How to create the perfect barbecue

Al-fresco dining is one of the best things about a Canvas holiday. Long, lazy evenings sitting outside with a glass of local wine and sausages sizzling on the barbecue. If you’ve got a gas barbecue, cooking is simple – you just light it and go. A charcoal barbecue requires a little more work, so follow our tips and you’ll have the perfect barbecue every time!

barbecue, holidays

Creating the perfect barbecue

Lighting your barbecue

  1. Build a pyramid shape with your charcoal and put the firelighters in the middle.
  2. Light it and leave for around half an hour. By then the charcoal will be glowing and starting to turn grey. Don’t be tempted to add extra firelighters or lighter fluid at this stage.
  3. Spread the charcoal out so it covers the base of the barbecue, but be patient. It’s not ready to cook on until there are no flames and the charcoal is white/grey. If you can hold your hand above the coals for 5 seconds it’s perfect!

Cooking on the barbecue

  1. Before you start make sure the grill is clean. Lightly oil the barbecue grill as this will help prevent food from sticking to it (and make it much easier to clean!)
  2. Meat needs to be cooked for different lengths of time, so work out your cooking times and start with whatever takes the longest – see the table opposite for a rough guide.
  3. The best tip for cooking meat is to move it around or turn it as little as possible. Once it’s cooked, let it rest before eating.
  4. Food with a high fat content is likely to drip and cause flames – if this happens, move to the edge of the coals where it is cooler.
  5. Make sure all food is cooked thoroughly before eating

What to cook

  • Keep the food as simple as possible. Browse the supermarket aisles and local markets – you’ll find a huge range of barbecue food available.
  • Buy fresh salad and vegetables to accompany your meal. Again, local markets are the best place to shop.
  • Fruit kebabs or marshmallows on sticks make a fun dessert! Alternatively, stuff a banana with pieces of chocolate and wrap in foil before placing on the coals to cook. Delicious!

Approximate cooking times

Rare: R / Medium: M / Well done: WD

Steak (no bone, 1” thick) R: 15-20 mins M: 20-25 mins WD: 25-30 mins
Steak (no bone, 2” thick) R: 30-35 mins M: 35-40 mins WD: 40-45 mins
Burgers M: 10-15 mins WD: 15-20 mins
Sausages 15-20 mins
Pork chops 15-20 mins
Boneless chicken breast 20-30 mins
Chicken thigh with bone 30-40 mins
Chicken drumstick 30-35 mins
Lamb chops 10-12 mins
Small, whole fish 12-18 mins (turn once)
Fish steaks 10 mins (turn once)
Prawns (whole) 2-3 mins a side

These times are approximate and for guidance only – always check your food is thoroughly cooked before serving.

Top tips

  • Light the barbecue at least half an hour before you want to start cooking.
  • Don’t start cooking until the charcoal is ready – if you do it will result in burnt food which isn’t cooked on the inside.
  • Never place your lit barbecue on decking, or too close to your tent or mobile home.
  • Make sure your barbecue is on a flat surface, away from hedges, trees and washing.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies.
  • Never leave children unattended when you have a lit or hot barbecue.
  • Remember the coals will stay hot for hours after you have finished cooking. Make children aware of this and dispose of the cooled coals safely the following morning.
  • Store charcoal in a dry place, off the floor. Keeping it dry means you need to use fewer firelighters.

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