As we enter the warmer months of the year, the sunlight shimmers on the lochs and rivers and people head for the hills, the wild coastline, or the beautiful Scottish islands. Along with the smell of fresh sea air, the scent of wild thyme on the hills and the soft perfume of wildflowers on the machair, one of the most evocative aromas of summer is a mouth-watering barbecue.
Why is it that food always tastes better outdoors? And why are some of the best parties the ones that involve an impromptu gathering of friends and family, relaxing, and sharing food simply cooked over hot coals?
If you’re gathering your loved ones around for a Saturday-evening soiree or have marked a date in your calendar for a Bank Holiday barbecue, it’s time to dust off your grill. We’re sharing our expert tips on how to cook on the barbecue and enjoy a delicious al fresco dining experience that’s fired up with flavour.
How to choose the best ingredients for your barbecue
Here at The House of Bruar, our award-winning in-house Butchery has received numerous prestigious accolades for its exquisite cuts of meat and succulent delicacies. All our meat is sourced locally from northern Scotland and reared outdoors in the fresh Scottish air.
Selecting the perfect cut for your barbecue requires some consideration of the type of meat and taste that you’re looking for. To help give you some inspiration, Kevin Lawson, our Master Butcher, has given some advice on what to look for.
“Steak is an obvious crowd-pleaser for any barbecue, but choosing the right cut can make all the difference. I’d always recommend Aberdeen Angus beef as it has an even fat distribution, which gives a beautiful marbling which keeps the meat moist and flavourful when it’s on the grill,” recommends Lawson.
For the cut, look for a larger piece as it has a greater surface area to create a good sear. Our Tomahawk steak will help you achieve beautiful grill marks; cook it on a low heat for a prolonged period to ensure that the inside is cooked but still succulent.
To cater for your vegetarian guests, our Macsween Haggis is completely meat-free and is perfect for vegetarians and vegans alike. Some other options include:
- Grilled Portobello mushrooms
- Vegetable skewers
- Corn on the cob
- Grilled halloumi
- Stuffed bell peppers
- Grilled eggplant
For maximum flavour, don’t forget to provide plenty of condiments to pair with your grilled food. Chutneys and mustards add an intense depth to meat or vegetarian options, ensuring that all your guests will be satisfied.
Whichever cuts of meat or vegetarian-friendly options you choose, marinate before cooking or rub with a little sunflower oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Then, sear over hot coals to caramelise the outside; cook to taste and serve with an assortment of fresh salads and a simple and summery salsa verde on the side:
House of Bruar Simple Salsa Verde (serves 4)Ingredients:
- A garlic clove, peeled
- Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves stripped from stalks
- Small bunch of fresh basil
- Small bunch of fresh mint, leaves stripped from stalks
- 2 anchovies
- 2 teaspoons small capers
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- A pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil infused
Chop the herbs, garlic and anchovies as finely as possible and place in a bowl. Stir in the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
How to prepare your barbecueOnce you’ve got your meat on hand, the next step is to get your barbecue up for the task.
If yours has been kept inside for a short amount of time, a thorough wipe-down with a damp cloth may be sufficient, but you may want to give it a deeper clean if it’s been out of use for a while longer or if it has been stored outside over the winter.
A specialist barbecue cleaning kit is a good choice for connoisseurs, but a grate cleaner and brush are essentials for anyone looking to enter the work of grilling. Not only will they help to keep the grill grate clean and grease-free, but they can also do wonders to improve the lifespan of your barbecue. Clean after every use once the barbecue has cooled down to keep it in the best condition.
Checking that all the parts are in working order and free from rust is a great habit to get into too. Test to see that all the hinges move smoothly and the knobs run correctly.
Top tips for barbecue dayWhen the big day comes around, here are our top tips for making the event safe, enjoyable, and delicious:
1. give your marinades enough time to get to work
Rubs and marinades add an exquisite boost of flavour to any piece of meat. The key to getting the most out of them is to give them plenty of time to be absorbed into the cut. Marinating overnight is ideal, but if you forget, try to spice your ingredients for at least one hour before barbecuing.
