English weather is notorious for being unpredictable, wet and windy. So when the sun does finally decide to grace us with its presence, there’s only one way to truly celebrate it- it’s BBQ time! Hosting a gathering can certainly be daunting. But fear not, we got you. See our top 10 tips below to make hosting a BBQ as easy as a summer breeze.
1. Preparation is KEY
A BBQ can sometimes be quite stressful so it is always important to try and prep as much as possible in advance. Marinate your meat and vegetables and have them prepped on skewers or plates ready to go- this frees up time to enjoy with your family and friends instead of slaving over the hot grill. Don’t wait to do everything only once they arrive, you will only put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
Shop for your food a few days in advance and keep everything prepped and ready the night before- you won’t believe what a long way this goes when you’re entertaining. You can even prepare your salads and sides and have everything ready to go in bowls; one less thing to worry about while you enjoy a cold beer with your mates!
2. Explore your options
BBQ’s don’t always have to be the usual burgers and sausage combination. While admittedly they are the classic and a fail-safe option, it’s good to mix things up once in a while. Serve some prawn skewers, grilled corn on the cob, colourful vegetable kebabs, pork chops or even whole grilled fish! The possibilities are endless. Try your hand at making your own burgers or venture out and try some lamb sausages. You can also experiment and try different styles of marination: Indian with yoghurt and spices, aromatic Moroccan or a Cajun spice combination. Be bold, try something new- your guests will love it!
3. Understand your marination
Grilled meat is just so much better once it’s been let to marinate for a few hours. Always buy the best quality meat you can afford, and try to marinate it for at least a couple of hours. Preferably, it would be overnight- this really allows for the flavours to permeate the meat and tenderise it.
Always check your marinades before grilling; a wet marinade tends to burn quickly so ensure your grill is on medium heat and keep turning and brushing with more marinade to keep it moist. More importantly, don’t forget seasoning! Top Tip: season your meat generously with salt and pepper but only once it’s hit the grill- this will prevent it from drying out.
5. Get the family involved!
No one wants to be all alone sweating over the hot grill whilst everyone else is having a good time! Try to get friends and family involved in the process. A good way to do this is having a pot luck-esque BBQ where they can all pitch in and help out with a few add on and side dishes. Try getting them involved in small bits like assembling a salad, getting dips or preparing a jug of Pimms! Make your BBQ an interactive affair with ‘Make Your Own’ style burgers or hot dogs or getting them involved in making easy sides like guacamole or relish.
6. Waiting for the Perfect Moment
Let’s face it, we’re not the best nation when it comes to BBQ’s. As much as we love to grill, we usually tend to overcook (read: cremate) our meats because we’re either too eager or too relaxed. BBQ’s are all about patience, waiting for the perfect moment to start grilling- the elusive ‘perfect temperature’. Our top tip is to be patient and wait for your coals to be white hot i.e a greyish colour with a hot glow.
7. Ice, Ice baby
This may seem like a silly one but it’s the one thing we always seem to run out of on a BBQ. Sometimes we get so caught up in the shopping and prepping of the meat and sides we forget about the small albeit important things. Make sure you stock up your freezer to have enough of ice as you’ll need it for various purposes- in drinks, chilling beers and most importantly, for those grill burns!
8. Pimms is always a winner
You can’t have an English summer BBQ without the quintessential Pimms Cup! Have a couple of jugs floating around throughout the day. They are easy to make (and easy to drink), doesn’t require much effort or too many ingredients. You can try making the classic or add some new flavours like elderflower, fresh mint or mixed berries. The perfect summer drink.
9. Stay Hydrated
We can’t stress this one enough. On rare occasions when the temperatures do actually soar, it is so important to keep hydrated. Especially if you are hosting and will be constantly over a hot grill, it’s crucial to always have a bottle of water by your side to stay hydrated through the day. Tip: You can use some of the leftover fruits from the Pimms to create a refreshing drink!
10. Don’t forget your umbrella!
As we all know, England is definitely NOT known for it’s sunshine and blue skies. If you are indeed hosting a BBQ, have a backup plan ready and think of dishes that can be easily cooked in the oven or a pan.