With the weather warming up, restrictions lifting, and a few bank holidays on the horizon, there’s probably only one thing on many people’s minds: barbecues. And lots of them.
At the slightest hint of sunshine in the UK, supermarket aisles across the country are ransacked, leaving barely a sausage or burger behind. The sun comes out, and we hastily whip off the barbecue cover, haphazardly throwing enough food on it to feed the entire street.
But aren’t we doing the great British BBQ a serious injustice by only sticking to the standard fare of sausages and burgers? Or by taking one of the most difficult culinary techniques and expecting to perfect it and create something delicious with just a few attempts each year?
In reality, the barbecue has so much more to offer — all year-round.
Mixing it up
Instead of always sticking to the classic ‘go-to’ barbeque dishes, why not venture out and get creative? Beef ribs are a meat-lover’s heaven and a regular feature at many summer garden parties. But smoking the ribs and making your own homemade rub and barbecue sauce will take them to the next level — leaving them irresistibly tasty and succulent.
Rotisserie quail with burnt chilli harissa sauce, teriyaki chicken with wasabi mayonnaise or butter bean and chorizo stew also pack a serious flavour punch. And slow-cooked lamb shoulder marinated in yoghurt and cumin is a real crowd-pleaser.
But although barbecues are often treated as an excuse for us all to turn into ravenous carnivores, the flames of a grill do magical things to plenty of other foods, too. So, there’s no reason why the meat-eaters should have all the fun!
Nothing tastes better than fresh fish straight from the grill. Add wood chips, and the barbecue transforms into the perfect tool for curing and smoking salmon. And if vegetables are more your thing, try marinated mushrooms with smoked Spanish butter, coal-baked potatoes or ember-grilled leeks with pink peppercorn butter.
Sides shouldn’t be an afterthought, either. Smoked camembert or blackened aubergine dip complete with grilled flatbreads for dipping can all be made on the BBQ. Even those with a sweet tooth aren’t left out. From pineapple upside-down cake to bacon chocolate brownies (yes, really!), barbecues are perfect for desserts, too.
In fact, master the BBQ and you can cook an entire three-course meal on it, come rain or shine!
Achieving grilling greatness
So, how can you perfect your grilling technique? They say a person is only as good as their tools, and when it comes to barbecues, Weber offers the best tools around.
Choosing which type of BBQ — coal or gas — to go for is a matter of personal preference. Most hardcore grillers will tell you coal is the only way to get that extra smoky flavour, but you can still use smoking techniques on gas. Plus, when friends stop by out of the blue after a long day of work, a gas barbecue will deliver a delicious result every time. But if you’re struggling to choose, why not opt for the best of both worlds with a combi-grill?
It’s also essential to light your BBQ in good time. (NOT with lighter fuel which taints the flavour — use newspaper or natural, eco-friendly firelighters such as wool or straw to ignite it instead.) Barbecuing takes patience and concentration; you want to cook over glowing embers, not flames, so wait for the fire to die down before you start cooking.
But the biggest thing people tend to get wrong with barbecuing is temperature control. A good way to test the heat is to (carefully!) use your hand. Hold your hand about 12 centimetres above the grill and see how long you can hold it there comfortably — six seconds for a low heat, four seconds for medium and two seconds for a high heat.
These tips are just the basics required for a successful BBQ, but there are plenty of other techniques to learn before you can master it. And believe us, once you’ve nailed the techniques and discovered what your barbecue can really do, it’ll be hard to return to the kitchen full-time!
Ready to become a grill master? Book onto one of our Weber Grill Academy courses today.