When the sun starts to shine in the UK and the warmer weather arrives, everyone brings out their trusty BBQs, dons the shorts and flip flops. Cancer Research UK and their sponsor Weber have teamed up to encourage everyone to ask their friends to donate to join in a gourmet BBQ party on the weekend of July 19 & 20 while raising some funds and doing good at the same time.
If you thought barbecuing is all about throwing some meat on top of an some charcoal and leave it til it burns, that is called grilling. Real BBQ cooks knows how to use their BBQ to cooks delicious gourmet meals. I recently went to a BBQ Masterclass at the Weber Grill Academy to get some barbecue tips and learn more about cooking with direct and indirect heat on a range of Weber BBQs.
Learning BBQing techniques at Weber Grill Academy
At the Weber HQ, they have the whole range of Weber Barbecues their new smoker, to some big gas grills, and some smaller charcoal barbecues on stands. The clever Weber people have incorporated a lot of innovative designs into their products which improves your BBQ experience, from this chimney which is used to quickly and easily light up your coals before you pour them into your BBQ. Using the chimney, you get an even burn of the coals.
Gas grills are as good as the charcoal barbecues and you can get the smokey effect by adding wood chips into the special smoker boxes and the gas grills have flavour bars which reacts to dripping fat.
We learnt about the types of fuel used, using cheap mass market briquettes which are bulked up with sand is a false economy as they burn for a shorter time. Charcoal comes in different grades, with the best producing the longest most consistent burn. Weber Chef Dan informs us that briquettes are best for BBQing and smoking whereas charcoal is good for direct grilling.
The grills on some of the BBQs have hinges in the grills which allow you to add coals and place trays underneath without having the remove the food that is cooking on top of the grills. Their lids have inbuilt thermometers so you don’t have lift to lid to prod the meat and check the temperature frequently.
We made a four course meal including a very impressive Banana Tart Tartine on the Weber BBQs. First course was Salmon with Grilled Asparagus and Poached Eggs. The salmon was roasted indirectly over a tray of water and of course the egg was poached on a BBQ too. Meanwhile, some salmon was being smoked in another BBQ. Eggs were poached in one of the specially designed wok’s that sit on top of the grill, while the asparagus was grilled on a gas grill.
Next up, we prepped some chicken thighs in the kitchen by removing the skins and scraping off the excess fat, this will prevent fat from dripping into the fire and causing flare ups. Then then we butterflied the piece of chicken thigh and sprinkled generously with a spice rub. We then rolled the skin around the meat into a neat bundle and placed them on their special roasting tray. While cooking, the chicken was basted with their special Barbecue sauce, adding another layer of spice and flavour. The end result was a very tasty piece of smokey, spicy chicken with a crunchy chicken skin wrapping, a far cry from a burnt but raw bit of chicken leg on the barbie. The best thing is, you can recreate this recipe at home in an oven too.
To go with this, we made some Hasselback potatoes by cutting slits along the potatoes and then placing them in a zip loc bag and liberally coating them with olive oil, herbs and seasoning. This was then placed in a specially designed perforated pan and placed on the bottom of the BBQ, next to the coals for 45 minutes. This is one of the examples of indirect cooking using the heat from the coals. The potatoes came out with a smokey flavour and crunchy from the slits that we made.
Meanwhile in a Weber smoker, a few racks of ribs had been smoking. These were cooked for an hour on higher heat before being wrapped in foil and put in the smoker. A short while before we had lunch, we basted these ribs with more Barbecue sauce and had them for lunch. The meat was falling off the bone.
For pudding, we watched the Weber chefs assemble a Banana Tarte Tartin using one of their special bakeware. Firstly, a layer of caramel was poured in the bottom, then some bananas were placed artistically on top. This was then topped with some puff pastry and then “baked” on the BBQ. The result was a very crisp pastry and deliciously sweet baked banana with caramel sauce. Quite the winning combination. If you have never thought of baking on your BBQ, this is one thing you could try.
I learnt a lot more than I expected at the Masterclass. If you have any sort of BBQ at home, you should got along to the Weber Grill Academy and attend one of their classes. You will get a lot more use our of your BBQ and impress your friends with the fancy dishes you can produce on it.
BBQing for a good cause
I’ve personally been touched by cancer in my family and this is cause that I am really behind. I’ll be hosting a BBQ to help them raise some funds. As with all charities, every little helps.
CANCER Research UK is asking everyone to gather their mates, invite the neighbours, call up their granny, fire up the BBQ and be part of its brand new BBQ fundraising campaign on 19-20 July. By donating to attend, family and friends can help beat cancer sooner, while having a fantastic day of fun with family and friends. If you plan to host a BBQ and say ‘burger off’ to cancer anytime this July, or join others BBQ-ing across the UK on the main Big BBQ Weekend you can get some party gear from their website. You can collect donation up front or on the day. You can get lots more information on their website: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/do-your-own-fundraising/bbq
EatCookExplore was a guest of Cancer Research UK and Weber Grill Academy