As summer is nearly upon us, many people will be starting to wonder how to get the best out of the long, warm evenings that lie ahead. The quintessentially British pastime of barbecuing is likely to be high on the list for people across the country, particularly given that supermarkets and DIY shops like to offer tempting discount on disposable grills at this time of year.
However, these aren’t always the best options, both for cooking performance and the environment. What’s more, even if you get a good deal, the cost of disposable barbecues can quickly start to add up. If you decide that this is the year you want to invest in your barbecuing experience, here are some of the key things to look out for when buying a permanent model.
Gas or charcoal
The two main options when it comes to fuel sources for barbecues are charcoal and natural gas. Taste is the main consideration, as a charcoal barbecue will provide the smoky, charred flavour that many people associate with this way of cooking. However, if you find that this tastes burned to you, then gas is probably a better choice.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that charcoal barbecues are less expensive to run, although they do take longer to heat up than gas versions, and you have far less control over the temperature once the coals are lit. If you have an intense dislike of food that is charred on the outside and slightly raw in the middle, then you will probably be happier with a gas barbecue.
Once you’ve made this decision, you will then want to concentrate on the size and shape of the cooking area. If you will just be cooking for one or two people, then it makes no sense to have an enormous barbecue, just as you will struggle to keep large groups fed with a model that can only cook a little at a time.
If you are a fan of full English breakfasts, then you may also want to consider a barbecue that comes with a griddle, as this will allow you to cook things like eggs, which would otherwise fall through the gaps.
While it isn’t part of the grill itself, a hood or kettle lid can be a useful feature to have, as it can both serve as a windshield and give you greater control over the cooking temperature. This is particularly useful for charcoal barbecues, as this element is otherwise mostly out of your hands once it has been properly lit.
You should also give some thought to what your barbecue should be made out of. Chrome-plated models can look wonderful, but they do require a lot of cleaning to keep that lovely shine. Stainless steel is a great middle-of-the-road option, and there are also porcelain barbecues available. These are very easy to clean, and can provide excellent flavour and tenderness.
However, this finish tends to be restricted to the most high-end models, so may not be financially viable for those interested in casual summer barbecuing.
© Axonn 2015