There's nothing quite like outdoor cooking. The sense of anticipation as the barbecue heats up, the irresistible aroma of food on the grill...not to mention how much better a burger seems to taste when it’s been barbecued. Yes, with the overdue arrival of summertime comes our annual opportunity to enjoy a little outdoor dining, and everyone is champing at the bit for a chance to light those charcoals. This being the UK, you never know how long a window of good weather will last!
If you’re planning to wheel out the barbecue next weekend, here are a few things to bear in mind. Some are safety-related, some are just there to increase your enjoyment, but all of them will help to ensure that your summer barbecue goes off without a hitch!
Be safe before starting
There are several different types of barbecue, but all of them can be dangerous and so it’s important to make sure that everything is as it should be before you get started. If you’re using a gas cooker, check your connections and hoses for damage before you turn on the gas – you don’t want any leaks! Disposable foil barbecues are great for an impromptu barbecue party, but be sure to place them on a surface that won’t be damaged by the heat. Porcelain paving is more fireproof than grass or wooden decking, but there’s still a chance that the heated foil tray will scorch the surface, spoiling that beautiful design. Be sure to put the BBQ tray on a raised, fireproof surface before you light it!
Make sure you've got something for everyone
Will there be any vegetarians at your summer cook-out? Is everyone happy with burgers and sausages, or would some people rather have something else, like chicken? Everyone has different tastes, so get a good variety of food and make sure that nobody feels left out.
Stand by your grill
This should go without saying, but once the barbecue has been lit, don't leave it unsupervised. We know that it's tempting to go and do something else while the coals heat up, but if something gets out of control, you'll need to be there to handle it.
Don't forget the side dishes!
Burgers and hot dogs are all well and good, but a good summer barbecue has far more to offer than that. It's all about the salads, and not just the leafy kind: pasta salad, potato salad, and bean salad will all go down a storm. And get a few different condiments - not everyone will be happy with ketchup alone!
Share and share alike
You may have noticed that a lot of these tips require a bit of forward planning, but organisation is the key to any good social event. Try to get a headcount beforehand, and buy enough for everyone to have an equal share. Oh, and don't let your guests get greedy - if somebody's hogging all the chicken skewers, tell them to back off and give someone else a chance!
Safe until the end
Even when you've cooked all the burgers and wolfed down the sausages, the barbecue will still stay hot for quite some time. Make sure the cooker is out of harm's way while it cools down; that means no branches dangling nearby and, in the case of those disposable barbecues, no strong winds that might blow it across the garden.
No matter what you're serving at your summer barbecue, remember to keep it safe and let everyone eat their fair share. If you're worried that your garden won't make a good enough barbecue venue in its current state, remember that our porcelain tiles will turn any garden into an attractive summer hangout.