Oh how a BBQ evokes all the senses of a British summertime: slowly watching the charcoal go white (very slowly), the smell of lit firelighters, the aroma of charring meat, the sound of metal tongs clinking against a grill still showing signs of the previous feast it cooked up… last year!
Hang on a minute though… it’s November… it’s raining… and is that a soup recipe I see?
That’s right. Foozie sent me off to the Hobbs House Cookery School in Chipping Sodbury to put my home cooking skills to the test and open my eyes to the all-round genius of year-long BBQing as the Weber Grill Academy takes up residency at the home of The Fabulous Baker Brothers. With two more courses planned for December and January, it was a surprisingly quick journey from my Bristol home, leaving not much time to wonder what on earth a BBQ course in November had in store for me.
I will say up front, I’m a very happy home cook, particularly in the Autumn. I like my oven, my ‘mod cons’ and especially the warmth of cooking in my kitchen, but the use of a BBQ in our house has never extended past *that one day* every year when the forecasters do actually get the weather right and predict a sunny rain-free day in Bristol.
After doing this course however, I can honestly say that is now going to change…
Don’t get me wrong I know that clever lot at Weber lured me in with a tractor beam of the best equipment! Not to mention, their branded bells-and-whistles definitely makes outdoor cooking look easier than it is. It’s not a cheap kit I know… but if you’re a cooking enthusiast you may fancy saving for this stuff. However impressive their equipment was, t’was the recipes that won me over! The execution of the course definitely motivated me to do some more outdoor cooking.
Our group tackled recipes I thought I’d never dare try! Testing it on a variety of kettle and gas BBQs held at Hobbs House, everything we cooked made perfect sense to BBQ.
Here is the BBQ menu we cooked from stratch:
• Hot Smoked Salmon with Potato Rosti
• Smoked Leek and Potato Soup
• Honey, Fig & Goats Cheese Flat Bread
• Roast Turkey with Hasselback Potatoes
• Brussels Sprouts with Picked Onions and Chorizo Sausage
• Roast Beef & Yorkshire Puddings
• Sticky Toffee Pudding
*No I haven’t lost my mind. Yes you are reading all this right!*
Teaching us how to light a BBQ with the Weber Chimney Starter, we actually purchased one for about £20! I mean, we had to after seeing it at Grillstock’s festival and trust me, it was a good investment. It’s so much easier to light a BBQ with it. Why? Because the charcoal heats in the stack and all you’ve gotta do is pour the hot coals in! No more standing and staring at your BBQ for eternity!
For each dish we cooked, we learned how to get the best from the BBQ! That includes all the technicalities from grills, settings, and accessories.
• The Wok – the Leek and Potato Soup I cooked with water-soaked wood chips on the coals worked out amazingly and actually did taste smokey, and the Sprouts with Pickled Onions and Chorizo were cooked to perfection in this too – a new fab taste combo as well!
• The Griddle – the Rosti were cooked on this flat plate till crispy on the outside with soft, well-seasoned potato in the middle.
• The Grill Pan – we got a surprisingly tangible smoked flavour into salmon fillets using wood chips and the BBQ lid on, the sticky toffee puddings were cooked lid on too in ramekins placed on the Grill Pan to help disburse the heat and were fluffy and perfectly cooked, as were the Yorkshire Puds cooked in foil pots – airy and crispy/soft in the right places
• and lastly the sumptuous honey, fig and goats cheese flat breads on the Original Pizza Stone.
The BBQ’d meat was a real revelation! With the temperature controlled to produce a topside of beef cooked to a perfect rare, the guys behind Weber showed us how to use their Genesis Gas BBQ grill. And what an experience it was! You should’ve seen that fantastic smokey crust. So here’s the lowdown – We roasted a 5kg turkey at 180C in just 1hr and 45mins (+ resting time). After that, we placed the meat onto the Roast Rack over a foil tray of Hasselback Potatoes surrounded by hot coals. Mhhhh, what a sight!
FACT – If you put a lid on your BBQ, you can roast a 5kg turkey in just under two hours! What’s more, you’ll gget a crispy skin with SO MUCH flavour. Ours was actually stuffed with herbs and coated in butter, FYI. This trick could definitely change the face of Christmas Day in our household.
Utilising outdoor cooking space is not necessarily an option open to everyone, but if you do like a summer BBQ and home cooking is your thing, this course could be the inspiration you need to get the coals out all year round!
There are two more Weber Winter Warmer courses running at Hobbs House Bakery Cookery School on 4th December 2015 and 24th January 2016, both have spaces available at the time of this post. The course costs £100 per person inc. VAT.