Monday, 13 August 2012

Charcoal Barbecues - Gas Barbecue Grills: Cooking Up a Feast on Your BBQ

Charcoal Barbecues - Gas Barbecue Grills: Cooking Up a Feast on Your BBQ

Whether you choose charcoal barbecues or gas barbecue grills, having an outdoor cooking facility means that you can extend the use of your garden, not only in the summer months, but also in the spring and autumn.

There are many different reasons why people choose a charcoal barbecue over a gas barbecue and vice versa. Some are attracted by the flavour that charcoal barbecues produce. Others prefer the cleanliness and convenience of gas barbecue grills and also like the idea that it is possible to vary the heat.

The choice between gas barbecue grills or charcoal barbecues is a very personal one and, whichever one you prefer, you will look forward making a variety of meals on your barbecue that your friends and family will love.

Charcoal Barbecues – click here to view our range of products.

Gas Barbecue Grills – click here to view our range of products.

Cooking on Your Charcoal or Gas Barbecue

Barbecues are used widely throughout the world including the Mediterranean, where the climate is ideal for al fresco meals. It is also a very convenient method of cooking, as there are no kitchen smells left lingering in the home.

And, whether you choose to cook on gas barbecue grills or charcoal barbecues, it is a very sociable way to host a dinner party, as you don’t have to keep nipping into the kitchen to bring out the dishes. Just gather your friends and family around you and they will be delighted to chip in and offer help.

Although we don’t benefit from a Mediterranean climate here in the UK, there are always plenty of opportunities to host a barbecue in the summer months.

And, if you invest in a patio heater, you can enjoy comfortable outdoor dining virtually all year round!

Whether you have gas barbecue grills or charcoal barbecues, if you are entertaining, you will want a quick and simple meal that everyone will enjoy. If you are hosting a barbecue, here is a simple and convenient menu for you to follow.


Sweet corn grilled on the barbecue makes for a quick and easy starter.

However, if you want to do something a bit more adventurous, Greek Barbecue Chicken is always a hit at parties and should be prepared the day before.

First make the marinade: mix 110ml olive oil, three cloves of chopped garlic, the juice of two lemons and a table spoon each of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano.

Place a whole chicken (cut into pieces) into the mixture you have just made and marinate in the fridge overnight. Place the pieces on a skewer and lightly oil the cooking grill then barbecue the chicken until the juices run clear.


Roasted Marshmallows are always a hit on the barbecue for dessert.

Alternatively, you can also make chocolate coated bananas. Just cut each banana lengthways to make a slit and add about six squares of chocolate into the banana. Wrap in foil and cook for ten minutes turning once during the cooking process.

This can be accompanied by either whipped cream or ice cream.

Side Dishes

You should make at least a couple salads to go with your dishes and these can include anything you like. A Greek salad is tasty and quick.

Just mix chopped parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives and add a home made lemon and olive oil dressing.

A couscous salad is another great side dish to serve at a barbecue and from tomatoes and cucumber to roasted vegetables, almost anything goes.

Don't forget the beer, wines and ice bucket and you’re ready to go!

Gas Barbecue Grills and Charcoal Barbecues

Gas Barbecue Grills

Gas barbecue grills are cleaner, easier to start and you can vary the temperature to suit your requirements. Big K sell a wide range of gas barbecue grills to suit all homes and gardens.

This includes the elegant Italian designed Melody Outdoor range of Gas Barbecues made of sandstone coloured granulated marble with a worktop that has an attractive crystal polished marble finish.

We also have a variety of metal gas barbecue grills including our Metal Barbecue Party, which is on wheels so it can easily be moved about the garden. The barbecue has a steak grill, warming grid, fat collection tray, side shelf and a gas bottle cupboard and is ideal for when a larger group of friends come over.

