Inviting family and friends to your home for a barbecue is part of the Australian way of life. It’s how we entertain and socialise. A barbecue is perfect for taking advantage of the country’s climate and laid-back lifestyle. But it has become more than just throwing a sausage on the hotplate. Barbecues are an integral part of patios and can make a statement about how you live outdoors. The range of barbecues today is huge so finding the right one to suit your lifestyle should be easy.
What Do You Cook?
Before buying a barbecue, ask yourself what you will use it for. If you are just a ‘sausage and steak’-kind of cook then you won’t need anything too extravagant. A simple flat-plated barbecue should do you and it won’t break the bank. But if you like to get a bit more adventurous with your culinary skills, a barbecue with more flexibility is for you. Look for a barbecue with a hood so you can roast, or a side burner so you can boil up some potatoes.
Where Will You Cook?
Placement of your barbecue is important. You don’t want to have to keep moving it around because the wind is taking all the heat off the plate. Find a place that is protected from the wind – backing onto a wall is usually a good idea. You will also want it placed somewhere where is gets plenty of light. Consider mounting a spotlight above it. You also want it somewhere so you can still socialise while the sausages are sizzling. Perhaps by the pool is the ideal location? Just make sure that the pool cleaner is working strong and the water is sparkling clean.
Burners and Gas
The number of burners a barbecue has directly relates to the amount of space you have to cook. Two burners will generally have one cooking plate, while four and six burners will be bigger and have two to three plates. You don’t need all the burners going at once either – just use the ones under the plate you plan to cook on.
The burners use gas to create the flame and this gas can come from two sources. The first is LPG, which comes in a gas bottle and is the most widely used fuel. The second is natural gas, the same that powers your heaters indoors. Just be aware that barbecues running on natural gas need a different type of burner, so you will need to buy a conversion kit or a new barbecue that is ready for natural gas. While natural gas is cheaper to use, it does not burn as hot as LPG.
Essential Barbecue Tips
To get the most out of your barbecue, here are a few handy tips:
- Invest in a cover for your barbecue to protect it from the elements. Make sure you get the right size.
- Most barbecue plates have the drain hole at the side of the plate. Unfortunately, fat and debris can drop through it and land on the burner, blocking the jets. If you own an angle grinder, remove the plate and grind a hole in the centre of the plate so the debris and oil drops straight on the drip tray instead.
- Keep your barbecue clean. Do this by cleaning it after each use to prevent the build-up of fat and grime which can be difficult to remove if they are left too long.
- Invest in a barbecue mat, which can be placed under the barbecue to prevent drips and splatters.
- Use the outside burners when roasting and place the plate in the middle of the barbecue to prevent damage to the hood.
- The hottest part of the barbecue plate is the very back.
- Enamel hoods are easier to clean than stainless steel and will last longer.