Your complete barbecue guide

Baby your grill, select the tastiest steaks, get easy grilling recipes and more

It’s time to get fired up for a new season of outdoor cooking. Follow our tips and tricks to maintain a happy grill, find great recipes and flavouring ideas and get savvy steak-buying advice.
Spring cleaning

Do a thorough safety check before christening a new barbecue or firing a steak on old faithful. Charcoal and gas varieties both need more than a quick wipe-down before using.

Charcoal barbecues

Clean-up for charcoal barbecues is minimal. Wash the kettle inside and out with warm soapy water, then follow these three easy steps:

  1. Clean food grate with a wire grill brush. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Brush grate with vegetable oil.
  2. Discard ashes from bottom of kettle. Fill with fresh charcoal just before using.
  3. Wash ash-catcher – it’s the small circular tray just below the kettle.
Gas grills

There are a variety of styles of gas grills, but the clean-up is basically the same:

  1. Replace propane hose if there are any cracks or holes.
  2. Clean burner tubes – insects love to nest inside them, which often leads to ignition problems. Remove knobs and screws from control panel, then lift off panel. Pull out tubes and insert a pipe cleaner or long stiff wire brush to free any blockages.
  3. Clean food grate with a wire grill brush. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Oil grate. Wash warming rack.
  4. Scrape up and discard accumulated “gunk” from bottom tray. Clean or replace grease catcher. Never line barbecue with foil; grease can get trapped in creases and become a fire hazard.
  5. Replace any broken briquettes.
  6. Wash lid and outside with warm soapy water. Never use oven cleaners outside or inside a barbecue. They’re packed with industrial chemicals that may remove paint and taint food during cooking.
General maintenance tips
Choosing a new grill

Experts have argued that there are no significant differences in taste between charcoal and gas – insisting that smoky barbecue flavour comes from juices that drip down and create smoke. So depending on your lifestyle, choose your grill accordingly:

• Traditionalists and insistent fire-pokers often prefer charcoal. It’s ideal for barbecue enthusiasts who love cooking in the great outdoors, experimenting with different charcoal and even wood. Kettle-style grills are the most popular.
• Gas grills appeal to time-pressed cooks and entertaining aficionados. They provide instant convenience and often have a larger grilling surface as well as side burners. Higher end gas grills even come with rotisseries and built-in smokers.
Tools of the trade

Now that you’re all fired up, here are some barbecue must-haves to ensure safe and successful grilling.

Wide metal spatulas Good for turning burgers and fish

Long-handled tongs Handy for turning chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks and veggies

Grill basket Perfect for grilling cut veggies and shrimp

Instant read thermometer A necessity for checking doneness of burgers and large roasts (both must be cooked to 160F/70C)

Sturdy brush Essential for basting and brushing on marinades and sauces

Long mitts and apron Vital for reaching over a hot grill and protection from saucy splashes

Water spritz-bottle Ideal for putting out sudden flare-ups

Chimney starter No-fail solution for firing up charcoal barbecues

Supermarket vs. butcher steaks & steakcuts

Craving a juicy barbecued steak? Choosing the best one for the grill can be a daunting experience if you don’t know what you’re looking for or where to go. There are a wide variety of steaks on the market and all differ in price, taste and tenderness. And then there’s the lingo – supermarkets and butchers differ slightly in what they call a steak.

Supermarket savvy A few years ago, a government-approved naming system for beef cuts was designed to make identifying different cuts easier for the consumer. So at the supermarket, you’ll find packaged steaks labeled with the cut of meat followed by the appropriate cooking method. Steaks are divided into three categories: grilling steaks, marinating steaks and simmering steaks. For barbecuing, choose grilling or marinating steaks.

Butcher smarts The major difference when shopping at the butcher is that the steak name will not include a cooking method. For example, a steak labeled “rib eye grilling steak” from the grocery store will be called a “rib eye” at the butcher. Butchers mainly carry grilling and marinating steaks during barbecue season. They will also cater to your personal needs – cut an extra-thick strip loin and answer any questions about differences in cattle breeds. Some even dispense valuable grilling tips or their favourite recipe!

