You’ve been lucky with the weather – the sun is set to shine, the wind has died down – and your guests are on their way. There is always just one more thing you can do to ensure that your barbecue party goes to plan, and deliver perfectly cooked food to happy guests – here are some tips that can make the day a success.
Planning and Preparation
- Firstly, buy an apron to protect your own clothes from smoke, and a glove to protect your cooking hand from hot fat.
- Plates – if you are expecting lots of guests then paper plates and plastic cups might be more convenient, as they are unbreakable and don’t need washing.
- If the day is predicted to be particularly hot, don’t turn up to the supermarket that morning and expect everything to still be in stock –bread, meat, charcoal, lighter fluid, drinks and ice will all have sold out. Check the weather and do your shopping two or three days before.
- Work out an adventurous menu – keep the sausages and burgers, but have some vegetarian and low-fat meat and fish dishes to hand. Avoid frozen meat as it lacks flavour. Buy good-quality meat rather than cheap cuts.
On the Day
- Make sure that all of your meat is thoroughly defrosted prior to cooking. Keep accessories clean and divide them between cooked and uncooked food for hygiene purposes.
- For kebabs, soak the wooden skewers in water beforehand, to stop them burning through on the barbecue. Don’t let your salads wilt – prepare them early and keep them covered in the fridge until needed.
- Marinades add flavour and break down the tissues in the meat before cooking. Don’t let meat marinate too long – it can damage the texture of the meat and make it too soft. Around two hours is fine.
- Let red meat such as beef or lamb rest for a few minutes before serving – this will ‘relax’ the meat and make it tender.
- Beg and borrow enough furniture to seat everyone in the party – or ask guests to bring a collapsible chair.
- If using a charcoal barbecue, make sure that the charcoal is good quality and dry enough to burn without assistance. Light it early and let the charcoal settle with the lid on before testing. If using a gas barbecue, make sure you have enough gas! The spare canisters should be stored away from sources of heat and light.
Cooking times can vary for different cuts of meat, so read the times and organise a shortlist of which meats go onto the barbecue early, and which require just a couple of minutes’ cooking. Undercooking the food will ruin your party, not to mention endangering your guests’ health. It is just as important not to overcook the food – the traditional burned bangers of yesteryear will not be welcomed by your guests.
Fill a large plastic bin with a mixture of water and ice and use it to chill canned and bottled drinks. This will allow guests to serve themselves without tramping in and out of the house.
Finally, don’t forget to step away from the barbecue occasionally and mingle with your guests! Take time to talk to them and serve some more drinks. Enjoy!
Written by Sam Luther, a gardening blogger.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/2916977160/