A barbecue is the perfect way to enjoy socialising with friends and family and making the most of the warm weather. Here are my tips for barbecuing the healthy way. I’ve also included some barbecue recipes and watch out for more being added to my website in the coming weeks.
Choosing your barbecue grill
First up in our quest for eating al-fresco is to look at the age-old gas v charcoal debate. Research has shown that unless you’re going to be cooking something for hours at a low temperature, to get that ultimate smoky flavour, there’s not a huge difference in taste whether you cook on gas or over charcoal. So, it comes down to personal preference. However, gas barbecues, although cheaper in the long run, do cost more to buy initially so if you’re a barbecue virgin you might want to start off with a mid-priced charcoal barbecue and see how it goes.
You might also pick up a pre-owned grill from Gumtree or eBay from someone who thought barbecuing was a good idea at the time, but singed their eyebrows once too often. For the purposes of this article I’m going to stick with the good-old fashioned charcoal Barbie and recommend that you invest in one with a lid you can close for even-cooking.
Choosing the Right Charcoal
You’re going to need some charcoal and there are basically two kinds – charcoal briquettes and lumpwood charcoal. What’s the difference? Well, charcoal briquettes are the little ‘pillow-shaped’ pieces of charcoal. On the other hand, lumpwood charcoal looks like charred bits of wood…because that’s exactly what it is. Briquettes have fillers added and chemicals to make them burn longer whereas lumpwood is simply carbon with no fillers added. Although lumpwood charcoal is a bit more expensive and doesn’t burn for as long, I think it’s a healthier way to barbecue, so I’m willing to pay a bit more for it. You can buy both kinds of charcoal at local DIY stores and petrol stations, but if you want to push the boat out and go for the restaurant-grade lumpwood charcoal you can you can buy it online.
Lighting Your Fire
So now you have your charcoal…how are going to get it to burn? Again, there are all sorts of firelighters on the market and gels that you can buy from your local store, but they smell like petrol and can often taint your food…never a good thing. There are healthier options available however. Wood wool is like the stuff used to pack wine boxes. It comes in little rolls which are easy to light and will burn for ages to get your barbecue going. Brands include If You Care – a totally natural biomass products which has no smell, won’t taint your food and are available online. Oh, and remember to buy a gas BBQ lighter – so much easier than using matches!
Perfect Barbecue Food
Now for the interesting stuff – the perfect barbecue food. You can cook most food products on a barbecue – it’s just another way of grilling. But, there’s something special about the flavour and succulence barbecuing adds to a dish, not to mention eating in the open air, that makes it so special. I’ll add more dishes to the barbecue section of my website but here are some to get you started.
Quick tip – Wipe your grill with some olive oil before cooking which will make your food less likely to stick. Also make sure your flames have died down and you cook over the glowing white embers for the best effect.
Homemade Beef Burgers
Barbecued Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob is delicious barbecued and so simple.
Vegetable Kebabs with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Barbequed vegetable kebabs with balsamic vinaigrette dressing make a delicious main course or side dish and are so easy to prepare. If you decide to use wooden skewers instead of metal ones make sure you soak the skewers in water beforehand so they don’t burn.
Barbecued Pineapple with Cinnamon
Totally delicious when served alongside steak, burgers, chicken and of course gammon steak for a bit of a retro touch. Click here for my recipe.