Steak cuts Depending on the cut, some steaks are naturally tender while others need marinating. Both can be delicious and it’s fun to experiment with different tastes and textures. Whether you take a trip to the grocer or butcher, here’s what to look for:

Grilling steaks These require no marinating but can benefit from spice rubs or sauces for a different taste. The most flavourful, tender and juicy steaks are “marbled” with thin veins of ivory-coloured fat evenly running throughout the meat.

Marinating steaks These are usually less expensive than grilling steaks and not as naturally tender. Marinating helps tenderize the meat and gives a flavour boost, too.

Steak cut Profile
• Small, round, incredibly tender steaks
• Also available as filet mignons, tournedos and Chateaubriand
• No bones and little fat
• Mild flavour and expensive
Rib eye
• Steak version of a prime rib roast
• Choose large thick steaks, at least 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick
• Cut from centre of short loin
• Has T-shaped bone separating small tenderloin section from larger top loin
• The most flavourful steak; meat closest to the bone is extra tasty
• Similar to T-bone but with a larger portion of tenderloin
• Not as common in grocery stores but often the butcher’s top pick
• Good value for money – you get both the T-bone and rib eye
Strip loin
• Butchers also call this New York strip
• A very tender cut – it’s what left when the tenderloin is “stripped” from the loin
• Generally cut to 2 1/2-inches (6.5-cm) thick
Top sirloin
• Enormous steaks – good for feeding a crowd
• Tender enough not to require marinating and incredibly flavourful
• Taken from an area between the loin and sirloin (the hip)
• Least expensive of the tender cuts and best value for money
Flank steak
• Thin flat muscle that runs along the underbelly
• Best cooked to medium-rare and sliced across the grain
• Benefits from a few hours or overnight marinating
Eye of round
• Looks like a big tenderloin steak, but has more flavour
• Often sold crusted with peppercorns and herbs
Inside and outside round
• Large steaks – good for sharing
• Better flavour and texture if marinated overnight
Get grilling! cooking tips

From cooking tips to delicious rubs, find out everything you need to know about grilling your favourite meats and veggies. Plus, get quick pointers on skewers, marinades, bastes and rubs.

» Meats
5 easy grilling recipes

Summer’s in the air, and that means it’s time to move from the dining room to the deck for relaxed outdoor meals. Choose a grilling recipe with a twist to serve as the focal point of your menu. All of these recipes are easy to prepare and have been triple-tested in the Chatelaine Test Kitchen.

Easy grilling

65 barbecue classics

Try our tasty twists on barbecue classics, plus starters and desserts that complement. All of these triple-tested recipes take 30 minutes or less to prepare, leaving you extra time on the patio with your guests.

· Marinated feta with herbed olives (refrigerate overnight)


Beef, pork & lamb
· Juicy Greek lamb chops (marinate overnight)

Chicken & fish
· Grilled tequila salmon (marinate one to four hours)
· Coriander fish kabobs (marinate four hours)




Pasta tosses

Potato salads

Tomato salads

Bean salads

· Citrus frozen yogurt (freeze two hours)
· Aunt Dianne’s rhubarb pie (bake one hour)
· Southern honey-lime fruit salad (marinate one hour)


Chicken, skinless, boneless
Preparation Trim any fat. Marinate or brush with oil or salad dressing.
Temp/time med , covered, 6 to 8 min. per side.
Chicken must be cooked to 170F (77C).
Flavour perks Serve with grilled fruit, salsa or chutney.

Chicken, skin-on, bone-in
Preparation To prevent flare-ups, trim fat. Can partially cook in microwave.
Temp/time med-low , covered, 15 to 25 min. per side. Turn often.
Chicken must be cooked to 170F (77C).
Flavour perks Marinate in juice and herbs or tandoori paste and yogurt. Rub with oil and spices.

