I'm quite excited that we seem to have unending sunshine at the moment and that we'll soon be "allowed" to have 6 people in the garden to enjoy a few BBQs with. No doubt a lot of our customers will be thinking the same, so here are a few of my top BBQ tips...
1. A cast iron skillet will revolutionise your BBQs - use them like a frying pan over the hot coals and suddenly you can fry eggs to go with your bacon, fry par-boiled potatoes to make BBQ chips, wilt down some spinach and so on.
2. Get a pair of fire gloves - it is so much easier to cook food over fire with a pair of fire gloves on as you can actually get your hands close and turn skewers easily etc. Trust me...it makes all the difference!
3. Patience is a virtue. So are nibbles - it is the classic inner battle...waiting for the charcoal to turn white before you start cooking whilst everyone else wants you to start cooking as soon as possible. Wait. The food will cook much faster and better once the heat is there! Make sure you've got plenty of nibbles to keep everyone going.
4. Salads, slaws and sauces - Prepare a few different options and your guests will love it! I like to have a slaw (celeriac based with lime juice and olive oil is my fave), a nice green salad as well as, say, a french bean salad or ribbon courgette salad (mint and lemon dressing is delicious!) and a few sauces - chimmichurri is one of my favourites to make, plus a tomato salsa or red onion pickle.
5. BBQ flat breads - We published a really easy flat bread recipe a few weeks back. You can make the dough for these and either cook them directly on the BBQ grill, or fry them in a pan ahead of time and quickly flash them over the BBQ to warm up. Now you've transformed those chicken skewers into something a bit more fun with flat breads and all those salads and sauces.
6. Go big on veggies - Sometimes things can get a bit meat-heavy, even for the meat eaters! Veggies are so good cooked on the BBQ so cook lots! I often put slices of aubergine or courgette (brushed with a little oil) on the grill and serve them with a squeeze of lime and some feta, chopped chilli and mint. You can do chunky slices of sweet potato too.
7. BBQ a roasting joint - I really enjoy cooking a whole roasting joint on the BBQ, whether it's a leg of lamb, a butterflied chicken or a beef rump roast. It's a nice, slow way of cooking and looks much more impressive than it really is!
8. Always have the oven ready for back up - Shhh, this is just something I suggest for those occasions when things don't quite go according to plan! There may have been one or two occasions when I've disappeared from the garden, with a partly cooked leg of lamb and a BBQ that has run out of oomph, and returned from the kitchen 20 minutes later with the now perfectly-cooked results!!