The Best BBQs and BBQ Equipment For Perfect Cook Outs
One of the great joys of summer is the chance to fire up the barbie and relax in the garden with a cold drink and some delicious hot food. Many people consider barbecuing one of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to cook; those who show no interest in cooking during the rest of the year suddenly feel the urge to put on an apron and throw some steaks or sausages onto the BBQ.
In this article we take a look at the range of charcoal and gas-fired barbecues available, along with some if the tools that can make the barbeque chef’s job easier.
Types of Barbeque
Whilst there are many different types of barbeque, they can broadly be separated into two groups: those that cook the food by wood or charcoal, and those that cook by gas.
1. Wood or Charcoal Burning Barbeques
The traditional charcoal or wood BBQ is the most popular choice for households up and down the country and are available in a range of styles and prices; from lightweight picnic models to built-in brick barbies.
A compact rectangular or round grill, made of lightweight metal that can be easily packed for travel. A good choice when travelling or for camping trips.
A brazier is a round or square tray set on short legs or wheels. Their primary function is to provide an attractive looking firepit for decks, patios and terraces, although they may also be used for barbecuing. However, their low height (approximately 20-30 cm or 8-12 in high) usually makes them too low to cook on comfortably.
Spanish for ‘fireplace’, a chiminea is a large rounded pot with an opening in its side and a chimney, used as a charcoal-burning stove for barbecues and for outdoor heating. Traditionally made from clay, chimineas may now be found in cast-iron, aluminium or copper.
This type of BBQ has a hinged lid that may be closed during cooking so that it reflects the heat like an oven, allowing even joints of meat and whole chickens to be barbecued. Made from enamelled steel or cast aluminium, kettle barbecues are ideal for a windy garden.
Built In Barbeques
For those with enough space in their gardens, a built-in brick barbecue may be worth considering; it enables you to design the exact shape and size BBQ for your needs, along with additional storage, preparation surfaces and warming cupboards. Learn how to build your own barbecue here in InterGardening.co.uk.
2. Gas Barbeques
Although many barbeque aficionados do not see gas powered grills as the ‘true’ way to barbeque, this type of grill is quick to light and heat. As these models are so easy to start and use, you may find that you use them far more often than a charcoal grill; barbequing may become a mid-week norm, rather than a weekend treat.
Gas barbeques also have easy to use temperature controls, enabling you to set separate parts of your grill to different temperatures. These controls also allow you to blast the grill surface after you have finished cooking, turning any food into a charred residue that may easily be brushed off after cooling.
However, a gas grill can never give the authentic smoky flavour that the radiant heat of a charcoal grill can.
Choosing a BBQ
Select a model with cast-iron or heavy-gauge metal grills, as these are less likely to become misshapen than lightweight chrome-plated or nickel-plated versions. However, these lighter grills do have the advantage of being rustproof. Make sure that the grill rods are fairly close together to make it easier to cook smaller food, such as chicken pieces or sausages.
You should also ensure that your BBQ has a deep firebox, as this will generate enough heat to cook prime cuts of meat.
Although there is no need to have a vast array of additional tools in order to have a successful barbeque, there are certain pieces of equipment that are essential for safety reasons or that can simply make the cook’s job easier.
Apron and Gloves
An apron and a pair of heatproof gloves are a must when cooking over an open fire. Avoid plastic aprons and choose really thick gloves that cover your wrist and the lower part of your arm.
In order to cook really succulent food on the barbeque, you will need to baste frequently. A basting brush is excellent for steaks and chops (choose a long handled version to protect you from the heat), whilst a bulb baster is useful when spit-roasting large joints.
Although not essential, a pair of bellows can encourage a reluctant fire.
A long-handled fork is useful for lifting and turning food over the heat.
If you are building your own barbeque, you will need a grill to lay the food on. Cast iron grills are best, although you must dry and oil them after use to prevent from rusting. They will also need to be oiled before use.
Certain foods, such as fish or other delicate items may need to be cooked on a separate grill to hold them gently while cooking and to keep them in one piece. These grills usually consist of two sides of steel bars hinged together and held by two long handles. All wire grills need to be greased with oil or butter and heated before use.
Skewers are a great way of grilling chunks of meat, vegetables or fish on the barbeque. Choose long ones that allow you to leave the handles outside the fire. Those with wooden handles will be easier to handle.
A spit may be used to roast joints of meat or whole birds evenly. Always make sure that the spit is strong enough to take the heavy items without bending.
Long-handled tongs are useful for lifting and turning pieces of food without piercing them and for moving glowing coals.