The gentleman’s guide to barbecuing

Fired grill. Cold beers. Much meat. Now we're cooking...

All year, through grey drizzly mornings and cold windy nights, we Britons yearn for some sun. But, despite daily conversations and consternation over the state of our weather, when the clouds finally do part and the sun beats down, the modern man can be found floundering in back gardens across the land, not knowing what to do behind the barbecue.

No more. A summer barbecue should not be a rushed affair. There should be no running into the garden to dust off the grill, stopping by a local supermarket to sweep buns and burgers into your basket and fishing whatever wine you have out of the rack, regardless of what meat it pairs well with. Instead, plan carefully, pick only the best produce and then forge ahead even if the clouds converge. This is Britain, after all, rain is always a possibility.

The menu

A couple of undercooked burgers, a burnt sausage and a leg or two of limp flavourless chicken won’t whet anyone’s appetite, so steer clear of the usual barbecue fare if you want to make an impression with your cookout. We’re not advocating banishing the burgers for good, of course – everybody loves the ease of something in a bun – but adding one or two show-stopping serves to draw your guests and get them talking is always a surefire way to heat things up.

It’ll be a lot of prep, but consider a brisket. Combine crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper and 1 tsp paprika for a seasoning and rub it all over the meat before initially cooking in the oven. Cook for 2 ½ – 3 hours, sealed in foil and resting in 150ml dry white wine and 200ml water.

After cooking in the oven – before slicing – take the joint out of the tray and lay on the hottest part of the barbecue. Cook undisturbed here for 1 minute. Carefully turn the meat and continue to cook for a further 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure an even colour. This will not only imbue the brisket with unmistakable barbecue flavour and serve as a centrepiece event for the barbecue, but also give your guests a good hunk of meat to eat.

The sides

Some specially selected burgers and sausages – try some fare flavoured with different spices or fillings – will go wonderfully with some brioche buns. Thought to be a fad when they hit our bread bins several years ago, these glossy-domed baps are still shining bright to this day, and will make a great alternative to the usual floury rolls.

Cheese is a great addition to any barbecue. We’re talking everything from halloumi – which you can grill in slabs for any vegetarians attending – to slices of mustard-tinged cheddar to melt on those artisanal burgers you’ve just picked up from your butcher.

Finally, remember salad. It’s not the most popular choice when a garden is teaming with juicy meat, but rocket or spinach can make a great filler for burgers and will make the more health-conscious of your guests feel a little more worthy about that third slider.

The drinks

There are myriad cocktails you could serve at a barbecue, and cold beer never goes amiss, but to elevate your flame-grilled soiree above the usual back-garden club, plump for a fine bottle of wine.

We’d suggest going for a Malbec, such as Terrazas’ ripe, sweet and fruity Single Vineyard Las Compuertas, available for £42.99. Such bottles, with an intensity of character you may not expect from a barbecue wine, will complement the thick meaty flavours coming from your grill and get people talking about an unorthodox, but ludicrously effective pairing. Trust us.

The equipment

A disposable barbecue is a recipe for disaster – a nightmare to cook on and a very real danger of undercooking. Get yourself a grill that you can be proud of, so when you whip off the cover and introduce it to some of the finest cuts of meat around, people will be salivating even before the meat hits the charcoal.

Green Egg is a masterful combination of age old know-how and state-of-the-art technology, culminating in a unique design that produces a meal you and your guests won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The British Racing Green shell is finished with a lifetime-guaranteed glaze, it may be pricey, but it’s built to last.

Further Reading