15:49 15 May 2008
Hosting a barbecue could make you the talk of the town, or responsible for burning it down.
Follow our guide to the basics and you'll become the ultimate barbecue host in no time.
Get a grill man! And some utensils
Before people start showing up, get a few things ready for your guests.
Paper plates, plastic cups and cutlery are all easily disposable which means you won't miss them if they become engulfed in flames.
You'll also need napkins, tablecloths, serving utensils, an ice bucket (to cool those drinks) and a bucket of water (to combat infernos).
Pleased to meat you, and your vegetarian wife
Don't forget that not everyone who comes to barbecues wants only bloody steaks.
If you're worried about what your guests won't like why not suggest a lucky dip menu where everyone brings a few items?
But do keep track of the type of things people are bringing or you may have a meal that has only Fosters for starters and Jack Daniels for the main course.
If in doubt just get a lot of meat, plenty of varied drinks and some salad options. Coleslaw, corn, beans, chips and snacks never fail either these are good walk and talk foods.
Desserts aren't essential a good barbecue should have meat left to spare! Condiments are essential however ketchups, marinades, cheese slices etc.
Now we're cooking with gas! Or are coals best?
Gas gives you more options, thanks to side burners for your sauces and reliable fires that hit your meat on target to your exact specifications.
Gas is also much less hassle to stay lit. They're also less of a burden to clean. Just make sure you've enough gas before you begin.
But with a disposable charcoal barbecue that's not a problem. Charcoal is also the more traditional way of having a good time, thanks to the added elements of fire lighters and fluid.
In short, charcoal barbecues are cheap but gas ones are easier to use.
Where there's smoke there's safety tips
Give your machine a thorough cleaning before use. Insects use a barbecue as a haven during the winter so make sure you've evicted them first.
Grease the grill with oil and let it burn for ten minutes before you put anything on it to avoid any nasty surprises in the evening.
Remove meat and poultry from the refrigerator an hour or so before cooking. Do not leave them under the sun and don't forget to trim excess fat to avoid smoke.
Most importantly check that all meat is cooked through.
Burn, baby burn barbecue inferno
It isn't a barbecue without music, but don't make it too loud. The neighbours will complain and your guests won't be able to hear each other.
If your guests share a similar musical taste then go with that, but the safe bets are hits, classics, electronic, chill-out or just good old cheese.
A nice romantic sit down by the fire
Job well done?
Give the barbecue quiz a taste test.
Night-time barbecues are best held around the fire itself to keep people warm and avoiding any accidents in transit. Lanterns and other outdoor lighting add a touch of class too.
Also if a storm breaks out and everyone is forced to go inside, make sure that you have a back up location in a reasonably tidy state!
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