An independent look at what to cook on this summer

Smokers. Barbecues. Wood Ovens. Kermados. ‘Eggs’. The list goes on…

When summer hits, everyone gets excited about dusting off the barbecue.

Or setting their sights on the latest and greatest gadget, picturing themselves dining al fresco during the warm summer evenings.

Except this is England

And I come from New Zealand (NZ).

People make the assumption that NZ has the same climate as our Australian cousin.

We don’t.

Especially if you come from the South Island, like me.

Just look on a map.

If we’re there on the map – sometimes we’ve actually been left off! – you’ll see we’re quite a lot lower down.

That being said, we do like the idea of a good barbecue as much as the next person.

But things have gotten a lot more complicated since the good old days of the classic charcoal BBQ.

The classic BBQ scenario

I remember Dad scrapping our BBQ down for hours after a cook up (or even worse, before a cook up)

The food was never that great either for all the effort it took.

Since moving to South Devon from London and gaining a garden, I admit, I have also dreamed of those al fresco dining evenings.

And indeed I have now set up an area with a wood oven and more recently a small kamado.

What’s what?

I don’t have all the in’s and outs of this exhaustive world of outdoor cooking.

But I’ve done some research over the years and here’s a short list of some of the one’s I was choosing between.

Wood Oven (aka Pizza Oven)

A very old way of cooking and can be traced right back to Ancient Greece.

Basically, it’s your oven outside (but with no quick control system).

It’s made of bricks which absorbs the heat and fuelled by wood. Although you need to spend a little more on kiln dried wood.

You can use it for all cooking, not just pizzas, and great of slow-cooking.

As I always tell friends who are thinking of getting one…

If you don’t like pottering around and faffing about with fire and temperature control, then don’t buy one.

I love it because I love to potter and I’m outside all day, even in the rain.

Do you research though to decide your needs and size (this was a lifetime purchase for me)

My wood oven
Cooking some garlic flatbread


What are they and what can they do?

Smokers cook your meat on a very low temperature, over a very long period of time.

Great for tenderising the meat and giving it the most delicious smoky flavour.

There are loads of smokers out there so it comes down to budget and requirements.

Kamado (ceramic egg)

Up there as one of the oldest forms of cooking.

Originating from China, it ended up in Japan and was adapted to become a rice cooker, called it “mushikamado.”

In the 1940’s, American soldiers stationed in Japan brought home these cookers and the Kamado was evolved.

I recently purchased the smallest version of a kamado.

My Kamado

It’s ‘light’ enough to pick up and take it camping or to the beach.

It’s ceramic, fuelled by charcoal for both high temperature grilling (perfect for steaks) as well as low and slow.

TIP: buy ‘restaurant quality’ charcoal (it does exist, for the best results.

You can add different flavoured wood chips to try some of those classic American smoky meats like brisket.

Which BBQ shall I get?

I don’t own one of these but lots of friends and family do and they love using them.

So, what’s the difference between a charcoal and gas BBQ?

It comes down to personal taste… and flavour, convenience, budget.

Charcoal vs. gas BBQ

Gas is far more convenient as you can switch it on and you’re away.

You can also control the temperature easily.

Having said that, for me, they do lack a bit of soul and flavour.

So, it depends what you’re trying to achieve.

Just some fun when it’s sunny or getting serious about using fire to cook your meat?

Perhaps a bit of both so it might be worth checking out the combo BBQ’s that are out there.

In a nuthshell

There you have it, a little snapshot into some different ways to enjoy your summer al fresco

Its great fun being outside cooking and experimenting with different cuts of meat for smoking, grilling, slow-cooking and much more.

Gone are the days of serving up the classic burnt saussie

If you’re a meat enthusiast you can spend hours in the garden learning new methods of cooking.

And don’t forget… vegetables taste amazing cooked on these too so you can please all the family members.

Enjoy your research, it’s worth putting the time in before you invest.

If you have any other methods of al fresco cooking, you’d like to share, leave a comment today…