Josh Katz’s barbecue dos and don’ts

By Ella Walker. Published 2020-05-05
BOLD-Food
The Berber & Q cookbook author knows a thing or two about cooking with fire.

If you’re in need of some barbecue related advice, Josh Katz is your man.

Chef and founder of London restaurant and Middle Eastern barbecue joint Berber & Q, he’s a pro when it comes to everything to do with grilling. So, if you’re looking to up your barbecue game this weekend, consider following his expert guidance…

DO

Keep a clear head. Barbecuing doesn’t need to be as intimidating or scary as people can find it. There’s a perception that cooking over fire or barbecuing is quite a terrifying thing, when actually it’s just like any hobby, you just have to get started and get going.

Get to know your barbecue. Master indirect cooking over coal, using the lid and turning your barbecue into an oven, learn how the fire works and how to control the vents – it just opens up a whole world of things you can suddenly do.

Wait until the fire pares back. People are quite impatient – but if you don’t wait, your meat will be singed on the outside and raw in the middle; you’ve got to be patient.

Learn to cook low and slow. It’s a really great skill to learn. The low and slow smoking of large joints takes much longer, so you’ve got to tend to a fire and maintain the temperature of your barbecue over an extended period of time.

Focus on the basics. You can make amazing food by doing things simply and doing things right, with less complexity, less fuss, with the right quality and provenance of ingredients. If it’s a bit rough around the edges, that doesn’t detract from my experience of it on the plate.

DON’T

Always cook the same things. People think sausages, hamburgers and chicken wings – and it doesn’t have to be that. You can get out there and do things that aren’t necessarily complicated but aren’t one of those three items.

Chase perfection. Life’s exhausting enough; just be ok with imperfections. I like burning stuff, and it’s alright if the bread’s a little bit burnt around the edge, it adds a flavour profile – obviously, if it’s completely singed, that’s a problem.

Don’t be constrained or constricted by the parameters of a recipe. A lot of my favourite recipes have been discovered when I didn’t have something that I needed, and what I replaced it with turned out better than what I was intending to use.

Don’t grill everything simultaneously. There’s a perception that you have to grill everything at the same time, and you squash it all into one little place. Instead, work out what takes the longest to cook and demarcate zones. There’s normally enough room to have an area without coals to keep stuff warm over. With different zones you can quickly get to a point where barbecuing is nowhere near as stressful.

Berber & Q by Josh Katz, photography by James Murphy, is published by Ebury Press, priced £25.