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BBQing - not just a guy thing! Hints and tips to get you started.

By December 26, 2014 , , ,

You may have noticed I like to BBQ...

This might be a bit of an understatement, but ever since I purchased the Big Green egg, I  enjoy using it. I just don't know what I would do without it at all. On average now I BBQ 2-3 times a week (and not just in summer, all year round), not to mention using the Egg to smoke meats and fish. Even before I had the egg I used to BBQ regularly.

I have also been known to BBQ in thunderstorms (yes really, not intentionally it happened to kick off mid BBQ). I wouldn't say I'm a fanatical BBQer but I love the depth of flavour you get out of meat and fish and being able to play with different types of woods to either smoke or accentuate what you put on the grill.

So I've signed up for a few forums associated with the egg and BBQing in general and it seems to be a mostly male preserve, even all the advertising is aimed at men. All the BBQ tools are quite large (man sized) and for a woman with small hands not easy to handle. 

This isn't a feminist rant, but a comment from a friend of mine got me really thinking about this. We were discussing inviting people over for a BBQ at some point and she mentioned that I'd get a break from cooking as my other half would be doing the BBQing. I replied that it wouldn't be the case as I was the one who did the BBQing in our house. She was genuinely surprised at this and her reply inferred that it was strange for me to do so. Even more so when I pointed out that my other half rarely, if ever cooked on the BBQ, it's always been me.

I started off with a weber BBQ many, many years ago and even then I cooked on that BBQ and not my other half. My preference is if I've gone to a lot of trouble to prep and marinade meat or certain dishes, I really don't want someone else to cremate it.

Now I'm no stranger to all male environs, I grew up with four brothers. My first job after graduating, was in the city of London was pretty male dominated. In some kitchens I worked in I was the only female chef. Not to mention a stage as an assistant sommelier in a Michelin starred restaurant, which is not renowned for being a female dominated profession.

I recently bought the Pitt Cue cookbook in Dutch mainly because the meat cut charts would prove useful for my next trip to the Butchers (names for meat cuts differ big time between here in the Netherlands and the UK and Ireland). I know my meat cuts well but the names do vary from country to country, so best to know that I'm getting the right cut when I order. The book in English is called the Pitt Cue Co cookbook, in Dutch it's called  "Het Mannenkookboek". I'm not inferring it should be called the Vrouwenkookboek but you see where I'm going with this. 

I've spoken to many women who BBQ as well and they find BBQ books or advertising off putting. In BBQ magazines, there are little if any pictures of women actually BBQing, maybe sitting nearby or eating BBQ. I was recently interviewed for a BBQ edition of Entree Magazine here in the Netherlands and I was the only female in the BBQ section. Is it too much to ask that women are included more in the advertising and the magazine interviews. It's inclusion, not feminising that we are looking for. There are quite a few women who do BBQ out there and maybe its time that companies started to target them too and I'm not talking about a token picture of a woman wielding tongs. 

For those of you who enjoy BBQing and want to take it that one step further, do consider a Big Green Egg or a kamado style BBQ. They may be expensive, but you won't be buying another BBQ ever again as it's a lifelong purchase. It is so versatile as you can grill, slow cook, smoke and make a really great pizza on it.

If you do buy an Egg or Kamado then consider getting the following accessories:
Plate setter - great for indirect cooking and long slow cooks
Long handled tongs and turner
Cast Iron griddle - gets a good char on steaks and burgers
Pizza stone - don't buy a cheap one, it will only crack in the high temps needed for cooking pizza
Meat thermometer - essential to ensure the meat is cooked properly, thermapen is a good reliable brand
Grill cleaning brush - only takes a few seconds to clean the griddle down after BBQing
BBQ cover - to keep your BBQ safe from the elements
Silicone brush for basting your meats

If you do take the plunge and have got the accessories you now need to arm yourself with some good cook books:  

Hawksmoor at Home by Huw Gott, Will Beckett and Richard Turner
Serious BBQ by Adam Perry Lang 
Hete Kolen - Grillen en Kooken met een Kamado by Jeroen Hazebroek and Leonard Elenbaas or the English Language version Hot Coals: A User's Guide to Mastering Your Kamado Grill (or any of the Hete Kolen and Hete Rook books)
Pit Cue, the cookbook by Tom Adams and Jamie Berger

More importantly get to know your cuts of meat, what cooks slow and what cooks quick, what does and doesn't work on the BBQ. 
You'd be surprised at simple things like the variance in cooking different types of steak. Some steaks only work best cooked medium rare, any further and then it's like chewing shoe leather. Find a good butcher and make friends with them they will be happy to give advice if you're not sure what cuts are suitable for what type of cooking.

Don't get suckered into buying cheap charcoal either, some brands will have accelerants in them to help them light and please don't use lighter fluid, it will taint your food. There's nothing worse than eating meat or veg that tastes of lighter fluid.

Sign up for groups in Facebook such as the Big Green Egg group, CountryWoodSmoke  - British BBQ and Smoke & BBQ (NL) which are good communities with good advice and tips.

If you want to take things one step further then look into purchasing a Sous Vide. I purchased the Sansaire which is very portable and doesn't take up much space at all. It takes the uncertainty out of cooking meat, as in, over cooking it if you cook directly. You can get your meat to how you exactly want it with the sous vide and then finish it on the BBQ, which is perfect. Though do get to know how to cook meat directly and how to rest it, so you can get it right without using the sous vide first.

If there are any women (or men who haven't tried BBQing yet) out there who want to try their hand at BBQing then go for it, you never know you might enjoy it. 

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