Charcoal Barbecues

Big K sell a wide range of charcoal barbecues and these include masonry barbecues in a variety of designs and sizes to suit all gardens. Masonry barbecues also double up as patio heaters when you want to continue your outdoor celebrations into the evening.

Stone barbecues also make an attractive garden feature and we have a variety of sizes to suit all outdoor spaces. They also make a good focal point. Other charcoal barbecues we sell are the stylish and elegant Italian designed Melody Outdoor Range.

Kamado Joe refers to a type of ceramic cooker and we sell two types in two different colours, to suit any garden patio area.

In addition to this are our top of the range brick stone charcoal barbecues which complement the English brick house style.

Finally we have a variety of metal barbecues in stainless steel, which are ideal if you are hosting a barbecue for a larger group.

Charcoal Barbecues – click here to view our range of products.

Gas Barbecue Grills – click here to view our range of products.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Charcoal Barbecues or Gas - The Big Debate

With so many different barbecues available, it can be hard to decide which to choose from - and that’s without even thinking about the great gas or charcoal barbecues debate! But whether you choose a masonry, stone or brick stone construction, or you’d prefer a metal or a Kamado clay style barbecue, the advantages of cooking on charcoal barbecues speak for themselves.

The Benefits of Charcoal Barbecues

Many will argue that the taste of food cooked on charcoal barbecues just can’t be beaten - especially when wood smoking. Cooking on a charcoal barbecue is also the perfect opportunity to go back to basics - setting up and starting your fire, and tending it throughout the cooking process.

And while the heat from a gas barbecue is easily turned on and off, making the time to get grilling much faster, the heat from charcoal barbecues is perfect for keeping the chill of a late summer’s evening at bay, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors both during and after your meal.

This means that, for many, charcoal barbecues are the only option for them. That said, even once you’ve made up your mind that charcoal is the way forward, there are so many more choices to be made.

The Big K Range of Charcoal Barbecues

There is a wide range of charcoal barbecues available at Big K, catering for all tastes and gardens. From masonry through to clay, our experts have put together a guide to what’s hot and how!

Masonry charcoal barbecues
Masonry barbecues, sometimes also called chimney barbecues, are built of reinforced concrete and reconstituted coloured stone which is then painted with special artex paint.  All giving it that classic Mediterranean feel.

These charcoal barbecues are a great addition to any patio, especially because, even after you have finished cooking, they double up as a patio heater, providing a wonderful warmth to relax in all evening.  They are very efficient and economical with charcoal consumption, and the clever design of masonry barbecues means that smoke is drawn away from the food and grilling area, offering the cook a much more pleasant cooking atmosphere.

With a number of masonry barbecues available at Big K, you can choose between a simple grill, a chimney fireplace or even a barbecue with a pizza oven on the side.

Stone charcoal barbecues
Fired with charcoal or wood, stone barbecues make an attractive feature in any garden, providing a focal point for outside entertaining.  Giving that all important natural barbecue flavour, each of the Big K stone charcoal barbecues features a built in table top, giving you ample space for marinades, sauces and seasoning to complete the taste sensation.

Made of reconstituted stone, these barbecues do not need painting and their design also incorporates an easy-fire aluminium plate for easy fire lighting.

Big K offers a comprehensive range of stone barbecues including simple grills through to complete outdoor kitchens.

Brick stone charcoal barbecues
Made from reconstituted stone, heat retaining fire bricks and an easy-fire aluminium plate for easy lighting, brick stone charcoal barbecues have all the benefits of easy and efficient cooking while also perfectly complementing the traditional English brick built home.

Fired with charcoal and wood, the heat from these barbecues can be used well after cooking has finished, providing warmth on a chilly evening.

With various grilling heights and a spacious cooking area, as well as side areas for your sauces and seasoning, cooking to perfection is easy with a brick stone barbecue.

Whether you prefer your brick stone charcoal barbecue to have a chimney or not, Big K has the choice to offer.

