Barbecues have evolved a long way from the basic hotplate or grill rack over charcoal – though some simple styles are basically still this and they work just fine.
Modern barbecues can now incorporate side burners, roasting hoods, warming racks and rotisseries. They are available on trolleys, as built-in garden features, or even as tabletop or disposable barbecues that are ideal for apartment living. In fact, no matter where you live or what your lifestyle, there will be a choice of barbecue to suit you.
One of the great advantages of barbecues and outdoor kitchens is that anyone can use them – and create great food. Cooking can be as simple as heating the grill then adding the food, and you’ll be sitting down to eat in minutes. Whether you’re a beginner cook or a dedicated chef, your outdoor kitchen will make cooking easy, and inspiring. Of course, the variety of barbecues available means that almost any food can be cooked, and in any cooking style. Whether you prefer roasts, stir-fries, curries, kebabs, casseroles, salads or grills, your outdoor kitchen will inspire you to explore your culinary skills. And you can make some tempting sweets and desserts, too.
There’s undoubtedly something special about cooking outdoors – in the fresh air or under starry skies. Even those who claim to dislike cooking seem to take pleasure in presiding over the barbecue. A recipe that you’ve cooked indoors a multitude of times suddenly becomes new and interesting when you cook it outside. Of course, food tastes better when you’re outdoors, too. Barbeque recipes are easy to find online, and can inspire new and wonderful creations at home.
The Outdoor Solution
Think about incorporating barbecue cooking into your everyday meal repertoire, not just keeping it for weekends or special occasions. Even after a long day at work, think barbecue if the weather is nice (and especially when it is so hot you don’t want to heat up the kitchen). A quick meal can easily be put together, no matter how busy your day has been – a piece of meat, chicken or fish on the barbecue, and a simple salad fits the bill perfectly.
Barbecues come in many shapes and sizes, but are usually fuelled by charcoal or gas, and sometimes electricity (though this seems to defeat the purpose a little).
If using a charcoal barbecue, you will need to purchase charcoal or briquettes especially formulated for barbecue cooking. They need firelighters to ignite them, which are also readily available for purchase. Always light the charcoal well in advance of cooking, at least 30 minutes, and let it burn down until it is ash-grey in colour and radiating heat.
A gas barbecue can have a more controllable heat as it is often just a matter of turning down the flame with the dial. The gas flames are under either a diffuser, volcanic rocks or ceramic tiles that heat up then radiate heat to cook over. A layer of rocks will last about 6 months, depending on use, before needing to be changed.