This feature was created for the ‘Lamb, Try It, Love It’ campaign in association with Bord Bia with co-funding from the EU. Visit their Facebook page for more information on all things European lamb or follow #LambTryItLove it on Twitter.
Sun worshippers have had a pretty great run of warm weather and rays to catch lately and barbecues across the country are seeing significantly more action than usual.
With the glorious weather predicted by famous weather forecaster Ken Ring to peak with ‘heatwaves’ in the last days of June and July, we’re delivering top tips for making hay – or a memorable barbecue – while the sun shines.
These pointers for hosting the summer barbecue of dreams will help you throw a back-garden-bash this summer sure to be the envy of the entire neighbourhood. Of course, a tempting and unique recipe is the best way to create a picnic hit, and the #LambTryitLoveIt social media pages are a great go-to resource for mixing up your barbecue recipe repertoire and inserting a new and exciting dish using European lamb offers an unexpected element to your menu!
Set the mood for an intimate back yard affair
The best thing about barbecues is that they’re so easy to decorate for and simplicity is key. Outdoor lights are coming down in price at this time of year, but an even simpler solution is to keep your jam, salsa and honey jars and set them around the garden with tea lights or a citronella candle. This serves dual purpose to set the mood as well as warding off any unwanted insects. Now is the time for shabby chic so don’t be afraid to use old wine bottles as candle holders, too.
For a festive pop of colour, kick your ice bucket up a notch by freezing some water balloons to keep your drinks cold. When they melt, prepare for the ultimate boys v girls water balloon fight. Prepare for when the evening draws in by placing colourful cushions and throws on your outdoor furniture for that ultra-chic indoor/outdoor vibe.
Don’t fall into the old barbecue traps – get creative with your food choices
We’ve all been subjected to one too many burnt burgers or sausages in our lifetimes. Kick up barbecue staples by incorporating unique marinades and sauces, or even experimenting with the type of meat you’re grilling.
European lamb is perfect on the barbecue at this time of year, and we are lucky to have our pick of some of the very best lamb raised locally in Ireland and across Europe. Try these lamb kebabs with easy aubergine caviar and yoghurt mint sauce for an unexpected addition on your menu.
For a quick, easy, and healthy dessert, throw a few bananas onto the grill with skin on as the coals die down. As the skins blacken the insides will caramelise. These are delicious when sprinkled with sugar and served with ice cream. Or for a bit of nostalgia, toast marshmallows on skewers before the barbecue dies down.
Drink plenty – of water
Everyone enjoys a cold glass of something at a barbecue, but among the beer, cider and cocktails, don’t forget to stay hydrated – particularly when it’s hot. You may not realise how dehydrated you are until it is too late.
Avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke by keeping topped up with plenty of water. Feel free to add fruit and even herbs to make it that little bit more refreshing – lime and cucumber slices with some mint leaves are a winning combination and make staying hydrated feel a bit more like a treat.
Cheap entertainment options to keep the craic alive
Another chance to bring the outdoors in – games like Twister, Jenga and darts are as much fun in the garden as they are inside. You can buy giant, outdoor versions of many games but you don’t need to spend to have fun.
If you have the space an old tennis racket and ball can be used for cricket or rounders. You can also break the group into teams and play glow-in-the-dark bowling by filling 10 empty water bottles and add a glow stick to each. Arrange in a skittles pattern and use an old ball to bowl, this will look really exciting after dark.
Most of us listen to music on our phones these days but not everyone will have a wireless speaker or outdoor sound system. To pick up a bit of volume from your phone’s speakers, place it in a ceramic bowl – it will amplify the sound.
Safety First – always
Gas versus charcoal is a topic among pit masters as controversial as Boyzone versus Westlife. Whichever you prefer, remember to stay safe. Be very, very careful when using lighting fluid or any kind of accelerant on a charcoal barbecue and always follow instructions on the package. If you’re in the proximity of a wooden fence or shed, keep a water spray handy to prevent scorching of the wood – and ensure your barbecue is far enough from any overhanging parts of your house.
If your summer barbecue features children running around, then create an exclusion zone around the barbecue – no small person should approach the hot area without a grown up supervising.
Barbecue safety doesn’t just involve the cooking source, it involves the food too. A good meat thermometer is a great way to ensure your food is cooked through, and never put cooked meat on to a plate that held raw meat. If your salads include mayonnaise make sure you keep them chilled to avoid contamination.
Visit the Lamb, Try It, Love It Facebook page for more information on all things European lamb.
This feature was created for the ‘Lamb – Try It, Love It Campaign’, a new campaign launched in association with Bord Bia with co-funding from the EU. Visit www.facebook.com/TryLamb a tasty and fun destination for all things lamb.