Barbecuing is the perfect way to entertain both family and friends. However, sometime even the most confident person can be put off - who wants to cook in front of an audience and get it wrong? As a result, many BBQ's sit on a patio or terrace neglected and forlorn, hardly used except for the occasional sausage. Apple & Hog will help you change all that with the basics of barbecuing so you can have a few trial runs before embarking on a full-scale party.
Over the next few weeks we will add advice and tips for you to plan your BBQ party.
Choosing your BBQ
Before buying, consider which BBQ is right for you. First consider the size - how many will you be cooking for? And how often will you use it? It's not worth spending masses if you are only going to use it occasionally. Where will you use it and store it? Which type of fuel do you favour? And of course, what will you cook? All these points must be considered.
Next blog Types of BBQ's
Types of Barbecue
There are six main types of BBQ in varying sizes and prices, all with their pros and cons.
The traditional choice, there are many charcoal (or wood burning) BBQ's to choose from, ranging in price and sophistication. The very simplest consists of a tray on legs with an adjustable grill rack. They can be free-standing or simply placed on a sturdy surface such as a specially built wide wall. The fuel is placed in the tray and lit at least 20-30 minutes before using, or longer. This allows the smoke to disperse and the coals to become hot. The food is placed on the grill rack for cooking.
For more sophisticated BBQ's look for adjustable air vents which help to control the flow of air and thus the temperature. Or check out BBQ's which boast a rotisserie and hood, making them ideal for indirect grilling, cooking whole chickens of large fish.
Also free-standing, the domed lid makes kettle BBQ's ideal for both grilling and roasting and perfect for cooking whole fish - much in the same way as an oven. Two methods of heating are available, either charcoal or gas-fuelled.
These BBQ's are normally permanent fixtures and are often placed in the garden where there is plenty of room for seating. A chimney can be used to take the smoke away from the immediate area.
Fuelled normally by bottled butane and propane gas, these consist of a trolley with a thermometer located inside the hood and the gas bottle stored in the cupboard underneath. The grill rack is inset into the trolley with work areas on at least one side but often on both. Often a small burner is on one of the sides for the preparation of sauces. Stir-fries can be cooked on this
The heat is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units). Look for two elements rather than one as two give a more even distribution of heat; these are made either from stainless steel or iron (remember that iron tends to rust), while lava rock or ceramic stones help prevent the gas jets from becoming blocked with meat juices or fat. The temperature is very easy to control but do ensure that the knobs are sturdy.
These operate in a very similar manner to the oven in your kitchen. They are the easiest to use and control due to their thermostatic controls, which almost guarantee perfect results every time.
These can only be used once and are normally quite small. They consist of a lightweight foil tray filled with charcoal (treated for easy ignition). Check whether you are allowed to use them in your chosen area, as many picnic areas forbid their use. Take care in their disposal.
Types of Fuel
Wood Hard wood, rather than soft, is best for burning on the BBQ. The smell and taste of foods cooked in wood smoke is wonderful - look for wood that gives off a particular perfume when burning, such as pine. Hickory wood is popular for its flavour. Wood is not that easy to light but burns quickly, so the BBQ quickly becomes cold unless the cooking process is interrupted with more wood being added. Time must be taken for the heat to return.
Lumpwood Charcoal This is made from wood that has been fired in a kiln. It is extremely easy to light. As it has already reached the charcoal stage there is less waiting than with hard wood. Look for larger pieces rather than the small.
Briquettes These are crushed charcoal, with starch added as a binder, and are an excellent heat source. The best are made from crushed coconut shells as they hold the heat for longer. Some may be 'self lighting' - so-called because paraffin or petroleum has usually been added to aid ignition.
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