With the summer hitting the UK right now, it’s time to dust off the barbecue. Whether you’re vegetarian, varied or really like meat, barbecue can hit each craving.
When planning a bbq, it’s not just what goes on the grill, but what goes on the table to accompany it. More than the relishes, mayo, bbq sauce, ketchup and mustard, it’s dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, savoury rice, and a vegetable crudite platter that go down well while waiting for the food to cook and to fill your plate! Drinks can range from a mere quench of thirst – iced water and fruit juice – to soft drinks like lemonade and cola, or iced tea, to alcohol of course, whatever you like. You can even be adventurous and mix up some cocktails: pina colada and mojito are popular and easy.
If carrying out a bbq for guests with varied nutritional needs – from those that love their vegetables to those that love their marinades to those that want their meat plain, look at the equipment. As an example, the much loved grill that you use every time could be dedicated to marinated meat if you so choose, and then using a disposable bbq for vegetarian foods and another bbq for plain meats…that is the best thing to consider for a big summer bbq with all your family and friends and gives the men a chance to compete about who wields the bbq fork best.
Vegetarian bbq food ideas:
Vegetarian burgers, sausages and quorn products are great alternatives to meat, with a satisfying taste.
Sweetcorn on the cob
Kebabs: pepper, chunks of onion
Un marinated meat ideas:
Chicken (drumsticks and thighs may take longer on the grill to cook through but they also burn less easily than wings. Though wings are a good little appetiser because they cook so quickly)
Marinated meat ideas:
Ribs (bbq or chinese sauce turn out excellently on the grill though you may want to put them on later in the cookout so that you can cover them over and steam them through to make the meat extra tender, call it the spitroast effect.)
Chicken: you can buy it already marinated or else prepare it a few hours-a day in advance, rubbing it with marinade and leaving it to sit in a bowl of marinade)
Chops: pork is popular for marinating, as is lamb though lamb can be more expensive currently.
Fish: one recipe recently learned is sea bass: stuffing it with chopped fennel and onion, lightly sprinkling it with white wine and seasoning it to taste then wrapping it in foil and laying it on the grill, 10 minutes for each side, produces an enviable fish dish.
Of course with your grill comes a warning: don’t leave it unattended. It’s fire, it burns and it destroys. Don’t try to enhance your coals with petrol/gasoline either…too many people end up in hospital that way. To keep a grill hot, if it’s a coal-based grill, the key is to heap up the coals, tuck in some firelighter cubes OR stripe some approved lighting fluid over it (personal recommendation is for firelighter cubes), light it and leave it usually for an hour, and until the coals are white. To test it you can carefully hold your hand over it, to gauge the heat. The best heat is when it’s so hot that you can’t even get close, then you can use a poker to spread it into an even bed, arrange the grill on top and start laying the meat. Arrange the meat so the areas with the best heat are reserved for the meats that need the most attention, such as chicken which has to be cooked through. Check it regularly, peel back the skin if it’s still on it to expose the white flesh underneath to the heat too, and to test if the chicken is cooked through, cut into it. If it’s raw it’ll be red or there’ll be blood. Otherwise, if it’s fine, it’ll be white. Use different utensils for raw meat than you do cooked meat, though if it gets a bit much, remember that the fire can sterilise tools so as not to contaminate meat.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful summer!