The mouth-watering sound of meat searing, the clink of glasses, the laughter aroused by a comedy apron, and a mountain of cleared paper plates: all hallmarks of a brilliant summer BBQ. But how do you ensure yours is a delicious, enjoyable and safe afternoon spent on the patio? Here are our top tips for hosting a BBQ this summer, including how to plan it, our favourite easy BBQ recipes, and how to ensure everyone has nothing but happy memories, with our BBQ safety tips.
Things to Consider When Hosting a BBQ at Home
Before you start salivating at the thought of the flame-grilled feast you serve, there are a few other important points to consider when hosting a BBQ. Here are a few crucial ones.
Consider how many people will be invited to your summer soirée – they will all need room to collect, build, and enjoy their food in comfort. Ideally you will have a patio that is large enough to keep your guests and the food preparation area separate, so that the only heat on their skin is coming from the sunshine…
Offer space for guests to sit and to be able to rest their plate and drink whilst eating – whether offering a luxury patio furniture set with built in parasol, or a blanket on the lawn.
If you have a two-tiered patio, consider keeping the barbecue and the dining area split – it makes it much easier for the head chef to shout out when the food is ready! If there are steps, ensure that you have an up and down system in place for guests to collect their food, that way they’ll avoid getting nudged whilst holding a bottle and their paper plate. You’ll avoid a hazardous glass clean up, or the disappointment of losing their hot dog filling to the slabs.
There are a few must haves that the head chef should be equipped with, including an assistant – even if they will no doubt claim that they don’t need one!
A sharp knife – it’s handy to have a sharp knife on hand to make a small incision in any meat to check if it is thoroughly cooked.
Quality tongs – long enough to avoid getting the back of your hands too close to the flames and with a strong grip to make sure you can easily move, pick up and turn food on the grill.
A small pastry brush – this is a handy tool to have in the apron pocket. When cooking meat on a flaming grill, you may want to add a little oil to the surface of the meat. It’s easy to apply from a small pot using a pastry brush, and avoids too much oil getting onto the flames and causing a flare up.
Comedy apron – necessary to arouse laughter, as stated above.
Vegetarians, Vegans, Coeliac sufferers – you can’t always serve up the traditional hot dogs and burgers. Make sure you know the needs of those in attendance before-hand to ensure there is an option for everyone. Read below for some delicious vegetarian BBQ food ideas.
An area where guests can collect plates, napkins and customise their dish – a table big enough to hold condiments, sides and salad and with enough space to ensure that ketchup can be applied smoothly. Think about positioning – convenient, but not in direct sunlight, and not too close to the grill.
BBQ Chicken Burgers
These couldn’t be easier, and are far healthier than your average burger. Make a sweet and warming marinade by mixing together four tbsp of tomato ketchup (that Barbecue favourite!), four tbsp of brown sauce, two tsp of clear honey and two crushed garlic cloves. You could add an extra kick of spice with a splash of chilli sauce. Butterfly skinless chicken breasts by slicing them in half and flattening down by hand. Add to the marinade and chill for as long as possible. BBQ for around ten minutes, turning occasionally to get that charred outer and succulent moist chicken centre. Serve on a crusty white bun with salad and sauce.
Cherry Cola Ribs
Here’s a way to elevate pork ribs to a new level of sticky sweetness. Add 200ml of cherry cola to a pan, six tbsp of brown sugar, six tbsp of tomato ketchup, one and a half tbsp of Dijon mustard, two tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and three tbsp of soy sauce. Simmer until thick and syrup-like. Smother a rack of pork ribs and add to the BBQ for 10-15 minutes until charred and crisp.
BBQ Vegetables with Goat’s Cheese
Vegetarian BBQ food can be a challenge – how to create something that is visually and taste bud appealing, and combines the fun and theatre of ‘build your own’? Easy – lay on some build your own tortillas with BBQ vegetables. Take four aubergines and cut into slices lengthways, with two bunches of trimmed spring onions and eight beef tomatoes cut into three thick slices. Add them to a large shallow dish and pour in 150ml of extra-virgin olive oil, two tbsp of white wine vinegar and three crushed garlic cloves. Toss together and then get ready to BBQ. Start with the aubergines, cook for five minutes until marked and tender. Remove and add to a bowl before grilling your onions and tomatoes for three minutes until marked. Crumble 200g of goat’s cheese over the hot vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. Warm some soft flour tortillas on the BBQ for two minutes then offer to your guests to build their own vegetable and goats cheese fajitas.
Tomato, Cucumber and Coriander Salad
For bright, colourful and fresh salads for a BBQ, this one is a real winner. Combine six chopped ripe vine tomatoes (seeds removed), one cucumber, one red onion finely chopped and six tbsp of fresh chopped coriander. Mix together and serve on your building station.
BBQ Safety Tips: Avoid Burning your Food, or your Friends!
If you have followed our advice on layout above, you are half way towards a safe and enjoyable BBQ already. When it comes to BBQ safety, you need to keep you and your guests safe from under cooked food, and the dangers of fire. Here are our top BBQ safety tips:
Refrigerate your perishables – your guests will likely graze for the duration, so be mindful of leaving your perishables out for too long in the sun.
Wash your hands – particularly the head chef, who will likely handle lots of raw meat during the preparation. Wash hands before picking up a bun or tossing any salads.
Make sure your BBQ is hot enough – make sure the BBQ is up to temperature before adding any meat to the grill to ensure even cooking.
Batch your condiments and salads – provide small offerings of salad and sides and keep topping up the bowls throughout.
Positioning – ensure your BBQ is on a level surface and well away from fences, sheds, trees or shrubs.
Keep children and pets clear – and adults for that matter, try and maintain a safe distance between the BBQ and a dining area.
Keep water or sand nearby – if something should go wrong, keep water and sand nearby to quell the flames.
Monitor the BBQ – don’t leave the BBQ unattended, any fat which drips from meat can cause flames to grow.
The most important rule of any BBQ, is to enjoy it! By planning ahead, getting creative with your BBQ food ideas and keeping everyone safe and entertained between courses, you’ll have a delicious al fresco afternoon. Find all the ingredients for our easy BBQ recipes, drinks, napkins, paper plates and other essentials for hosting a BBQ at your local convenience store.
Find your local SPAR
Find your local SPAR