Nothing beats gathering with pals and tucking into grilled goodies cooked alfresco in the sunshine. So get the meat marinading and your tongs on standby: Neil Haydock, executive head chef at Zacry’s Restaurant at Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, gave us the low-down on how to be boss of the barbecue this summer
Be uber organised
With our unpredictable British weather, we tend to get a small window of time to crack out the barbecue each summer. When your weather app finally seems to promise a sunny day, get prep happy by chopping, making marinades and portioning in advance – you may not be able to go alfresco again for a while so take the chance while you can.
Don’t risk serving your garden party guests blackened burgers: if you’re using charcoal, wait until the flames have gone and the coals are white. This is the optimum time to cook.
Test your temperature
When cooking with charcoal, the temperature control is rise and fall. When cooking larger items, start higher (further away from the flames) to get the core temperature up and then finish lower to give that wonderful barbecue char.
Master your marinades
If your marinade contains sugar, cook your items until almost done and then brush it on. This will cause the sugar to caramelise in the final stages rather than burning if added too early.
Prepare perfect veg
Veg can be star of the show too. Prep and grill your veggies first, then pop them in some good oil with chopped fresh herbs, lemon zest and fresh chilli and leave at room temperature. This will mean there’s less to do when you are cooking the meat, you’ll avoid cross contamination on the grill (which will keep veggie guests happy), and you’ll add maximum flavour to the vegetables.
Keep a meat probe handy
They’re well worth the investment. Having one gives reassurance that higher risk items like chicken or sausages are cooked through.
Keep it clean
Wash your hands every time you have handled raw products. You don’t want to go transferring bacteria to your beer can/Pimm’s glass …
Neil Haydock is the executive head chef at Zacry’s Restaurant at Watergate Bay Hotel, specialising in British food using international influence and local inspiration. With provenance a core value, Cornish ingredients are found in dishes with bold and interesting chargrilled flavours – at the heart of the restaurant is an indoor charcoal oven. The seasonal two or three course menu showcases both classic and contemporary dishes.