Croots Guide to Barbecue

Choosing Your Barbecue

Gas or charcoal, the debate goes on. Purists relish the low and slow approach to charcoal and the the smokey flavours imparted by the different types of wood. If it’s mostly weeknight burgers and sausages that you want, then the ease of gas might be more appealing. You won’t get the smoke flavour from the charcoal, but there are plenty other ways to add flavours to your Barbecue. Either way a lid is essential, as it helps lock in flavour and keeps the temperature constant.

Flavouring options from marinades and rubs to sauces and relishes, work equally well regardless of the fuel used. Which ever type of Barbecue you choose, a lid is essential. It helps lock in flavour and keeps the temperature constant.

Choosing Your Charcoal

Charcoal choice is important. Do not be tempted to rush off to the petrol station the moment those first rays of sun appear, unless you want your sausage to take of nasty chemicals. Lump charcoal is fast lighting with a burn time of around an hour, a good choice if you’re cooking a wide range of meat. Briquettes on the other hand can burn for up to three hours at a consistent temperature, making them ideal for grilling roasting joints. Charcoal can infuse different flavours into your meat depending on which tree it has come from.

The Oxford Charcoal Company’s Gourmet Charcoal is a high quality, ethically sourced, British charcoal. It’s a great all-rounder made of mixed hardwood species that imparts great flavours of its own or benefits from the addition of other types of wood chip. Ideal for classic BBQ fair – steaks, burgers, sausages, and chicken.

Be Patient!

All Barbecues need time to heat up. If you put the food straight onto a newly lit Barbecue it will only slow the cooking process down and your meat will dry out while the Barbecue gets up to temperature. Wait until charcoal has turned white before you start to cook on it.

Direct and Indirect Cooking

Tender thinner foods such as steaks, sausages, burgers, fish chicken and vegetables cook best with a direct blast of heat, so put on the grill directly over the coals or gas flame. This method encourages delicious, caramelised crusts to form on meats and tasty smoky charring on chicken, fish and vegetables.

Larger tougher foods that take longer to cook benefit from indirect cooking. For charcoal, push the coals to either side of the Barbecue and place a metal tray in the middle. Place the food above the tray and keep the lid on as much as possible to great a gentler more radiant heat. On a gas Barbecue, turn off the burners in the middle of the Barbecue and leave the outer ones on.


Smoking your foods is not as complex as it sounds. It is just another form of seasoning, where the food is cooked in an aromatic cloud of flavours. Wood chips from specific trees will impart different flavours which you can match with the foods that you are cooking.

It can be as simple as tossing water soaked wood chips onto hot coals or using a smokebox with holes to allow the smoke to escape and flavour the food.

Hot Smoked’s Maple Smoking Chips impart a mellow, medium smoke flavour with a slight sweetness which is ideal with white meats, fish and vegetables. For a more robust flavour to balance red meats Hot Smoked’s Hickory Chips are a must.

If you’ve ever wanted to try smoking, but are concerned that you need to buy lots of expensive ingredients and kit, then look no further than Hot Smoked’s Smoked & Spice Kit. With Alder and Whisky barrel chips, a Piri Piri spice mix and a metal smoke box it’s an affordable way to impress your family and friends with your new skills!

Top Tips

  • Do preheat the Barbecue. If the grates aren’t hot enough the food will stick and you won’t get the desired caramelisation from the grill marks.
  • Cleanliness id Everything. Left over “stuff” on your grates from last time will only act as a glue and cause your food to stick. Once the grill has preheated brush the grates with a stainless steel brush to get rind of any remnants, before you start cooking.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you have everything you ned ready before you start cooking. Prepare any sides, glazes and sauces. Assemble your tools and don’t forget platters for the cooked food. Avoid any distractions once you have stared cooking so you don’t overcook or burn your food.
  • Avoid fridge food. Meat cooks more evenly when at room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before cooking.
  • Create your heat zones. Direct and indirect heat zones are essential if you are cooking different types of food at the same time.
  • Don’t overcrowd the grill. Give yourself enough room to work and allow the food to cook evenly.
  • Use the lid. When the Barbecue lid id closed, the grates are hotter, the grilling time is faster and the flavours are stronger.
  • Leave it alone! Do not fiddle with the food if you want a beautifully seared and caramelised crust on your steak. In most cases, you should only need to turn food once or twice.
  • Don’t Overcook. Barbecuing does not black, charred and dry offerings that are not pleasant to eat regardless of the amount of ketchup you smother it in. A Barbecue is just another (and arguably the earliest) method of cooking and you need to master the clues that indicate “doneness”. It might be the firmness of a steak when pressed or a prawn that has changed from grey to pink.
  • Don’t Undercook. Undercooked food is potentially more serious and great care should be taken to ensure that foods are cooked thoroughly. Due to the intense heat, Barbecued foods often look cooked on the outside, whilst inside. Food needs to be cooked properly so that it is safe and enjoyable to eat. Burgers should be cooked throughout and bacteria can get mixed into the mince. Chicken should be white, not pink with juices that run clear. Investing in a food thermometer or probe to check core temperatures is the easiest and safest way to check that the food is cooked.
  • Flavour, flavour flavour. There are so many ways of adding flavour to your food from rubs, marinades, smoking as part of the cooking process to relishes, sauces and dips to accompany the Barbecue. Don’t forget the sides too!

