Recipes: Barbecues are the perfect stress-free option for feeding crowds, says Catherine Fulvio
The beauty of a barbecue is the fun, family-friendly environment that it creates. Younger ones can help out, gathering salad leaves from the garden and washing them.
There is always some form of help needed in the kitchen, and the older ones can lend a hand -- getting the equipment out and perhaps getting the barbecue heated.
If you are catering for a large event, there is no immediate pressure to have everything cooked at the same time.
Keeping the fire going and cooking in batches is a great advantage when inviting a crowd with people arriving at different times. It means that the food is always on the go and guests can graze throughout the day, adding to the relaxed atmosphere.
The most important aspect of a barbecue is being organised. Make sure you have all the ingredients for the salads, as well as for the dressings. Keep it simple -- serve just one or two very well-presented salads.
Prepare your own dry rubs (spice mixes) for the meat in advance and store in jars ready for barbecue season.
When I have a large gathering, I ask my butcher to prepare a special sausage for the occasion and then we give it a funny name -- the last one was the Fulvio Frankfurter!
And, of course, make sure that all the equipment is well cleaned the day before and that you have sufficient charcoal and the correct firelighters, so there are no last-minute hiccups.
'Catherine's Family Kitchen' published by Gill & MacMillan, €19.99