BE­WITCHED YET BOTH­ERED ABOUT BAR­BE­CUES?

Then fret no more as Kya de­longchamps takes us through a range of mod­ern and an­cient out­door cook­ing mod­els from gas to char­coal and wood as well as built-in out­door kitchens

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Diy -

There are sev­eral soul stir­ring el­e­ments to eat­ing out­side — and it’s never all about that de­li­cious food, is it? Wrestling with a rudi­men­tary cooker, (down­right prim­i­tive by choice for camp-site purists), com­bined with the alchemy of fresh air and taste; the break from that stan­dard, kitchen rou­tine and the bonus of teas­ing those who have risen to the chal­lenge of food and fire.

A side serv­ing of sheer fun is all but guar­an­teed, whether you have your in­ti­mate few or a wide, rav­en­ous gath­er­ing. Beyond the siz­zle, take a com­mon­sense ap­proach di­rected by scale, so­lid­ity and prac­ti­cal

The First Time (€50-€130).

Bar­be­cue re­views of­ten refuse to in­clude bar­bies be­low €150, as they are largely wob­bly, po­ten­tial danger­ous units that rust out over a cou­ple of sum­mers.

Scope out your gar­den. Imag­ine fam­ily and guests of all ages milling (a bit giddy) around a hot cook­ing sur­face, and choose a firm de­sign you can site safely, on good foot­ing and out of the di­rect traf­fic paths.

It might be the cor­ner of a railed-in deck or on a few slabs fur­ther out into the gar­den, shielded from the wind and not over-hung by plant­ing and also, there’s a bit of counter needed.

In­te­grate these with side shelv­ing and at least one 30cm bar for hang­ing utensils. The prices for char­coal ket­tles and drums are en­tic­ing, but for bar­be­cue vir­gins my money is on a mid-qual­ity 2-3 burner fu­elled by the fa­mil­iar­ity of gas with in­de­pen­dent burner con­trol, in­stan­ta­neous heat and a hood (en­sure you choose an off-set hinged lid that folds away).

See the piece as­sem­bled, and check joints; don’t al­low any rock n’ rolling. Us­ing stan­dard kitchen cook­ware, 35cm by 35cm is the most diminu­tive prac­ti­cal grill that doesn’t tie up the chef in end­less batches.

A small side burner can be used to ten­derly pre­pare and keep sauces de­li­ciously warm. De­spite the chat­ter, with what are termed flavour bars and even the ad­di­tion of wood flakes to some mod­els, taste and suc­cu­lence is not at is­sue. For char­coal, keep in mind the food is cooked by glow­ing em­bers, not by flame — plan ahead for light times of up to 30-45 min­utes. With a hood, you can reach beyond sim­ple grilling tech­niques.

Hot Buys:

If real flame fires you up, the Land­mann Grill Chef (char­coal) is tough, POA, avail­able through Tesco and more. The We­ber classic char­coal bar­bie costs around €200 and caters for 6 — with proper care is should last years. Look for lump wood char­coal in­stead of bri­quettes for a greater cook­ing heat and un­matched flavour. Pre­tenders can cost as lit­tle as €50 from your local DIY store and with some care, will last the stretch.

Ar­gos do a 3- Burner Propane for €129, (but the bot­tle will cost you in a de­posit too). With four work- ing burn­ers and one side warmer, this bar­be­cue has a lot of de­tail­ing for the money, in­clud­ing a porce­lain grill, and a hood al­low­ing for roasts and wind shel­ter. €142 buys you an­other burner. As­sem­ble to the let­ter.

Warm­ing to Qual­ity (€150-€350)

A few juicy sum­mers and sea­soned ex­pe­ri­ence, you now know what you want and a long-term in­vest­ment will al­low for a more con­fi­dent spend. A wider, weighty bar­be­cue of at least 50cm by 40cm, flanked with shelv­ing and pro­tected on two sides, dis­cour­ages danger­ous hud­dles over a naked flame. In real fire, spice up the spec with solid plate, an­gled grid­dles to re­duce fat and in­ex­pen­sive bat­tery pow­ered ro­tis­series that can be bought sep­a­rately and added to your unit.

