(Frequently Asked) Questions

I haven’t been asked that many questions about the site yet. But I figure these might crop up. If you want to know anything else, ask away in the comments.

  1. What the hell is this? Why am I here? (etc.)
    Can’t really help you there. But this is my blog about my barbecuing escapades. My partner Gemma and I have set ourselves a target of 30 barbecues by late September. And we’ll be posting them here.
  2. Why should I care about that?
    You might not! But if you enjoy barbecues, maybe I can give you some useful tips, eh?
  3. What equipment do you use?

    Ah, I’ve prepared a post for that. It’s here.

MattBurgers™

Okay, so they’re not really trademarked. But they’re really good. If you like them too, please leave a comment!

Ingredients

As with all of my recipes, these quantities are rough, and feel free to add or remove ingredients – this isn’t rocket science!

Makes four large burgers

  • 500g standard beef mince. Don’t get value beef, but I’d argue you don’t need expensive lean mince either. The cheaper stuff (this costs about £2) has a higher fat content, which makes the burger juicier.
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped. A white onion would be fine; it’s just an aesthetics thing.
  • 1/2tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1tsp salt, preferably rock salt
  • 1/2tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2tsp cumin. I like cumin, but it is quite strong. Use less, or none, if you prefer.
  • A few pinches of herbs. Oregano and thyme (preferably fresh) go really well. Rosemary works too, especially with lamb.

Recipe

Combine all of the ingredients, using a food processor or a knife to chop the onion. My good friend Mark likes to grate the onion instead. This provides more moisture, which means you don’t need other binders in the mix.

With many burger recipes, it’s recommended that you add an egg to bind the mixture together (and some breadcrumbs, to counter the moisture induced by the egg). In this case, I found I didn’t need either, because of the fat in the meat. But that may be different for you.

MattBurgers™
Patented MattBurgers™ (not a patent), extra rare (i.e., uncooked). Delicious, but much better cooked (a picture will appear soon).

Once everything is combined into a little ball, get your hands dirty! Divide the mixture into four, shape each quarter into a ball, and then compress the ball on top and bottom to get a rough burger shape. If you’re feeling fancy you could use a Burger Press or food cutting-rings, but let’s face it, your mates won’t care.

For well-done burgers, these need about 4-5 minutes per side on the barbecue. 3-4 for medium. They’re also good grilled, should the weather turn on you.

Enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Getting Started: Equipment

Right then. Better start barbecuing, I guess. This post will introduce you to the stuff Gemma and I use to barbecue with on a (more-regular-than-we-should) basis.

The Barbecue

We’ve lived in our house since 2007. We started barbecuing then, using some sort of cheap ‘open’ barbecue (the sort that comes from a well-known catalogue shop and looks like a big metal box with shelves). Rubbish! Because of the amount of space around the charcoal, it was difficult to get anything lit. And once the barbecue was lit, it didn’t stay hot for very long. Oh and being huge, it took a mountain of charcoal to get anything good going.

That leads me to Matt’s first Top Tip™: don’t buy a cheap-ass barbecue. This is based on our experience, of course, but our grilling lives were enhanced by the world of Weber (any Weber folk reading, I’d love some free stuff, ok? Thanks).

Mmm, deliciously expensive barbecue
Where the magic happens. Ahem.

The barbecue we ended up buying was the one to the right, a Weber OneTouch. It cost about £70 from a well known orange-branded DIY store. Seems expensive for a charcoal grill, but money well spent. It always lights, first time, because it’s quite deep inside (see other picture), and has vents in the bottom for air to get in.

More importantly, though, it cooks really well. The lid allows it to act like an oven, which means you can do fairly awesome things like cooking a roast chicken in it. Can’t do that with your open barbecue can you? Eh?

In the past we’ve replaced our barbecue every year or so (nothing to cover it -> rust -> weird metallic flavours). These things apparently last for ten years or more if kept properly. So anyway, enough sycophantic praise…

Inside of the barbecue
It's Grilliant! (Sorry, I'll go now)

The Fuel

Ah, onto a controversial topic. We’ve never really got on with normal charcoal (heretics, I know). But if you do want to use plain charcoal/briquettes I’d recommend using firelighters. Lighting fluid has often given my food a weird flavour before.

So… we use instant-lighting fuel (see left). It costs more, but until we get a Charcoal Chimney (thanks for that one, Ina Garten), it’ll do. Takes about half an hour to be ready, and cooks for over an hour without trouble. Disagree? Put it in the comments!

Other Stuff

So you’ve got the barbecue and the fuel. A few other things you’ll need:

  • A good knife. If you’re just making burgers and sausages, you can probably do without this. But for some of the recipes on this blog, you’ll need to chop! And that leads me to…
  • A food processor. Homemade burgers are great made by hand, but quicker made with a machine.
  • Barbecue tools. Personally I can get by with just a fish-slice-style turner, and some tongs. But a big fork is sometimes useful.
  • Barbecue drip-trays. Obviously you can get non-branded ones, which are just as good. Perfect for indirect cooking, like for a roast chicken (more on that soon).

I think we’re set! Let’s do some barbecuing!

Hello!

Mmmmm
The first barbecue (that I took a picture of)

Welcome! This is to be my first attempt at making a proper job of a blog, and its subject will be that greatest of all British cuisines (yes, we took it and made it our own), the Barbecue. Over the coming weeks, myself, my partner Gemma, and our dog Rosie (who is surprisingly keen on barbecues) have set ourselves a target of 30 barbecues by the end of September. We’ve done six so far (and I’ll post on those soon) – that’s five a month. Easy! (?)

In this blog, I’ll be covering a few of my recipes, and my general barbecue escapades (hey, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, there may even be an indoor barbecue – or ‘oven cooking’, as we call it). I hope you enjoy it, and please do get involved in the comments.

Why not start by having a look at the equipment that we use, or some recipes?

Yours grillingly,
Matt