Getting Started: Equipment

Right then. Better start barbecuing, I guess. This post will introduce you to the stuff Gemma and I use to barbecue with on a (more-regular-than-we-should) basis.

The Barbecue

We’ve lived in our house since 2007. We started barbecuing then, using some sort of cheap ‘open’ barbecue (the sort that comes from a well-known catalogue shop and looks like a big metal box with shelves). Rubbish! Because of the amount of space around the charcoal, it was difficult to get anything lit. And once the barbecue was lit, it didn’t stay hot for very long. Oh and being huge, it took a mountain of charcoal to get anything good going.

That leads me to Matt’s first Top Tip™: don’t buy a cheap-ass barbecue. This is based on our experience, of course, but our grilling lives were enhanced by the world of Weber (any Weber folk reading, I’d love some free stuff, ok? Thanks).

Mmm, deliciously expensive barbecue
Where the magic happens. Ahem.

The barbecue we ended up buying was the one to the right, a Weber OneTouch. It cost about £70 from a well known orange-branded DIY store. Seems expensive for a charcoal grill, but money well spent. It always lights, first time, because it’s quite deep inside (see other picture), and has vents in the bottom for air to get in.

More importantly, though, it cooks really well. The lid allows it to act like an oven, which means you can do fairly awesome things like cooking a roast chicken in it. Can’t do that with your open barbecue can you? Eh?

In the past we’ve replaced our barbecue every year or so (nothing to cover it -> rust -> weird metallic flavours). These things apparently last for ten years or more if kept properly. So anyway, enough sycophantic praise…

Inside of the barbecue
It's Grilliant! (Sorry, I'll go now)

The Fuel

Ah, onto a controversial topic. We’ve never really got on with normal charcoal (heretics, I know). But if you do want to use plain charcoal/briquettes I’d recommend using firelighters. Lighting fluid has often given my food a weird flavour before.

So… we use instant-lighting fuel (see left). It costs more, but until we get a Charcoal Chimney (thanks for that one, Ina Garten), it’ll do. Takes about half an hour to be ready, and cooks for over an hour without trouble. Disagree? Put it in the comments!

Other Stuff

So you’ve got the barbecue and the fuel. A few other things you’ll need:

  • A good knife. If you’re just making burgers and sausages, you can probably do without this. But for some of the recipes on this blog, you’ll need to chop! And that leads me to…
  • A food processor. Homemade burgers are great made by hand, but quicker made with a machine.
  • Barbecue tools. Personally I can get by with just a fish-slice-style turner, and some tongs. But a big fork is sometimes useful.
  • Barbecue drip-trays. Obviously you can get non-branded ones, which are just as good. Perfect for indirect cooking, like for a roast chicken (more on that soon).

I think we’re set! Let’s do some barbecuing!

Hello!

Mmmmm
The first barbecue (that I took a picture of)

Welcome! This is to be my first attempt at making a proper job of a blog, and its subject will be that greatest of all British cuisines (yes, we took it and made it our own), the Barbecue. Over the coming weeks, myself, my partner Gemma, and our dog Rosie (who is surprisingly keen on barbecues) have set ourselves a target of 30 barbecues by the end of September. We’ve done six so far (and I’ll post on those soon) – that’s five a month. Easy! (?)

In this blog, I’ll be covering a few of my recipes, and my general barbecue escapades (hey, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, there may even be an indoor barbecue – or ‘oven cooking’, as we call it). I hope you enjoy it, and please do get involved in the comments.

Why not start by having a look at the equipment that we use, or some recipes?

Yours grillingly,
Matt