Autumn is well and truly upon us and with it comes crisp, cool air and that settled feeling as routine replaces the seemingly endless havoc of summer. While the trees turn to beautiful shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, and copper, the last few months before winter’s return need to be enjoyed to the fullest before you decide to permanently place the outdoor furniture covers. And what better way to do it than have a backyard barbeque with friends and family. However, just the mere thought of hosting a brilliant barbecue can stress out even the best, most seasoned party thrower. Worry not. With a little knowledge and some pre-planning, your next autumn barbecue can be turned into a smashing hit.
Depending upon the number of guests you’re inviting, plan your menu well in advance. Barbeque etiquette demands the guests bring along some nibbles, but don’t count on that unless you want your guests to eat only crisps. Barbecuing calls for some heavy duty eating and there’s nothing better than the wafting smell of grilled meat. Pick the meat of your choice and stick to crowd pleasers like steak, chicken or pork ribs. Marinate the meats the night before and keep them refrigerated until you’ve fired up the grill.
Set Up Stations
Putting together a barbeque assembly line is essential in order to keep the guests occupied. This not only gives your guests a chance to get involved with their do-it-yourself plate prep but also gives you time to mingle with the guests. Stations work particularly well if you’re serving burgers. Lay out the grilled meat on large trays along with buns, veggies and other condiments and let your guests create their own special burgers. Similarly, you can also have ribs, chicken, and steak laid out in a visually appealing way with grilled veg and let the guests pick their choice along with the salad and gravy.
The whole reason you put together an autumn barbecue was to get together with friends and have a good time. So keep it that way and don’t go overboard with the drinks. This becomes all the more important in case you have kids running around the place and hot surfaces like grills and cooktops are within reach. One drink too many can easily distract you and cause potentially serious problems. Drinks also turn people clumsy so there will be plenty of spills; protect your furniture with chair covers and save yourself the hassle of cleaning up later.
Forget the Vegetarians
Yes, barbecues are all about the meat, but don’t let your vegetarian – or veggie loving – mates feel left out. Have options other than the ubiquitous potato salad for them to choose from. Grilled veggies like zucchini squash, peppers, mushrooms, and asparagus are some great choices that the vegetarians will happily gorge on.
Start Cooking Too Soon
You cannot just slap the meat on the grill as soon as you’ve lit the coals. Let the coals burn into an even grey colour before you start cooking. This ensures the heat is proportionally distributed throughout the grill and your meat would cook evenly. If you have a gas grill, leave the lid closed and let it heat up to at least 350-degrees. It ensures your cooking grates are nice and hot to sear the meat immediately, sealing in the juices and flavor. It also creates the optimum cooking environment for both that open-fire flavor as well as the time-saving baking element. Another mistake that eager grill cooks make is to lift the lid too soon, this not only slows down the cooking process by letting the heat out but can also char your food by providing a rush of oxygen to any smoldering flames.So be patient and everything will turn out just fine.
Overload The Grill
A mistake that is made too often on backyard barbecues. With the excitement to serve the guests fast you might decide to load up the grill beyond its limit. This can have two unwanted effects: it can cause foods to steam rather than grill as the close proximity changes the way your foods cook; and too much fat drippings from those steaks and ribs will undoubtedly cause flames to flare up and lead to a mad scramble to avoid charring and burning your food. This leads to accidents and if you’ve removed your outdoor furniture covers, damage to more than just the food. So keep the meat properly spaced out within the grill, and remember, never try and fight a grease fire by spraying water on it.
There you have it. Now get cracking on those recipes, lay out the table covers, and put on your favourite playlist for an autumn barbecue like none other.