Our team of BBQ Experts at Ruxley Manor have put together their most frequently asked questions from the shop floor and answered them all here. We’ll be updating this periodically to create the ultimate BBQ reference – if there’s something you want to know that we haven’t answered, make sure you email in or ask us on Facebook or Twitter!
Cooking on either should give you the same results as long as you cook with a lid down. That’s where and how the flavours are created. Gas can be more convenient as you just use an ignition switch and away you go.
The best way to light your charcoal barbecue is to get your hands on a chimney starter. It is an upright metal cylinder with a handle that you put unlit fuel inside. Place 2 fire lights under the chimney on the charcoal grate. Then light them and place the chimney over the top. This creates a drawing action which will light all the fuel in turn up through the chimney. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes.
Thus giving you a perfect light every time. When ready, simply slowly pour the lit fuel into your BBQ.
Charcoal is a highly compacted product, which gives a slower burning time. It burns at a lower temperature than lumpwood and is perfect for grilling and roasting. Lumpwood burns at a higher temperature but for a shorter period of time. One chimney of long-burn briquettes will burn for up to 3 hours whereas a lumpwood equivalent will burn for approximately 1 hour.
On a Gas BBQ this is very easy by just adjusting the burners higher or lower. Most BBQs have a thermometer on the lid which gives you a temperature reading. Charcoal BBQs have vents top and bottom to regulate the amount of oxygen flowing in and out of the BBQ. The more airflow the hotter this will get. To slow the burn down and have a cooler burn, simply close the vents slightly. Do not close completely as this will extinguish the fuel all together. You may need to add more fuel through the course of your BBQ depending on what you’re cooking and how long you want your BBQ on for.
You don’t need to be scrubbing and cleaning every part of your BBQ, be it gas or charcoal. Every BBQ needs to be preheated just the same as an oven indoors. Turn gas on and put the lid down and leave on a high heat for about 15mins. This is going to carbonise any food remnants from your last cook. This is exactly the same for charcoal BBQs, too. Once this time is up, lid off and simply go over the cooking grate thoroughly with a good quality BBQ brush. Firstly you have sterilised your cooking grate due to the high temperature and also by carbonising any left over food particles on the coil can very simply be removed by the brush.
There are two main ways of cooking. Direct Cooking and Indirect Cooking.
Firstly, direct cooking.
This means that food is cooked directly over the hot coals. This method is used to grill food or to sear food. Then moving food to a cooler zone on the BBQ to finish the cooking without burning the outside of the food. On a charcoal BBQ hot fuel should be placed on one half only of the charcoal grate. This will give you two heat zones. Directly above the coals will be the very hot zone. Then the other half will be the cooler zone.
On a gas BBQ you simply need to use only one or two burners depending on how many burners you have. Cooking would start directly over the hot burners but then moving food over to the unlit side to finish the cooking process.
This method would be used for roasting and lower temperature cooking ie. low and slow. On a charcoal BBQ the setup of the fuel will be where half the fuel is placed against the bowl one side and the same the other side. This will leave a cooler zone on the cooking grate in the middle. This allows the heat to circulate around the joint of meat without charring or overcooking the outside of the meat. No one wants burnt bitter meat on the outside but uncooked in the centre.
Different meats have different core temperatures. It is vital that you get this right, so that you get the full potential out of your BBQ. Meat thermometers can be a very helpful addition to your BBQ kit. These can be of varying prices, but can be bought for just a few pounds. This gives you total confidence in knowing that especially poultry is perfectly cooked.
Internal Temperature reference*:
Meat – Celsius
Rare – 45°C -50°C
Medium – 55° – 60°c
Well done- 70°c and above.
Rare – 60°c
Medium – 70°C
Well done – 75°C and above.
Chicken – 75°C – 80°C
Turkey – 75°C – 80°C
Pork – 63°C
Uncooked Ham – 63°C
*These are advice guidelines only. Always ensure your food is fully cooked before consuming.
Remember to always take meat out of the fridge at least an hour before use. This will enable the meat to come to room temperature and relax, making for the more tender result. Also just as important is to rest the meat when removed from your BBQ. This too relaxes the meat and tenderises even further. Fish does not need to be rested.
Don’t have only one zone
Don’t overcrowd the cooking grate
Don’t fiddle with food too much
Steak 3-5 mins
Roast 15-30 mins
Roast 15-30 mins
Small portions 3-5mins
Whole 15 mins
whole 30 mins
Your BBQ will tell you when it needs a thorough clean. This can result in flames catching on too much excess fat. A good scrape down should do the trick. This can be done when the BBQ is cold, then you will be good to go for your next cook.
Remember to always close vents top and bottom after each cook on charcoal BBQs. This enables any leftover fuel to be extinguished and be able to be burnt again. Also this keeps any rain out of the grill.
Always turn the burners fully off and turn the gas off at the regulator and remove from the gas bottle.
Do’s and Don’ts
Remember – Always preheat and clean before cooking
Always keep the lid down. This maintains temperature, creates BBQ flavours and reduces the amount of fuel used.
Always check the temperature.