Grill gear for better barbecues

Grill gear for better barbecues

Enjoy summer dining in your garden by getting the right barbecue grill, says Lynnette Peck. From recipe ideas to charcoal choices, here’s her guide to hosting a brilliant barbecue.

A well-hosted barbecue is one of the joys of a British summer and as soon as a peek of sunshine appears we are all barbecue tongs a-go-go. We seem to become a nation of cavemen/women where barbies are concerned and I personally can discuss the merits of a vegetable kebab on a stick versus a big chunky steak until, well the cows literally come home…

Alfresco adventures

Alfresco dining, despite our unpredictable weather, is on the increase and as gardens, terraces and balconies become extensions of our homes these spaces are priority entertaining areas. A survey of 1,000 UK adults by alfresia.co.uk (garden products e-tailer) found that having a ‘BBQ and outdoor cooking area’ was a dream garden feature for 23% of its respondents.

Make it your barbecue

Jules May-Brown, a producer for The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and an avid barbecuer says: “Make sure for the first barbecue of the season, you do the meat cooking and let the male of the house (if there is one) look after the salads, buns, potatoes, desserts, napkins, sauces etc. Then you will never be taken for granted at future barbecues whilst they posture about, graciously receiving thanks for ‘all their hard work’.”

Get the right grill

With the right equipment, something that could be just a one-off cooking event for a party can be turned into a regular dining pleasure. Looking at it that way (if you think of May-October as barbecue season), the amount you spend on the right barbecue might not seem so pricey.

  • The charcoal choice – Professional chefs will opt for charcoal and the cool at-home charcoal barbecue to buy this season is the Lotus Grill from cuckooland.com. It uses a built-in, battery-powered fan and claims to be ready to use in under four minutes and with no smoke to deal with. The prestigious charcoal barbecue to buy is the Big Green Egg. It’s pricey (£400-4k) but it grills, bakes, smokes and sears all on one load of charcoal.
  • Going with gas– I am a gas girl, I like the speed, efficiency and control of gas. The Weber Q 1200 is my baby of choice as it is small, portable, has a built-in thermometer and is big enough for six pieces of food. Plus it comes in various fetching bright colours (important if you enjoy colour coordinating your garden as I do).
  • Hot grills– Trends to look out for in 2016 are coloured ceramic barbecues, pit barrel barbecue and smoker grills (very popular in the States) and if barbecuing fails you, the biggest cooking trend is a large pizza oven in your garden…

Quick barbecue eats

For something a little different to the usual burger in a bun, here are my five favourites.

  1. Steak wrapped in grilled asparagus and melted gruyere cheese.
  2. Grilled Cornish mackerel with yoghurt mustard dressing.
  3. Southern-style chicken with brown sugar and garlic.
  4. Hummus and chargrilled vegetable wrap.
  5. Moroccan chickpea burgers with halloumi slices.

Finishing touches

You’re dining alfresco, so why not make it into an occasion?

  • Make your barbecue stand out from the crowd with a menu. The website ijustloveit.co.uk has some neat ideas from a personalised BBQ King menu board to condiment crayons and engraved guitar salad servers.
  • Wrap your cutlery in white napkins with red and white ribbons and pop them in a silver bucket.
  • Forget paper cups, the trend this year is old mason jars to drink from.
  • Pop some flowers from the garden on the table in different shaped containers (jam jars, old paint pots etc).
  • Get an old wheelbarrow and fill it with ice to put your drinks in (prop it on bricks to ensure it doesn’t fly down the garden).
  • Short on seats? Source some hay bales and cover them in old pieces of fabric or put old sheets and duvets on the lawn for people to sit on.

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leo01 19/09/2016

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