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Barbecue tips from celebrity chef Simon Rimmer

Co-host of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, with Tim Lovejoy, celebrity chef Simon Rimmer also works alongside innovative barbecue brand Weber. This summer, the chef has partnered with Weber to support the ‘Weber of Life’ campaign, encouraging consumers to host fantastic barbecue experiences.

Speaking about Weber, Simon said: “My favourite barbecue really is a Weber. You get what you pay for. Buy a cheap warehouse BBQ and after a year it will fall apart. Webers have fantastic technology so they do actually cook better but the main thing is they are designed to be used and left outdoors. I have a friend in the States who uses his Weber even if the temperature is minus 45! They have always been my barbecue of choice.”

With the summer drawing to its typically unpredictable climax, Simon Rimmer spoke to The London Economic, sharing some tried and tested barbecue tips to use at home, as well as expressing a passionate belief that barbecue should be a year-round way of cooking, not solely reserved for the warmer months.

Why do you think Brits aren’t very confident cooking on a barbecue?

We don’t use them often enough, as little as twice in summer. Like most Brits no one reads any instructions on setting properly. One of the reasons some of us are a little afraid of the barbecue, is we can never tell when something’s properly cooked. You don’t want to have to cut into something to see if it’s done, and then decide who gets the piece of meat you’ve massacred.

What tips can you share for hosting a successful barbecue throughout the rest of the summer?

With just a little learning, we can all turn our barbecue from a once in a summer event to a way of cooking all year-round. Cooking food properly on the barbecue is achieved by combining a number of techniques.

Make sure you set it up properly – as below.

Lid on cooking

This is the cornerstone of cooking the Weber way. Barbecuing with the lid on has lots of benefits:

Flavour: Keep the lid on, and the smoke stays inside the barbecue to infuse into your food.

Control the temperature: With the lid on, oxygen is restricted, allowing you to control the temperature inside the barbecue, it ensures that heat is retained meaning the food cooks faster, and evenly. If you don’t use the lid then too much oxygen will get to your fuel, creating flames (or flare-ups) that can burn your food.

More menu options: By closing the lid you create an oven effect, giving you the best way to cook an amazing whole roast chicken or other roast dishes.

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Lighting a charcoal barbecue

The quickest, easiest and most efficient way to light a charcoal barbecue is with a chimney starter. It guarantees perfectly lit coals, ready for cooking in just 15-20 minutes.

Direct and indirect cooking

Direct cooking: when the heat source is directly under the food being cooked. Perfect for foods that take less than 20 minutes – steaks, burgers, sausages.

Indirect cooking: when the heat source is placed to either side of the food, and food is placed above the area without indirect heat. Great for foods that take 20 minutes and above, roast meats, fish, desserts.

Taking the temperature

Often people are worried about undercooking meat on the barbecue and resort to precooking food in the oven, overcooking it so it’s burnt to a crisp or cutting into it to check it’s done. The best solution though is to use a thermometer and check the internal temperature of the meat.

Quality food

Make sure you have a good variety of flavours and great sides, if nothing else –  a brilliant potato salad and coleslaw.

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How can you prevent food from being overly cooked on the outside and undercooked in the middle?

iGrill and thermometers will you give the perfect temperature for all meats e.g. 75 for chicken, or 53 degrees for rare – 60 for medium/well done.

What do you suggest cooking as an alternative to serving standard burgers and sausages? 

Don’t be afraid to cook large pieces of meat and whole fish – low and slow is one of the best ways to use your barbecue.

What are the pros and cons on cooking with a gas or charcoal barbecue? 

Taste – they both do the same job it’s down to personal taste, gas is less hassle as you’re clicking a button, but charcoal gives you a better flavour, in my humble opinion.

What’s the most unusual food you’ve cooked on a barbecue? 

Octopus – boil first, cut the legs off then on the barbecue, smoky and charred; it’s delicious.

Simon Rimmer is the working with Weber. For more barbecue tips and hints visit Weber.

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