Other Products to Promote:

  • Stokes Sweet & Sticky BBQ Sauce. Tomato sauce with horseradish & maple. Use as a sauce, marinade or dip.
  • Mrs Darlington’s Barbecue Relish. A sweet, smokey and very moreish relish, perfect with any grilled meat.
  • Sauce Shop Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce. Made by one of our local suppliers in Nottingham. Known as Carolina Gold in the USA, this is a tangy mustard BBQ sauce with garlic and spices. Best friend of pulled pork and awesome on salad.
  • The General Texas Barbecue Seasoning. A Mexican inspired hot dust with added deep southern spices and chilli. Rub into meat or sprinkle over veggies. Great with beef, lamb and chicken or give a spice boost to your fajitas.
  • Feather Duster Spice Rub. Developed with one thing in mind, to maximise the flavour of our chicken with a sweet spicy boost and a little heat.
  • Dirty Barbie Espresso X Bourbon BBQ Sauce. A formidable BBQ sauce for beef & pork. Smear or paint on beef or pork for deep and maximum mouth appeal.
  • Spicentice Chimicurri Rub. Discover amazing Argentinean flavours with this award -winning spice blend. Chimichurri is a popular blend of spices to cook Argentinean food. Use this spice blend for grilled chicken, meat, fish and roasted vegetables.

Don’t forget we’ve also got fresh salad, homemade coleslaw and a range of breads including brioche burger buns, hot dog rools and pitta breads.

What to drink with your BBQ.


Barbecue the perfect steak and match with your favourite bold, fruity red such as our Argentine Gougenheim Malbec. For grilled chicken, try a rich, full flavoured white such as Pato Torrente Chardonnay or with barbecued fish go for something crisp and zesty like Rio Alta Sauvignon Blanc, both from Chile. For many the rose wine of Provence and the summer sun go hand in hand and our Soleil des Ales is not exception – juicy intense red berry fruits and a dry finish.

Beers & Cider

For many a beer is the go to barbecue drink and we have two terrific suggestions. Peak Ales Derbyshire Pale Ale is crisp and refreshing. Well hopped with Goldings for a smooth slightly sweet taste with a hint of spice. Shiny Lager, from the Brewery, from Little Eaton, is a small batch Pilsner style lager. It’s also gluten fee. Two Shires Mr Butler cider is a dry still cider from Langley Mill. A rich apple flavours and a dry

No-alcoholic Drinks

By brewing a blend of three gingers from Nigeria, Cochin and the Ivory Coast, Fever Tree have created an award-winning ginger beer that has been highly acclaimed. Not too sweet on the palate and with a deep, long-lasting ginger character. Belvoir’s Sparkling Elderflower Presse is made using our traditional family recipe blending hand-picked elderflowers with lemon juice and pure spring water for a delicately refreshing taste.

New for Summer 2023

Hedgerow Strawberry is a limited-edition, vodka-based product made by Sloemotion Distillery, Yorkshire in collaboration with Annabel’s Deliciously British Yorkshire Strawberries. As ever, the environment is a key aspect to the product, Annabel’s amazingly, delicious strawberries are grown only 30 miles from the Distillery, added to this they only use “wonky” fruit which might otherwise go to waste.

The product is 30% ABV, so lower in alcohol than most other gins or vodkas. It is also low in sugar, meaning it’s great served with a tonic, soda or lemonade mixer. It’s also equally good as an ingredient in a summer fruit punch.