Barbecues are as British as red telephone boxes, complaints about the weather and queues. But gone are the days of nipping to the petrol station to pick up a disposable BBQ and chucking on whatever’s left in the freezer in a last-minute ‘the sun is shining’ frenzy, so a new study suggests.
According to the survey from Asda, today's barbecues are planned, prepped and project-managed as almost half of Brits (44 per cent) say they put as much or more effort into throwing a barbecue than they do a dinner party.
The poll of 2,000 men and women, revealed that the average barbecue is arranged up to a month in advance, come rain or shine, with menus set, guests invited, food and drink bought and gardens prepped.
It's not a cheap 'do' either. The majority of us (76 per cent) spend up to £80 on food and drink, alone, with one in 10 splashing out £90 or more. In fact, over a third of us (38 per cent) admit to forking out more now than we did five years ago.
Almost half of Brits (44 per cent) say they spend more because they’ve developed expensive tastes or because they are on the hunt for exotic meats (27 per cent), such as Wagyu and Angus beef. And almost four in 10 shell out for lobster and crayfish in a bid to wow guests – an increase of 15 per cent compared to five years ago.
And a massive 60 per cent say they make all the side salads from scratch, with a fifth making their own marinades and the same number pulling out all the stops with home-made desserts.
And it’s not just about posh nosh. Having the perfect setting is just as important as what’s cooking, with a third of us buying a brand-spanking new BBQ, one in 10 purchasing an outdoor heater and the same number re-turfing the garden or laying down decking. A very prepared 11 per cent of us buy a marquee to prevent it being a washout.
But for all these modern advances, it seems today's barbecues still excite some old-fashioned neighbourhood rivalry, with a third of us (35 per cent) saying our main motives for going to town on the barbecue was to impress friends and outdo the neighbours.
Yet how smoking hot your barbecue is could depend on your postcode.
Overall, it's Londoners who are put the most effort into throwing a barbecue and, unsurprisingly, it’s blokes aged 25-34 who are most competitive and want to outdo their friends in the barbecue stakes. But it’s the grillers over 65 who are apparently most concerned with buying the best quality cuts.
Regionally, the East Midlands is the home of the big spenders with one in 10 spending between £100 to £300 on hosting a BBQ compared to those in Northern Ireland, who are spending under £20 on average.
So what's the secret to a super barbecue today?
- Make sure your meat is kept at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before cooking depending on the size
- After you finish cooking your meat, let it rest. This allows all those juices to go back into the muscle in the meat and will keep the steak nice and juicy. Rest for about half an hour in a warm place for a steak.
- Buy the best you can afford, especially when it comes to meat
- Don't cut into your meat to see if it's done. Instead just poke it- if it's squishy, it'll be on the rare side. If it bounces back, it's more on the well done side. If you poke your cheek, that is the consistency of a rare steak. Poking your chin will give you ‘medium’ and poking your forehead will give you a 'well-done' steak.
- Treat your meat right. For a good steak, put sea salt or coarse salt on it right before cooking or grilling. Don't put cracked pepper onto the meat until it's resting as it can burn and give the meat an acrid taste. Ground white pepper is better if you want to cook with pepper.
There's more food ideas in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday