Summer is finally here which means it's time to chill out, relax and enjoy eating outdoors. The British don't get to BBQ as much as their American and Australian friends, but this doesn't mean you should skip on the equipment. It is worth investing in some quality kit, and there are various outdoor cookers on the market for you to choose from.
Our Top Cooking Tips
- If you're using coal, wait for the flames to die down. You want the coals white hot as this will give you a pretty hot even heat. Stack your coals more to one side so you can have a hot end and moderate end to keep your food warm but not burning.
- Use your hand over the grill (about 12 cm above, and please be careful!) to test the heat of your barbecue (6 seconds - Low Heat, 4 seconds - Medium Heat, 2 seconds - High Heat).
- Make sure you have enough work surface and the equipment you need to hand as a grill needs constant attention, especially if there are children nearby. Decide how you want to keep the raw meat separate from cooked, as this is the most common way of getting food poison. And remember, a delicious barbecue requires marinating the 24 hours before!
- Consider the fuel you use as it will affect the taste of your food. Avoid the petrol station emergency brickettes and opt for lump wood charcoal. If you're feeling professional, why not add wood chips which have been soaked in water for 30 mins and then wrapped in some perforated foil, this guarantees added favour depending on what you buy - hickory and applewood being the most popular.
Best Gas Barbecue - Char-Broil Performance 220B
Gas is a favourite for our U.S. and Australian counterparts, and many will claim the absence of wood or coal affects the taste, "It's just not the same!" However, gas is hassle-free and a cleaner cook, so if you are going for this option try the Char-Broil, an American brand known for its range of 'infrared' barbecues, meaning the thin corrugated panel of perforated metal that sits between the grill top and the gas burners is a favourite among BBQ aficionados. This entry-level two-burner model ensures even distribution and high meat-searing temperatures. The Performance 22B comes with ample cooking space, an electronic ignition, two fold-out shelves and a cupboard beneath for the gas bottle. For the price and the number of features, you can't go wrong installing this permanent feature in your back garden.
Best Charcoal Barbecue - Weber Master Touch
If you're like me, you grew up with a traditional charcoal barbecue. Many of us are familiar with the Weber brand, the most famous barbecue manufacturer in the world, as they are made from quality materials, and remain in good working order for years, even if you do leave them outside during the winter months. George Stephen invented the classic kettle-shaped design in 1951 and has remained integral to the core design ever since. The Master Touch, the latest model in the Weber range, comes with a 57cm plated steel grate. The best thing with a Weber is you can put the lid on and socialise and do other things, rather than hoover and manage the flames. Though for many Dads this might be the only reason why the barbecue! I have an older model, and it still cooks up a beautiful banquet for my friends and me, though I'm tempted to upgrade as the Master Touch allows you to remove the grate’s centre section and drop in a sear grate, pizza stone, dutch oven or poultry roaster. Buying this is a good solid purchase and a fantastic choice for any first-time barbecue owner.
Best Outdoor Oven - Morsø Forno Outdoor Oven
For a taste of Tuscany and pizza lovers out there, an Italian outdoor stone oven is a must for you. The Morsø Forno Outdoor Oven made from cast iron not only looks great, but it also provides much-needed warmth to your patio as the evening draws in. You can cook anything from stews, stone crust pizzas and your usual grilled food in this beauty and in half the time too.
If you use a Tuscan Grill you can also cook a variety of other things like vegetables and steaks with those tasty-looking burn marks. This type of outdoor oven is the exact thing to impress your in-laws.
Best Hi-Tech Barbecue - Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Fusion
For those who are a little bit more gadget orientated and love the science of cooking, and have the money to splash out on something a little more impressive, then the Everdure by the chef, Heston Blumenthal is a perfect choice for you. The sleek design makes it look as though its come out of a car showroom, but don't let the appearance fool you as it comes two unique features. Firstly, an electric ignition - one touch of a button and your charcoal will light up by large hob ring, and secondly, a built-in rotisserie for those huge joints of meat you want to cook, ideal for large parties. This technical piece of engineering by Fusion reaches the optimal temperature in just fifteen minutes, bear in mind though it does need an electric power supply to work.
We are excited about the prospect of cooking whole chickens and legs of lamb using the long rotisserie rods and mount, and it is pretty much our favourite feature of this barbecue. With the compact size and street cred that comes with buying this, these are the only reasons we would fork out the money as it comes with a hefty price tag.
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Love Omar x