Barbecue season is officially here, and what better way to blast the winter blues away than with a good old grill up with your nearest and dearest? Despite the unpredictable weather in Blighty, one recent survey by Simply Beef & Lamb reveals that Brits hosted 135 million barbecues in 2017, with each family hosting an average of nine gatherings. Of course, the pastime is not purely the reserve of Brits, from South Africa to South America and Down Under in Australia; cultures the world over share an affinity with the ethos of getting together in the open air for a barbecue.
Wherever you’re based, if you’d like to up the ante this year by hosting a barbecue or two that’s out of the ordinary, this post will share a few ideas to whet your appetite. But first, is your outdoor space really ready for visitors? Let’s take a look…
Get your garden ready
When you’ve got food to buy and prep and a drinks cabinet to restock, the last thing you want to do is waste time mowing the lawn and weeding. With this in mind, staying on top of basic maintenance of your outdoor space will make it easier to spring into barbecue-ing action whenever the weather allows. Hell, add some umbrellas and awning or a pagoda along with a fire pit or heaters and you can entertain come rain, moon or shine. According to the Simply Beef & Lamb survey, 42% of barbecues are held after work hours, suggesting impromptu events are some of the most popular. Is your garden primed and ready?
With the basics in order, it’s time to consider whether you want to make any timely upgrades to your outdoor space. Are you a foodie type who would love to get to grips with new gadgets in order to expand your barbecue offerings? Pizza ovens and food smokers have become massively popular in recent years, as cooks aim to create authentic tasting flavourful food. Could you serve a pizza course at your next al fresco event?
Convenience is also playing a part in outdoor updates and research by Houzz shows that US homeowners are updating outdoor spaces with entertaining in mind, with 88% of those who have had work done choosing to update living areas with comfy furniture. In Australia, one in ten are choosing to create an outdoor kitchen, with built in cabinets and refrigerators allowing more time to be spent cooking up a diverse range of foods in the open air. If you fancy getting in on the action, an outdoor refrigerator fuelled by a diesel generator can prove particularly useful if you have a lot on the menu or want to set up your barbecue zone a distance from your property.
Practice your repertoire
A great location and friendly hosting can make a barbecue, but how the drinks flow and what food is served are pretty important components too. It’s easy to reach for trusty burgers and sausages and cooked well, they’re great barbecue fodder. But if you’re going to truly boss it, you’ll need to step up your game. This means practicing a few recipes and new cooking techniques before you invite guests round to sample the goods. And of course, it gives you an extra excuse to get out your tongs and put on your apron.
According to a recent poll, one in ten people are still undercooking burgers while one in three admit to overcooking chicken. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for barbecue success, does it? As a bare minimum, it’s your responsibility to ensure you don’t poison your guests, so make sure you take simple steps like using different tools for handling cooked and uncooked meats and allow meat to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before popping it on the grill. Now’s the time to start perfecting that secret sauce recipe for your ribs too because you don’t want to serve up something that’s too heavy on the chilli or worse still, lacking in flavour.
With vegetarianism and veganism both on the rise, you may want to brush up on winning meat-free recipes for the grill this year. One survey found that 80% of diners consider it important that bars and pubs offer vegetarian and vegan options such as jackfruit or vegan duck. Experimenting with plant based barbecue options demonstrates a real skill for barbecuing and ensure you have enticing options for all of your guests, whatever their dining preferences.
If you’re quietly confident of your barbecue skills, would your time be better spent turning your attention to the drinks provision? A great way to elevate a barbecue is to go beyond beers, lagers and wines by adding a few cocktails to the menu. Perhaps develop a welcome drink especially for the occasion? There are lots of cocktails that call for scorched or burned garnishes to enhance the drink’s flavour and are sure to impress. What do you reckon? Do beers and barbecues go together like burgers or buns or is it time to make way for a fancier tipple?