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Get Your Grill On: Exploring the World of BBQs in Scotland

Hey there, it’s the Butcher’s Mate, and I’ve got something sizzling for you today – a showdown between two of the most popular BBQ technologies out there: charcoal and gas grills. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or just starting out, choosing the right grill can make all the difference in your BBQ game. In this article, I’m going to give you my two cents on the pros and cons of each type of grill, as well as share some of my personal experiences and tips for getting the most out of your BBQ. So, grab a cold one, and let’s dive into the great debate – charcoal vs. gas!

Davie – The Butcher’s Mate

If you love outdoor cooking, then a BBQ is an essential tool. However, with so many different types, fuels, and shapes of BBQs available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll explore the various BBQ options available in Scotland, and help you decide which one is right for you.

Types of BBQ

The three most common types of BBQs in the UK are charcoal, gas, and wood. Recently there has been an explosion in BBQ equipment and accessories as well as products such as smokers, rotisseries, ceramic eggs(!) pizza stones – the list is endless. For this article, we’ll examine the 2 most common – gas & charcoal… plus a bonus (new) opinion at the end.

The best bbq in town

Charcoal BBQ

Charcoal BBQs use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal as a fuel source. They’re popular because they provide an authentic smoky flavour and are relatively affordable. However, they can be messy to use, and maintaining a consistent temperature can be a challenge.

Pros:

  • Charcoal BBQs are relatively inexpensive and widely available.
  • They provide an authentic smoky flavour that many people love.
  • Charcoal BBQs are versatile and can be used for grilling, smoking, and even baking.

Cons:

  • Charcoal BBQs can be more challenging to light and require more time to reach the desired temperature.
  • They produce more smoke and can be messier than gas BBQs.
  • The charcoal ash needs to be disposed of correctly.

Gas BBQs

Gas BBQs, on the other hand, use propane or natural gas as a fuel source. They’re convenient and easy to use, with precise temperature control. They produce less smoke and are less messy than charcoal BBQs. However, they can be more expensive than charcoal, and they don’t provide the same authentic smoky flavour.

Pros:

  • Gas BBQs are easy to use and quick to heat up.
  • They offer precise temperature control, making it easier to cook a wide range of foods.
  • They produce less smoke and are less messy than charcoal BBQs.

Cons:

  • Gas BBQs are more expensive than charcoal BBQs and require a gas line or propane tank.
  • They don’t provide the same authentic smoky flavour as charcoal BBQs.
  • They can be less versatile than charcoal BBQs, with limited smoking capabilities.

Shapes of BBQ

BBQs come in various shapes and sizes, including kettle, barrel, and the traditional gas grill.

Kettle BBQs

Kettle BBQs are the most popular shape of charcoal BBQ in the UK. They have a round or oval shape with a lid that can be opened and closed. They’re relatively affordable and easy to use, with good temperature control. However, they have limited cooking space compared to other types of BBQs.

Pros:

  • Kettle BBQs are easy to use and versatile.
  • They offer good temperature control and are suitable for a wide range of cooking styles.
  • They are relatively affordable and widely available.

Cons:

  • Kettle BBQs have limited cooking space compared to other types of BBQs.
  • They can be more challenging to clean than other types of BBQs.
  • They may struggle to maintain high temperatures for extended periods.

Barrel BBQs

Barrel BBQs are a larger type of charcoal BBQ with a barrel shape. They offer a larger cooking area than kettle BBQs and are suitable for a wide range of cooking styles. However, they can be bulky and challenging to store.

Pros:

  • Barrel BBQs offer a larger cooking area than kettle BBQs.
  • They provide good temperature control and are suitable for a wide range of cooking styles.
  • They can be more affordable than other types of BBQs with a similar cooking area.

Cons:

  • Barrel BBQs can be bulky and challenging to store.
  • They may require more fuel to maintain high temperatures for extended periods.
  • They may take longer to heat up than other types of BBQs.

Gas BBQs

Gas BBQs come in various shapes, including compact tabletop models, larger freestanding units, and outdoor kitchen setups. They’re easy to use and quick to heat up, with precise temperature control. They’re also less messy than charcoal BBQs. However, they can be more expensive than charcoal and require a gas line or propane tank.

Pros:

  • Gas BBQs are easy to use and quick to heat up.
  • They offer precise temperature control and are suitable for a wide range of cooking styles.
  • They produce less smoke and are less messy than charcoal BBQs.

Cons:

  • Gas BBQs can be more expensive than charcoal BBQs.
  • They require a gas line or propane tank, which can be an added expense.
  • They don’t provide the same authentic smoky flavour as charcoal BBQs.

Considerations When Deciding Which BBQ Is For You

There is a huge range of BBQs available – some our ridiculously cheap while some our outrageously expensive. If you are planning on BBQing regularly I would urge you to stay right away from cheap barbeques under £150. Usually, the quality is so poor that it will compromise your ability to cook great food and have an enjoyable experience.

