Spring and summer bring ample opportunities for impromptu entertaining, and there’s nothing quite like an impromptu BBQ. Spring bank holidays are made for them. So long as the weather isn’t a complete wash-out, the first BBQs of the year can go ahead in all but the most turbulent of conditions.
If you have a multi-functional kitchen space to retreat to if the weather turns then all the better. BBQ food tastes just as good eating inside as it does eating in the great outdoors.
BBQs are notorious for taking an age to cook. Blackened on the outside, pink undercooked meat on the inside is a turn off for even the most hardy meat eaters. You definitely don’t want salmonella to become your BBQ special.
Nevertheless, BBQs are a really fun and relaxed way of entertaining and they don’t have to take a huge amount of organisation. Here are our top tips and recipes for an impromptu, bank holiday BBQ bonanza – inspired by UK kitchen specialists The Brighton Kitchen Company.
You’ve woken up on a bank holiday wondering what to do with yourself. You fancy a lazyish day, but would love to spend time with your friends and family. Organising a meal out might not work. Short notice bookings for large groups on a Bank holiday are hard to come by. Besides, you fancy pottering at home.
Don’t procrastinate. The sun is shining and it’s time to bring out the garden furniture that’s been locked away all winter. Make the call to the nearest and dearest, knock on the neighbour’s door and let the cat out of the bag. The BBQ is coming out and everyone is invited.
After a quick shower, slip into your new spring apparel and make a list. You need to make a trip to the supermarket, but there’s no time to waste. Having a list will keep you focused, save you time and save you money. Here’s a basic list to get you started:
- Keep it simple. Wine (red and white), beers and Pimms
- Sparkling water
- Chicken drumsticks and thighs (lots)
- Fish (mackerel is great for the BBQ)
- Burgers (only good quality ones will do)
- Red onions
- Mixed salad
- New potatoes
- Chives, parsley, thyme, mint (all fresh)
- Burger buns
- Sauces (ketchup)
- Posh crisps
- A couple of large frozen pavlovas (yes you need a pudding, but you don’t have time to make your own).
- A bag of ice (for the Pimms and the beer bucket)
We love this recipe for magic dust and barbecue sauce (pimped up ketchup). It makes barbecue chicken taste fabulous. Rub the magic dust liberally over chicken before cooking. It works for rubbing over anything, including vegetables so making a jar before the spring arrives means you’ll be all ready to make the tastiest BBQ food without any fuss.
In no particular order:
- Boil new potatoes. Drain and while warm, crush slightly. Add knobs of butter and chopped chives
- Prep a salad
- Put together some rustic halloumi kebabs
- Make 2 large jugs of Pimms with lemonade, the obligatory chopped fruits, cucumber and mint leaves, and plenty of ice
- Before you get distracted with the BBQ, take pavlovas out of freezer to thaw
- Get your cheats BBQ meat in the oven (see below)
Your BBQ should be cleaned and oiled after every use, so hopefully there’ll be no issues for you to uncover it in its gleaming glory. Get your BBQ nice and hot before you use it to burn off any crud.
Cook your halloumi kebabs first and transfer to oven (just in case there are any vegetarians). Burgers are next. When burgers almost done, move to one side and put your cheats chicken on the BBQ (see below). Mackerel can go on last. It won’t take long. When the fish is cooked, sprinkle liberally with chopped herbs and serve with a wedge of lemon.
Cheats BBQ meat
You don’t want to spend hours slaving over the BBQ, so put your chicken pieces rubbed with magic dust onto a tray and cook in the oven. Time it right so they are just cooked, but not browned before you transfer them to the BBQ for finishing off.
Brush chicken pieces with the pimped up ketchup and place on the BBQ. Keep turning and brushing sauce on as required. Just as the sauce turns syrupy and the chicken skin gets crispy you are all ready to serve. Some blackening is OK, but try and keep that to a minimum. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
Top 3 BBQ tips
- Don’t fiddle or poke and definitely don’t squeeze all of the lovely juices out of meat.
- Brush sauces on at the end. Marinating meats for the BBQ may seem like a good idea, but if the marinade has a high sugar content it will burn very quickly on a BBQ, leaving the glaze tasting bitter.
- Invest in a thermometer. Overcooking is just as sinful as undercooking. You’ll be able to check the exact temperature of meat, making sure meat is cooked through perfectly.
If you need to keep food warm as the BBQ turns out different offerings at different times, transfer barbecued meats to an oven proof dish and cover with foil or greaseproof paper. Pop in the oven at a setting between 140 degrees and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.