With so much sizzling hot weather around, the summer holidays starting and more covid restrictions lifted, now may be the perfect time to have a barbecue.
Unless you get unlucky and the weather turns, this could be a great occasion of sunshine, tasty food, cool drinks and lots of sociable outdoor fun under the blue sky of a glorious summer afternoon.
The first thing to do is make sure you have the right equipment and look after it. Invest in some cheap kitchen utensils, such as metal tongues for handling chops and burgers - you don’t want to use a plastic or wooden spatula as this could melt or burn.
You also need to look after your equipment well. You might be digging out your grill and tray for the first time since last summer, so it’s important to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned.
How to cook meat
You will need some charcoal to get the fire going, which should be blazing away merrily before long. However, you should wait for it to turn grey because that’s when they are actually at their hottest, sp you need a little patience to avoid some inconsistent early results.
It is worth noting how best to cook each type of meat. Burgers and sausages should be roasted swiftly over hot flames, which is a great way of ensuring everyone can get their teeth into something early on.
For something like a steak, however, you need a gentler, indirect heat without flames. This is the best way to cook steak or ribs.
In either case, you should get the met out of the fridge about half an hour before it goes on the grill, to help ensure it doesn’t take too long to cook.
How much food do you need?
A big judgement call is working out how much food you need. This depends, of course, on how you plan the event. For instance, if everyone simply brings some food themselves, the amount available will closely match the number that turns up.
On the other hand, you can easily misjudge the amount needed. Too little will leave people hungry, while too much will mean you could end up with lots of defrosted meat, which is not a good idea on a hot day. For this reason, if you do try to supply everything yourself, make sure you have some space in the fridge for any left over.
In addition, don’t forget some veggie burgers, peppers and other plant-based options for any committed herbivores that are coming.
Be prepared for the unexpected
You might have planned very well for your BBQ, but the sad reality is that something you may not have bargained for will go on. This could include a weather forecast of sunshine turning out to be wrong as the rain pours down, an unwelcome gatecrasher, or an over-eager dog running off with some of the food.
It’s always worth being well-prepared, with a gazebo to shelter the grill and even a bit of a barrier if there are kids or dogs that may encroach too much.
There are many ways in which things can go very wrong at a BBQ, but while many epic fails can simply be amusing and end up with some wasted food, there are cases where something more serious can happen.
Undercooking your food is an obvious blunder, with this coming with the danger of food poisoning. You should have been in the habit of washing your hands thoroughly for 18 months now, but it is also crucial to cook the food thoroughly, cover it up to prevent flies getting to it, separate uncooked items from things that will be eaten cold, and serve the food immediately after it has been cooked.
The other danger is from fire. Obviously you should keep young children away from the grill, as well as any flammable materials. But you should also be careful with the fuel you use. Adding paraffin or lighter fuel is a very risky thing to do that can literally blow up in your face; the last thing you want is for the occasion to turn into a disaster that ends in the hospital burns unit.
Ultimately, having a good BBQ is all about good planning, preparation, and care to attention. With lots of common sense and due care taken over safety, you can enjoy a wonderful summer occasion with some great food and lots of happy memories, especially if you are finally being reunited with people you have missed for too long.