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How to barbecue like a pro

It’s easy to see why the thought of a barbecue is so attractive – great company, glorious sunshine and mouth-watering food. But, in reality, most BBQs don’t turn out like this. Semi-raw burgers and overcooked steaks are far more common than the succulent meats most people imagine!

The good news is that by following a few simple tips you’ll soon be cooking your dream BBQ. So invite your friends, buy a selection of tasty foods and strap on your apron. Here’s how to cook a BBQ like a pro.

Step 1: Preheat the BBQ

If there’s one aspect of BBQ technique most people need to change, it’s the length of time allowed for pre-heating. Many people don’t give their BBQ anywhere near enough time to heat up. If you usually start cooking five minutes after lighting the charcoal, this could be one of the main reasons why your meats aren’t cooking properly.

After lighting, leave the barbecue for around half an hour before you start cooking. This allows time for the temperature to normalise and the coals to become white hot.

Step 2: Prepare the Food Safely

Before you start cooking, make sure you have everything you need. Tongs, plates, enough space, separate dishes for raw and cooked meat…whatever you require to cook the perfect BBQ. It’s much easier to prepare everything now than frantically looking for a clean plate while your burgers are burning to a crisp.

According to the NHS, food poisoning doubles during the summer. For some reason, many people forget basic food hygiene when cooking a BBQ, which can lead to nasty cases of food poisoning.

Please be safe! There are some simple things you can do to reduce the chances of contamination. Firstly, make sure all food is thoroughly defrosted before you start cooking. If meat is still partially frozen, the outside will cook quickly while the inside is still raw.

When using a marinade for raw meats, never re-use it on cooked meats. You should also use different tongs and plates for raw and cooked meats.

Bonus Tip: Always let meat heat up to room temperature for around 20-30 minutes before cooking. If your meat is taken directly from the fridge, it’s hard to thoroughly cook the inside without burning the outside.

Step 3: Start Cooking!

Once the coals are white hot and meat fully defrosted, it’s time to start cooking! If you’ve prepared properly, this should be the easy part.

Make sure you regularly turn the meat to cook it evenly. You should also check that there isn’t any pink meat and that the centre is piping hot before serving. The juices of burgers and sausages should run clear before you eat them.

In some cases, especially when cooking chicken, it can be easier to partly cook in the oven before moving to the grill. This provides the same BBQ taste – but with a reduced chance of raw meat. Now, if you’re a BBQ purist, this might seem like cheating – but it can make cooking potentially dangerous meats much easier.

Once cooked, allow the meat time to rest. Leaving steaks and other meats for a few minutes absorbs much of the juices and provides a tastier result.

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