Cooking on your deck: creating delicious meals in your garden

Smoked meats

Cooking on your deck means you can spend more time outdoors, preparing and enjoying delicious meals in the open air.

Building a garden deck means you can enjoy spending more time outdoors. Preparing meals outside is a great way to make the most of your garden. We talk to Ty McKend of ProQ Barbecues and Smokers to get some tips and ideas for cooking on your deck.

1. Can you tell us about the ProQ Smokers ethos and what makes your products stand out?

We are a family run business with strong ethics: we strive to educate and inspire others to share the same enjoyment of BBQ, outdoor cooking, and the love of food as we do. Our product design reflects this. We aim to make all our BBQs as versatile as possible!

2. At Gripsure, we’ve seen a massive increase in demand for our non-slip decking since the start of the pandemic. With more people using their gardens and entertaining at home are you experiencing a similar pattern?

Absolutely. I think more people than ever picked up a new hobby, and BBQ was certainly one of them. I think this year we’ll probably see more garden parties than ever, now that so many people have had the time to practice and perfect their outdoor cooking skills.

3. What’s the difference between a barbecue smoker and the ordinary barbecues that many people have lurking in their sheds?

A BBQ smoker allows you to control your cooking temperature much more accurately. That means you can cook anything from your usual burgers or sausages to a whole brisket, maybe some ribs and even the Christmas turkey.

4. You also sell cold smokers. What’s cold smoking and what sorts of foods do your customers use cold smokers for?

Before modern-day refrigeration, the way we preserved fresh or cured food was to salt and smoke it over smouldering wood. Nowadays we tend to mostly use smoke to impart wonderful aromatic flavours to a wide range of foods. This method, known as cold smoking, is the process of creating wood smoke without cooking or heating your food. You can cold smoke salmon, bacon, cheese, nuts, and even butter or marmite.

5. You share a lot of recipes on your website. Do you have a favourite?

It’s got to be our Beef Cheek Tacos!

6. What are the most common mistakes people make when they’re barbecuing?

I think there are two key elements to cooking outdoors.

The first is to make sure your fire is set up right for what you’re cooking. Be patient, cook things more slowly, and you’ll avoid burnt outsides with raw middles. Don’t overfill the BBQ, you can always add more charcoal.

The second is about knowing when food is ready, by cooking to temperature instead of relying on cooking time or the colour of the food. Grab a digital probe and a temperature chart and you can’t go wrong. This applies to cooking indoors too.

7. What should people think about when choosing a barbecue or smoker for their garden?

Think about the number of people you cook for on a regular basis and get something slightly bigger than that. It’s always nice to have a little extra room.

Try to consider the different techniques you want to use. These could include slow cooking, grilling, or smoking. Do some research about what you’re buying to make sure it does everything you need it to. Lastly, I would say buy the best you can afford. Many brands now offer really good warranty (ours is 10 years!), so there’s no need to fall into the trap of buying cheap and buying twice.

8. What advice would you give to someone using a barbecue smoker for the first time?

Don’t stress too much and expect it to take more time than you think. Smoking is a process, so try and enjoy it. Use a thermometer – it will give you the confidence that your food is ready and safe.

9. What fuel do you recommend people use on your smokers and why?

Good quality lumpwood is really easy to find and relatively cost effective for shorter cooks. We also do a coconut-based “Cocoshell” briquette that will last for ages during longer cooks.

10. Like Gripsure, you’re based in Cornwall but have an international customer base. How has the company grown and developed since you set up in 2008? Are there any future plans you’d like to share?

In 2008, we designed and developed the very first ProQ BBQ Smoker. With plenty of requests for a cold smoking feature, the patented ProQ Cold Smoke Generator quickly followed. We’re at over 70 BBQ Smoker and cold smoking products and accessories.

We’ve just launched the ProQ Flatdog portable BBQ, which folds completely flat, to try and keep those disposable BBQs off the beaches. Our other new product is the ProQ Travel BBQ Multi-tool that unfolds into a fork and spatula, then clips together to make a pair of tongs.

If you’re planning to create an outdoor cooking and dining area, check out our Residential range. With Gripsure non-slip decking, you can create a beautiful, safe space to enjoy all year round.