For some, gas is a swearword; others think “lumpwood” is a caviar. We asked Tom Byng, of upscale burger chain Byron, to finally settle the debate:
The barbecue is a “man or mouse moment”. Take a long, hard look in the mirror, and ask yourself one question: “Are you man enough to do this properly?” Yes, you could take the easy way out — opt for gas, and essentially use the same piece of equipment as you would inside. But for God’s sake, man: roll your sleeves up. Do something primal. Go charcoal. To wean yourself off gas, try the briquette. This is a charcoal, made from wood by-products. It’s cheap, it’s neat and it burns for a long time, giving out a consistent heat. On the downside, briquettes are treated with chemicals and can adversely flavour food.
Purists should choose lumpwood. Made from wood that’s been cooked without oxygen, it lights quickly, burns hotly and is free from added chemicals. If you need a little help to get it going, use grain alcohol rather than lighter fuel. Make things even more interesting by adding wood chips: hickory gives a spicy, distinctive smoke.