The Aussie trend for barbequing food on a big hotplate (or ‘plancha’) is starting to catch on here. Are you ready to cast coals aside, or are classic British burnt sausages too much of a staple on your summer menu?
During my misspent youth I spent a year in Australia. When I got invited to my first barbie, I had several surprises.
1) It was dark (the sun sets earlier in Australia than it does in a UK summer); 2) everyone had to take some meat with them; and 3) the barbecue looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.
Instead of a grill with hot coals underneath, part of the barbie was a flat metal hotplate. I soon realised that this is how Aussies do a lot of their alfresco cooking. Apparently hotplates are common in Spain, too, where they’re known as ‘planchas’.
Will placha-style barbies take off in the UK?
We’ve just tested 22 barbecues for our latest trial in Which? Gardening magazine, and we found that ‘plancha’ style barbecues are now beginning to make an appearance over here.
B&Q are selling models that are half grill/half plancha – the Westpoint 2 Burner Gas Barbecue and the Nevada 3 Burner Gas Barbecue – and one that is just a plancha – the Samani 2 Burner Gas Hot Plate Barbecue.
So will they catch on? Planchas are certainly more versatile than a traditional barbecue – they’re good for cooking fish or steaks that can be quickly seared, and for frying eggs or onions or cooking tomatoes and mushrooms. The downside is that there’s less room for grilling barbecue staples such as bangers and burgers.
It will be interesting to see what the British public make of them this summer. Maybe in a few years’ time, we’ll all be cracking open a few tinnies and throwing another prawn onto the plancha…