This weekend is August bank holiday and this means we're praying for sunshine so we can get out the BBQ, spend the day outside and enjoy that extra day out of work! And to help us make the most of any sunny moment we've enlisted the help of Reggae Reggae sauce founder and all round BBQ expert, Levi Roots.
Here's are Levi's top tips for making the most of your bank holiday barbie.
1. try something different for vegetarians
According to Levi, there's one specific vegetarian product which will help your barbecue stand out from the crowd - plantain.
"Plantain used to be something that people would have at the carnival once a year. But now it's in supermarkets too. You can barbecue it, cook it, fry it or boil it. Or put it in Reggae Reggae Sauce - that’s one of my go-to dishes. It’s a fantastic vegetarian option."
2. Invest in some good charcoal
Getting the coal right will help give off that distinctive barbecue taste and help 'determine the flavour you get' too, Levi says.
"Find out what coal is available and not just the normal coal which you get at the petrol stations," he said. "You could try wood shavings. If you go for sweet wood or pimento wood it gives the meat a really smart flavour. It will really give your barbecue a zing."
3. use smaller pieces of meat
Nobody wants to wait around for their food. Especially in the UK when it's sunshine and blue skies one minute and dark clouds the next.
Levi says, "If you have bigger cuts of meat it takes longer to cook so choose the parts of the meat like chicken wings, which take just minutes. Legs and thighs are another important and really tasty parts of the chicken. The breast can take longer to cook."
4. no need for hours of marinating
With Levi's new range of Coat 'n Cook marinades, no prep is needed. He said: "Sometimes when you get home, you want something which is quick and really gives you the same flavour as if you were cooking something for 2-3 hours. You don’t sacrifice any flavour." Simply pour over your desired meat, whether it's chicken, fish or ribs, and get cooking!
5. you have to try some rice and peas
"It’s such a staple which goes with everything," Levi said. "Curry goat, jerk chicken or oxtail or whatever it is you're doing. Rice and peas is always on the backburner. If nothing else tastes good, rice and peas is always there!"
You can make them by frying an onion, then adding rice, water and coconut milk before bringing to the boil. Then add kidney beans and seasoning and cook until soft. Easy peasy.
6. Invest in some sturdy utensils
You need some proper BBQ tools if you're going to have a successful cooking experience. Levi says, "Some safe, long tongs are one thing that people should invest in. People will always have a nice barbecue but they will always have the wrong utensils to use on it. You gotta get one of these really long ones. You don't want to get burnt."
7. keep basting throughout the cooking process
Want to know how the top chefs keep their meat oh-so-tasty and juicy? Baste the meat while it cooks. Levi says, "It’s a good idea to marinate and keep the flavours going by basting and adding back the flavours."
8. try a banana for dessert
Barbecues aren't just about all the glorious meats and delectable sides. Some desserts also work on the grill. Levi said: "I also love to do fruits on the barbecue, like ripe bananas. You just have to put a ripe banana on the barbecue, flavour it with some rum, butter and nutmeg and some vanilla. It tastes absolutely fantastic with clotted cream."