Winter is here – and believe it or not, it’s a great time to get out the barbecue. While it makes sense to cook outside when the sun’s shining in summer, the resulting onslaught of chargrilled meat piled high in buns isn’t a particularly fitting meal for hot weather. When it’s cold, however, hearty, filling food is exactly what we crave; large joints of pork, flavourful venison steaks and mounds of roast root vegetables are the order of the day. All these can be cooked on the barbecue with delicious results.
Obviously, there’s a drawback to standing in your garden for hours in winter; it’s cold outside. But there are several ways around this. If you’re only cooking for a few people and have a big, powerful barbecue, then it’s actually quite nice to all huddle together and warm yourselves around the coals with a mulled wine or hot chocolate in hand – after all, it never seems to bother us on Bonfire Night. If you’ve got a gas barbecue you’ll be ready to cook in seconds, but if you’re using charcoal then it’s best to use a chimney starter, which can get coals glowing red in as little as ten minutes. Once the food’s ready, you can cosy up inside and tuck in, or hand out blankets and enjoy your dinner under the stars.
Cooking over fire is always an event that’s full of excitement, sounds and smells; everyone wants to crowd around the barbecue and see what’s happening, no matter what the weather’s like. The element of theatre means your family or guests want to see their food go from raw to cooked, with the flames, sparks and glowing red coals radiating heat into the cold air. Of course, if you own a barbecue that doubles up as a smoker, you can simply light it in the morning, place your meat inside and eight or ten hours later (after everyone has, throughout the day, lifted the lid to have a peek and smell the delicious wood smoke) your joint will be meltingly tender and full of flavour.