There is nothing like enjoying the great British summer with your family and friends all gathered around for a bit of alfresco dining. From the food to the tools, we have you covered with some handy tips to get the barbie started and help you throw the ultimate summer party.
The grill is the heart of any barbecue. While many backyard chefs have a preference between gas and charcoal, if you are starting from scratch there are a few factors to take onboard before making the decision.
If you are looking for a more convenient cooker, gas barbeques offer the perfect fire at just the flick of a switch and enable you to start sizzling straightaway. The other great advantage is that temperature can be changed with great precision ensuring fewer burnt bangers.
The alternative, a charcoal barbeque, is a more traditional method. The charcoal gives the food an authentic smoky chargrilled taste however they require patience (at least 40 minutes) for the initial flames to die down, giving you the whitened cinders essential for your first fry.
Pizza ovens are also becoming a huge hit and a perfect addition to your BBQ. It’s an easy addition to impress your garden gang, as an added side or as a starter – because no one can resist homemade pizza or garlic bread!
Whichever you choose, make sure you stock up on plenty of fuel before your outdoor gathering, so you don’t get caught short – and make sure the little ones are looked after and kept away from the hot surfaces!
A chef is only as good as his tools, so invest in a decent set of grilling utensils that will last you for years to come. Essentials include; a stainless-steel spatula, tongs and a grilling fork that can stand up to the heat – and don’t forget the apron and oven gloves!
It’s also vital that there are outdoor worksurfaces for both prepping the food as well as an area for keeping the food warm once it has been cooked. You don’t have to spend a fortune getting your cooking station prepared, a couple of fold out tables makes an instant countertop.
The Main Event
This is the fun part, because it’s the focus of the entire day where you can set your culinary prowess shine.
We would recommend keeping it simple and opting for a small number of dishes (that are done well), rather than an array of options for your guests.
Meat is often the preferred choice such as, burgers, sausages or chicken skewers, however seafood such as salmon, prawns and tuna steaks are also popular choices on the barbie. For any vegetarian or vegan guests, make sure there are some meat-free options available, as well as an area for grilling these separately.
More often than not a good marinade can take the BBQ experience to the next level – not only does it add flavour, but it also tenderises. The rule of thumb with marinating is the earlier the better, so it is best to prep this the night before for the best results - and it also takes away the hassle on the day.
Don’t skip the sides – these usually make up two-thirds of what you and your guests eat. Classic dishes include potato salad, corn on the cob and coleslaw along with a salad which can all be prepared the day before. Flatbreads also make a great addition to mop up the sauces.
Make it simple and let your guests customise their burgers and meat with a range of toppings, including an array of condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard along with a few surprise ingredients like guacamole, bacon bits and hummus – and don’t forget the cheese!
No BBQ is complete without the drinks on ice. Make sure you have plenty in sock, including non-alcoholic drinks so everyone can stay hydrated and the party can carry on flowing.
As well as beer and wine, pitchers are great for large groups and takes the hassle of creating lots of individual drinks for guests. Fruit punches and Pimms are ideal for a summer cookout and for the little ones or those wanting to avoid a drink a mocktail or a jug of homemade lemonade are always a hit.
The Set Up
If there are quite a few guests attending, a buffet style option may be best, however it is vital that there is an inclusive space for your guests to gather and enjoy the feast – think plenty of chairs, cushions and benches.
Alongside seating, make sure you hit the right note at your barbie with a fun summer playlist. Create a playlist before your guests arrive which includes a mix of upbeat classics alongside some relaxed tunes for when the party starts to die down.
And don’t forget the citronella candles or lamps to prevent the pesky bugs from crashing the party!