Food & Drink

7 barbecue tips to make your summer shine

We all know how unpredictable British weather is. On Wednesday the sun is beaming gloriously and cracking the flags. By the weekend, it’s bucketing down worse than your 1976 summer holidays in Blackpool.

 - 6 Min Read
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7 barbecue tips to make your summer shine
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We all know how unpredictable British weather is. On Wednesday the sun is beaming gloriously and cracking the flags. By the weekend, it’s bucketing down worse than your 1976 summer holidays in Blackpool.

The weather does grace us with a moment of joy, and when the rain’s off and the clouds begin to part, why not get the barbecue out? Not only does it encourage you to try out new foods, you can gather friends or family and create a holiday atmosphere right in your back garden.

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We’ve gathered together some hot tips for your barbecue this season, so you can bring the holiday spirit without having to even jump in your car. Our tips will get your ideas flowing, with ideas for:

  • The right kit.
  • Adventurous foods.
  • Fun entertainment.

1.     The right barbecue

Are you the kind who throws some disposable barbecues in the trolley at the supermarket? Or do you prefer to dig out the same metal shell that’s served you well for the last twenty years?

Get serious about your barbecuing with the perfect kit for your needs. When you want to have control over sections of the grill and the temperature, go for a gas barbecue. They can be pricey, but if you love to cook in your garden, they’re worth it.

If you’re all about that barbecue flavour, make sure you stick with a charcoal grill. Make sure it’s big enough – no one wants to eat one hot dog at a time!

We spoke to John Curtis from Smokey Oak Barbecue, who added: "It is really important to source ethical charcoal from sustainable sources, this keeps the forests going for future generations."

2.     Indonesian satay

Burgers and sausages are old hat for the barbecue, so why not try something a little more exotic? Satay is a traditional dish from Indonesia that you’d find being barbecued on most street stalls across the country.

For a delicious “Sate Ayam Jawa”, or Javanese chicken satay, whizz up:

  • Six shallots.
  • Four cloves garlic.
  • 2 tsp coriander powder.
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder.
  • 1 tbsp sugar.
  • 1 tsp each of turmeric powder, ground tamarind (use lime juice if you can’t find it), and salt.

Cut your chicken into small cubes about an inch square and skewer them. Marinade the skewers and prepare your peanut sauce for dipping. This time you need to fry two minced cloves of garlic and a small chopped onion with chilli flakes to your taste. Then, on a medium heat add 250g of roasted peanuts, and three tablespoons of “kecap manis” - it’s a sweetened soy sauce from Indonesia that you might find it in your local Asian market, if not use two tablespoons of soy sauce and one of honey. Keep on medium heat for five minutes then pop it in the blender until you get a smooth paste.

Grill your marinated chicken skewers – they’ll cook fast because the pieces are small – and serve with the peanut sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.

If you want to add foods from other cuisines, check out these Spanish recipes and our look at pizza- and pasta-free Italian dishes. Many of these are great on the barbecue or as sides!

3.     Grilled vegetables

A lot of the time we can forget about the veggies for a barbecue and end up all about the protein. Some vegetables that lend themselves well to being on the grill. Some might seem a tad exotic – not quite what you’d have with your Sunday roast – but give these a try:

  • Aubergine
  • Zucchini
  • Artichoke
  • Cauliflower

Cut everything into half-inch thick slices and put straight on the grill, no oil or seasoning. Flip them over after a couple of minutes and when they’re ready to drizzle with oil and add some salt and pepper to taste. Simple, healthy, and delicious.

4.     Mocktails

While you’re experimenting with new foods, why not go exotic with your drinks? You can make juices and smoothies ahead of time and have them chilling in the fridge and ready for your guests.

Try a virgin pineapple mojito – blend diced pineapple, a little sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice until you’ve got a puree and put it in the fridge. To serve, add ice cubes, a few mint leaves, and a slice of lemon. Replace the sugar with honey if you prefer.

For something a little more local, try a strawberry lime virgin mojito. Put strawberries and mint leaves into a jug and smash about, or muddle, with the handle of a wooden spoon. Add lime juice to your taste and fill the jug with lemonade. Chill until everyone needs a refresh.

5.     Craft beer

There are few better feelings than a cold beer on a warm afternoon. The craft beer industry has boomed in recent years, and there’s bound to be some great breweries local to your area.

If you’re not sure where to start, Top Rope Brewing is a microbrewery that does a great line in fresh and fruity beers. Try out their Papa Mango Pale Ale for a refreshing tipple on a warm afternoon, and keep the tropical theme going.

6.     Music

We’re not here to dictate what tunes you let float over your summer afternoon, but we are going to suggest how you make that happen. Turning your living room stereo up full blast or bringing the kitchen radio into the garden are less than ideal.

Invest in a good quality Bluetooth speaker to bring your music out to you. They’re generally easy to set up. You just need to connect your phone, TV, or stereo by Bluetooth to your new speaker and you’re away.

Looking for a place to start? A UE Boom speaker will have a really long battery life and achieves a loud volume without making your music crackle.

7.     Splash pool

Children at your barbecue are going to love having a place to paddle around and cool off in the warm, summer sun. Options range from a small pool for them to sit in, to elaborate set ups that are akin to a proper swimming pool.

No kids at your barbecue? No problems! A paddling pool can be as useful to adults in the heat of the afternoon. Having a splash pool set up will give you the chance to cool your feet right down so you can feel comfortable again.

One final use for a splash pool is to keep all your drinks cold. Your fridge will be filled with all sorts of tasty delights, so put your splash pool in the shade, buy some bags of ice, and add your wines, beers, and soft drinks to stay cool for the afternoon.

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