I do love a barbecue. Probably because a barbecue in my house means all I have to do for dinner is whip up some kind of green salad, and make a potato salad. All the grilling is left to Ross, and I know we haven’t consistently had the weather for it this summer, but it really doesn’t have to be a big work up.
My Dad (commonly known as Paaj, or Paaji if my sister and I are feeling affectionate) and step mum have just returned to the UK after a nine year stint in New Zealand. Hooray! It was about time – the grandchildren were only going to get older and less baby-like. They popped round this afternoon after an interview and brief shopping trip in Southampton and stayed for a nice, boozy barbecue dinner.
All in all it was a lovely afternoon, and hopefully a nice welcome home for Dad and Lynda.
Here are my tips for a successful barbecue:
1) Be ready to go. Invariably, if you have a charcoal barbecue like we do (we are not huge fans of gas barbecues, I don’t care if they are easier and quicker, you just don’t get the same barbecue flavour in the food. You just don’t and that is that) it won’t stay screaming hot for that long, so as soon as the coals are white and you can’t hold your hand over, it’s time to put the food on.
2) Keep it simple. Simply grilled meat is a tasty and healthy way to eat. You really don’t need to fanny about with much else. We keep the meat or fish simple and then ramp up the side dishes – today we had potato salad, a green salad with home made vinaigrette and a tomato salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. If you’re not a meat-eater, try skewering some vegetables, and if you prefer fish, try barbecuing a whole mackerel.
3) Make sure everything is cooked through. Goes without saying, right? If you’re grilling chicken, cook it in the oven first and finish it off on the barbecue, especially if it’s chicken on the bone. I’ve had salmonella from undercooked chicken before, and trust me, you don’t want it. It’s hideous. There is nothing chic about hugging the toilet all through the night coupled with excruciating stomach cramps. Nothing chic at all.
4) Have nibbles to hand. You know what they say about a watched pot? Well the same goes for a barbecue. A watched grill never cooks a sausage. Or something. Today Paaj made really super bruscetta, which we all pretty much inhaled as soon as they were put on the table.
5) Invite some friends for an impromptu evening soiree. Ask them to contribute, bring-and-share style, to cut costs and enjoy yourself. It doesn’t have to be a particularly balmy evening – we’ve been known to barbecue under umbrellas in the rain, and you can always eat inside.
Do you like to barbecue? Charcoal or gas? Is there anything in particular you like to cook al fresco?