2. Invest in the right equipment
Having the right tools to master the grill can make all the difference. A quality pair of tongs is the key to successfully flipping food, but larger cuts of meat may call for a spatula. A basting brush keeps the marinades flowing for maximum flavour: just make sure to pick up one with silicone bristles to keep it from burning over the coals.
Investing in a second pair of tongs may also be beneficial, so you have a different tool for handling raw and cooked meat. This reduces the chances of cross-contamination, which is essential for food safety and hygiene.
3. Bring your meat to room temperature before cooking
One mistake that often gets overlooked is not bringing your meat to room temperature before it reaches the grill plate.
Meat is a muscle that needs time to relax before barbecuing; it’ll also speed up the process and help achieve a more even cook. As a rule of thumb, take your cut of meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before grilling. If it’s a thicker piece, it may need longer.
4. Keep insects at bayThe aroma of delicious grilled ingredients is enough to attract troublesome insects, especially if you’re using a sweet marinade. Sweet liqueurs and mixers from summer cocktails can also entice bees and wasps to your barbecue, whether welcome or not.
You can try a few methods to keep them away from your barbecue festivities. The first is to mow your lawn before the big day, which can encourage insects hiding in long grass to migrate elsewhere. Make sure any pools of standing water are drained or emptied as well, such as from plant pots, gutters, or watering cans, as these are the ideal breeding grounds for larvae.
You can also try using ingredients like sage, rosemary, garlic, and lemon in your marinades, as they’ve been known to deter flies.
Our favourite cuts of meat to enjoy on the barbecue
1. Pork chops
Pork is another meat that does exceptionally well on the grill. These pork chops are more forgiving if you’re still building your confidence with the barbecue, as they can be cooked just like steak. For something more advanced, why not try pork shoulder? It has a longer cooking time, but you will be rewarded with tender, fall-apart meat that is sure to please even the fussiest eaters.
2. Haggis skewers
“To bring a taste of Scotland to your barbecue, why not try haggis skewers for a taste of authentic fayre?” suggests Lawsonhas. Our lightly spiced and deliciously nutty Scottish Haggis will bring a diverse and savoury appeal to any barbecue.
3. Venison burgers
For an alternative to beef, explore our venison burgers which are a fine example of a simple Scot’s recipe followed to perfection. Our venison burgers follow a specific recipe of eighty percent meat to twenty percent fat, guaranteeing that each burger is brimming with venison, bears a rustic texture and has a rich, succulent flavour.
4. Lorne sausage
Another way to enjoy a taste of the country’s finest delicacies on the grill is with our succulent Lorne sausage meat. “Lorne is traditionally served at breakfast, but enjoying it in a soft bread roll makes a lovely alternative to your usual beef burger – just be sure to grill it in a foil tray to help it keep its shape,” recommends Lawson.
5. Luxury Meat Hamper
Our selection of award-winning meat hampers offers a range of fine-quality cuts delivered straight to your door, so that you can enjoy a taste of many of our Butchery delicacies. We recommend the Luxury Meat Hamper, which caters to every taste for your next barbecue.
The best barbecuing tools for grilling
1. Weber Master-Touch Charcoal Barbecue, 57 Cm
The prestigious Weber Kettle is a charcoal barbecue ideal for beginners and experts alike. It can effortlessly sear the perfect steak, but it can also be used as a smoker for smoking ribs or brisket and can roast too. The convenient hinged lid is removable for easy cleaning and has a built-in thermometer to ensure your meat is cooked to your preference.
2. Weber Three Piece BBQ Set
Our Weber Three Piece BBQ Set has everything you need to feel equipped with all the essentials. Made from ultra-strong stainless steel and finished with soft-grip silicone handles, these three utensils will help you effortlessly flip ingredients over the coals.
3. Weber BBQ Cleaning Kit
This cleaning kit by Weber makes taking care of your barbecue a breeze. With a selection of eight cleaning tools, sprays, and sponges, you can ensure your food is perfectly cooked on a spotless grill.
Discover our barbecue and outdoor living collection for our full range of grilling tools and accessories, or take a look at our guide on how to dress for al fresco dining to ensure you look the part.