BBQ tips with Adam Perry Lang
Let’s face it; we don’t take barbecuing that seriously in the UK. At this very moment there are grills still in pain after a long sentence of garden misery. All that rust is a sorry sight. But we all like playing with fire - even if it’s a fair-weathered passion, and the flames are soon burning again if the weather’s nice. Just try and have a few BBQ recipes at the ready during the early excitement of the season.
Adam Perry Lang
Barbecue expert Adam Perry Lang called time on a career in copper-panned French kitchens to follow his passion for BBQ, from New York to London’s Barbecoa restaurant. He offers a few handy tips for summer and sheds light on the proper American barbecue:
1. Invest in a good barbecue. This means you need a grill surface – cast iron is particularly good. Buy a good-quality grill brush because constant cleaning will help ensure that your grill remains non-stick.
2. Lightly oil the grill surface. Use a clean tea towel that you are willing to part with. Fold it up, lightly coat with vegetable oil and, using a pair of tongs, brush the grill surface. (This will accentuate the grill lines on your burgers).
3. Create a safe zone, an area where there are no flames on the barbecue. If flames start rising up, you have a safe haven where your food won’t burn.
4. Cook with shorter and thicker cuts of meat. That way you develop a more flavoursome crust and help to make the meat juicy. Rib-eye steak is particularly good. Re-season as you cook because grill bars tend to pull off spices and seasonings.
5. Glaze and sauce toward the end, otherwise the sugar will cause the meat to burn.
6. Consider vegetables – onion flavours work well because of the natural sugars. Leeks, spring onions and vegetables in their skin, such as onions and sweet potatoes.
7. Make easy side dishes beforehand, so you don’t have to walk away. That way you’re at the heart of the party and enjoying yourself – the most important part of barbecuing.
Pulled pork is a staple of the southern-style American BBQ
Barbecuing is taken very seriously in America and the regional rivalry is intriguing. But how does the food differ along the country’s barbecue trail? “Put simply, southern-style barbecue, or what people like to call American-style barbecue, is really more about low and slow – cooking over a lower temperature for a longer period of time, using wood as the primary source of cooking”, according to Adam. Then there’s the Yankee barbecue, which is direct grilling, usually found in the North East. So, what does he prefer? “That’s like choosing children!”
It’s surprising that authentic southern-style flavours still haven’t migrated to the UK. But maybe this is the summer where it all changes. Early signs are bright, as pop-up American barbecues are springing; we’re seeing competitions taking place imitating the American Royal – and even a rock-festival-meets-cook-off in Bristol.
What are you barbecuing this summer? Have you tasted Southern-style barbecue?
Michael Kibblewhite works for the BBC Food website.