Hot smoke, cold smoke. However you like it, it’s the cooking craze that refuses to choke. Weber have the kit to do the job and we got to see a demo
This was the Spring/Summer Smoking Grill Academy Course and was a lot about the new Summit Charcoal Barbecue that was already happily smoking away when we arrived. A blend of three Weber success stories; the Original 22″ Kettle, the Performer, and the Smokey Mountain Cooker this big baby has some rather cool features as were soon demonstrated.
The lid and bowl aren’t the usual enamelled steel, but double-walled air-insulated porcelain a design that keeps warm air in and cold air out. A new lid damper lets you flip it open quickly so it acts rather like a built in chimney starter, getting you up and running fast. And you can leave it to cook gently thanks to a diffuser and it also means no more fat-fuelled flare-ups.
Of course the classic Weber Kettle BBQ, the Sputnik on wheels was also working hard on the night, as was the little Dalek that is the cute Weber Smokey Mountain, which we reviewed last year.
Out back in the yard of MeatN16 the smokers had been at it for hours already, because as we know, low and slow is the maxim for things like pork butt, brisket and to an extent ribs as well
We needed to learn on the job so and we’re put to work, fuelled by a tasty helping of smoked meatballs, to learn how to cut chicken wings correctly, it’s a lot easier than I thought, and we also got into spatchcocking a chicken. The latter, though sounding rather obscene, is really the art of splitting a chicken to make it lie flat. This means the whole bird cooks evenly and fast over the charcoal and everyone gets a good bit of caramelised skin,
It’s important, we were shown, to get into the concept of using a BBQ two ways; indirect and direct heat. This basically means stacking charcoal one side only and leaving the other clear. This way you can sear meat over the coals (direct) and move to the other side (indirect), put the lid on and use indirect heat and the smoky warn air to cook it through.
This avoids the danger of meat, especially chicken, being burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. As an additional check we were shown to use a probe thermometer like Weber’s own, if you lose track of time, or which meat went on the grill when, then the thermometer quickly and simply lets you test for doneness.
The wings by the way were excellent; we rolled them in oats and tapioca flour after coating them in marinade for an initial ten minutes. With the dip we made to dunk them they were messy and excellent after 30 minutes cooking under indirect heat.
Lighting charcoal and briquettes by the way is far easier with a Weber Chimney starter, as demonstrated; it’s fast, safe and pretty much foolproof to get to those all important white coals. If you’ve ever suffered the disaster of your charcoal going out, or flaring up, then you really need one of these little chimneys in your life. And it can use newspaper to get going, not firelighters, so no nasty petrol odours in your charcoal. The woodchips for smoking come in various flavours, just soakd them in water for thirty minutes before adding to the coals so that they dont burn up but smoulder smokily.
The briquettes were Weber’s own brand. They seem expensive, but as we found out from the team, cheap briquettes are adulterated with things that don’t burn, such as sand. That’s why you end up with so much ash. Weber’s are pure charcoal and burn slow and evenly and are well worth the extra money, in fact may even be cheaper in the long run. If you close all the vents when you’ve finished cooking the briquettes will go out and can be relit another time.
Of course you have to have ribs at any BBQ and we ate’stacked ribs’, so called because to get a large quantity in you stack them on top of each other over indirect heat and rotate them bottom to top every 15 mins. We were shown, and not a lot of people know this, to remove the very thin papery membrane from the back of the ribs as this prevents smoke and the rub getting in.
The lads had already got some ribs going before we arrived (it’s a three hour cook roughly) and they were really very good indeed with a good depth of flavour from the smoke and the rub. Oh and did I mention the brisket cooked low and slow, it sliced like a dream and was proper tender
We also learnt the art of bacon chocolate brownies, yes bacon and chocolate together how great is that? And yes they were delicious, unsurprisingly.
If you want to move beyond burning food on a grill and get some serious BBQ chops going then get to a Weber grill academy before summer’s gone again.