5 Tips for a better barbecue

First time organizing a barbecue? Here are some tips you might find useful

Ahh spring! Good weather and pollen everywhere! And what better way to celebrate it all than with a barbecue?

Xamarin had the great idea of organizing the Xamarin Spring BBQ, in which developers can basically attend or host a BBQ. I took the opportunity not only to host one but also to invite the whole office in.

While everything worked perfectly in the end, there were still a lot of issues that could have been avoided with some preparation.

Check for availability

When we arrived at the local park, we found two groups already occupying the place. Hadn’t they left right away, the only space available would have been beneath the burning sun. If you plan to hold a barbecue somewhere public, first check if you can book a spot or else get there early in the morning. Don’t make the same mistake we did and expect it to be free for your group alone.

Scout the place’s conditions beforehand

While researching on-line for some information about the site might be your first instinct (and it’s a right one), nothing beats checking the place in the flesh. During our BBQ, only as we started to prepare the fire did we realize the grills lacked proper support and there was no place to hold the charcoal near them. Although we MacGyver the hell out of it and it turned out okay in the end, if we had checked beforehand we could have had anticipated the situation and started cooking almost two hours earlier.

Prepare for the predictable and the unpredictable

We ordered the meat two days early but we only got the order hours before the BBQ. We had to salt the meat before grilling, and had no time to do it at home. Which meant we needed a clean surface and clean hands to prepare it at the site. If possible, do everything at home early so that you only need to bring the meat and grill it.

Also be prepared with some basic utensils. While we took the more practical approach and brought bags of potato chips and salad, we didn’t anticipate the need to bring a good knife to cut bread, for instance, which someone had brought.

Ask your friends for help

While you may be tempted to prove that you can organize everything on your own, some help will prevent from burdening yourself with tasks and responsibilities. While I was no stranger to BBQ’s planning, it was the first time I was doing everything alone. Fortunately, my colleagues offered to help, making sure everything run smoothly.

If you have someone that is more experienced with grilling, let them at least manage that part. If you want to do it yourself, watch and learn from them. Trying to grill for the first time without any help may result in under or over cooking, and ruining perfectly good meat.

Bring more than you need

We really thought we had brought enough of everything but I had to make a run to the local supermarket at least three times to buy more ice and charcoal. Apparently, the kind of charcoal I had previously purchased consumed way too fast and we ended up spending around four bags of it when we initially thought we only needed two.

Another good rule of thumb is you never have too many ice bags. As the day went by we ended up losing a lot of bags to the heat, even in the coolers. Stuff as many as you can in the coolers and let them rest at the shade.

Also be prepared for the unexpected guests and the kind of people that eat more than average, as you don’t want anyone to go home hungry.

Do you have any insights into the dark arts of BBQ? Share your suggestions in the comments bellow.

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