Dj bbq’s grilling guide 10 tips on how to cook outdoors life and style the guardian electricity kwh calculator

More people go to A&E with food poisoning between June and September than at any other time of year, and a lot of that is down to improperly cooked barbecue. So here’s a 10-step guide to help you ace the art of cooking over fire. 1 Pick your grill

Buy the best outdoor cooker you can afford. I prefer a kettle-style grill with a hood; they come in all sizes and to suit all pockets. They have a lot of grilling space, meaning you can cook a lot on it at the same time, and are perfect for indirect cooking (more on this later). I’ve done everything from a Sunday roast to an 8kg turkey on mine. The pinwheel venting system is great for controlling heat, while the grill flaps make it easy to reload coals. Kettles are easy to clean and pretty hardy, although I once tripped over one and fell in a pool. It wasn’t the grill’s fault.

I also use a cooker based on the classic oil drum grill – mine comes from a firm local to me in south-east London called Drumbecue (from £199), which are available online and can be shipped anywhere in the UK. It has upper shelves that come in handy when you need to rest or mellow out your barbecue, and the key feature is that it allows you to add fuel without opening the lid. Remember, if you’re looking, you ain’t cooking. 2 Fuel the flames

Wherever possible, use sustainable lumpwood charcoal, such as that made by the Oxford Charcoal Company, ideally locally sourced: many charcoals come from overseas, which is decimating habitats. Plus local lumpwood isn’t coated in the flame-retardant chemicals that are used for long-distance transport.

Stay away from gas, despite all those claims that it makes barbecueing easy. Gas contains hydrocarbons, which release moisture, which makes it hard to get a proper sear. And, anyway, you have a perfectly good gas cooker indoors. Why not fire up some coals and use wood chunks to get a lovely, sweet note on your barbecue? That’s why we go outside. 4 Add fruit wood for flavour

Cooking over fruit woods adds sweet, smoky notes to your ’cue. My favourites are wild cherry, orange and sweet chestnut; I also like birch, ash and oak. Do not cook over pine or elderflower wood: they let off an acrid smoke that will taint the meat. For the more adventurous, you could even use wood to make your own fresh charcoal, to add more flavour: cook the wood down first, then grill over those fresh coals. 5 How to get those coals lit faster

Buy a chimney starter. This great bit of kit comprises a metal tube with a metal basket grill on the bottom for holding charcoal. Load it up, put a crumpled page of newspaper underneath and light – you’ll have hot coals inside five or six minutes. 6 Don’t cook meat from fridge-cold

Take meat out of the fridge at least half an hour to an hour beforehand. Steak, for instance, ought to be getting towards room temperature before hitting the grill; and the bigger the cut, the longer it should be out of the fridge. Meat is a muscle and needs to relax. This also means you’ll need less fuel, because you won’t be fighting a cold inside. 7 Handle the heat

About 90% of the time, I set up my grill in a half-and-half arrangement, with charcoal on one half of the base and none on the other. That way, I can colour food to the right char over the coals, then move it to the other side to finish off at a safe distance from the heat source. This guarantees the meat won’t burn on the outside before it’s cooked all the way through, and is known in the trade as direct and indirect cooking. When fats render, they cause flare-ups: small ones are OK, but if they get out of hand, it’s good to have an indirect side to move food to, so it doesn’t get immolated. Goof-proof cooking at it’s best – plus, you save on charcoal.