Sunday, May 23, 2010

BBQ time

image Our first BBQ was a humble Hibachi that came from Habitat. If I remember rightly it cost about £10 which actually was not cheap then. We used it a lot, perched on a wheelbarrow to save bending down. The Hibachi might have been small but it cooked all the burgers and sausages we needed for a party of 40 people.

That was later replaced with a cast iron kettle BBQ which to be honest wasn’t a great advance on the Hibachi. The cast iron grill did sear meat better and is was easier to light with rolled up paper in the ash collector base. 

My first proper BBQ though was a Mecco Swinger which had many advanced features. First off it had a lid that you could close to slow down cooking and prevent flare ups. It also had a grid that you could set at different heights like the Hibachi. It was a great BBQ and was only abandoned when it started to rust through many years later.

I really wanted a Weber gas grill to replace the charcoal Mecco but the cost was prohibitive so I bought a Weber Performer which was basically a Weber Classic charcoal grill on a cart.

I still have that BBQ on the roof of our house  here in Spain. It mainly gets used for cooking paella and roasting things like chickens which it does very well.

Although I loved the Performer, I bought a cheap gas BBQ from Homebase just for convenience and regretted it almost straight away. Assembly was awkward, the piezo lighter only worked for a short time but worst of all it was almost impossible to stop flare ups. Anything fatty like sausages or burgers would start a fire which resulted in burnt food. I replaced the larva rock, which was saturated in fat, with ceramic bricks. They helped but didn’t cure the problem. When the burners started to rust along with the grill itself, I decided to follow my dream and buy a gas Weber to sit alongside my charcoal model.

Admittedly, the gas Weber hasn’t been perfect, I had to replace the enamelled grills with stainless steel ones when they started to pit. Everything else though is fine; clean it up and the grill looks like new. It lights first time every time, gets quickly up to temperatures sufficient to sear meat and can be used to cook directly or indirectly. I mostly cook with the lid down but even open, I rarely get flare ups because the “flavouriser bars” that cover the burners never accumulate fat.

Now that my daughters have their own homes, I offered to buy them Weber BBQs to keep the family tradition going but they decided that cheap charcoal grills would suffice for their needs. The youngest daughter took their cheap grill round to a neighbours where it collapsed leaving them with a fire to put out. The oldest daughter faired better and used hers a few times  but a year on found her grill rusted through.

So, for this year, I have indulged them both with the latest Weber Q 220  gas grills along with carts. Not quite as versatile as my Weber gas grill because the Q only has one burner so you can’t use it indirectly. However, they tried one of the Qs out yesterday and managed to grill chicken, sausages, burgers, prawns and fruit kebabs on it. I bet it was all delicious and superbly cooked.

Now, I have converted my daughters to Weber, I hope they get many years of pleasure from their new grills. I’m looking forward to testing their new skills out on my next trip to England.

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