On average, the UK experiences 1493 hours of sun a year. And following the last few weeks of rain, we’re due some glorious warm days which will enable us to unwind with friends and family – and enjoy a BBQ.
But, if you’re one of the hundreds who failed to properly clean your BBQ last summer, you’ll no doubt be rushing about looking for a replacement. How do you make sure you get the perfect one for your summer needs? Simply, follow the advice outlined below.
Charcoal vs. Gas:
When it comes to BBQ-ing you’re likely to find yourself either on the side of charcoal or gas. Which often leads to many debates (and that’s just in the BuySpares office) – but in the interest of fairness, we shall (try to) remain impartial.
Charcoal is the traditional method of barbecuing, and by opting for this method you will be greeted with a unique flavour of your food – which cannot be replicated by any other method – and succulent meat, as the juices are locked in due to the time it takes to cook.
However, cooking via charcoal does bring about a few downsides with time being the main one. Unfortunately, before you can begin cooking on charcoal you’ll need them to turn white and reach their optimum temperature – and to achieve this, you’ll need to light them at least 40 minutes before you wish to start cooking.
If the idea of succulent lamb chops and moist chicken kebabs which have a unique smoky flavour appeal to you and you opt for the charcoal BBQ, you’ll need to decide whether to go for lumpwood or briquettes. The latter will burn for longer, yet lumpwood will get hotter quicker and burn at a higher temperature.
With barbecuing being at the mercy of the British weather, the time it takes to cook is understandably a factor – which is why it is no surprise that gas BBQs are becoming more popular. Unlike their charcoal counterparts there’s no waiting around for them to get heat up, instead it’s turn them on and start cooking almost immediately.
Gas BBQs also enable you to control the temperature, helping you to cook a variety of dishes at once. However, you’re likely to find that such a BBQ is more expensive, heavier and doesn’t offer the flavouring charcoal BBQs can bring.
Cost, Size & Features:
Once you’ve decided whether to opt for a charcoal or gas BBQ, you’ll need to consider how much you want to spend, the size of the BBQ you’re after and what features you’re looking for. We’ve put these into one category as they are invariably interlinked.
The smaller and more basic your BBQ of choice, the cheaper it’ll be – but you’ll also be limited on what you can and cannot cook on it. Whereas the larger the BBQ and the more features it offers, the more expensive it’ll be.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re using the BBQ to cook for 2 to 4 people, you’ll be able to get away with a medium sized BBQ, whilst for 4 to 8 people it’s recommended to opt for a large one.
In regard to the features available from BBQs, you’ll need to consider:
- Grill Types – there are generally four different types available: chrome plated, stainless steel, cast iron, porcelain coated.
- Does it come with Warming Racks? – different foods take different times to cook. A warming rack is a small grill which as the name suggests keeps food warm without burning it.
- Is a Hood / Lid included? – having a lid / hood on your BBQ allows you to have a bit more control over the temperature, reducing the risk of the BBQ classic burnt on the outside, raw inside. A lid / hood also gives you the option to smoke food too.
- Has it got an Ash Collector / Fat Drip Trays? – these collect the ash / fat making the BBQ easier to clean.
Cooking on Your BBQ:
Before you can begin either, you first need to get your BBQ up to heat. For a gas BBQ, this is as simple as turning it on and lighting it. For a charcoal BBQ, as mentioned earlier in this post, it can take time for the coals to heat up. One way to help speed up the process of getting the coals white is to use a chimney starter, which allows you to measure the right amount of charcoal and get it burning evenly in a quick time.
Once you’ve got your BBQ heated, you can begin cooking, either via direct cooking or indirect cooking.
Direct cooking is the more common method of cooking on your BBQ, and this sees the food placed directly above the hot coals, for a quick cooking time. Indirect cooking involves the hot coals being placed on either side of the BBQ and the lid closed. The heat will then help to cook the food within the BBQ, and this method can even be used to cook joints of meat.
In addition to direct and indirect cooking methods, depending on the model of BBQ you have it’s even possible to smoke your meat.
A further cooking tip to help you get the most out of your BBQ is to have a pile of charcoal higher on one side than another, as this will give you two different cooking temperatures – helping you to better control what you’re cooking.
Cleaning & Caring For Your BBQ:
After enjoying the BBQ with friends and family, it’s time to clean – and it is best this is done at the earliest opportunity once the BBQ has cooled down.
Once cooled down – whether you’ve used a gas or charcoal BBQ – remove the racks and scrub off any residue using a wire brush. It’s then advisable to wash the racks in warm, soapy water before drying.
On charcoal models, it’s also best to remove the ashes – which can be used as fertiliser within your garden. Periodically, you should also clean the entire BBQ with an oven cleaner to remove any built up grease, dirt and residue. For gas BBQs, along with cleaning the racks after every use, you should also make sure the lid, drip trays and gas burners are thoroughly cleaned.
With your BBQ cleaned you’ll need to store it until it is next called into use, and if there’s not enough room in your shed or garage, opt for a BBQ cover which fits securely and can be tied to the appliance, to protect it from the elements.
Following the advice outlined above will help to ensure the next time a heat wave is predicted, you’re ready to invite your friends and family round for a BBQ.