Choosing the Right Equipment
So before investing, what are the key considerations?
- Are your outdoor cooked meal times generally well planned in advance or often spontaneous? Gas is fast to get going and more flexible, but charcoal BBQs or wood fired ovens are more traditional, and its cosier to huddle round the glowing embers.
- Will it usually be just the two of you, or are you party animals? The number of diners you usually cater for should determine the size of grill you need. For example, Le Panyol wood fired ovens will cook up to 40 pizzas an hour, whilst a charcoal Weber is ideal for a family gathering. Think of the surface area of your grill.
- How frequent is your outdoor cooking, (bearing in mind that it will be more often when you taste food cooked on Kitchen in the Garden products!)? That should guide you toward the level of investment you wish to make.
- Are you just grilling or roasting too? Do you love stone baked pizza and breads? For larger roasts it's better to get grills with 3 or more burners or, if you're going charcoal, a bigger grill area that allows the coals to be separated. For the more adventurous cook who wants flexibility, consider a Kamado, a Japanese style clay oven that can cook pizza and slow roast too.
- How complex is your usual menu? Is it a 3 courses banquet or simply sausages & kebabs? That will determine the size of the grill area and the features that you need.
- Do you need total portability for beach barbecuing? Or a full outdoor kitchen for a formal entertainment area with a bar? Charcoal BBQs are generally lighter & more portable, but not allowed everywhere.
- What's my budget? Gas BBQs are more expensive to buy but are less costly to run, noting of course that the bigger the BBQ, the more burners it will have and the more fuel it will use. Outdoor kitchens can be similar in sophistication and price as an indoor one
- Outdoor kitchen or freestanding unit?
- Wood, gas, charcoal or electricity as fuel?
- Size of the cooking area needed
- Your desired features and accessories
- The level of investment you are prepared to make
- The garden or patio space available to allocate to outdoor cooking
Gas or charcoal?
Contrary to popular belief, gas or charcoal simply provide the heat source and are not responsible for the flavour of the food that you cook; that depends on the food itself, and how you cook it. That BBQ flavour comes from the smoke and vaporisation created by the juices and fat from the food dropping on the hot coals or the 'flavouriser' bars or stones in the case of gas. You can also add wood chips or chunks to create a smoky flavour. Gas or charcoal - it's a personal choice, see the BBQ page for more detail on how to select the right one for you.