April 15th 2013 |
The back garden barbecue: The annual battle between man, the elements and pork sausage.
With the sun appearing from behind show-bearing clouds for the ten-minutes that comprise the British summer, thoughts turn to inviting friends and relations for a drink-fuelled party featuring vast quantities of charred meat products.
The temptation, of course, is to do one of three things: Buy a job lot of three-for-a-quid disposable barbecues from your local petrol station, or spend two hundred on a state-of-the-art gas-powered monstrosity from your town’s DIY warehouse.
We don’t have to tell you that neither of these are the work of a gentleman. The true gentleman uses his skill,cunning and a rusty old barbecue rescued from the back of the garage and a sack of charcoal.
The skill, of course, is all in the preparation. The true barbecue connoisseur spends much of the night before preparing his meat products, marinating ribs, chops and slabs of dead cow to perfection. The gentleman may also prepare such alternatives as corn-on-the-cob and jacket potatoes to prove that he is nothing if not diverse and caters for the vegetarians.
The lighting of the barbecue is critical, and is the defeat of many a gentleman. We would allow the soaking of some coals in lighter fluid for the less skilled, but we live to impress onlookers with a fire constructed from kindling, pine cones and small sticks that serve as the start of your charcoal-driven conflagration.
Do not be impatient to load your barbecue with food. This is the major error made by far too many, resulting in meat charred to a crisp on the outside, red raw on the inside, and your guests squirting away like a brown laser for the next two days. A low, even heat with glowing embers is just dandy, and cooks your meat thoroughly and evenly.
We once went to an event where the host bunged the whole lot onto roaring flames. The result was three scraps of chicken shared between nine people, and an emergency posse sent out on a Sunday evening to find a takeaway that was open. A failure that is now on that particular gentleman’s permanent record for all to see.
Usual table etiquette goes to the wind: Serve the food as it’s cooked, for that is the price you pay for being an excellent host. However, this hardship can be more than alleviated with an effective “Kiss the chef” apron-and-hat set.
And then, as the embers die down: The killer blow. Throw on some bananas, wait until they split open and serve with cream or ice cream. You, sir, will be a hero.
Then, you may come in out of the rain.