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13 barbecue hacks to make your BBQ the best

Whether you have a penchant for burning sausages on the outside but keeping them raw in the middle, or you have a habit of losing your meat between the grill's gaps, we've got a list of tips to help you become a BBQ expert this summer.

All you need to do is follow our advice, and your other half, kids, in-laws and plenty more will be mightily impressed by your efforts and newfound skills...

1. Plan! Plan! Plan!

This is the biggest question of the day: which way do you want to cook? Deciding on your fuel is paramount.

Charcoal and gas are the two most popular, with the latter providing a cleaner cook and emitting less carbon monoxide.

That said, many people prefer the smokier and wholesome flavours of a charcoal barbecue.

2. Ramp up the temperature

Preheat your grill early doors. Around 15 to 25 minutes before cooking usually suffices, allowing the grill to reach the right temperature.

A guide to heat: 200 degrees celsius is high, 180 is medium and around 160 is low.

3. Tongs - not one pair, but two!

Two types of tongs are essential: one set with grips for turning the food, and another with insulated handles to allow easy handling and turning of the coals underneath. This way, your food won't get dusty with coal - and the food's juices won't fall below and make the fire flare up and catch your apron alight!

4. Timing the cooking...

Every man's downfall. Lighting a fire anywhere from 1 hour to half an hour before you start cooking is plenty of time, but it's hard to know just when the coals are ready. Generally, if they are red hot with no smoke, you are good to go. In contrast, a charcoal fire should be grey and ashy.

5. Oil!

Olive oil may be in short supply this summer, but you desperately need something to rub on the grill before you place your meat on there for searing. Try anything - linseed oil, flax seed, grapeseed - but make sure you use a tissue or cloth to soak it up before spreading it evenly across the grill. It will really add to the flavour.

6. Herbs are a man's best friend

Likewise, do NOT be turned off by herbs. They will add to any standard supermarket sausage or burger - whether it's rosemary, cumin, thyme or sage. It will allow your guests to really appreciate the smell of the food they are about to enjoy, too!

7. Worried about sticking?

Sadly, some meats have a penchant for sticking to grills. With this in mind, spray it beforehand with some liquid to add to its texture and make it easier to lift from the barbecue itself.

Apple juice works great for burgers, while lemon or lime can be used on fish.

8. Checking the food is done...

The most efficient way to know if things like steak, burgers and sausages are fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. We are guessing you don't own one, though.

In that case, here's a general rule:

- raw is the flesh of your hand below the thumb.

- medium-rare is your middle finger lightly to your thumb and pinch it.

- medium is touch your ring finger to your thumb.

- well-done is touch your pinkie and thumb together.

9. A makeshift oven

If - like everybody hosting a barbecue - you've cooked too much, don't fear. Simply use two foil containers and tape them together with the food in the middle. The foil will keep them insulated outside, rather than them losing heat on a plate in the middle of the table!

10. Cater for veggies!

Barbecues may be heaven on Earth for meat-eaters, but there is plenty else to enjoy. Grill some corn on the cob or Halloumi for vegetarians, and give them first choices on potatoes, salads and breads beforehand. Make them feel part of the spectacle.

11. Don't serve straight away

Stand the meat after it has been cooked to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat itself. This will allow an easier carving or cutting when you come to it, and it also allows extra flavour to be captured within the meat.

12. Control the flames

Flare-ups are too common in the barbecue world, with fat dripping onto the coals below and catching fire. This is easily taken care of. Simply trim excess fat - and remove skin - from meat, especially beef and chicken.

13. Keep warm
Just because the weather isn't raining, it doesn't mean that everybody wants to sit outside and eat. Invest in some lamps to keep your guests warm, or alternatively, give them some blankets on arrival and allow them to feel at home.

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