Choosing the right BBQ
Firstly, it’s important to point out that in blind taste tests, there is no distinguishable difference between using gas or charcoal as a BBQ fuel. It’s a common misconception that charcoal cooked food tastes more authentic and smoky. However, you can add a smoky taste to your BBQ food by using smoking chips.
Before you decide whether to choose a gas or a charcoal BBQ, you’ll want to think about how and how often you’re going to use your BBQ. Some people prefer more traditional charcoal BBQs because of the ritual of getting their BBQ going which can take 30-45 minutes (for best results use a chimney starter). However, for convenience sake gas BBQs do an equally brilliant job of letting you cook in the great outdoors but without having to wait around to start cooking; they also have the added benefit of easier heat control due to the use of burners which are similar to those found on oven hobs.
Choosing between charcoal & gas barbecues
Types of BBQ
When you think of BBQs, it’s probably this more traditional type that springs to mind. Charcoal BBQs use either lumpwood or briquettes to generate an even cooking temperature that then gives your food that mouth-watering, flame-grilled appearance.
These types of BBQ are cheaper than gas-powered ones, and many are portable meaning that you can enjoy them wherever you are – whether it’s in your own garden or while enjoying a day at the beach. However, you’ll have to light them around 30-45 minutes before you start cooking to ensure a high temperature.
Gas: Although gas powered BBQs tend to be more expensive than charcoal ones, they make up for it by allowing you to start cooking almost straight away. Many also feature a number of different burners and controls to allow you to adjust the temperature, giving you greater flexibility over the type of food you’re cooking and how long it’ll take to prepare. Some models also come with side burners, warming racks and griddles that let you cook food that would fall through a traditional grill.
The amount of cooking time you’ll get will vary greatly depending on the size of your BBQ, whether you cook with the lid up or down and the power level of the burners. If you go for a gas-powered BBQ, don’t forget you’ll need to buy a gas cylinder to power it.
Grills & cooking area size
BBQ grills are made of four different types of material:
• Chrome plated grills: These are used in more affordable BBQs.
• Stainless steel grills: This type of grill is generally found on midrange BBQs.
• Cast iron grills: These store heat really well and are perfect when you’re cooking for larger groups of people.
• Porcelain coated grills: You’ll find these on the most expensive BBQs. They transfer heat better and will last for years to come.
Whatever type of BBQ you go for, you’ll also want to think about the size of the cooking area and how many people you will be cooking for. This simple chart will help you choose the right model based on your needs:
||Number of people
||8 or more
It’s also worth looking for a BBQ with a lid or a hood. These serve a dual purpose – not only will they protect your BBQ from the elements if you’re leaving it outside, but they can also be used to control the heat when you’re cooking. Controlling the heat in your BBQ means you can cook food throughout so you are less likely to burn the outside while leaving the inside raw.
Caring for your BBQ
Once cold, remove the grill rack and scrub with a wire brush to remove any residue left from food, then wash with a sponge and soapy water. Periodically clean the rest of the BBQ with oven cleaner to remove any burnt-on deposits. To remove the ashes just use a brush, then you can use this sparingly as a fertiliser since it’s a rich source of potash.
After using your gas BBQ the rack, lid, drip trays and burners should all be cleaned. Turning on your burners for a short amount of time will heat up any residue making it easier to remove. Burners should be cleaned periodically with soapy water – never use oven cleaner for this task because it could damage them.
In order to keep your BBQ working at its best for years to come, you need to consider how you will store it over the winter months. If you are unable to store it in a shed or garage, you should consider buying a cover to protect it from weather damage.
We’ve got loads of great accessories to help you make the most of your BBQ, from tongs, skewers, spatulas and grill brushes to digital thermometers that’ll let you know when your food is cooked to perfection.
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