Make the most of your garden in these summer months with the ultimate gardenerís accessory: the barbecue. From gastronomic galas to lawnside snacks, itís the perfect way to relax outdoors with family and friends.
Summer is a wonderful time for the gardener: days are sunny, evenings are long, the flowers are in bloom, bees, butterflies and birds make flying visits: the garden is a lovely place to be. And what better way to make use of it than with a barbecue. Whether itís a family lunch, a party or an evening with friends, it allows you to treat your garden as an outdoor room.
The barbecue is perhaps the most communal meal I know, itís fun, often slapdash, necessarily drawn-out, and generally delicious. And itís possible in any garden, be it a patio, rooftop, yard, or country estate. Approaches vary from the well-prepared, gastronomic purist to the disorganized, slightly drunken chef of the day, but the great thing about barbecues is that with the minimum of effort youíll produce appetizing food, as long as youíre patient.
Thereís a wide variety of barbecues available now, from the basic open grill, to the fully featured model, fitted with twin and side gas burners, towel rails, lid, and wheels, and prices vary to match. Bear in mind the following before making a purchase:
Gas or charcoal: nothing beats the taste of charcoal-grilled food, but a gas-fired barbecue is more reliable, taking only about 10 minutes to warm up
Size: think about where youíll use the barbecue, and where youíll store it. Also, consider the size of the cooking area and how many people youíll normally be catering for
Portability: do you want it to be light enough to carry, or fitted with wheels for manoeuvrability?
Lid: a must if want to do more than just grill
Wind shield: very useful if your garden is a bit breezy
Shelves: enable you to have all your ingredients and utensils to hand
Price: think about how often are you going to use your barbecue before splashing out on the most deluxe model
Gas barbecues are relatively easy to control, but there are some essential tips to producing the best results from a charcoal grill:
Avoid using pre-soaked briquettes, these tend to give the food a chemical taste; better to use fire lighters to get the coals burning
Light the barbecue around 40-50 minutes before you intend to start cooking
Wait until the coals are covered with ash
The hotter you need the fire, the more the coals should be glowing red
Clean the barbecue of ash after use