Kamado Joe (Clay Style) Charcoal Barbecues
These very versatile ceramic charcoal barbecue grills are very versatile, acting as either an oven or a grill, allowing you to smoke, sear, bake or roast outdoors with minimal airflow adjustments. By virtue of the materials used to make a Kamado Joe, cooking temperatures of up to nearly 400 degrees centigrade can be achieved making them perfect for the serious outdoor chef. And they can even be used for a more traditionally cooked pizza!

They take their name from the Japanese word for stove, cooking range or cauldron and are very similar in style to the original Japanese versions, although with improvements on materials and design to ensure efficiency and longevity.

Whether you would like a standalone Kamado Joe charcoal barbecue or one that includes a cart and side shelves, and whether you’d prefer a black or red version, there is a great range available from Big K.

Big K - Experts in Outdoor Living

The team at Big K can easily say that they have a proven knowledge in barbecues - they have been selling barbecue and outdoor living equipment for over 40 years.  With an enviable range of barbecues - both charcoal and gas - they also have a wide selection of woodburning ovens and outdoor heaters, as well as the fuel and accessories to complement them.

Find out more about the range of charcoal barbecues and outdoor living products from Big K here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Keeping your gas barbecue grills in prime working order as the season hots up

With the start of the long awaited Great British summer, it’s finally time to dust down our traditional and gas barbecue grills and get cooking outside. But as the barbecue season hots up and impromptu or planned barbie dates are looming, its essential to remember to ensure that, whether you have a traditional or a gas barbecue grill, all of your outdoor cooking equipment is in prime working order and ready to go.

So why do you need to keep your barbecue clean?

Much as the hygiene within your kitchen is essential, so is the case with your traditional or gas barbecue grills and your outdoor cooking utensils. At Big K, we recommend that our customers keep their gas barbecue grills clean and grease free at all times, and that a thorough clean and service is performed once a year.

Not only is this important from a hygiene point of view, there are other implications if gas barbecue grills are not well maintained - from the health and safety issues of burners getting blocked by built up grease and food residue, through to the cost implications of needing to replace rusted grills. Not to mention that the all important taste of the food that you are cooking may be tainted by rust and other nasties.

What is the best way to clean gas barbecue grills?

Whether you prefer to use traditional or gas barbecue grills, cleaning after every time you have used your barbecue is a good idea. And although time consuming and maybe a bit of a pain after an enjoyable event, this regular wipe down will help to make the annual service easier and take much less time.

On many gas barbecue grills you will find a ‘clean’ setting. While you could be mislead into feeling that this clean is enough, at Big K we recommend that the clean setting is used solely at the start of your barbecue event, just to make sure that your gas barbecue grills are free of any dust and debris that may have settled since their last use. The clean setting is also good to preheat your gas barbecue grills.

For your regular clean, following use wait until your gas barbecue grill has completely cooled down. Then lift out the cooking grates and give them a clean, as well as the barrier above the burners.  The barrier may be made up of lava rocks, metal plates or briquettes which should be free of grease and burnt on food. The sides of your gas barbecue grills, as well as the lid, should also have a good wipe down. At Big K we have a range of cleaning implements available for our customers to buy, and would recommend the following tools for your gas barbecue grills cleaning kit:

- a stiff brush
- a pan
- a spatula
- a sponge
- scrapers
- hot soapy water
- paper towels

What about the annual clean?

The annual clean of your gas barbecue grills needs to be much more involved, although following our regime of cleaning after every use will mean that it need not be as time consuming as you’d think. This annual clean will probably take you around an hour and will include disconnecting the gas and inspecting every element of your barbecue.

As always, it is essential that you wait until your gas barbecue grills are totally cool before beginning the cleaning process. First attend to the outside of the grill. Using a spray on kitchen grill cleaner will also help to reduce the time this clean needs to take. Spray the outside of the grill and, once the cleaner has softened the grease and grime, it can simply be wiped away with a damp cloth, paper towels or kitchen roll. This process may need to be repeated if you have not kept to a regular cleaning routine.

