Burnt sausages, raw chicken, shrivelled burgers and a sad, mushy red pepper for the oft-forgotten vegetarian, all served on groaning paper plates with limp lettuce, melted choc ices and warm Pimm’s.
We’ve all been there, and will be again, but barbecues have come a long way. Now we buy pizza ovens, Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks and spices from za’atar to asafoetida.
We prep days in advance and are running back to independent fishmongers, butchers and green grocers with open arms.
Let’s eat out: BBQs can now roast, smoke and bake
During lockdown outside spaces became a focus point for many and the trend doesn’t seem to be going away.
So it stands to reason we should get more out of our barbecues all year round.
Here’s how to do it…
THE MAIN EVENT
The current king (or queen) of the barbecues is the endlessly versatile Big Green Egg. Large and ceramic, an ability to reach high (and retain) high temperatures sets them apart.
The Beckhams have one, as does Liz Hurley and Kelly Brook. They are expensive (£780, biggreenegg.co.uk), but the company advocates cooking everything and anything on them all year round. As James Doyan, CEO of Big Green Egg, says: ‘Unlike normal barbecues, Big Green Eggs allow you not only to grill but to roast, slow cook, bake and smoke in your back garden.’
The sturdy design carries a lifetime guarantee and weatherpoof Nasa-grade ceramics ensure that purchasing a Big Green Egg isn’t just a fair-weather investment. If you’re set on this style, the Kamado Joe in bright red is cheaper at £459 (bbqworld.co.uk).
But, looks aside, what’s important is that the barbecue is sealable and has a lid. So something simple like the Weber Kettle barbecue works (£104.99, weber.co.uk) or even the Charcoal Oil Drum from Argos (£50, argos.co.uk). You might also need to try a different approach when it comes to cooking. Roasting meats (especially if they’re butterflied or spatch cocked) could be the answer, or cooking smoky stews.
The current king (or queen) of the barbecues is the endlessly versatile Big Green Egg
From South African braais to Japanese Hibachi grills, many countries have their own version of the barbecue.
In pursuit of practicality (and luxury) British brand Chesneys (Chesneys.co.uk) recently launched a range of hybrid heating and cooking outdoor products. At £1,949 the Heat & Grill isn’t cheap, but the eco-friendly wood burning stove will keep you warm on a winter’s evening rustling up some steaks.
Forward-thinking Danish brand Morso specialises in wood-burning stoves. The Forno Gas Piccolo (£349, morsoe.com) will make life easier in all weathers (as gas will in general) and is portable. The Forno Grill (£549) is a covered wood burner that looks good and throw out heat while cooking.
And fire pits, which have become increasingly popular, can now be easily converted into heating and cooking devices thanks to Moda Furnishings. The company sells BBQ griddles (from £179, modafurnishings.co.uk) which can be placed over a fire pit instantly transforming any outdoor entertaining space into one which can be cooked from, too.
RAIN DOESN’T MEAN STOP PLAY
We can idealise spending time outdoors all year round as much as we like, but the truth is that it rains in the UK. So some kind of shelter for barbecue spaces is sensible. Wayfair has plenty on offer, from the simple 3m x 4m awning by Dakota Fields (£76.99, Wayfair.co.uk) to more substantial retractable features (from £119.99).
There’s also a good selection of larger permanent features at Garden Street such as the Rowlinson Venetian canopy from £549 (gardenstreet.co.uk).
Lighting a barbecue can be tricky at the best of times, never mind if it is windy or during that unexpected rainshower.
Using charcoal makes all the difference, and a coal chute (£15, diy.com) will certainly help. For something low maintenance (but more expensive) try a hot air lighter (£59.99, Lakeland.co.uk).
Thankfully, the UK’s space heater shortage of last winter is over.
Hanging versions are useful and can double up as overhead lighting, such as the La Hacienda Silver Mushroom Heater (£69.99, therange.co.uk).
A more elegant solution is the Idbury Fire Pit from Graham & Green (£98, grahamandgreen.co.uk).
Pizza ovens are also all the rage and Lidl made a splash this summer by selling one for just £129.99. These sold out quickly but Vonhaus makes a tabletop version which is £159.99 (vonhaus.com).
Finally, barbecuing on an open flame is one of the hardest skills to master in cooking.
Most good brands (think Weber, Ooni, Big Green Egg) have their own cookbooks and they should be used — even if just as a guide.
Or try Pit Cue Co’s cookbook which is a good all-rounder (£17.99, amazon.co.uk).
What your home needs is… an Adirondack chair
By Anne Ashworth
With its tall slatted back, wide armrest and sloping seat, the Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and admiring the view.
Its inventor, Thomas Lee, a businessman, dreamt up the chair in 1903 while on holiday near the glittering Lake Champlain — one of the many highlights of the ruggedly beautiful Adirondack mountain region north east of New York.
The Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and admiring the view
It’s best suited for those looking to be more adventurous in your choice of seating — the Adirondack has evolved over the past 118 years, with lounger and rocking chair versions available. Robert Dyas offers the £149.99 Zest in wood guaranteed for ten years (robertydyas.co.uk), while Wickes has the £110 Keter in wood-like plastic (wickes.co.uk).
But if you want to bring colour into your backyard, the cobalt blue Corinne from Wayfair, pictured, made from recycled plastic costs £294.99 (wayfair.co.uk).
Maisons du Monde has the £324 Calanque Adirondack rocking chair in reclaimed wood of different colours (maisonsdumonde.com). Calanque is the French word for rocky inlet, highlighting that — whatever you call it — the Adirondack chair transports you to adventure.