How to start a charcoal BBQ

 

Video guide to starting a charcoal barbecue

When the sun's shining, there's nothing better than a barbecue to bring your friends, family together over great food and great conversation. If you're using a charcoal barbecue, there are a few tips to make sure you get the heat just right and the food perfectly cooked through.

Make a flat and even level

The first thing you want to do is keep your barbecue on a nice, flat even level and keep it away from any hedges, bushes or anything like that. And you want to have a bucket of water handy, just in case.

Laying the charcoal

So the first thing you want to do when getting the barbecue lit is put the grill over to the side and get your charcoal. I'm going to just rip the bag open and put a really good layer of charcoal into the barbecue. That's perfect. I've got some newspaper, just scrunch it up and place it around and put a bit of the charcoal on top to get a really good pile in the centre. Another one, there we go.

Coat coals with lighting gel

What I've got here is some lighting gel, so I'm just going to pour some over the coals and then put the lid on and put it safely to one side, just so it's out of the way.

Lighting the barbecue

So we're good to go. I've got a barbecue lighter here and if you don't have one of these, just use some long matches so you can light it just slightly from a distance and we're ready to go. I'm just going to light the barbecue in a couple of places to get that gel going, get it really super hot. Once the flames are alight, don't be tempted to add any more lighter fluid. Give it about 20 or 30 minutes to let everything come to temperature and get those coals super white hot.

Creating a split level fire

So the flames have died down and the coals are really white hot so we're ready to start. What I've done here is called a split-level fire. I've got a single layer of coal one side and three to four deep the other, and what that means is one side's a little bit cooler than the other. Say, for example, you're cooking something like a chicken fajita, you can sear the chicken really hot on this side and cook the peppers a little bit slower, so they go lovely and sweet, on the other.

So that's been about 30 minutes now. If you're using a gas barbecue, I'd say leave it about 15 before you start cooking. Now we want to put the grill on before the food.

Cooking the food

Onto the food. A really good tip is to always oil the food and not the grill. Over here, I've got some lovely chicken breasts, which I'm going to put onto the hot side to sear. And then I've got some lovely juicy sweet bell peppers which I'm going to put onto the slightly cooler side just to soften.

And by oiling the food, you're going to stop anything sticking to the grill.

So if you follow these basic rules, with a little bit of practice, you'll have the perfect barbecue every single time.

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