After this it is time to turn your attention to the inside of your gas barbecue grill.  Remove the grates and use your stiff brush to clear away the burnt black debris. Your grates can probably be thoroughly cleaned in your dishwasher once the majority of the dirt has been brushed away.

The inside of the lids and the sides of your barbecue will also need brushing down and your brush will also be useful for the burners.

The sear plates will need to be scraped, as will the drip pan, which will be full of burnt residue.

Once this has been completed, the gas supply needs to be removed, and the valves opened for no less than three minutes to ensure that all gas has cleared from the pipes.

Then the burner and burner cover can be cleaned, either with warm soapy water or with cleaning fluid, followed by a scraping to ensure that the burner holes are clear and clean.

Then simply use paper towels or kitchen roll to dry all elements of your gas barbecue grills and put them all back together again.

As you clean each element it is important also to inspect, and replace anything that is worn or damaged.  In the case of the burners, if, when your gas barbecue grills are on, the flame is red or orange, rather than blue, your burners may need replacing.

Introducing the range of gas barbecue grills from Big K

Here at Big K we have been selling barbecue and outdoor living equipment for over 40 years.  We have an enviable range of barbecues, fuel and accessories, including our popular gas barbecue grills.

Find out more about the range of both traditional and gas barbecue grills from Big K here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Gas Barbecue Grills – Which Do You Prefer: Gas Barbecues or Charcoal BBQs?

With summer just around the corner, now is the time to think about investing in a barbecue and gas barbecue grills are a great way to cook up a feast. We all love the great outdoors and with gas barbecue grills you can really make the most out of your garden when the sun shines. Gas barbecue grills are made for entertaining and with the barbecue season upon us, get ready to enjoy al fresco dining.

Big K sell a host of summer living products including gas barbecue grills and charcoal BBQs in various styles including stone BBQs, brick BBQs and masonry BBQs. We also sell a range of summer fuels, barbecues and tools so you can spend more time outdoors from spring through to autumn.

When the sun goes down and it turns a bit chilly, you can still sit out in the open with powerful electric garden patio heaters that will keep everyone cosy and comfortable well into the evening. In addition to our gas barbecue grills and charcoal BBQs, our summer living range also includes wood burning stoves (also known as pizza ovens or outdoor ovens) so you can show the best of your cooking skills.

Big K has been operating in the UK for four decades and as the home BBQ market grew we naturally expanded in this area with the sale of gas barbecue grills and other products. In addition to our summer fuel products we also have a winter range which includes coal, kindling wood and hardwood logs.

When it comes to barbecues, people usually have a firm favourite - either gas barbecue grills or charcoal BBQs. To help make your decision easier here we will look at the pros and cons of each, starting with gas barbecue grills.

Gas Barbecue Grills -  click here to see our complete range

Gas Barbecue Grills

Gas barbecue grills are the speediest and most convenient way to cook up a barbecue, as they provide instant heat in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is push a button to start and you can control the temperature with a dial - which means no more burnt sausages and burgers!

With gas barbecue grills you can arrange spontaneous barbecues - unlike charcoal barbecues, where you have to light the coals well in advance of cooking.

Gas barbecue grills also offer a far cleaner method of cooking as you don’t have to get your hands dirty with messy charcoals and there is no fear of your flames dying out with the wind.

We have gas barbecue grills made from stainless steel to suit all sizes of gardens. Our gas barbecue grills are suitable for a range of cooking options including grilling, rotisserie and roasts. Another benefit of gas barbecue grills is that they can be cleaned easily and are very economical as they use propane/butane gas bottles.

The main drawback to gas barbecue grills is that food does not have the same taste as when cooked on a charcoal barbecue, although you can use wood to get a smoky flavour. 

