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.