Buying Guide - Barbecues

Choosing A Barbecue

Gas barbecueTaste or speed: combustion methods
Charcoal, gas or electricity: each possesses its own advantages and drawbacks. It all depends on your priorities: flavour, health, speed, mess, ergonomics, price, etc.

Number of guests and size
Barbecue sets are available in a wide range of sizes (for 2 to 20 guests) and shapes (rectangular, spherical, and foldable or not, with a lateral bar...). Your choice will then depend on where you live and the usual number of guests at your barbecues. If you do not plan for a sufficiently large set, you might have too many skewers and not enough space.

Simplify your chores: cleaning options
Barbecuing is a pleasurable activity that can turn into a headache if you opt for a model that is difficult to clean. Manufacturers have now understood this and suggest tips and new materials to make this task easier: grease trap pan, detachable aluminium ash pit, a stainless steel system to clear out ash are some features offered.

Keep in mind that charcoal barbecue remains the most polluting of all. For those who consider this the most important criterion, we recommend the electric or gas set.

Mobility and weight
If you do not always barbecue at the same place, a portable grill, camping grill or habachi is preferable since barbecue sets are heavy (around 60kg for a medium sized gas model).

Materials
Barbecue sets remain outside or often in a humid shed for the better part of a year. Its price and also its average life will depend on the material used to manufacture it. Stainless steel is the most sustainable option.

Tips for chefs: cooking management
In the case of gas combustion, models equipped with several burners are preferable -so as to obtain a more even heat - and also fitted with a thermostat for maximum control when cooking.

Charcoal

Charcoal barbecueThe charcoal barbecue just cannot be ignored. User-friendly and traditional, it is the number one reason to have friends or family over during the summer. It gives food a grilled taste which is so characteristic to... "barbecuing"! Moreover, it is not so bulky and is easy to move around.

However, some criticise it because it is tedious to prepare the embers and then to clean it. Although, charcoal starters are very handy to have and are very effective! We cannot ignore its harmful effect on health either due to the fact that the meat carbonises by burning fat.

If you are an inveterate "charcoal" chef, you have a wide range of models to choose from. You will always find the classic rectangular portable model. The American barbecue with its lid to control the cooking better has been in vogue these last few years. And if you are worried about your health but you are not ready to give up on charcoal, opt for the famous vertical stove barbecue which is considered to be less harmful.

Gas

This method has more and more followers by the day. It must be said that the advantages of the gas barbecue are numerous. It starts up quickly and is very easy to use and maintain. It has several cooking modes: pierrade, grilling, cooking in a wok or stewing, if you choose a model equipped with a hood. The gas barbecue is often associated with the "plancha" grill which can be a totally different model (see below).

Gas has become the best friend of those who barbecue regularly, who appreciate the time saved and those who prefer having different types of food. The only downside is its price; this barbecue is generally much more expensive than its rival, charcoal.

A feature that you must understand: KW/h does not indicate cooking power but the quantity of gas consumed. The better barbecues consume less gas because they reduce wastage. Count on about 14 KW per hour for a medium sized model.

Plancha and Electric

The plancha is in fashion. This barbecue consists of a plate made of stainless steel or cast iron, which can be heated by gas or electricity. The electric plancha is cheaper but consumes more energy than the gas model, which is more widely used.

The plancha is easy and quick to use. It is considered to be very healthy for it cuts down on high fats and even if the fat remains, it does not burn.  Cooking on the plancha keeps the taste of the food intact and concentrates the flavours. For this reason it is very well appreciated by fish and sea food enthusiasts.

This method turns out to be particularly well-suited to windy places because the stove of the plancha is enclosed and so the flame is always covered.

Electric barbecue
Barbecue lovers who swear only by the classic charcoal method have a tendency to snub this method. But for the city dweller on a terrace or balcony, the electric barbecue has many advantages. Less costly than others, it makes for good grilling and a simple wall socket is enough to kick off the evening. And if the rain tries to crash your party, you can just move it into your living room because it is light and not too bulky.

Accessories

No grillmaster would be caught dead without a proper set of barbecue accessories. You can buy matching sets of tools (tongs, a fork, metal cleaning brush, etc.) for just a few quid. The handles on barbecue tool sets are longer than typical kitchen versions to ensure you don't get burned by the open flames. You can also invest in special wire grilling baskets for grilling seafood and small pieces of meat and veg. If course, if you're a fan of kebabs, metal skewers are a necessity!