The perfect barbecue

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WITH summer now truly here, it is the ideal time to break out the barbecue and make the most of the great weather. A barbecue can be the perfect excuse to invite friends, and the following tips can help you ensure it all goes smoothly.

It is all good and well to just head to the shops and grab what you think you will need, but ifyoureally want to enjoy it, and don’t want to get stressed, take time out to pause for a moment and plan ahead.

First up, and most important, is to be sure that there are no restrictions or bans in place due to fire risks. Wild fires can be a real danger in southern Spain and similar countries, so be safe and do a quick check.

If you are sure all is fine, then you will need to turn your attention to the barbecue itself. If you haven’t used it in a while, dust it off, give it a quick clean, and then confirm that it is still in working order. Whether you are using a gas barbecue or a charcoal one (we prefer the latter, as you get that lovely smoky flavour), you will need to know that your old barbecue is up for the job, so it is important toproperly maintain it.

After that, if it is all okay and you don’t need a new gas canister or some charcoal (remember you might need some on hand if you run out), you can start planning what food you are going to serve.

If you are going to be marinating anything, you will need to leave it in for a while to ensure that the meat or fish properly absorbs the flavours. If possible, soak the night before. If you are less prepared (hopefully not if you are reading this!), then allow at least a couple of hours.

What you are going to serve is, of course, completely up to you. In Spain, for example, you could go for something traditional, say shrimp with garlic or smoked paprika-rubbed steaks with Valdeen butter; or, perhaps you might want to do something a bit different. There are lots of countries around the world that you can take some inspiration from. For example, in theUnited States there are four regional styles, with Kansas and Texas using beef and pork, while Carolina and Memphis tend to stick with only pork (with the latter often cooking the meat slow or smoked in a pit). Just do a quick Google search and see what strikes your fancy.

Of course, it is not just about food, as no barbecue or gathering would be complete without drinks. Grab some wine or beer or maybe make a punch. Also, don’t forget that not everyone drinks alcohol, so some coke or juice, or maybe homemade lemonade, could be refreshing options.

Finally, don’t forget the starters or side dishes; and, you also might want to think about something sweet forthe desserts– maybe a Tarta de Santiago, torrijas or a selection of fruit to help balance out all that meat.

After that, you can head out and grab what you need before inviting people round. And, you might consider asking them to bring some dishes to share, too, so that you don’t suffer from all the work and expense. Remember to plan, be safe and, most importantly, enjoy that perfect barbecue – whatever that is for you.

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