Ten steps to the perfect Plutonium Sox barbecue

So, barbecue season is upon us! Oh no, my mistake, it isn’t. But it should be, and I’m feeling unusually optimistic that it will be soon! Last summer, our barbecues were impromptu, disorganised and, quite frankly, a bit crap. So this year, as a one-off, once in a lifetime, never to be repeated exercise, I’m planning this year’s barbecues. I’ve made a list and I do believe I’ve cracked it. This year’s barbecues are going to be a different story! So here is my ten-step guide to avoiding the sort of barbecues we had last year!

  1. Meat: Buy the best meat you can afford. Ours this year will come from our local farm shop. I’m vegetarian but my husband swears by these locally produced burgers. From a vegetarian perspective, I feel much better about it because it is ethically sourced ‘happy meat’ with a very low carbon footprint.
  2. Fish: As with the meat, I would always be happier if this was ethically sourced and as local as possible. My fish preparation tips are to soak it in lemon, season it with salt, pepper and thyme, wrap it in foil so it is airtight and then put it on the barbeque for 20 minutes.
  3. Vegetarian: This is my forté! My main tip for vegetarians who are having a barbecue with meat eaters is to have two separate barbecues, one for meat and fish and one for vegetarian things. You will also find that the meat-eaters like the look of your veggie items that they had been so scathing about before they smelt them, so make plenty! My favourite veggie things on the barbecue are vegetable and halloumi skewers and asparagus. Corn on the cob is also great, along with the usual veggie burgers and veggie sausages.
  4. Other food: Baked potatoes can be cooked really nicely on the barbecue when wrapped in tin foil and placed directly into the coals. Coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad and greek salad make great side orders that are easy for people to help themselves to, along with crisps carrot sticks, celery sticks and dips.
  5. Weather: I have pre-ordered a heatwave for the next two weeks so that I can fit in a few barbecues in perfect weather. If you don’t have this luxury, an alternative is to purchase a small gazebo so that you can still have a barbecue even if the weather isn’t kind to you. Only the barbecues and the chef need to be under the gazebo so it only has to be tiny.
  6. Desserts: Great, simple desserts that people can help themselves to include bannoffee pie, trifle and fresh fruit salad. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and want to cook your dessert on the barbecue, you could try peeling some bananas, wrapping them in foil and putting them on the barbecue. When you take them off, they will be nicely cooked through and you can split them down the middle and put chocolate buttons into them. On top of those, you can put slices of strawberry and small scoops of vanilla ice-cream. Delicious.
  7. Drinks: A bring your own drinks rule is a great idea to create a wine and beer buffet. Just make sure you have plenty of glasses! I always find that telling people to bring their own drinks is the best part of having a social gathering at home because we tend to be drinking it for several weeks afterwards.
  8. The competitive edge: We are lucky enough to have two family friends who pride themselves on their cocktail making. At this year’s barbecues, we are going to have an ongoing series of competitions in which they each make their own versions of pre-defined cocktails and we judge them on whose is the best. The winner will be crowned based on points at the end of the barbecue season. This could be done with any aspect of the barbecue- food, salads, desserts or cocktails.
  9. Guests: The company is the most important part of any social occasion. My tip in this respect would be that unless you are having a huge party, don’t mix your social groups. If people don’t know each other or usually socialise together, it is likely to be awkward. Stick to groups that you know get along. An argument or uncomfortable social situation will be stressful for you and prevent you from enjoying the party that you have worked so hard to create.
  10. Plan, plan, plan: Your ten steps to success are unlikely to be the same as mine. You might also want to consider garden furniture, child-proofing your garden or ensuring that it is looking suitably stylish before your guests arrive. This fantastic website offers lots more barbecue tips and advice.

Disclaimer- this post is sponsored but the views, opinions, pre-ordered heatwave, competitive family friends and rather relaxed looking dog are all mine.


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