Bunnings magazine, August 2020
Everyone loves a barbecue – it’s a sociable way of cooking that draws us outside and creates a sense of occasion. When choosing a barbecue, think about your cooking style, the size of your space and whether you’ll be catering for a crowd. Read on to find your perfect match.
Barbecues can be categorised into three fuel types: gas, charcoal or electric. Your choice should include consideration of your cooking needs and styles, the barbecue’s location (backyard or balcony) and your fuel options. For speed and convenience, choose an electric or gas model. If you’re prepared to wait for it to heat up, a charcoal barbecue can impart a lovely unique smoky flavour.
It’s also a good idea to factor in the cost of fuel when choosing your barbecue – bags of charcoal can add up compared with an electric barbecue which, as long as you can access an outdoor power outlet, has the added benefit of never running out of fuel mid-cook. If opting for gas, plumbed natural gas can be cost effective for a built-in outdoor kitchen; alternatively, LPG bottles give you the flexibility to move the barbecue around.
If you have limited outdoor space, first measure up where you plan to position the barbecue, allowing for generous ventilation and clearance from flammable materials. If setting up on a balcony, you’ll also need to check relevant regulations with your body corporate or local council. Then look for a model to suit the space and situation – portable and tabletop barbecues can be taken with you if you move. Trolley-style models often include storage for gas bottles underneath and fixed or fold-down side shelves to keep cooking accessories and serving plates at hand. Another small-space solution is a domed kettle barbecue, with models like the Matador Radiant Pro a touch over 700mm in length. Charcoal barbecues do tend to produce more smoke than gas models, so consider how it may affect your neighbours. They may not be permitted on balconies.
When shopping for a family barbecue, the first question is how many people you’ll cook for. While a model with two or three burners will comfortably cater for a small family of up to four people, a more popular choice is one with four burners (two under the plate and two under the grill). This size enables you to cook for four to six people and offers more flexibility in cooking styles.
Other considerations include whether to opt for a freestanding or built-in model, and which features and accessories will be most useful for your cooking needs. A rangehood viewing window allows you to check food without constantly lifting the lid, and a side burner is great for cooking an array of vegie dishes. An accessory like a rotisserie kit can make your weekend roast an alfresco affair.
If you have plenty of space and love to host a crowd, go big. The largest barbecue on the market is a six burner, yet you can still produce a feast on a four burner with additional side or back burners. For a fully equipped outdoor cooking set-up, consider a barbecue kitchen. The Jumbuck ‘Stardom’ kitchen is a budget-friendly, four-burner option and includes storage, wok burner and a sink. If you’re looking for extra luxuries, premium models like the six-burner Matador ‘Boss’ kitchen come with a granite benchtop, self-cleaning hood, soft-close drawers, internal gas bottle storage, cupboards and a sink.
To add smoked meats to your repertoire and impress guests with a slow-cooked brisket, consider a barbecue with smoker attachment – or a smoker box – which is an accessory that can often be used with an existing barbecue to infuse food with a delicious smoky flavour.
Even when you’re away from home, you can still enjoy a barbecue feast, with portable models designed for camping or a picnic in the park. The Everdure by Heston Blumenthal ‘CUBE’ charcoal barbecue combines good looks with functionality and portability, and offers an authentic charcoal cooking experience. For gas, a small burner with a collapsible frame that can be easily packed into the car is the best option. Just keep in mind the petite proportions of these barbecues limit the quantity of food you can cook at any one time – they’re perfect for a few, yet larger groups will have to wait for enough sausages to go round.