Everyone loves a family BBQ — even the most famous family in the world. And, as we head into a summer in which we’re likely to be forced to BBQ with only the family already in our households, we’re willing to bet the royals are even more excited than the rest of us to fire up the grill. But what makes a BBQ a royal BBQ? How can you sprinkle a little more sovereignty onto your grill this summer — and make your mealtimes even more majestic?
We asked royal-warrant butcher Donald Russell what cuts it would suggest to customers who want to barbecue like a king; we discovered who eats what from the Queen’s former private chef; and we found the best tools for the job from the Royal Warrant Holders Association.
Firstly, find a suitably stately spot for your BBQ
The barbecuer-in-chief of the royal clan is Prince Philip, according to Queen Elizabeth’s former private chef, Darren McGrady. The patriarch is always keen to get behind the grill, but apparently appreciates that al fresco dining isn’t suited to every royal residence.
You won’t smell a barbecue at Buckingham Palace, for example — or see smoke curling up over Sandringham. Instead, the royals tend to gather around the grill at Balmoral Castle, the monarchy’s Scottish estate. And it makes sense; Aberdeenshire is known for its quality beef and, as McGrady reveals, Prince Philip enjoys cooking salmon caught in one of the three beats of the nearby River Dee.
Next up, know what meat the monarchy favours
So what chops, steaks and sausages do the royals grill on these Balmoral barbecues? We turned to royal warrant butcher Donald Russell to ask what cuts are worthy of king — and how the sovereignty stocks up for summer.
When it comes to steaks — Prince Philip is allegedly a particular fan of ducal-peppered Steak Diane — go for minute ribeyes or rumps and sirloin sandwich steaks. When choosing chops, opt for marinated pork chops or the decadent double-sided Barnsley lamb chop. Pork ribs are also a royal favourite, as are spiced lamb koftas — and, of course, the good old standbys of beef burgers and pork sausages.
Ensure your equipment meets exacting royal standards
Despite gas — and even electric barbecues — firing up a following, it should come as no surprise that the royals are traditionalists when it comes to cooking. “It cannot be denied,” says Eddie McDonald of Donald Russell, “that the aroma of a coal barbecue is the ultimate summertime smell — and adds a fantastic smoky flavour.”
Choose charcoal, then, to imitate the royals. And, even though the Duke of Edinburgh’s Balmoral grill was famously a barbecue of his own design, there are plenty of royal warrant holders from whom you can buy aristocracy-approved cooking equipment.
So why not start with a barbecue from John Lewis, which has long held a warrant for supplying household goods to the monarchy’s many residences? Next tool up with Asprey — which has held its own warrant for silversmithing since 1982.
Once the coals are hot, grill as the monarchy does
“For the steaks,” says McDonald, “take them out of the fridge and packaging for a minimum of 20 minutes to come up to room temperature and to bloom — a chef’s term for taking the air, regaining colour and delivering a better depth of flavour. Brush over with rosemary or garlic infused oil for some extra flavour, sear well to build the caramelisation, then cook for a couple of minutes on each side, depending on the thickness and cooking preference. And, perhaps most importantly, rest well.”
For the burgers, Donald Russell recommends making a dent in the centre with your thumb before cooking them — to keep them nice and flat. And, if you’ve got a guest list of royal proportions, initially cook your sausages, ribs and koftas in the oven — before giving a majestic, fiery show when you finish them off on the grill.
And that, in a haze of heady marinades, tasty smells and sausage-y smoke, is that. Follow these royal-warranted tips and you’ll soon be crowned king of your very own BBq. Long live the grill.
Looking to sear your steak a different way? Here’s how to properly season a cast iron skillet…
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