Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Serving Up BBQ Dishes With a Difference

The season for BBQs has arrived, bringing the chance to eat al fresco in the sunshine with family and friends. Many people are either getting out their BBQ from last year or investing in a new one. Whether you prefer concrete, brick, masonry or stone BBQs, there are many different designs to choose from, including chimney BBQs.

Once you've got your BBQ set up and have arranged the area with attractive seating and tables, the next question is what to cook? Many people rely on the same old favourites every time, such as sausages and chicken legs. However, there are plenty of other sizzling recipes which also taste great cooked and eaten in the open air. Here Big K, who supply a wide range of BBQs, accessories and BBQ fuels, look at some dishes with a difference to enjoy outdoors this summer.

BBQ Fuels - Click the link to see Big K's full product range.

Meat Dishes

As well as burgers and sausages, there are also many other meat dishes which can be cooked in the open air. Often it's a case of putting a new spin on a traditional BBQ recipe, for instance by marinating lamb chunks in Indian spices to create kebabs with a curry twist. Alternatively, pour a yoghurt-based Tandoori marinade over chicken breasts, thighs or chunks, and then leave the chicken to soak up the flavours before grilling.

Flattening pork chops, cutlets or cheaper cuts of steak before cooking them can help to make them easier to cook – or you could just prick the meat with a fork. Again, a marinade will help to add both flavour and tenderness. Mix up your own marinades and you can have fun adding different flavours, ranging from garlic to soy sauce, honey, vinegar and rosemary. Peppers or hotter spices will give a stronger tang.

Marinating well ahead is the key to a successful BBQ meat feast. If using charcoal, it's also essential to make sure the coal is at the right temperature and has turned white before adding the meat, so that it cooks evenly throughout. Another way to help the meat cook well is to add a stainless steel steak grill to your BBQ. You could also buy a rotisserie spit and cook a whole chicken over the BBQ, achieving a deliciously even flavour.

BBQ Fish Dishes

Meat might be the first type of food that comes to mind when planning a BBQ, but it's by no means the only option. Fish also tastes great cooked in this way. If you're a fan of BBQ seafood dishes you can even buy a double fish grill to make it easier to cook, making turning easier and keeping the fish in great condition.

One delicacy to try is a salmon fillet, marinated in a garlic and olive oil-based mixture and cooked on foil. Alternatively, whole fish that work well grilled on the BBQ range from trout to mackerel, sea bass, bream or red mullet; and leaving the skin on means a deliciously crispy outside layer. However, it's best to make sure the BBQ isn't too hot, to avoid cooking the outside of the fish too well before the inside is ready. It can be easier to cook fish dishes over gas barbecue grills because of the greater controllability, but they can also be grilled successfully over charcoal.

As well as whole fish, kebabs made from chunks of white fish or prawn skewers are also ideal treats for a BBQ party. Or why not try fish parcels wrapped in foil, prepared with a Thai or Chinese marinade?

Veggie Options

So what about vegetarian guests? The good news is that there's no need for non-meat eaters to feel left out, because there are many veggie options which taste equally good cooked in the great outdoors.

Instead of buying ready-made veggie burgers, you could try slices of grilled aubergine with halloumi and pesto patties in a burger bun. Carrot and sesame burgers are another option. Grilled vegetable kebabs, featuring a colourful mix of peppers, courgettes and mushrooms, are also likely to prove popular.

Other Items on the Menu

The key to a great BBQ isn't just the food you cook on the grill, but also the extras. The key is to keep things simple but interesting, for instance by trying out some different salads or more unusual types of breads. If anyone still has room for dessert, banana splits are a great BBQ option. Sprinkle lemon juice and brown sugar on sliced bananas and grill them quickly, with vanilla ice cream as the finishing touch.

If you are looking for inspiration for unusual BBQ dishes, there are plenty of recipe books to choose from. The BBQ Book, presented by Jamie Oliver's Food Tube, includes recipes by American chef DJ BBQ, also known as Christian Stevenson. Ainsley's Ultimate Barbecue Bible, by TV chef Ainsley Harriott, is another popular title on the theme.

Big K has a range of products including brick and stone BBQs, plus many other options to suit your particular garden. We also sell a full range of barbecue accessories and offer home delivery of BBQ fuels.

Big K Stone BBQs - Click to see our range of outdoor living products.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why is Cooking with Charcoal so Appealing?

There has long been a debate over which is better to use – gas or charcoal barbecues. While some chefs prefer gas fired barbecues for the convenience, others favour cooking with charcoal…and wouldn’t have it any other way. This article looks at why cooking with charcoal is so appealing, and throws the spotlight on some of the most popular Big K outdoor living products available to buy now.

Big K - Click here to see our full range of summer barbecues including gas and charcoal bbqs.

Five Benefits of Cooking with Charcoal

Are you struggling to decide which barbecue to buy this summer? The choice really comes down to preference as gas and charcoal grills both have their benefits. But here are five reasons why some chefs can’t get enough of charcoal:

Unrivalled Flavour – One of the principal reasons why some chefs prefer charcoal grills is the delicious, smokey flavour that you simply won't get with a gas barbecue. The flavour from charcoal grilled sausages, chicken, steaks, fish or vegetables is simply unbeatable, and is why some householders wouldn’t swap their charcoal BBQ for anything else.

Going Back to Your Roots – Cooking with charcoal has a certain primitive charm. This gives you the chance to go back to basics with friends and family, and feel at one with nature as you cook your food over open flames - just as your ancestors did.

A Sociable Way to Cook – While gas barbecues are quicker to heat up, the wait for the food is half the fun. Your guests will enjoy gathering around the fire, catching up over a glass of wine or beer, and taking it in turns to lend their hand at cooking.

They’re Cheaper – Charcoal barbecues are generally cheaper than their gas equivalent and tend to take up less space overall, so they are great for small gardens. And, with such a wide choice available from Big K, including masonry barbecues and stone barbecues, you will find the perfect one to match your home and garden.

Take Them Anywhere – Big K's wide range of outdoor living products includes throw-away picnic barbecues, which you can easily use in the garden or pack in the boot of the car to take down to the beach or local park. These portable BBQs are simple to use; they only need a match to light and take just 20 minutes to heat up. Click here to order a pack of ten disposable picnic barbecues.

Top Tips on Preparing a Charcoal Grill

Lighting a barbecue for the first time? Here are a few pointers on how to prepare a charcoal grill, so you can impress your guests with your expertise.

  • When you put the charcoal on the barbecue make sure the briquettes are placed close together in a pile before lighting. This enables the fire to spread more easily, so the barbecue heats up quicker.
  • Let the fire burn for about thirty minutes or so before cooking. If you do find the flames are dying out the best bet is to fan the flames with a tea towel or newspaper to get them going again. If you need more heat - just add more charcoal.
  • Once the coals are covered in ash, grey in colour and glowing, your barbecue is ready to use. First, use a poker to spread the coals about, so you get a good hot surface to cook on. Leave an area without coals, which you can use once food is cooked.
  • Next, place the grill on top and let it heat up for a while to get it really hot before cooking. Now you are ready to go!
  • Once in a while fat may drip onto the coals and cause the flames to flare up. The best thing to do is just to move your food to the empty side (the side without fuel) and wait for the flames to die down before cooking again.

Big K sell a wide range of barbecue products including gas and charcoal barbecues, bbq accessories, summer fuel, and portable barbecues. Just click on the link above to order your summer fuel products today.