WE are almost at that time of year when people brush off their rusty spider-filled barbecues and vie with each other to take a perfectly good piece of meat and set fire to it.
I’m relatively new to this game having probably only hosted about 30 odd barbecues – some of them very odd — in my entire life, so here are a few tips for all you newcomers like me.
Begin by alerting both your nearest neighbours to the barbecue. You’re on good terms with them now but this can change rapidly if their lines of clean washing are obscured by rolling clouds of charcoal smoke.
Then you should turn your attention to the barbecue itself, ensuring all those smelly, curly black bits still stuck to the grill from the final barbecue you had last September are scraped off. If you don’t have a scraper don’t worry too much. Mortality rates from consuming such vintage bits of meat are reassuring low.
Giving the bowl of the barbecue a bit of a scour is always good for getting rid of crud, piles of ash and the remains of grandad’s dentures which must have shot in there last summer when you did those extra strong chilli burgers and he screamed.
With all equipment in reasonable condition, great care should also be taken where you site your barbecue as unleashing a furnace near the wife’s favourite clump of flowers is unlikely to go down too well. Any excuse about stray gusts of wind will draw a withering response and you’ll end up having to do the washing up for the next week.
Caution must also be exercised over the quantity of lighter fuel used to ignite the charcoal since moustaches, eyebrows and other facial hair can be gone in a flash and take weeks to grow back, so tell her to take care.
Having caused the minimum of garden damage to get the barbecue going, always choose a decent quality of meat to cook.
Too much fat in the food will swiftly transform into liquid fat trickling on to the coals, transforming your hotly glowing charcoal into a raging inferno of lava proportions. Shortly afterwards your food, the barbecue and distressingly large areas of your garden will be obscured by flames.
Always ask your guests hiding in the far corner of the garden how they like their meat done as this displays an air of professionalism and knowledge which helps to allay any suspicion that you have little real idea what you are doing.
A decent pair of thick oven gloves is always a help. Diners love the smell of cooking sausages and steaks but seem less appreciative of the smell of burning hair, screaming and the cook suddenly plunging his hand into the bowl of coleslaw.
When all the meat not still on fire is cooked and it is time to serve, don’t stint on the mustard marinade which can help disguise any small mistakes which may have been made such as putting chops on the grill before igniting the lighter fuel instead of after.
Finally when eating the lightly carbonized meal you have prepared always make sure that your doctor’s number is left near a phone for convenient use later in the evening, also checking all guests before they leave for any unusual pallor or signs they may have vomited recently.
Bear all this in mind and you can’t go wrong. Happy cooking.