importance of buying and loving local produce, what is there not to love about throwing some locally-produced meat over an open smoking fire. Wood pellets will enhance the smoke – just smother the flame to unlock that delicious flavour. Use slow-grown, grass-fed, free-range and, preferably, heritage or rare breed meat for the fullest flavours. The fat content is higher, and therefore the meat is more succulent when the fat has been rendered down through the cooking process. Sausages and burgers are always going to score points. Full-boned joints are not only impressive, but they’re also easy to do – they are suited to long, slow exposure to glowing embers. The art is to keep the fire stoked without letting it get too lively – throw on your wood pellets for smoking.
The famous Gauchos of Argentina and Uruguay aren’t just cattle ranchers, they are incredible cooks too, using their Parrilla Grills over open fires. Argentine chef Francis Mallmann spends eight hours alone preparing the fire ready for cooking.
We might not be there yet, but where restaurants and chefs go, home cooks will soon follow. Whether it’s baking in the embers of a fire pit, flash-frying on a hot stone, grilling over wood or charcoal, or hot smoking, there’s a real variety of methods out there for people to experiment with.
For us, it’s the simplicity of outdoor cooking that is so satisfying.
Food and Fire
Wood pellets for smoking and grilling!
It awakens something primaeval – but the technique is vital, not least getting your timings right. For instance, direct and indirect cooking over hot coals or pellets will create very different results – direct, right over the fire or smoking pellets, indirect – out of the immediate heat.
Outdoor cooking does not require more effort than preparing a regular dinner, it just needs good planning. But don’t leave cooking outside for special occasions and summer – if you don’t have charcoal, use wood – briquettes and/or pellets. If you have the room, why not dig a hole in the garden and use that? There are even options available for cooking on the balcony.
The best tips for meat:
- Don’t salt the meat until the last minute
- Don’t forget to let your meat rest when cooked to let the meat relax
- Don’t pour the extra marinade onto the coals, it’ll burn your food
- If you only want a hint of barbecue, wrap in tinfoil with tiny pin pricks all over the foil
- Potatoes wrapped in tinfoil and dropped into the fire pit after the most intense part of the barbecuing has been done will make a lovely late treat
- Cook the meat for 60% of the time on the first side, then turn and cook for the remaining 40%.
- Knowing the meat is how you like it is the most difficult part of barbecuing.
A good thermometer will ensure that everything is cooked to perfection:
- Beef – medium rare: 54°C
- Lamb – pink: 58°C
- Pork – juicy: 65°C
- Poultry – safe to eat: 75°C
- Bangers – 75°C