9th June 2016
Create the perfect crowd-pleasing barbecue with these top tips from Tim Maddams, the former head chef at the River Cottage Canteen.
Barbeque season has arrived, meaning once again it’s time to rediscover your grill, master new seasonal recipes and head out in search of that spot in the sun. Having provided all the delicious food at our Summer Entertaining event in May, Tim Maddams, the former head chef at the River Cottage Canteen, is the perfect person to share his barbeque tips, so you can create your very own crowd-pleasing feast.
Tim Maddams’ top 6 barbecue tips:
1. Preparation is key
“Get your prep done before you want to start cooking,” Tim tells us, so make sure you’ve got all the necessary kitchen accessories nearby. We recommend taking one of our portable Butler’s Tray Tables outside and placing it next to your barbecue with all the tools you need in-sight, including a stack of our wooden serving boards so once the food is ready you can pile them high and pass them to your guests without having to leave the barbecue unattended.
2. Avoid gas barbecues
Tim’s golden rule is, whatever you do “don’t be tempted to buy a gas barbecue – you might as well cook indoors!” For that fabulous flavour and tender texture Tim says you must cook over charcoal, which you can do with any simple kettle style barbecue.
3. Don’t use imported charcoal
If you thought that all charcoal was the same, think again. Tim specifically highlights that “you want to use coppice charcoal from a sustainable British source because it lights more easily and gets hot faster”, which is useful when you’re catering for large parties or a hungry family.
4. Light your fire in plenty of time
This tip may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked. It always takes longer than you might think for the barbecue to be hot enough to cook upon. To get your timings right, and avoid under or over cooked food, Tim explains “you should look for the flames that have died down, and once the embers are glowing with a light covering of ash, you can start cooking.”
5. Create two grill heat zones
We think this tip is particularly useful if you’re catering for a large group, or if your food has different cooking times; “I light the fire on one side and keep it going in there. As the embers spread to the other side I know where on the grill to cook, and can manage the heat, moving things that need to slow down to cooler places, and things that need a push to a hot spot.”
6. Seek inspiration from your location
Tim knows that when it comes to dining, it’s the little touches that make the biggest impact. He always considers his location and tries to reflect its characteristics within his food, for example, “if you’re planning a barbecue on the beach, serve fish not chops”. We also love cooking with locally sourced ingredients to create a barbecue feast with high-quality taste.
Tim Maddams’ top 2 barbecue dishes:
When it comes to hosting a barbecue, Tim loves to keep things simple so he can enjoy spending quality time with his guests. He suggests selecting dishes that are quick and easy to cook over the coals and then serve them on our wooden sharing boards or Porto Stoneware Heart Oven Dishes, so that guests can informally help themselves. If you’re stuck for fresh menu ideas, Tim’s two mouth-watering signature dishes are a must-try:
Hosting the perfect barbecue isn’t all about the food though, bring your garden to life with our enchanting lanterns and fairy lights, comfortable outdoor seating and scatter cushions plus, these must-have finishing touches.