With the long Easter weekend fast approaching, many of us are looking forward to spending time in the garden as lockdown restrictions ease. And it seems that barbecuing will be a popular activity according to sales at Waitrose and John Lewis.

Sales of barbecue coal have soared by 841% this week and we have increased orders for barbecue foods like kebabs and burgers by 50% for the Easter weekend, with sales of burgers and sausages expected to increase by 34% and 29% respectively. Additionally, sales of Champagne are expected to increase by 132% this week as customers treat themselves and stock up ready to celebrate with friends and family whenever they are allowed to.

John Lewis has seen demand for barbecues rise by 124%*, compared to last year. Grilling accessories like tongs and skewers have increased by 62% and outdoor furniture sales have also risen by 251%, as people prepare to welcome friends and family into their gardens.

With the popularity of al fresco dining in mind, Waitrose Innovation Chef Zoe Simons has created the ultimate Easter lamb recipe which is perfect for the barbecue:

‘Lamb – the classic Easter centrepiece – works brilliantly on the barbecue. Many of us have honed our cooking skills over lockdown, and the art of grilling is a great skill to acquire. Learning how to get the best out of the heat source by using indirect and direct heat properly and expanding the ingredients and tools you use to get maximum flavour, are all part of the fun of barbecuing. Slow-cooking a large joint of meat on the grill ensures the smoky flavour of the coal permeates the meat while ensuring it stays meltingly tender – the perfect twist on a classic roast.’’?

Zoe’s perfect Easter barbecue lamb:

  • A deboned leg of lamb is delicious when slow-cooked using a rotisserie on a barbecue for 6-8 hours. Prepare the barbecue in advance so the embers are red and grey when you are ready to cook – you don’t want any flames. Or if you’d rather, cook the lamb in the oven and finish on the grill for the final 30 mins to get some delicious smoky flavour into the meat.

  • Make a marinade by blending black garlic, olive oil, salt and water and rub over the lamb before cooking. Baste using a bunch of rosemary during cooking for extra flavour.

  • This lamb works brilliantly with a salsa verde of flat leaf parsley, gherkins, capers, anchovies, lemon and garlic.

  • For a delicious twist on a traditional Easter roast, serve with Hassleback potatoes and baby gem lettuce wedges, both charred on the grill for extra flavour.

Zoe’s tips for making the most of your barbecue this spring:

  • Keep the barbecue going after cooking as a repurposed fire pit to ensure your guests stay toasty while they eat! Adding some woody herbs like rosemary to the coals will make the whole garden smell amazing.

  • Don’t stop at just cooking your main course on your barbecue – continue by using it for dessert! You can do anything from s’mores to fruit kebabs on the grill.

  • Salads are delicious cold but try grilling some vine tomatoes to add to a feta and basil salad. The combination of warm tomatoes and cold, salty feta with the freshness of the basil is a real treat at any barbecue.

  • If you’re serving bread, why not finish it off by slicing it and drizzling it with a little olive oil then toasting it on the barbecue to give it a lovely charred flavour?

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