Ultimate Guide to BBQ Equipment
First tip – click BBQ tongs twice to make sure they’re working properly.
That unmistakable BBQ smell, floating between back gardens on balmy air, is the only confirmation we need that summer has officially arrived. Some will argue that there’s nothing quite like the taste of barbequed food, impossible to replicate in the oven. And we’d be inclined to agree. But if you’re new to grilling, or just looking for some advice as the weather warms up, you’re in the right place…
Where did the barbeque come from?
It’s a bit tricky to nail down one point in history in which an outdoor grill is used for the first time. It’s understood that when 16th-century Spanish conquistadors reached the Caribbean, natives were cooking cuts of meat over shallow fire pits. Pit cooking certainly won’t have been new at this point, but it’s thought to be the birth site of the term barbacoa, which gave us the word barbeque in the following century.
Different kinds of BBQ
Charcoal versus gas…. it’s a hot topic. Some are very passionate about which grill cooks the best banger. However, as with most things, there are pros and cons for both. To help you make your mind up, and get all the facts straight, this is how they stack up.
Gas BBQ pros
- Little setup required and easy to use
- You can choose and set the exact heat
- Consistent heat that doesn’t require tending to
Charcoal BBQ pros
- It burns hotter than gas
- They lock in a smokier taste
- Indirect grilling lets you cook some things slowly
- If the lid’s open, you lose a lot of heat
- Lack of an even blanket of heat
- Little typical smoky BBQ taste
Charcoal BBQ downsides
- Takes longer to set up and get going
- You can’t control the exact heat
- Often features a smaller cooking area
How to set up and light a charcoal BBQ
Is there anything more frustrating than having your heart set on a tasty BBQ, only for the heat not to spread evenly, leaving you with a smoky, lukewarm mess? If you’re using a gas barbie, you can skip over this, but charcoal BBQ-ers, listen in…
- First things first, what do you need to host a BBQ? Providing you’ve already got the actual BBQ, you will also need some tools – some tongs, a spatula, and something to move coals around. Some quality charcoal , natural firelighters, and a good box of long-stem matches.
- Make sure you’re in the right environment. You’re outdoors, you’ve got plenty of space, and the neighbours have taken their washing in.
- Shop for some decent charcoal, they come in lots of variations. Cheap sacks might sound like a good idea at the time, but they often burn quicker, don’t get as hot, and could give your food an unpleasant taste.
- Crumple newspaper into tight balls, and arrange your charcoal in a pile on top of, and around, them. If you want some extra heat to get things started, consider some natural firelighters, like wood shavings. Again, put them under the coals.
- Light the paper and shavings with a long-stem match, and let them get your coals nice and hot. When the flames disappear, and your briquettes turn white, it’s time to start grilling. If you find that your coals are cooling before you’re ready to finish up, add some more coals to one side, and let them gradually heat before mixing in.
Best BBQ food ideas
Far be it from us to tell you what you should be putting on the grill this weekend, but if you’re looking for a few ideas, here are our favourites – with some top tips to boot.
- Burgers – an absolute BBQ staple. Remove them from the fridge and let them come to room temperature before you stick them on the grill. When they’re on there, flip them just once, as constant turning will dry them out. For a medium finish, give them about two minutes per side. If you’re doing cheeseburgers, let your cheese of choice sit on top for the last two minutes, while the burger’s still on the grill.
- Sausages – it isn’t a British BBQ without a few bangers. For best results, you’ve got to be delicate with sausages. Put them somewhere on the grill that isn’t receiving direct heat, and leave them to sizzle away for about eight minutes. Flip and repeat.
- Chicken – kebabs, skewers, thighs, breasts, drumsticks. There’s a lot to consider when cooking chicken on the barbie, but the number one rule is this… make sure it’s cooked all the way through before serving. That means no pink bits when you cut into it. Allow all your flames to die down before cooking any chicken, as you’ll just end up burning the skin, and not cooking the middle. If you’re doing kebabs, think about adding the likes of colourful peppers, red onion, tomatoes, halloumi or courgette.
- Steak – you can’t go wrong with a good cut of steak on the grill. It can be served rare, medium, or well done, and it’s tasty every time. One of our favourite BBQ steak accompaniments is a Brazilian flour called cassava. Dip your steak in this after it’s cooked and rested for a bit, and thank us later.
- Garlic bread – yes you read that right. Grab a supermarket baguette (or make your own, with some garlic butter), and wrap it up in kitchen foil so it looks a bit like a Christmas cracker. Stick in on a cooler part of the grill and turn occasionally.
- Halloumi – the squeakiest cheese there is. For newbies, halloumi is a delicious Cypriot cheese that doesn’t melt on the BBQ, making it a brilliant meat substitute. For best results, rub a bit of olive oil on each side to stop it sticking, and heat gently for two or three minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Onion – what’s a good burger without some sweet white onion? To soften and cook a whole onion on the grill, peel and quarter, and wrap it up in foil.
- Corn on the cob – an undeniable barbie classic. Make it extra special by muddling together some butter, honey, garlic and salt and pepper, slather it all over your corn, and double-wrap each one in foil. Chuck it on the grill for about 30 mins, and enjoy.
Also a missed opportunity would be to discuss what to pair your meats with…rice salads and corselaw!
Already looking up the weather this weekend? We don’t blame you. Happy grilling, and for more recipes and product guides, check out our blog.