De­vel­op­ing on what you can de­liver to the troops beyond sear­ing steaks, pizza ovens are be­com­ing some­thing of a must-have. Free-stand­ing or at­tached to a stan­dard bar­be­cue (only ever use ded­i­cated ad­di­tions) there’s no rea­son you can’t crisp up a base most of the year when the weather al­lows.

We­ber char­coal ket­tle grills are leg­endary and with 10-year war­ranties, and proven stay­ing power of fire, rust and weather-re­sis­tance as stan­dard, tra­di­tional char­coal chefs adore them. The classic Smokey Joe 57cm ket­tle has been dis­con­tin­ued (there are some still on the mar­ket), re­placed by finer de­tail­ing in­clud­ing their One­touch Clean­ing sys­tem. From €329, new­lands.ie. Ad­di­tional Pizza Oven for 57cm bar­be­cues, €299.

A more gen­er­ous warm­ing plate is great for larger num­bers, where you may be cook­ing in batches but want to de­liver the food si­mul­ta­ne­ously to a more for­mal sit down gath­er­ing. Gad­getry from fish-bas­kets to ke­bab skew­ers can be sourced sep­a­rately.

Hot Buys:

Rodeo Pro­fes­sional Char­coal Ket­tle Grill, comes with tem­per­a­ture gauge to avoid the red hearted roast — a no-no for poul­try and pork. Takes up to 23 burg­ers at once, heavy gauge steel char­coal grate, cook­ing grids hold and trans­fer heat like a cast iron fry­ing pan — three height set­tings. Mas­sive ter­rain proof wheels, €289, out­door­fur­ni­ture.ie.

The Kin­ley from B&Q is a stylish new take on the ket­tle with an oval top, swivel grill, in­te­grated chop­ping board and more, €204.

The Flame Grilled Pro (€350-€5000)

Build­ing what is es­sen­tially an out­door kitchen bor­ders on hys­ter­i­cal op­ti­mism to many, but if you love your steaks, and have ven­tured into slow cooked meat and pizza mak­ing, this ar­range­ment can last longer than a sum­mer, ser­vic­ing in­doors as well as out. Start­ing with a bar­be­cue, and if you have the build skills, then sim­ple poured con­crete or hefty tim­ber shelv­ing set in re­tain­ing walls can spread the wings of your out­oor oven into a proper kitchen, from as lit­tle as €350.

Leave shelv­ing open and cleared off for the win­ter, with the stove cov­ered or rum­bled into a shed, then the area won’t look idio­syn­cratic.

An in­te­grated sink is the ab­so­lute dream top­ping for se­ri­ous bar­be­cuers and can be cov­ered over for win­ter. It can also func­tion as an out­door util­ity and dressed in nat­u­ral stone, or steel, can have style too.

Se­ri­ous, out­door rated kitchens start at €3-4,000 for de­tailed steel or pow­der coated car­casses set around a sup­plied BBQ (cab­i­nets with doors es­tab­lish the look), and in­clud­ing a small sink with cover. The new Beefeater Dis­cov­ery 1100s out­door kitchen 5burner.from Aus­tralia, is a great com­pro­mise be­tween a huge BBQ and a reach to a sec­ond kitchen. Start here and add sinks, fridges and the rest to suit your­self. €2,799, out­door­fur­ni­ture.ie.

Masonry bar­be­cues are a hefty but at­trac­tive op­tion. Bush­beck of Ger­many is rep­re­sented by sev­eral re­tail­ers here in Ire­land. These tall, sculp­tural quartz and ter­ra­cotta stoves with tim­ber and cop­per de­tail­ing make great gar­den fea­tures, an­chor­ing an out­door area . There’s some­thing of a learn­ing curve in terms of cook­ing with these beasts. Prices from €645 (also suited for use as eye catch­ing out­door fire­places), buschbeck.ie.

The Al­le­gra pizza oven is avail­able through House of Heat on the Kin­sale Road, Cork, im­porters of gen­uine Ital­ian, wood-fired pizza ovens. Made from stain­less steel, they’re per­fect for the damp Ir­ish cli­mate, will heat up in ten min­utes and can cook a pizza in 90 sec­onds flat when hot. Avail­able in a range of sizes and colour op­tions, the ovens are also por­ta­ble and can be eas­ily moved in the gar­den. house­ofheat.ie

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