It seems opinions are split when it comes to BBQs here in the UK. I have no idea why, but I was under the impression from Facebook and tweets in recent years that we Brits love to BBQ. However it also turns out it’s more hassle than it’s worth, or we don’t trust ourselves or others to cook food over an open flame.
Having asked several friends what they love about BBQs, I was surprised to find out that this way of cooking is really not for them, and perhaps better left to the Australians.
I love a good BBQ, and I have so many fond memories as a child of my dad outside getting the coal hot, so that a selection of meats can be charcoaled to perfection. I think the smoke and open flames make food taste better.
To me, lighting my BBQ is a signal summer has arrived and associate lots of great tastes with them.
Even though opinions amongst my friends seem to be split I have always admired the enthusiasm British people can have if they have planned a bank holiday or summer day’s BBQ. How many of you have stood under an umbrella and not admitted defeat as you turn your rather scary looking sausages in the pouring rain? I have witnessed several BBQs under the sun umbrella.
Once you have managed to get your BBQ lit and the coals are glowing nicely, one challenge that you might have is what to cook.
Most people opt for burgers, sausages and chicken coated in some sort of BBQ or Chinese flavouring. Great options if you can eat wheat and you are not a vegetarian… What about the people who can’t eat this food?
Here are a couple of ideas for you, and some of my tips for a great BBQ.
If you have vegetarians coming over, find out what types of food they like. Not all of them will enjoy vegetable skewers and quorn items. Maybe they might like some halloumi cheese cooked on the BBQ, or what about wrapping up a wedge of Camembert with some fresh thyme and bake that on the BBQ?
When cooking for vegetarians, try not to cook their food on the same part of the grill as the meat. This is cross contamination and while perhaps not harmful to a vegetarian it can be disrespectful to their beliefs.
When it comes to people with food allergies, this can be a little bit trickier. Always ask them what they can eat and keep the food simple. BBQs are great because you can keep the menu easy and the food has loads of flavour.
My top tip would be to buy good quality meat and not opt for the ready made BBQ packs. Chicken wings are inexpensive and great to barbecue – marinate them in fresh thyme, olive oil garlic and lemon to make them more interesting.
If you want to cook sausages look for ones that are gluten free. These are 100% meat and they taste much better than the cheaper variety that are filled with bread to bulk them out.
Making your own beef burgers is always good and I bet they will taste much better than the frozen variety. I have come up with a hassle free turkey and quinoa burger that is perfect for anyone on a gluten free diet and works on the BBQ.
Cross contamination can be an issue, and this time it is more serious. Make sure your grill is clean before you start and cook their food first, then keep warm in an oven until other items are cooked.
Summer days are numbered here in the UK and when the sun shines I think you should all get outside and enjoy a BBQ with your family and friends, as they make great social occasions.
Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.