To me the BBQ should live just outside the kitchen door so that it’s never too far from hand. If you’re back having picked the kids up from school it can sometimes seem like a chore to do something out of the routine, but just as we all try to squeeze in that workout routine, try out a new recipe from the latest cookbook, or have a few minutes quiet time before we put the kids to bed, the BBQ needs serious consideration for addition into the daily household routine.
Quite often we leave the BBQ to languishing in the garden, or worse the garage, because it isn’t a scorching hot day, or perhaps there’s just the two of you for dinner and it can seem like a lot of effort. Over decades we’ve come to think of having a BBQ at a weekend, when the stars align on weather and family diaries, but the more people I meet as I deliver masterclasses around the country, the more I see that this is no longer the case, maybe not for the many but it’s definitely a growing trend.
If you’re cooking on gas then really nothing can be simpler than turning on the gas, lighting the burners and leaving to preheat for the same time it takes to warm the oven; and in the same amount of time it takes to burn off the grill and you’re ready to cook. If you’re cooking on charcoal then a chimney lighter and natural lumpwood are a definite go-to, as it will light with ease and quicker than briquettes. If you’re using a wood pellet grill then it’s as simple as switching it on and turning the dial to the temperature you want.
In the workings of a modern family home who wouldn’t love to reduce the workload and when you cook outdoors there isn’t always the need for pots and pans. Chicken pieces and other meats go straight on the grate, vegetables can sit either on the grill over direct heat or indirect heat, and if you have a need for some speed, cook some vegetables in tin foil on direct heat with some fresh herbs, seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice and watch in wonder as you open the parcel to reveal the softest, most tender of cooked greens, perfumed with aromatics and retaining all of their goodness.
If you do need to cook something in a pan then most oven-proof pan will do the job and you just have to remind yourself that the handle is hot, because we’ve always been there, so always use a t-towel.
And as for clean-up, quite often there isn’t any! The most common misconception about BBQ’s is they need to look the way they did when you first took them from the box. While the cooking grate should be scrubbed clean of old food debris when it’s up to temperature, this is by using a BBQ wire brush, not a scouring pad and hot soapy water. Once the grate is brushed smooth, apply a little vegetable or rapeseed oil using half an onion stuck to the BBQ fork, and you’re ready to start cooking dinner. After cooking, close the lid, close the vents or switch off the gas and leave the BBQ till tomorrow.
We all get into routines by habit, and can be mistaken that we are using our time the most efficiently. Cooking everyday food on your barbecue doesn’t have to add work, but can reduce the work you need to do. Whenever we change our behaviour pattern we often wonder how we managed before, and if you’ve had children you can wonder what you did with all your spare time before they came along! Try using your BBQ 2-3 times a week for the coming 2 weeks and see what a difference it can make. Refer back to my Top Ten Tips for some handy pointers for successful grilling and see what a difference the BBQ can make in your daily life.