Creating The Perfect Summer BBQ
Barbecues are the ideal opportunity to spend time with family and friends, giving us the chance to kick back and relax in the garden with some great food and a glass of something chilled. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the reality is often a little different. From sold-out supermarket shelves to barbecue burns, a lot can go wrong. But with a little forward planning, your event should go off without a hitch. With Father’s Day almost upon us, perhaps you’re planning an outdoor gathering very soon? Here we share our top tips for blissful barbecues this summer…
1. Shop in advance
When a hot weekend is forecast, the nation thinks ‘barbecue’ and heads for the supermarket. Don’t leave your shop until the last minute, because by Saturday morning you could find the shelves empty of barbecue essentials such as burger buns or charcoal. Shop well in advance to avoid a late panic, and to take advantage of the best offers before they sell out.
2. Marinate for extra flavour
Marinating meat or vegetables makes them extra tender, juicy and flavoursome. For a simple marinade, try olive oil, a dash of vinegar or lemon juice, honey, salt, crushed garlic and dried mixed herbs. Add chilli if you like to spice things up! Coat your meat in the marinade, cover, and leave it in the fridge overnight. Vegetables only need to be marinated for ten or fifteen minutes before cooking – leave them too long and they’ll go soggy. Try marinated peppers, mushrooms, aubergines, courgettes and cherry tomatoes for an amazing vege kebab.
3. Bring meat to room temperature before cooking
When you cook meat on a barbecue straight from the fridge, chances are it’ll scorch on the outside and stay raw inside. Aim to remove it from the fridge around an hour before cooking, making sure to keep it covered, especially if you have pets!
4. Light the barbecue at least half an hour before cooking
This is especially important if you’re cooking with charcoal. The coals should be grey and glowing before you start to cook. Flames might look impressive, but they will scorch food rather than cook it right through to a safe temperature. Even if you’re cooking with gas, light the barbecue around 15 minutes before starting to cook. This will allow the grill to warm up and burn off any fat or grease left behind from last time. It’s also important to oil the cooking griddles to prevent your food from sticking.
5. Choose the right tools and equipment
Sturdy tongs, spatula and flame-resistant mitts are a must for barbecue season. Cooking tools should be made of metal and wood – plastic is definitely best avoided. Wear an apron to protect clothes from sparks or spitting fat. Why not treat your Dad to our barbecue gift set so that he can man the barbecue like a pro? The spatula doubles as a bottle opener. Cheers!
6. Invest in a temperature probe
Temperature probes are available quite cheaply and could save your meat-eating guests from a dose of food poisoning. If you don’t have a probe, cut through chicken or pork before serving to check there’s no pinkness. And remember to respect any veggie guests by keeping their food well away from the carnivores’ feast.
7. Don’t forget the sides!
Side dishes such as home-made coleslaw and potato salad provide the delicious finishing touches to the perfect barbecue. These can be made the day before your gathering and stored in the fridge. You could also grill corn on the cob or halloumi cheese on the barbecue. But keep your menu fairly simple and don’t over-cater. Remember, this is supposed to be a chilled-out event, not a culinary marathon.
8. Have a back-up plan
As we all know, there’s nothing reliable about a British summer. If possible, barbecue under a canopy so that food will stay dry if showers threaten. During the pandemic we learnt that outdoor socialising can be enjoyable even if the weather is grey, so wrap up and attempt to make the best of it. But if all else fails, don’t be afraid to admit defeat and relocate inside. Don’t all the best parties end in the kitchen?
We hope you feel inspired to entertain friends and family this summer, whether you’re getting together for Father’s Day or any other celebration.