Summer has arrived and so we all long for getting on the road, to concerts, road trips or -as in my case- (skydiving) festivals. And all these places are perfect occasions to heat on the grill and deliver wonderful food to your friends and families. But – there is more than sausages, and if you know how, you can serve three wonderful meals per day in an easy way. Interesting? So let’s go a bit more into detail, since preparation is everything. Note: of course I will talk only about Weber grills. I am sure, that other brands might have similar products, but… you know where I come from, right? ;-)
1.) The grill choice
First: forget about these single use 10 Euro gas station grills. Please. Just don’t use them. A portable grill is not too expensive and you will have better results and more fun with a good quality and design grill. This investment definitely pays off!
Before planning your BBQ on the road, check if it is allowed to grill and if yes, if there are any restrictions. Charcoal grills have one big disadvantage: the hot ashes. So if you want to grill hassle free, I absolutely recommend a small gas grill (like the Weber Q or Go Anywhere) or an electro grill (like the Q electro or for example the handy and brand new Pulse 1000). If you use an electro grill, be aware that the cable should not be extended too long (especially when using a Pulse) and you need to check the plugs (different countries-different plugs). Due to the fact, that electronic installations on camping sites are often a bit messy and tend to break down when all of a sudden everyone wants to charge devices, cool beer and switch on lights, I always go for the gas version. They are super easy to clean, there is no ash hassle and still you get a good heat for everything you put on there. Make sure that you have enough gas cartridges, as they vary from country to country, and store them right (and not in the heated up car with 80 degrees inside).
2.) The accessories
Make sure you are equipped with the right extras, such as cleaning devices (especially when grilling more often), skewers, heat shields for indirect grilling (yep, because of course you deserve a 5 cm steak after a long day of jumping), a thermometer (and yes, the 5 cm steak should have the perfect doneness) or a plancha (because fuck yeah, of course you want to eat fried eggs and pancakes for breakfast!). The one or the other pot might also be helpful, for example when cooking curries or side dishes like rice, couscous or quinoa.
3.) Cooling it right
Since no one has the time and nerves to go shopping every single day, it makes sense to think a bit about the cooling. And even if you find someone willing to drive to the supermarket every day, you still need to keep up with the cooling chain. This year, we plan with three camping fridges (ok, this might be a bit ambitious, but hey, we are what we are: hungry and thirsty skydivers). There are electro fridges and gas fridges, the later ones have the big advantage not to rely on electricity. Which is important when the system breaks down during the day and you still have eggs and -oh my god- beer! stored. No one wants to eat eggs rotten during a hot summer day, and oh yes, you will be the hero of the camping site, if you are the only one with cold beer. Whatever you choose, make sure that the fridges are big enough and kept clean. No open meat in there, nothing drizzling, just clean and tidy treasure boxes for food. And drinks, of course.
4.) The logistics
When you want to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner to your friends, you will need quite an amount of groceries. Think about what you need to cool – since probably your cooling resources will be limited, you need to plan the shopping right. When designing the meals, think about ingredients that won’t need a fridge, such as canned tomatoes, coconut milk, bread, certain veggies and fruits, and buy these in bigger amounts. You can store them in boxes or if possible a cool place in the car, while you definitely need to buy food like meat, eggs, butter, cheese more often. Be aware that you have to be very careful with minced meat or poultry. I recommend to grill these right on the same day when you buy it, since the topic of food hygiene is always a bit tricky on camping sites or sailing ships (just to mention another place to grill). And to always use a thermometer to check the core temperature of these kinds of meat.
When traveling with my grill longer than just one or two days, I usually also bring spices or toppings like honey, maple sirup or chocolate (and a grater), vinegars (yes, plural) and some good oil. Maybe I am nerdy, but I hate it when I have an imagination of a meal and it tastes like shit, just because I don’t have MY spices ready. #crazygrilllady
5.) What to grill
If you need to feed more people (which is definitely possible also on smaller grills, believe me), it is a good idea to take bigger pieces of meat or fish and work with indirect heat zones. So you can already sip on a nice after jump beer with your friends, while your roast or fat steaks get ready by themselves. If you want to feed your greedy squad as fast as possible, I recommend filets, sausages, veggies and halloumi or grill cheese.
When being abroad, you might want to try local fish, veggies and meat. And this is also one of the reasons, why a bbq is so great: just do it. Buy it cheap on the market, ask a local how they prepare it and try.
You probably will also have vegans and vegetarians under your friends, with a grill – no problem. Due to the pyrolysis effect when cleaning the grill with high heat, there is absolutely nothing left on the griddle or a plancha. If I know that vegans for example join the fun, I simply keep an area free for their food after severely cleaning the grill. Or – if you have the chance to- use two grills.
And – and this is probably the only occasion where I personally recommend this- don’t hesitate to use convenience products if needed. You simply don’t have a kitchen to prepare everything and it makes your evening so much more chilled when you just take a bag of salad and simply mix an own vinaigrette.
Dessert? For sure! As long as your grill has a lid, you can practically use it like an oven and can prepare little cakes or other baked delights.
As you can see, with a little creativity and practical experience you can have a lot of fun and even more awesome food on the road and outside with “just a small grill”. Great views and fun evenings are included, and it’s a wonderful way to spend rainy days too. As mentioned before, it all starts with good and planned equipment, and ends up with quality ingredients. It’s not much work, but a lot of fun and a great way to meet up with old and new friends and chill. Have fun!