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Chef tips for the best summer BBQ

Fire up the grill and get ready to nail al fresco dining this year.


BBQ season is here – meaning al fresco dining and deliciously charred dishes.

If you haven’t BBQ’d since last year, you might be feeling a bit rusty – what should you grill? Are any accompaniments an absolute must? Should you marinate your meat?

Luckily, chefs are on hand with their top pieces of advice for nailing your summer BBQ…

Max La Manna

Zero-waste chef Max La Manna says he’s a “big fan of making sure you have options”.

“Having a wide selection of dishes: something that’s fresh, something that could be BBQ’d… I don’t think you need to have one massive thing of something.

“Do small things of everything, because you want options, you want to go back and try a little bit of everything. For me, picnics and BBQs are like a tasting platter. Everything’s laid out – you want to try a little bit of that, try a little bit of this.

“I make sure I always provide bountiful salads of different ranges, different colours… Always try to incorporate as much seasonal ingredients as possible.

“But what makes summer BBQs fun and enjoyable is who you surround yourself with – the people you have and where you are. That’s important.”

You Can Cook This!: Simple, Satisfying, Sustainable Veg Recipes by Max La Manna (Ebury Press, £22)

Andi Oliver

“For nailing a summer barbecue, marinate your meat, because marinating meat does more than just give flavour – it actually brings tenderness,” says Andi Oliver.

She’s also a bit proponent for brining your meat before BBQ’ing it.

“I discovered last year that if you brine chicken or any meat in any tea that you like, it makes it incredibly juicy and tender. So I use an Earl Grey brine with sugar and salt, and a few like bits of tarragon and things like that. I brine my chicken overnight in it and then take it out, dry rub it and then slow cook it on the BBQ and it is incredible.”

The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories From My Caribbean Table by Andi Oliver (DK, £27)

Prue Leith

The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith is all about keeping things simple on the BBQ.

“I think people do too many things on a BBQ – they do sausages and burgers, this that and the other,” she says.

Instead, her advice is to “have one thing and get it really perfect”.

Leith continues: “I like lamb steaks – you get the butcher to cut the lamb through the leg leaving the bone in, so that you get a little round piece of bone in the middle of a big nice piece of steak. Then just what you need is garlic, rosemary and oil all over it.”

Then put it on a “good strong BBQ”, so it’s “almost charred on the outside, [but] still pink in the middle”.

The Prue Edit is now available from Kettlewell Colours.

Lara Lee

As an Australian, Lara Lee knows a thing or two about nailing a BBQ.

“If you’re going to BBQ, you need a really nice mix of meats and vegetables – I feel like everyone should not be afraid of BBQing their vegetables,” she says.

Whether it’s charred Brussels sprouts or grilled courgette, veg on the BBQ will bring a bit of variety to your plate.

“Corn is my go-to for summer BBQs,” she adds. “That’s a really easy one – it’s an easy win because it’s inexpensive, but it looks so great when you serve it.”

Like La Manna, Lee also wants people to remember to bring fresh elements to their BBQ. “When it comes to BBQ, you need to have something for everyone – it’s really nice to have some balance and offset your charred smoky meats and vegetables with a fresh salad too.”

A Splash Of Soy: Everyday Food From Asia by Lara Lee (Bloomsbury Publishing, £22)


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