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How to choose a barbecue - which fuel?
There are three main types of barbecue fuel – charcoal, gas and compressed wood pellets.
Charcoal is far and away the most readily available fuel source and the most authentic. In fact, many chefs swear by it for imbuing flavour. Charcoal barbecues are also the cheapest to buy, which is hardly surprising given that they are so simple in structure and concept.
The main issue with charcoal of the lump-wood variety is that it burns quite fiercely and very quickly, so the key thing is to light it about 40 minutes before putting on the first sausage. Add the food too soon while the charcoal is still flaming and it’ll be scorched to a cinder and taste like burnt wood. Put it on too late and the charcoal may run out of puff before the food’s cooked through.
Briquettes are much easier to use because they burn for much longer and at a much steadier pace, though they take even longer to reach optimum temperature. However, choose your briquettes wisely because some of them are full of nasty chemicals. We would recommend Weber and Heat Beads.
Gas makes barbecuing really easy because you can tame or turn up the flame instantly simply by fiddling with a knob. Gas barbies also heat up really quickly and are ready to grill on in about 15 minutes.
Granted, gas may not be considered as authentic as charcoal but most people won’t be able to tell the difference. And besides, gas is considered safer if grilling in open air public spaces like campsites and wooded or dry areas. In fact, charcoal barbecues are banned from most campsites. So, if you want an easier, less volatile route to grilling then perhaps consider opting for a gas grill.
The pellet barbecue is a relatively new addition to the pantheon of outdoor grilling, at least in the UK. But if you’ve ever used the system you’ll know that it’s the Holy Grail of grilling.
It uses compressed wood pellets – available in a variety of woods from maple and mesquite to cherry and apple – that gives grilled food an authentically woody flavour. It’s almost impossible to burn the food because the grill’s temperature is controlled by a computer processor.
In fact, a pellet grill behaves just like an indoor oven so that when you set the preferred grilling temperature, it remains within two degrees for absolute consistency. You simply put the food on the grill, close the lid and chat to your guest, turning the food just once or twice during the whole process.
The only issue with pellet grills is that they require an electricity source to run the corkscrew-like auger that feeds the pellets from a hopper. But this small inconvenience is more than compensated for by the effortless way it grills meats to perfection.
These are ten top accessories to make sure your barbecue is a success
Everyday 16-Piece Barbecue Tool Set
This 16 piece BBQ set features high-quality stainless steel BBQ tools and accessories.
There’s everything you need for a successful barbecue and it’s all stored in a dual-purpose bag which can also be used as an apron.
It’s all dishwasher safe too so you can quickly get them washed and ready for the next barbecue.
Pagan Barbecue Pan with Folding Handle
This barbecue pan, with perforated base, is ideal for cooking for meat, fish and vegetables. It has a foldable handle for easy storage and is reusable and washable.
Hamburger Press with Soft Grip Handle Grill Press
Make your own tasty meat, fish or vegetable burgers with this heavy-duty textured press and base for making consistently sized and shaped quarter pounder burgers every time.
Features a soft-touch handle and a non-stick coating for easy release. There are also ridges to produce traditional style grilled burgers. It also comes with a free burger recipe, perfect for getting you started.
Lakeland Meat and Poultry Roast Lifting Forks – Set of 2
These meat lifting forks have been specially designed to help you safely transfer piping hot roasts from the barbecue to the serving plate.
Their soft-touch handles make them comfortable to use and allow you to grip them securely without worrying about dropping your food.
Home Made Sausage Maker
Take your barbecue up a notch and really impress your guests by making your own sausages with this handy gadget.
Making your own sausages gives you greater control of exactly what is going in them, and lets you experiment with flavours to create your own sizzling treats.
Argos Home Deluxe BBQ Accessory Kit - 3 Piece
A must-have for all grill-seekers, this triple pack of BBQ accessories gives you everything you need to sizzle and sear successfully.
With a spatula to flip burgers, tongs to turn sausages, and a fork to test the meat and see if it’s ready. Made from a scratch-resistant stainless-steel.
Round acacia barbecue butcher's block
Let everyone know that they’re in for a treat when you get the barbecue out with this dedicated chopping board, perfect for preparing your meat or vegetables before you get them on the grill.
Barbecue skewer holder with porcelain sauce dish
Present your kebabs in style with this skewer holder, which is suitable for both dishwasher and microwave use, so it’s easy to reheat any food that may have gone a bit cold and can quickly be washed ready to use again on the next sunny day.
Ooni Pizzaiolo Apron
Made from heavy-duty canvas with genuine leather details, this apron is perfect for keeping your clothes clean while you watch your food cook.
The adjustable straps and ties provide the perfect fit and there’s also three pockets and a dish towel holder so you can safely store all the things you might need while keeping your hands free to turn your food on the grill.
Designed with removable buckles and straps, when you’ve finished cooking, pop your apron in the washing machine ready for another day.
Everdure The Cube by Heston Blumenthal
Key specs: Heat source: Charcoal; Grills for: Up to four; Weight: 8.1kg
Designed by foody wizard Heston Blumenthal, this brazier-style charcoal grill is one of the classiest portable grills around.
Constructed out of lightweight steel, the porcelain enamelled Cube comes with a small 10-inch grill that sits about half an inch below the casing to stop obstreperous sausages from rolling off into the furnace below.
It’s the perfect size grilling area for two and up to four at a pinch. The sealable lid, meanwhile, also serves as a prep board – very handy when grilling in the great outdoors.
Where some portables are equipped with a bulging lid for convection style grilling, this model is of the fast and furious brazier variety so you will either need to place the charcoal in the middle and cook on the sides or keep an eye on the food and turn it regularly.
In our test the Cube grilled half a dozen sausages and burgers really well. It was also light enough to carry 50 metres or so and the base never got hot enough to scorch grass. If you have a small patio or are going to a campsite that allows charcoal barbecues, then this simple but effective model will do the trick and do it well.