Everyone probably has lasting memories of their first barbecues back when they were kids. Half cooked hamburgers, burnt sausages and raw chicken, maybe a bowl of salad that had wilted a bit from the heat, if you were lucky. And the smoke, the rain - yes fun times.
A 21st century BBQ is a different beast entirely and, I have to admit one of my very favourite ways of eating. I have a best friend who's an expert when it comes to BBQ cooking, and it has now become something of an art form. These tips should make sure your BBQ standouts from the rest and your guests leave with admiration for your BBQ skills.
BBQ Food Ideas
Burgers remain a firm favourite, but these days there are so many different choices available in the quality burger field. Or, you can make your own, adding different ingredients like chili flakes to give them an extra kick.
Use the best quality steak mince and chop onion as finely as possible, add seasonings and bind with beaten egg and cook evenly on a hot barbecue. What could be easier?
You'll find plenty of vegetarian options too. The artisan sausage is big news and we recently tried a terrific pork and pear variety. There are literally hundreds to choose from, and again, lots of vegetarian options available.
Salmon is terrific when cooked on the barbecue, and you can really experiment. Try putting chunks on skewers (metal please - you all know the wooden ones burn) with cherry tomatoes, chunks of bell pepper or courgette and red onion. Just lightly brush with oil, garlic infused olive oil is nice, and cook gently till the flesh has just darkened.
Salmon steaks are good too and you can brush them with soy and ginger, dust them with chili flakes, add a splash of lemon and your favourite herbs, the choices are endless.
Good, firm, white fish and red snapper are also excellent; or try haloumi cheese skewers as a vegetarian option - they always go down well!
All the Extras
Choosing what to serve your perfectly cooked dishes with is simple too. Salad is still popular, but should be fresh and interesting. There are dozens of recipes available for salads - a bowl of lettuce, tomato and cucumber just doesn't make the grade these days.
Spicy rice is another good choice, or make your own coleslaw and add a little beetroot for colour. Roasted vegetables are great, try cauliflower and broccoli brushed with oil and gently roasted on the barbecue, with a few flaked almonds for texture.
Finally, make sure that you have plenty of choice when it comes to long, cold drinks such as fruit juice, iced water with mint and lime, beer or Pimm's. Then add a little background music and pray for sunshine.
For ideas on how to cut the cost of throwing a BBQ checkout our tips on doing a BBQ on a budget