Gather Round a Stylish Mini Grill and Enjoy The New Trend of Cooking Together
T he very hottest trend this summer is these small, super-chic barbecues that sit centre stage on a table. They open up a whole new world of small-scale garden entertaining, as a few friends or family members can grill their own tasty treats for a tapas-style meal, so you can relax, knowing everyone is personally responsible for how well-done their chicken kebabs are!
Gather Round a Stylish Mini Grill and Enjoy The New Trend of Cooking Together Photo Gallery
AL FRESCO FUN
Being small and quick to clean, a tabletop grill makes it easy to barbecue a quick lunch, an impulsive weekend breakfast or an impromptu supper on a surprise sunny evening, plus it’s the perfect size to cook a meal for two. And don’t get us started on the possibilities it brings of enjoying late-night s’mores and toasted marshmallows under the stars at the bottom of your garden! A tabletop barbecue will also provide a novel way to serve up grilled nibbles or appetisers, keeping your main barbecue free for the heavy-duty cooking, or use it as a separate grill for vegetarians or vegans. So, whatever the government restrictions in your area, one of these mini grills will make outdoor living more enjoyable, for very little outlay. Whether you’ve got a tiny urban terrace or acres of leafy garden, every outdoor space has room for one of these little beauties. They burn very little fuel, are quick to light and, in the case of charcoal models, are far speedier to reach an ideal cooking temperature than their bigger cousins. They’re also easily moved and stored away when not needed. They offer a more sociable way to cook than standing up at a full-size barbecue, turning burgers, often well away from everyone else.
There are a host of attractive designs available, from curved retro styles to edgy modern shapes, in a wide choice of on-trend, show-stealing colours such as yellow ochre, tangerine and spring green. Often designed with integral feet for a neat finish and maximum stability, they make statement centrepieces that are sure to draw everyone in. So, whether you want a reason to try out some new recipes, a fun way to share time with loved ones, or just to spice up everyday meals, treat your garden to a compact grill.
Just as with larger free-standing models, tabletop barbecues use three different fuel types: gas, charcoal or electricity. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you consider your needs before you buy. Gas is a reliable, clean and controllable fuel for outdoor cooking. Designs usually feature simple knob controls and a visible temperature gauge, so you can easily and instantly adjust the heat output to suit your chosen dish. The cost of this ease is flavour, but some gas-fuelled products use lava rock, which promises to infuse food with a bit of smokiness. Some models have an optional cast-iron griddle and skillet, perfect for pancakes and eggs. Most gas-fuelled models run off bottled propane or butane gas. Readily available from most petrol stations or camping retailers, they require the use of specific connecting hoses and regulators, which add to the initial cost and can limit where you can safely and practically place the barbecue and bottle at home.
Charcoal-fuelled designs mean you’re cooking with smoke and white-hot coals, creating a real sense of occasion as well as unrivalled flavour. Charcoal comes in many forms – coals, ready-to-light bags as well as artisan lumpwood and it’s a sustainable fuel. It can be messy to store, handle and dispose of, though. It can also be tricky to control temperature-wise before and during cooking, so requires more of your attention. Some models have adjustable ventilation slots to make this easier, while the LotusGrill (£150, lotusgrill.co.uk) has a battery-operated fan to speed the charcoal to the perfect cooking temperature.
EASY TO USE
There are a few electric tabletop barbecues designed for outside use. You simply plug them in and switch on, and they’re clean and easy to use, but they won’t impart that characteristic smoky atmosphere or imbue food with much flavour. They’re great for cooking veggies and seafood, but meat can prove trickier to master as some smaller, cheaper designs do not have the necessary wattage to reach the high, constant temperatures required. Heat is lost when the lid is removed during cooking and this can take time and more power to regenerate.
The table that will be supporting the barbecue needs to be stable, strong enough to support the grill and constructed from sturdy material that won’t melt or conduct heat. It should also be plenty large enough to accommodate the burner, food and utensils. Some models have a hinged lid, but if you want a barbecue that can be easily accessed from all round the table, it’s better to choose an unlidded design, or one with a fully removeable lid. Some designs are double skinned, which makes them cool to touch even while cooking – essential for families with younger members.