Balmy summer evenings - time for a garden party with good friends and delicious food, and the best type of food for such parties comes straight from the barbecue.
However, a perfect barbecue evening doesn't just depend on good company - you also need the right equipment. The perfect equipment depends on the situation. For example, a campfire is good for camping but a traditional coal or gas barbecue is a trusty companion for family parties in your garden. Anyone wanting to have a cosy barbecue around the table even if the weather is less than perfect can do this easily with a modern electric barbecue.
To enjoy all the fun of a barbecue at any time and to make barbecue evenings the highlight of your summer, follow these rules for success:
• The quality of the meat is the be all and end all when barbecuing. Not every special offer is a true bargain. The colour says a lot about the quality. Beef, for example, should be a deep red colour, pork should be a robust pinkish-red, veal a mellow pink and lamb light red.
• Cut the meat into pieces at right angles to the fibres and not too thinly as thin pieces of meat dry out too quickly when barbecued. Steaks should be cut even thicker than usual so that they stay nice and juicy.
• So that the marinade develops its full flavour and you can enjoy it to the full, you should marinate meat a few hours before cooking.
• It's all down to the seasoning: spices should enhance the intrinsic flavour of the meat and not overpower it. First commandment: add salt just before cooking.
• Quality also plays an important role when it comes to charcoal for the barbecue. Good quality charcoal ensures a good glow and small amounts of ash.
• Take your time! Meat can only be cooked properly once the charcoal is glowing all the way through.
• The right cooking temperature has been reached when you hold your hand 10 to 15 cm over the grill and after about 3 seconds it is so hot that you have to pull your hand away. If you have to pull your hand away a lot sooner, the rack should be moved to a higher position or the temperature of the barbecue should be reduced using the air supply (in the case of a kettle barbecue).
• Variety makes a difference. Colourful vegetable kebabs or pieces of vegetables are excellent if cooked on the barbecue. Fresh fish also cooks well on a barbecue.
• When barbecuing fish, choose types that have firm, stable flesh, such as salmon, mackerel, perch or trout. Since the last two types are not as oily as salmon or mackerel, they should be wrapped in foil so that they don't dry out too quickly.
• A large selection of side dishes and salads round off the whole barbecue experience.
Of course, when it comes to sauces you can make do with mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. However, you will be the star of the show if you make the effort to prepare a homemade culinary feast. Happy faces at the table and knowing what fresh ingredients have been used to make the sauce make up for the time spent preparing it. If we have got your taste buds watering, prepare a fresh sauce/dip using our delicious recipes below:
Oil (for cooking)
1 cup of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of vinegar
½ tablespoon of mustard
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
Chop the onions into small pieces and fry in a pan with the oil. Then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and demerara sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes and season with salt and pepper. The BBQ sauce can be served warm or cold.
1 ripe mango
Pinch of red chilli
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 glug of maple syrup
1 spring onion
Puree 2/3 of the mango with the chilli, curry powder, maple syrup and lime juice. Cut the spring onion into rings and add the remaining mango, chopped into small pieces. You now have a delicious fruity dip.