Weber Grill Academy
“These burgers are still frozen, who brought these” you yell in the general direction of your beloved BBQ guests. What amateurs. For a BBQ is not just a pile of burning embers; it is a theatre of meats, a joie de vivre if you will. Weber know this you see. I haven’t confirmed this with them, but you can see in the way that their grills glisten in the sun, almost winking at you. Oh Weber, you floozie.
But BBQ’s aren’t just for chargrilling, in the right hands they can accomplish extraordinary culinary feats. I have for you just such a story, for I sent my own mother off to ‘Grill Academy’ so that she may too understand the ways of the BBQ.
This is her story. Told in her own words. Only the locations and names have been changed (they haven’t, I just wanted to say that).
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I headed to the ‘Grill Academy’ experience at Hobbs House Bakery. Did some kind of X-factor style grill-off await? On arrival we found the bakery and were taken upstairs to a well equipped professional kitchen with ingredients ready laid out ready to be prepared for their date with destiny on the Weber barbeques outside in the yard. We spent a while prepping food, not a sausage in sight. The formidable menu included:
Smoked salmon with potato rosti (not cold smoked salmon but the real thing where we chose the flavour of the wood chips and smoked the side of salmon ourselves).
Smoked leek and potato soup.
Honey, fig and goat’s cheese flat-bread.
Roast Turkey with brussel sprouts with pickled onions and chorizo, and hasselback potatoes.
Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings – yes, even the puddings went on the BBQ. And my special job was to prep the sticky toffee pudding which went on last in little silver ramekins.
As we cooked outside under the ‘BBQ grotto’, we didn’t even notice the rain such was the warmth given off by the grills. We started with the soup, which was gorgeous and everyone enjoyed getting the bread dough ready for the flat breads. One fellow barbecuer was so sold that he decided to do these on the barbie at New Year. Great food, prepared in the kitchen but cooked outside in winter!
I’m afraid I got a bit lost on all the technical intricacies of the Weber hardware but the sure did help to produce an amazing array of food and that’s what matters!
If you fancy freeing up your oven on Christmas Day then why not cook a turkey on the BBQ – it has to be a dome covered one though. It may conjure up the image of standing for hours on end shivering whilst you nurse the turkey but in actual fact you can put in and leave it for as long as it takes – and ours didn’t take long. A 5Kg bird only took a couple of hours, but you can cook one up to 12Kg. Crisp all over and succulent, beautifully served by Henry who gave us tips on how to carve.
We also learnt that you really should use good quality charcoal as it retains the heat which is of course easier to work with when cooking for sustained periods.
A top tip for a turkey, whichever way you are cooking it, is to soak it overnight in a mild salt water solution before you cook it the next day, the salt will help to retain moisture when you cook it!
The teaching on this course was excellent by Jane Grafton, a trained chef and Henry Herbert (part of the family that run Hobbs House Bakery). In fact we felt very safe in the hands of a man who told us that he once even cooked custard from scratch on a BBQ when on a family camping trip – just happened to have eggs and cream to hand!
But it’s not all about the turkey! Nestled underneath the bird were our hasselback potatoes which. Also, in another BBQ a lovely piece of beef which came out rare with a lovely crisp coating. The BBQ for that had got up to about 370 degrees. Of course, Cooking all the extras like soup and smoked salmon needed a few extra bits of kit but, but nothing out of reach for your novice barbeque fan. They’d make a great Christmas present actually.
The experience really took BBQ cooking to a new level. I think we were being persuaded to see the Great British weather as an asset to using the Weber BBQ – the dampness is a bonus as the meat doesn’t dry out