Preparation Use regular or medium ground beef or pork. Mix gently to avoid tough burgers.
Temp/time med , covered, 5 to 8 min. per side for 3/4-inch (2-cm) thick.
Burgers must be cooked to 160F (71C).
Flavour perks Mix in drained salsa and cheddar cheese. Top with sour cream, avocado, lime pickle or relish.

Preparation Bring to room temperature. Trim fat. Nick edges.
Temp/time med-high to high , uncovered, 5 to 6 min. per side for 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick, medium-rare.
Flavour perks Rub with oil and garlic or pepper, Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce.

Lamb, chops
Preparation Trim fat. Nick edges.
Temp/time med-high , uncovered, 4 to 6 min. per side for medium-rare.
Flavour perks Rub with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, curry paste or sesame oil.

Pork, chops/steaks
Preparation Trim fat. Nick edges.
Temp/time med , covered, 6 to 8 min. per side.
Flavour perks Marinate in apple juice or white wine and herbs. Rub with vindaloo or biryani paste or salad dressing.

Fish, steaks/fillets
Preparation Use firm-fleshed fish such as salmon, catfish or halibut. Marinate no more than 30 min. Rub with oil.
Temp/time med-high , covered, 5 to 6 min. per side for 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick.
Flavour perks Rub with honey Dijon mustard, curry paste or hoisin sauce.

Preparation If frozen, rinse off ice with cold water. Shell. Devein. Pat dry. Oil. Thread on skewers or place in grill basket.
Temp/time med-high , uncovered, 4 to 6 min., turning partway through.
Flavour perks Rub with garlic butter, frozen orange juice concentrate, biryani paste or hot sauce.


Corn on the cob
Preparation Leave husks on but remove silk. Tie husks around corn. Soak in water.
Temp/time med , covered, 20 to 30 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Spread with butter mashed with garlic, cumin and chili powder.

Preparation Slice into 1/2-inch- (1-cm) thick rings.
Temp/time med , covered, 8 to 12 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Brush with olive oil or salad dressing. Sprinkle with thyme.

Preparation Seed and cut into quarters. Oil.
Temp/time med-high , uncovered, 6 to 8 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Baste with balsamic vinegar, dried basil and oregano.

Preparation Partially cook. Thickly slice potatoes. Thread small potatoes on skewers. Oil.
Temp/time med , covered, 10 to 16 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Brush with herbed butter, flavoured oil or curry paste.

Preparation Slice in half. Squeeze out seeds. Brush with oil or salad dressing.
Temp/time med , uncovered, 3 to 5 min. per side.
Flavour perks After turning, sprinkle with feta, goat or blue cheese.

Preparation Thickly slice lengthwise. Brush with oil and cumin, chili or curry paste.
Temp/time med , uncovered, 5 to 8 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Serve with pesto, garlic pickle or salsa.

Preparation Thickly slice. Oil.
Temp/time med , uncovered, 5 to 10 min. Turn often.
Flavour perks Baste with maple syrup or honey and rum.
Hot tips

Grilling times Times are guidelines only and vary with barbecues.
Skewer smarts To avoid burning wooden skewers, soak 20 min. in water. Cut food pieces the same size.
Indoor sizzle Preheat oven broiler. Place prepared food on broiler pan 4 inches (10 cm) from coils. Use barbecue times as a guide.
Saucy talk Smooth sauces work best as bastes. Sauces high in sugar burn easily. Brush on during the last few minutes.
Marinade magic To tenderize, marinades need an acid – vinegar, juice or wine. Discard marinade or boil 10 min.
Fast bastes and rubs Use bottled Indian and Asian sauces, salad dressings or spice mixes – steak seasoning, lemon pepper or curry or biryani pastes mixed with oil.
Easy mixed grill Oil and sprinkle a pork tenderloin with garlic and thyme. Grill 10 min., covered, on medium-high. Add sausages, eggplant, onion and pepper slices. Grill 15 min.

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