Considerations for charcoal BBQs:
I don’t think there is any requirement to spend a huge sum of money. You want to ensure the grill is thick and can be cleaned easily. Make sure you buy one that allows easy removal of the ash. You DEFINITELY want a lid so you can trap in the smoke. Finally, make sure you can access the coals so you can add more or move them around if required.

Considerations for Gas BBQs:
You can spend crazy money on Gas BBQs. I don’t think you will see a huge difference in the quality of food but your overall experience will be vastly different on higher-quality gas barbeques. First of all, I would highly recommend getting one with a lid, it will change the way you cook forever. A lid allows you to grill, roast, simmer and so much more. Importantly it allows you to keep food warm if you don’t serve it all. A mid-shelf is a must – these are really handy when you need to get cooked items off the heat still have items to cook. Grill palates – always buy a BBQ with thick iron grills – these will retain heat much better when cooking. Finally the number of burners – you will want between 3 & 6 burners as this will give a wide range in heat zones and significantly increase the flexibility of what you can cook. If you plan on hosting BBQs then I recommend avoiding BBQs with only 2 burners.

Covers

A good cover will completely change your BBQ experience. If you have a decent cover, you can leave your BBQ outside (yes, even in Scotland) which means you can simply fire it up when you want to cook – no more phaffing around trying to get it out of the garage/shed.

There is a huge range of covers available but my advice is to spend a little more. You want your BBQ cover to be robust enough to withstand a pounding from the Scottish weather. Not only from the rain but also from the wind.

Inspect your cover regularly and if it is damaged, replace it. A damaged cover is as good as no cover… if the rain is getting through then your BBQ won’t last more than a season.

What Do I Cook On

My motto is “simple food done well.” I have found that when you get the BBQ cooking your meat to perfection, you need very little added to the meat. I do love sauces & salsas to accompany it once it is cooked but I tend to stay away from rubs and additional flavourings. I will often use marinades on chicken but red meat goes on with minimal effort

I cook on a large Weber 57cm kettle bbq. I’ve had it for 11 years, it’s battered and scraped and about as far away from a shiny new bbq as you can get… but I love it with a passion. I have cooked some of the most stunning food I have ever eaten. My favourite red meat is the lamb gigot “smoke roast” (I’ll write a separate blog post on this) and my favourite chicken dish is a chicken thigh tikka kebab (pictured).

I always use briquettes. If I’m doing simple standard food for the family, I’m happy to use cheap briquettes from the supermarket. If I’m hosting and cooking up a storm, I’ll get the more expensive Weber briquettes… they keep a very consistent temp and burn for hours.

I will occasionally use lump would but never instant “light charcoal” where you light the bag. The accelerant added to make the charcoal light, will ruin any food that is cooked over it. You need to let it all but off but by that time there won’t be much charcoal left and you will have a much-reduced cooking time.

I use a charcoal chimney to get the coals going then once the coals are glowing, I’ll pour them into the bbq (watch the sparks) and use a garden trowel to shove them into place. It’s agricultural and not pretty but I don’t care. I usually have the coals on one half of the bbq which allows me to have the food off to the side, so I can put the lid on and let things roast.

Bonus – There’s A New Kid On The Block

So for a while, I’ve had my eye on a hybrid, dual-fuel BBQ that combines the convenience of gas and the amazing flavours of charcoal. A mate has one but it was expensive and it looked like you were paying for a lot of “chrome” and shiny stuff (remember I like to bash my bbq about a bit). Recently however I note that both B&Q, Asda & Argos are selling hybrid fuel BBQs for around the £300 -£400 mark which, in my mind at least, warrants further investigation. They have all received excellent reviews so hopefully, there is something there! I’ll take a look at them and report back once i have made my mind up!

In Summary

Choosing the right BBQ ultimately depends on personal preference, cooking style, and budget. Whether you prefer the authentic smoky flavour of a charcoal BBQ or the convenience of a gas grill, the most important thing is to enjoy the experience of cooking outdoors with friends and family. Happy grilling!

And there you have it, folks – my take on the ultimate BBQ showdown. Whether you’re Team Charcoal or Team Gas, one thing’s for sure – with the right techniques and tools, you can create mouth-watering meals that will have everyone licking their fingers. So, experiment with different flavours and cooking methods, and don’t be afraid to try something new. After all, BBQs are all about having fun and enjoying great company.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and I’ll catch you at the next grill session!

"The Butcher's Mate" section of our website is where we introduce you to our beloved BBQ expert Davie. Our Butcher's Mate is all about creating a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere where everyone can savour mouthwatering meats and great company. From BBQ technologies to tips on carving and serving meats, he's got you covered. But it's not just about the meats - our Butcher's Mate will also share his secrets for crafting marinades, rubs, and sauces. With his help, you'll become the ultimate BBQ master and host. So join us for a journey filled with fun, food, and friendship. Keep an eye out for more updates from our Butcher's Mate and get ready to take your hosting game to new heights!

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