Nothing quite says summertime like an ice-cold drink and a perfectly cooked plate of barbecue food. Sure, anyone can throw a few things on the grill and call it a barbecue, but a little planning and a bit of skill can take your creations to the next level. With gardens increasingly used as an extra room, it makes sense to use it to its maximum efficiency with the ultimate barbecue. Not only does an outdoor kitchen create the perfect summer ambiance but it also lends itself well to a remarkable alfresco dining experience.
Whether your family and friends are fans of burgers, hot dogs or marinated chicken, it’s super easy to make sure that your food is the best every time. Simply follow these tips to impress your guests and make some memories with an incredible barbecue feast.
While the setting of your barbecue might not have any effect on the taste of your food, it will have an impact on the whole experience. Preparing your garden space and setting the scene is a critical step in making guests feel welcome, and it also gives them an indication that your food is something to desire! Work out how many people will attend and ensure that there are enough seating options for them. From benches and garden chairs to floor cushions and picnic rugs, there are plenty of ways to create space for everyone. If you have the barbecue toward the evening time, hang lights around and place candles on tables. Keep any clutter and toys out of the way and have a long playlist ready.
There is a lot said for cheap, disposable barbecues — they can come in handy when you’re on the beach or traveling, for example. But don’t make the mistake of using one at home! Invest in a decent barbecue grill, one that you can use time and time again. Before beginning, make sure that your grill surface is squeaky clean by using a grill brush. If using charcoal, light the barbecue well in advance before your estimated cooking time. Wait until the coals glow red with a powdery grey surface before you start cooking. Gas grills should be kept below 265°F (130°C) to prevent charring and produce a long-and-slow style of barbecue.
Everyone thinks that cooking the meat is the most important part of a barbecue when the truth is it’s all about the preparation. Celebrity grill master George Foreman uses a salty, sweet and sour marinade for his flank steak while poker star Chris Moneymaker uses Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce for his take on Memphis-style ribs when he hits the grill. The key thing to remember is that spending time preparing the meat means that the flavor will speak for itself later.
Cook burgers and steaks on high heat to sear the outside while keeping the middle juicy while sausages need a medium temperature and plenty of rotation. Cook chicken on medium heat to ensure that it cooks all the way through. Fish is a great addition to any barbecue but ensure that the fish you choose has robust flesh and is generously oiled and seasoned before putting it on the grill. That will ensure that it doesn’t fall apart as you cook it. You can cook more delicate types of fish in foil with a dash of stock and herbs to gently steam it.
A great barbecue always comes with plenty of sides! From corn on the cob and garden salads to vegetable kebabs and coleslaw, there should be plenty of colorful vegetables on the table to wow your guests. Ensure that salads have a beautiful dressing that complements the main dishes and adds a few jacket potatoes in foil to the grill for anyone who fancies a healthy dose of carbohydrates. Keep desserts simple and easy to eat, such as a cheesecake or a light gateau.
The only downside to cooking great barbecue food is that your friends and family will want you to do it all the time! Happy grilling!