It’s the last bank holiday of the summer, the kids will be back at school soon, and it won’t be long before the nights start drawing in and we’re putting our garden furniture away for the autumn/winter.
So, at Lazy Susan we think the best thing to do is to invite our family and friends over, get the BBQ fired up for a final cookout, and have us a good old garden get-together.
This article is our guide to hosting the perfect BBQ. How to prepare and plan it. What you need and what food you should serve. A few simple tricks and tips to host a BBQ that is sure to impress your guests
Bank Holiday BBQ’s the Lazy Susan way
Before you start sending out text invites and making plans, make sure you have the right equipment and you’re ready to cook.
Check you have everything you need and it's all in safe working order.
Even little things like forgetting kitchen roll can have you scrabbling around the house for a substitute.
Make a list of what you need.
Check you have enough charcoal, lighting gel/blocks and any extras you like to use such as wood chips.
If your grill is gas, ensure you have a full bottle and test it to make sure everything is in good (safe) working order.
Give your grill a good clean so it is looking its best.
And, if you’re inviting a few family and friends over then be sure to pull out all the stops. This could potentially be the last BBQ of the summer, so make it special!
With the basics in place, there are a few extras that here at Lazy Susan we feel also need to be on your to-do/buy list if you don't already own them...
A good pair of tongs and a spatula will make life so much easier.
They don’t have to be BBQ specific too. At Lazy Susan we’re big fans of the Joseph & Joseph Elevate™ range of kitchen utensils (shown above), especially the Silicone Steel Tongs (4th from the right).
Well-cooked meat needs regular turning, you don’t want it to burn, and you definitely don’t want to burn yourself!
If you’re applying a marinade while cooking, then a BBQ Basting Brush such as the Weber Premium (pictured above) is another must-have in our humble opinion.
Preparation is the key to a good Bank Holiday BBQ
Good BBQ is all about having to hand what you need and getting your timings right.
Make sure everything is in place, and that you light at the right time so that guests aren’t eating as they arrive or waiting too long when they do.
Getting those timings right before you start cooking is the key to serving perfectly cooked tasty food…
Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking it.
This will prevent the meat from being ‘shocked’ when placed on a hot grill and help to cook it through evenly without the need to overcook.
By bringing the meat up to room temperature first, you also reduce the risk of blackening the outside too much and leaving the inside undercooked with meats such as chicken.
It is the flame that is the make or break when it comes to cooking meat correctly on a BBQ.
Not an issue on a gas grill, as you can easily control the heat (although you can still get it wrong), however, if you are cooking on charcoal or wood, then patience is your friend.
Let the flames die down and the coals turn white.
Don’t rush to put food on as flames will only cook the outside and not the in.
Your BBQ Shopping List
Of course, the most important component of any BBQ is the food.
It doesn’t matter if you have a state of the art gas grill or old metal drum, the food is what will bring the ‘wow’.
Create a shopping list of what you and your guests want/would like to eat.
Being organised and planning out dishes might seem more dinner party and a little OTT for a simple BBQ but it’s the best way to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
Don’t forget, you want to cook, but you also want to enjoy the food and company.
A little bit of pre-planning will make that happen.
Use your local butcher. They can guide you, help you get the best cuts.
Good BBQ meat needs a layer of fat on the outside to protect the meat and impart all the natural juices to keep it moist and tasty.
When you cook it, the meat needs to be of the same/even size to ensure it cooks evenly.
Moisture is the key and this is where many of us in the UK go wrong but the US have it sussed.
A good marinade and regular basting when on the grill will deliver perfectly cooked meat that is tender and moist.
We often assume that a marinade is just about the flavour but they actually help to cook the meat better.
If you cook veggies on the grill, a light baste of butter, oil or a BBQ-style marinade will also help to better cook and stop them from drying out too.
Don’t forget your BBQ Sides
A good side takes your BBQ food to the next level.
After all, what is a burger without all the bells and whistles or a steak without a good side salad?
Be adventurous, try something fresh and new, give your guests options so they can build their plate to taste.
At Lazy Susan we feel the sides are often just as important as the main event.
Extras for the BBQ
If you want to go the extra mile, then our advice would be to add a little smoke for flavour.
Now it isn’t a deal-breaker but it can up the taste significantly, and you can choose from different types of wood to impart the best flavour for whichever type of meat or fish you’re serving.
