Avoid the stress and go out to impress with your BBQ…
Summer barbecues in the UK can be stressful affairs for a number of reasons. It’s a perfect storm of very British problems: the weather’s rarely on your side; you have to have your home looking tip-top to make a good impression; and, of course, the rare chance to cook outdoors means you may find yourself with no idea of how to approach something that, on the face of it, seems incredibly simple.
While we’re very much about all things indoors, we love to get outside with friends when the time’s right. With this in mind, we commissioned some research into British barbecue tastes, and we’ve compiled some handy tips to help you on your way to alfresco success!
Favourite BBQ food
We all have a go-to grill food that we buy in for friends, or take along for their grill. But if you’re getting it all yourself, what should you prioritise? When asked to pick just one food, our slice of the Great British public asked forβ¦
β’ Burgers (34%)
β’ Sausages (25%)
β’ Halloumi (17%)
β’ Steak (9%)
β’ Chicken (7%)
β’ Prawns (6%)
β’ Fish (2%)
β’ Vegetables (1%)
Vegetables may be bottom of the list, but don’t ignore those vegetarian friends of yours β remember to stock up on veggie burgers and sausages, and halloumi is a real crowd-pleaser for herbivores and omnivores alike!
What have people done at BBQs past?
As one of the most social affairs of the calendar, barbecues can bring about all sorts of fun and frolics; sometimes, however, it can pay to be prepared for any eventuality, as you can see belowβ¦
β’ 85% of people have got drunk β even though 46% think too much alcohol can ruin the night
β’ 86% have had to eat inside after a sudden change in the weather
β’ 70% have burnt the food
β’ 65% have dropped their food on the floor
β’ 55% have been sunburnt
β’ 34% have burnt themselves on the BBQ
β’ 23% have undercooked the food
So, there we have it β don’t focus on the booze so much, and have plenty of mixers or soft drinks available on standby. Don’t forget to prepare for if the skies turn black, too β a cheap gazebo for the BBQ area should suffice, but remember to get your indoor space in order, with plenty of flexible seating! As for burning the food? Well, we’ve got a handy tip for that laterβ¦
The company we keep
The real success of a barbecue comes from getting the right people together at once. You’re bound to meet new people and see the same faces, but what choices do others make when sending round the invites?
β’ Four out of five (82%) couples admit they wouldn’t invite their single friend;
β’ The biggest faux pas is drinking too much alcohol, with 46% saying it’s the main way to ruin the night. Interestingly 52% of women stated this, compared to just 38% of men;
β’ Almost two in five (39%) of those surveyed believe it’s essential to bring a contribution to the BBQ, a habit that increases with age; only 30% of those aged 18-34 say a gift is essential, compared to 45% of people aged 55+;
β’ Finally, one in ten (9%) wouldn’t invite a friend if they had a special dietary requirement.
Admittedly, we’re a little surprised that single friends aren’t favoured by couples, and we’re especially shocked that people would omit pals that have dietary requirements. Make sure you ask everyone if they have allergies or specific tastes and cater to them β you’re trying to be a great host, after all!
Furniture Choice’s top BBQ tips
Of course, we know that hosting a barbecue is not as simple a venture as inviting your mates, lighting a barbecue and dropping food on it. If you want to brush up on your skills to host a great barbecue for friends and family, then here are four tips that will get the party started quickly and easily β and keep all comers happy!
1. Light coals using an egg box β and create two heat zones.
The one thing that tends to intimidate rookie alfresco hosts the most is simply getting the barbecue lit, and thoroughly heated. Luckily, there’s a stupidly easy way to ensure you can get them rosy red in no time: lining your coals in an empty cardboard egg box, with the odd crumbled firelighter for good measure.
The great thing about this technique is that it keeps the coals in a line, which helps with something else incredibly useful. Whether you’ve got a small circular BBQ or a large, long half-barrel behemoth, you can set one lot of coals off on one side, then later, you can do another. BBQ expert Weber explains that with this technique, you’ll have a cooler side at all times to keep cooked, uneaten food warm, but not char it to smithereens.
2. It’s all about the marinade.
You can literally transform yourself overnight into a BBQ superstar with one simple addition: marinade. Perfect for chicken, steaks, prawns, fish, vegetables and even burgers (and that covers 59% of our survey favourites!), marinade can be bought or inexpensively made to a number of recipes.
Whatever you choose for your marinade, you just need to lay your BBQ wares in it overnight, in the fridge. It’ll truly transform the taste, but mix it up β have two or three for each foodstuff, and don’t forget to leave some foods untouched, as people often prefer their food as-is!
3. Oil up that grill before you start cooking
One of the worst things about BBQs, especially if you have an older, well-used model β is that food can stick to the grill. Avoid this entirely by putting some vegetable or olive oil into a spray bottle and putting it on the grill just before cooking. The best bits of the meat are those in direct contact with the grill itself, and they’ll stay part of the overall meaty package this way. Shake things up with chilli or garlic oil to get even more flavour!
4. Finally, don’t waste the dying heat – grill some sandwiches instead.
Towards the end of the barbecue, there’s often a slightly sad situation where you have uneaten sausages and burgers losing their warmth, and there’s still plenty that needs using up. At the same time, latecomers can arrive with empty stomachs, and will instead reach for the tortilla chips to get their fill, avoiding the sorry-looking items cooked a couple of hours previously.
Well, don’t despair: use up your remaining food, including the usual mountain of burger buns, by making barbecue sandwiches with the dying embers! Take your bread, add sauce and cheese, and then put in your meat β chop it, or drop it in β then more cheese, salad and the rest of the bun. The cheese will melt, the bread will crisp and get that smoky flavour, and your barbecue lives another day β with less waste!
For more adviceΒ take a look at our Top Tips For The Perfect Barbecue. Got any tips of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!