Barbecues will never die – the charcoal grill makes a resurgence

How long has the concept of barbecuing been around on UK and USA shores?

We came to the conclusion – rightly or wrongly – that it was really in the 1970s when the fashion for eating char-grilled foods outdoors, and in a party atmosphere with friends, really took off.

Of course it had been around in the 1960s, albeit in a quiet and inconspicuous way. But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that outdoor barbecues became commonplace in shops. Everyone and their neighbour were buying a barbecue of their own, and if they weren’t then they at least had access to a relative’s or friend’s brand new grill.

Ontario Gas BBQ president Duff Dixon, who has been selling barbecues for more than 30 years in his native Canada, said barbecues were today revealing a bit of retro feel.

“You’re outdoors, there’s fire, smoke’s billowing, the testosterone is flowing,” he explained. “There’s just something primal about it and old-school is definitely in.”

Mr Dixon said he had definitely spotted a trend for charcoal barbecues over the past few years. He partly attributes that to the different flavours that can be achieved by adding a few pieces of scented wood to the charcoals (such as hickory or cherry) which in turn flavours the food on the grill.

He added: “The barbecue culture of yesteryear remains very much alive and still has a power to draw people together. Last night for instance I was at my neighbour’s house and there were four families from our street, three other families and my mother and cousins from Montreal. It was a real community get-together.”

The practice of barbecuing has been identified as far back as the 15th century. Etymologists are convinced the actual word is derived from the term barbacoa – a form of cooking carried out in the Caribbean where meat was grilled on a wooden platform over a fire.

Meanwhile, to finish off this blog post we’ve brought you one of our favourite outdoor grilling recipes. It’s chef John Torode’s Lamb Shashliks with Rosemary & Garlic and which we love for its sheer simplicity and yumminess.

It only takes around 20 minutes to cook (one hour to get the ingredients prepared – although they can be frozen provided they are not cooked) and the following amount is enough to serve around 20 people without ongoing complaints of hunger.

First, to prepare the marinade, mix the lamb, lemon and juice, oil, garlic and rosemary together in a bowl and season. Cover the ingredients and leave the lamb to soak in the flavours in the fridge overnight.

Next pick up some skewers and place the lamb, peppers and onion on it (methodically alternating the pieces).

Simply lay the kebabs on a grill which has been burning for around ten minutes. Keep turning them until all sides of the meat has been cooked through. You can tell if it’s ready by pressing down on the flesh. If the liquid that runs away from it still has blood in it then it needs grilling for longer.

Serve these yummy kebabs with pitta bread, cucumber yoghurt and other Turkish side dishes.