In 2016, we spoke with Jon Finch and Ben Merrington as they launched Grillstock: The BBQ Book (opens in new tab) and grilled them for their cook-out tips. Since it looks like this weekend is barbecue weather, we’ve dug them out (if only to remind ourselves what two-zone cooking is).
Master Two-Zone Cooking
“You should cook pretty much everything this way,” says Finch. “Set up so you have one zone directly over the coals for searing, and another cooler zone, away from the coals, to allow the meat to cook through directly.” For steaks and burgers, you’ll want to get a good sear going first, then cook them through slowly, to avoid the charred/raw double-whammy that brands you a barbecue noob.
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Play With Smoke
It’s a seasoning, which you can use to add subtle flavours to your food. “You’ll get a background smoke flavour from using natural lumpwood charcoal,” says Merrington. “Add wood on top: chunks between the size of a tennis and golf ball work best. Throw them straight onto the coals.” Beech works with everything, cherry gives a richer flavour, and hickory is the nutty choice for the sophisticated griller.
Create Your Own Rub
“It ties the flavours of the meat, smoke and sauce together,” says Finch. Start with a base of sea salt, sugar and paprika, then add herbs, spices and seasonings: dried chilli, garlic and onion powder are all good starting points, with mustard powder, lime, oregano and celery salt handy standbys as you get more confident.
Don’t Fiddle And Poke
And definitely don’t squeeze. “Once you’ve put the meat on the grill, just leave it,” says Merrington. “You should only turn the meat once or twice throughout grilling. Squashing burgers and steaks down just squeezes out all the lovely juices and causes flare-ups.” And remember: the man with the spatula’s word is law. Back-seat grillers may be safely assigned paper-plate duty.
From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.
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