A small handful of wood chips thrown over hot coals before you cook is the perfect way to deliver that wood-smoked flavour onto your food.
Soak them in water for 30 mins to 1 hour and it will slow down how quickly they burn and generate even more smokey goodness.
There’s a great article on Char-Griller that’ll help you select the best type of wood chips for the meat, veg or fish you’re planning to cook this Bank Holiday.
What to serve
I’m sure most reading this know how to set up and cook a good BBQ?
The problem for many is more a question of what to cook.
Especially if you’re wanting to impress friends and family!
You can’t go wrong with good quality meat (unless your friends are Vegan, but we’ve got you covered there a little further down the page).
…But the keyword here is quality.
The better quality of the meat, the better the taste.
However, you’ve got to cook it in the right way too!
Some cuts such as pork shoulder or ribs are best low and slow.
Other such as say a Tomahawk steak or lamb chop only need a few minutes on each side.
Church’s Butchers have a great article that looks at the best cuts of meat for the BBQ, our advice would be to start there, or pop into your local friendly butchers and ask them.
If you’re really stuck for ideas or time then you could always order something like Donald Russell’s Bumper Bank Holiday BBQ Selection.
Cuts a corner. Lets you focus on the cooking and making the most of the Bank Holiday (fingers crossed) sunshine.
From juicy steak burgers to tasty handmade sausages, their hand-picked selection is packed full of delicious food for a summer BBQ.
And no this isn’t an advert, but trust us, for £19.99 (reduced from £42.25 we may add) and delivered to your front door in their pioneering chilled boxes, you can’t go wrong!
That said, for Lazy Susan, we would recommend that you have a go at making your own burgers if you’ve got the time, they just taste so much better. And if you're looking for some recipe inspo, a few months back we published our Top 3 BBQ Recipes.
Don’t forget the drinks
Whilst meat tends to be the main event, just like the aforementioned sides, it is the other elements that will help to bring your BBQ together.
Drinks for example are just as important and much needed on a sunny day.
Make sure you have a selection of different non and non-alcoholic drinks for all tastes.
Soft drinks for the kids, ice-cold beer and wine. A bottle of champagne or two maybe?
Look at pairing your wine or craft beers with the food you’re serving. A good bottle shop will be able to help you in that department, whilst most supermarkets have labels that tell you what they best pair with.
However, we think one of the best options with a BBQ is a good summer cocktail.
There are loads online but Olive have a great article that lists some refreshing (and most importantly easy to make) Jug Cocktails such as the Port & Grapefruit Cooler shown above.
Plan your BBQ
If you are turning your Bank Holiday BBQ into a garden get-together, then a little forward planning will help things go off without a hitch. Or at the very least help, you enjoy the party too.
Purchase some nice disposable plates, cups and wooden cutlery such as the Bamboo Plates from Pandabode (pictured above).
They look great, they’re eco-friendly, and they’ll save on the washing up and worry of potential breakages.
Set up a Bluetooth speaker to provide some background music. If you’ve got an Alexa or Spotify, let your guests select the songs.
If the party is likely to continue into the even, prepare for the temperature to drop too.
Some soft outdoor blankets, good garden lighting and a fire pit or patio heater are always a good investment.
Don’t forget the pescatarians/vegans/those with food allergies
If you’re inviting people over it is important you cater to their tastes.
They’ll appreciate the effort.
Do a little research and find some recipes that they’ve maybe not tried before?
For veggies and vegans, pimp up those salads and sides.
Have a look at recipes that include meat substitutes such as Tofu and Quorn.
When it comes to BBQ’ing vegetables, our advice is to always go for what’s in season.
Vegetables char-grilled on the BBQ take on some wonderful flavours and always look great on the plate too.
Maybe throw a little grilled fruit such as peaches or nectarines into a salad for example.
For any pescatarians, fish is always a winner on the BBQ. A good piece of salmon with lemon, dill and pepper never fails to impress.
If you want to get a little more adventurous, then for us, it has to be Halloumi or Jackfruit.
The Vegan Pulled Jackfruit from BBC Good Food (pictured above) blew my mind when a friend cooked it for me for the first time!
The most important thing to remember is that you need to have fun, so get grilling and enjoy your bank holiday weekend!
Help Lazy Susan Do Some Good…
Just take a few pictures and we’ll donate money to our chosen charity partners.