Don’t let the cold and rain deter you – having a barbecue is an exciting way to cook food, come rain or shine! Just because British summer has officially departed and people have begun their Christmas-countdowns, does not mean it’s time to shift your barbecue into the shed or wrap it up for winter.
After all, our summer barbecues are often filled with shivers, sheltering from the showers, and dashing, wheeling the barbecue to a more sheltered spot because of the sudden gusts of wind. So embrace the winter months and view them as an opportunity to spice up your chilly evenings and cook some wholesome recipes in the fresh air.
To ensure your winter barbecue is a success, we have some top tips for you.
As much as we love the unpredictable British weather, one thing we know for sure is that winter nights can be bone-chillingly cool. Frozen fingertips and Rudolph noses are not helpful, so before you head into the garden make sure you’re warmly dressed – fingerless gloves with a mitten covering are great for letting you manage the barbecue and keep your fingers warm, and don’t forget a hat, scarf, thick socks, big jumper and jacket too.
On really cold nights, you might want to get a bonfire going or use a patio heater to kick-off some additional warmth.
It may sound obvious, but make sure you clean the barbecue in advance and that you have enough coal and firelighters to hand. These things are easy to overlook in between barbecuing, and the last thing you want is to delay cooking while you wash the grill or run to the shops for fuel.
Also, allow enough time for the barbecue to get going and for the coals to heat up nicely before you begin cooking.
Keep it simple
On chilly nights, it’s best to stick to easy barbecue foods like sausages, burgers, fish, and chopped vegetables on skewers, because these will cook quickly and well. For foods that require longer, like jacket potatoes, you can prepare these earlier and add them to the barbecue before you head out for the hands-on cooking, to ensure you don’t have to stand around in the cold for too long.
Do all your sorting and chopping in the warmth of your kitchen, to reduce your barbecuing time. And of course, all the extra barbecue delights like salads and sauces can also be prepared indoors.
Put a lid on it
In the summer, it’s lovely to see the sausages sizzle and burgers lightly burn on the open barbecue grill. However, the winter weather will likely dictate the need to close the barbecue lid and keep all the heat inside. Make sure you keep an eye on how the food is progressing, but the lid-down approach does help boost the cooking temperature.
Make it fun
Invite the neighbours round and gather some friends to join your winter barbecue. Turn up the music, preferably artists like the Beach Boys and The Kinks for some summer-themed tunes, and really enjoy cooking alfresco.
You should also ask guests to bring something along – their trademark barbecue dip or homemade spicy ginger beer – to add to the cheer of the occasion. Munching on snacks before and after the barbecue is all part of the great tradition, after all.
Heat those drinks
Clutching a warm mug or sipping on a fiery beverage is an easy way to stay warm. So make sure your guests have plenty of tea, mulled wine or homemade alternative to keep them happy.
Yes, if all else fails, head indoors to eat your barbecued feast! Cooking the food outdoors is the fun part and if the temperature truly nose-dives, why not head inside to eat all the lovely food. You can always venture outside again later, to toast those marshmallows and enjoy mugs of hot chocolate, to round off your perfect winter barbecue.