Three Amazing BBQ Recipes From Grill Expert Genevieve Taylor

Three Amazing BBQ Recipes From Grill Expert Genevieve Taylor

In my world there is no ‘barbecue food’, just good food that I happen to cook over a fire. Fire is the original source of heat and every country has a history of cooking on fire. Once you know how it works, you can use a barbecue to cook everything from steak and fish to a rainbow of vegetables. You can even bake, and at the Bristol Fire School (where I teach) we end the day with a homemade cake.

The difference between direct and indirect cooking is crucial. With direct cooking, you place food over the fire to cook through intense infrared radiation from the charcoal heat. In indirect cooking, food is placed at the side of the fire, heated by conduction from hot metal surfaces and convection currents of hot air that trap you when the lid is down. Most things can be cooked better indirectly, by slowing down on a lower heat for juicier, tastier results and avoiding the dreaded scenario of burnt outside/raw inside.

I like to light a real fire, but on gas barbecues you get absolutely good results. The indirect versus direct principle is the same: light one burner and cook the food on the other; cook directly over the burners for a higher heat.

You can also control the heat by moderating the grill’s vents. Airflow is critical to fire, and the more you give a fire, the hotter and faster it will burn. Lower the vents for a softer fire. This is one of the reasons to keep your barbecue lid closed as much as possible – if it’s always up, you have no control over the air. A lid makes cooking more efficient. You wouldn’t think of trying to cook in your convection oven with the door open, would you? So it is with a barbecue.

Invest in quality fuel – it can make or break your cooking. I will not burn anything that is not sustainably made in Great Britain from pure lump wood. Ever heard that charcoal has to be white and “thrown over” before it can be cooked on? It’s a myth invented for chemical-laden charcoal of unknown origin, because you have to burn the chemicals before it’s tasty or even safe to cook. Good charcoal is 95 percent pure carbon, completely inert, with no taste, odor or smoke when burned. It’s good to cook again within five minutes of lighting, and you can add it a little at a time as you cook to maintain even heat.

Because good charcoal does not produce smoke, if you want to ‘smoke’ food, as in the salmon recipe below, you must add wood. I prefer fist-sized chunks over wood chips, which burn quickly unless you soak them in water; but wet chips create a soggy, foul smoke. Chunks smolder slowly and provide a pure smoky taste.

These recipes show what I love about barbecuing – you get color and texture in spades and a hint of smoky goodness, using a mix of different techniques.

Caraway salted hot smoked salmon with roasted hasselback potatoes

Hot smoked salmon is easy, but you need time to cure it beforehand. The cure adds flavor (in this case it’s black pepper and caraway) and is an important step in developing the pellicle, a sticky surface that helps the smoke trap and penetrate the fish.

Hasselback potatoes also take some time, but are worth it because of the crispy outside and soft inside. You could cook them in your oven indoors, but I enjoy the satisfaction of cooking my entire meal outside. By closing the lid of the barbecue, you create an oven-like heat and cook everything inside.

This needs nothing more than a large green salad to serve.