Who makes the best sausages? Tell us now by voting for Britain's Best Banger! and you could win the ultimate sausage lover's day trip! Vote now!With high summer well and truly here (at least in the South) we though it time for a barbecue update. This supplements our BBQ page which has information on BBQ techniques, marinades, health tips.
We are asked 2 main barbecue questions:
Gas or charcoal?
To be brutally honest most people just want a cooked burger, a sausage and a chicken kebab. nothing fancy, no complex flavours, just cooked will do and gas or charcoal are fine.
Having said this there is little difference between gas and charcoal. Gas is easier and less hassle, charcoal will appeal to the cave man strike foodie. If you do use charcoal don't spoil it all by using chemical firelighters - the taste and smell lingers and ruins any taste benefits. A real plus of charcoal is the ability to use wood chips to flavour and smoke the food.
Lighting a charcoal has caused one or two flare ups in our household. Weber are one of the best BBQ companies and sell the Weber Chimney Starter, you stuff paper into one end, add a load of charcoal, light the paper and 10 -20 minutes later you have a good portion of red hot charcoal to get the Barbie going. Highly recommended at £15. Weber also sell the Weber Performance barbecue for around £300, this has a gas ignition system!
Gas BBQs now come with ovens and rings, so you can cook more than one type of food and cater for larger groups. The king of gas barbecue is the Signature S-300S 4 Burner which costs £2,300 - perhaps some kind soul will donate us one for testing??
How do we cook sausages safely on a BBQ
70% of BBQs include sausages, a fair few will be semi raw bangers - as featured on the Food Standard Agency
The problem with many BBQs is that the heat is so high that the outside will cook and char before the inside is properly cooked. To test if a BBQ is the right temperature you can hold your hand over the flame - if you can hold it for 4 minutes about 6 inches above the flame the temperature is right.
If you don't fancy looking like a pillock with a singed hand you have to guess or buy a heat probe! If in doubt cut a sausage open to check that it is cooked all the way through with no red/raw bits.
The Aussies know about about BBQs and like the odd beer or two. They therefore sell pre-cooked snags (Aussie sausages) which have been par boiled and cooked. You then only need to grill them to heat and brown. To do this at home you should poach the raw sausages in slowly simmering water for 10 minutes, cool and then BBQ.
For more information on Australian BBQ have a look at Meat, Metal and Fire
Supermarket BBQ ranges
Most of the supermarkets have a special summer range of barbecue food. Marks & Spencer has recently launched a new range including mini Cumberland rings, hotdogs and Chicken burgers. Waitrose sells the excellent range of Bighams products including Chicken & Chorizo kebabs at £4.99 for 375g and a wide range of interesting sausages from the meat service counter. These cost £5.99 per kilo, flavours include Lamb, Mango & Mint, Sun dried Tomato and Black Olive and Pork and Gorgonzola Cheese. As you can guess from the above, you need big, bold flavours for barbecues.
Our top barbecue tip is to buy coils of sausages such as Cumberland, skewer them top and side with 2 skewers and cook whole. Easy to mange and impressive, to serve remove the skewers and slice into chunks.
Whatever you do, make sure you're eating a cooked one!
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