Big K Gas Barbecue Grills

Our gas barbecue grills are mainly pre-assembled. They need only basic assembly and you are ready to go. They can also be left out in the open all year round if they are covered either with a tarpaulin sheet or a special BBQ cover to protect them from the elements.

Metal Barbecue Dragon - This is a stainless steel rectangular barbecue with a wooden base rack. Its stainless steel grill is adjustable to four height levels via wooden burn-proof grips. The BBQ is on wheels so it can be easily moved and it benefits from a removable ash collection draw for easy cleaning. It has ventilation intake on the brazier.

Metal Barbecue Master - This is a stone and plate combination gas barbecue mounted on a robust portable wooden trolley with two side shelves for ease of use. The barbecue benefits from four burners, a lava grill, cast iron steak grill, fat collection tray and a gas tank rack.  It also has piezoelectric ignition which is often used on camping stoves. This means that electricity is produced using a spring loaded hammer which, when a button is pressed, hits a crystal to ignite the gas.

Metal Barbecue Party
- This is our largest barbecue grill and has four stainless steel burners and a side hot plate. Features include a cast iron steal grill, warming grid, fat collection tray, a retractable side shelf and a thermometer.  It is neat in design with a cupboard under the grill for the gas bottle storage and, as it is on four wheels, it is easy to manoeuvre.

Charcoal Barbecues

Although gas barbecue grills are cleaner than charcoal barbecues, and are easier to start, nothing beats a charcoal barbecue for flavour.  Charcoal barbecues also produce a much hotter grill and smell divine so they really get your appetite working.

With charcoal barbecues cooking is more of a hands-on experience and everyone can chip in. There is also something very sociable about charcoal barbecues and the time it takes to heat up is time spent getting the beers in and chatting with friends.

The drawbacks are that it takes longer to heat up, there is no temperature control and the wind can blow out the flame. It is also a messier option than gas barbecue grills and they are harder to clean - but the cooking flavours make it all worthwhile!

Big K Charcoal Barbecues

Masonry Barbecues

We have a wide range of masonry barbecues for sizes of gardens and patio areas and these make a great focal point. Masonry barbecues use charcoal to produce heat and give your food a superb natural flavour. And once everyone has been served it can double up as a patio heater for evening get-togethers.

Masonry barbecues are also known as chimney barbecues and are popular in the Mediterranean. The body of the barbecue is made from reinforced concrete and the table is made from reconstituted coloured stone. The barbecue is then painted using special artex paint which we supply with your order.

Our models provide a spacious cooking area and benefit from heat retaining fire bricks to make it easier and more economical to use. They come with various cooking heights and some have side tables to ensure everything is within easy reach of the chef. Choose from white or terracotta barbecues.

Stone Barbecues

You can cook on stone barbecues using either charcoal or wood and the heat retaining firebricks make it simpler and more economical to use. Our stone barbecues also incorporate an easy-fire aluminium alloy plate for trouble-free lighting.

Big K stone barbecues do not need painting as they are made from pre-coloured reconstituted stone. We sell a wide range of BBQ accessories including fish grills, barbecue baskets, rotisserie spits and more.

Brick BBQ’s

Big K’s top-of-the range brick built BBQs create a fantastic focal point in the garden. They are made from reconstituted stone and have brickwork on the side which complements the English brick built house style. Some of our models also come with a chimney hood made from black stainless steel.

Our brick barbecues have various cooking heights to make it easier to use and most of our models have two stainless steel grills, a multi-level holder and a charcoal brazier. Some also have either built in cupboards or shelves.

Kamado Joe

Kamado comes from the Japanese word for ‘stove’ and is also used for this style of cooker which has a ceramic grill. A Kamado Joe is very versatile and can act as an oven or grill so you can smoke, bake, sear and roast with minimal airflow adjustments.

Our Kamado Joes are fuelled with charcoal and have superb heat retention to enable the chef to cook at high temperatures.

Charcoal BBQs - click here to view our range of full range of products