Weber Grill Academy

Not content with just manufacturing world-class barbecues, Weber wants their customers to get the most out of them too! Gone are the days of just flipping burgers and sausages (albeit they can be darn tasty too!), Weber's huge variety of useful accessories allows even the most novice of barbecue enthusiasts to produce inspirational feasts for their family and friends!

As a beginner to barbecuing myself, I was intrigued and excited to learn some different techniques that can be used to cook great barbecue food, therefore decided to embark on a one-day training course at the Weber Grill Academy. Set in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, the Weber Grill Academy became my perfect haven for the day where I could relax and enjoy learning, cooking and of course eating! The hands-on course allowed me to put some of my own culinary skills to practice and try out new, inspiring and inventive techniques too! Below you'll find a few barbecue tips and ideas that I learnt from the Weber Grill Academy 

Weber Grill Academy - Beer Can Chicken: 

Although you can use other Weber charcoal and gas barbecues, we started off by cooking a whole chicken by using the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (often referred to as the bullet). The Smokey Mountain Cooker is designed to 'slow cook' joints of meat and vegetables in order to produce tremendously tasty, moist and succulent food and by using Weber Smoking Wood Chips it's easy and fun to experiment with different smoking flavours and tastes! Using the Weber Style Poultry Roaster, beer was poured in to the centre compartment with the chicken placed on top - the liquid from the beer steams the chicken from the inside whilst the barbecue cooks the chicken on the outside - and to pre-empt your question, no, the beer doesn't flavour the meat (!) - other forms of liquid such as water and stock can be used as an alternative, it's purely adopting the process of using liquid to emit steam and moisture to your cooking environment. Having never really used or paid much attention to barbecuing before, this was an ideal opportunity to learn about the different barbecues and cooking techniques available. With the mind-set of 'Barbecues = Charcoal' I decided to start my barbecuing adventure by using one of Weber's most popular charcoal barbecue, the Weber 57cm Original Kettle Premium. After a quick demonstration on how easy it is to light a charcoal barbecue with the aid of the Weber Chimney Starter (and boy is it really quick and effortless - this has to be one of my top recommended 'must have' accessories if you own a charcoal barbecue!), we ventured inside to prepare our food for the day. Once the coals were nicely hot and glowing, we took advantage of the confined heat and roasted aubergines for our flatbreads.

Weber Grill Academy - Beer Can Chicken


Weber Grill Academy - Roasted Aubergine Flatbread:

Once roasted, the aubergines were blitzed with thyme and seasoning and glazed over rolled out pizza dough, later to be cooked on the Weber Pizza Stone. The pizza stone allows you to create authentic light, crispy pizzas, breads and flatbreads with the cordierite stone absorbing moisture during cooking. Weber Charcoal Basket with Hot Coals The hot coals were then simply poured into Charcoal Baskets, ready for us to cook. By placing coals either side of the barbecue (rather than covering the entire base) and closing the barbecue lid, a charcoal barbecue can be turned in to an 'oven' which is often referred to as 'in-direct' cooking. Admittedly, I had never really been a fan of the humble 'Scotch egg' until now! For this dish, we prepared our Scotch eggs by simply rolling out sausage meat which was wrapped around hard-boiled eggs, followed by a light dusting of flour, covered with beaten egg and finally wrapped in bread crumbs.

Weber Grill Academy - Scotch Eggs:

With our coals red hot, glowing nicely and using the same 'in-direct' cooking method as the flatbreads, pre-soaked Weber Hickory Wood Chips were added directly to the hot coals which infused the most delicious wood smoked flavour in to our food! Wood Chips are available in a variety of strengths with 'Hickory' being one of the strongest flavours and therefore ideal for quick cooking to add a blast of tremendous depth of flavour. It's worth mentioning that the technique of 'smoking' food is not only practiced on Weber Charcoal Barbecues - Gas Barbecues are just as effective! The Weber Smoker Box for example, is specially designed with notches underneath for the smoker box to be placed directly over Weber Gas BBQ 'Flavorizer Bars'. Alternative ways to infuse a beautiful woody flavour to food can be achieved with the Weber Firespice Papers and Weber Firespice Wood Planks. You can see the full Weber Firespice Range on-line or in-store at the Riverside Garden Centre, Hertford. Weber Style Universal Smoker Box Weber Mesquite Wood Chips ideal for Smoking Hickory Wood Chips Weber Cedar Wood Plank for Smoking There are many ways to cook a spud, and one of my personal favourites being the potato cake with a simple mixture of well seasoned mash potato and finely chopped spring onions. Up until now, sausages, burgers and chicken drumsticks had been my experience of barbecue cooking and therefore never really associated potato cakes with barbecue cooking. With my new found enthusiasm and experience of using and cooking on barbecues, I decided to up the antics and venture to the Weber Spirit E210 Gas Barbecue for this encounter!

Weber Grill Academy - Potato Cakes:

As I only had a few potato cakes to cook, I used the new Weber Portable Cast Iron Griddle, originally designed for the Weber Q Grills, Smokey Joe and Jumbo Joe BBQ's but great for small items too! The griddle was simply placed directly on top of the pre-heated cooking grate and the cast iron surface allowed optimum and even heat distribution. Cast iron is without a doubt one of the most loved, if not 'the ultimate' cooking surface and a good quality cast iron griddle or pan will last for years. When it comes to BBQ cooking, Weber's firm stance on quality means their range of cast iron griddles and cookware offers BBQ enthusiasts greater flexibility and cooking options than ever before. Versatile cooking can now be achieved outdoors as well as in the kitchen - almost anything can be griddled on the barbecue, from meat steaks, fish and vegetables to eggs, bacon and even pancakes! Although the day was primarily to introduce us to alternative barbecuing methods, no barbecue would be the same without a sausage or burger! Turning my hand to 'grilling' (which was a little more in my 'comfort zone'), the sausages were placed directly on the barbecue cooking grate. I was surprised however when asked to close the barbecue lid and a sudden gush of panic surrounded me - I couldn't see my sausages, I could no longer prod or poke them! It wasn't until the reasons behind closing the barbecue lid were highlighted to me that I started to breathe...

Weber Grill Academy - Sausages

Not only does cooking with the barbecue lid closed prevent you from 'over-attending' to food, there's other important benefits too; with the lid of your barbecue closed, optimum temperatures can be maintained, sealing in heat and flavours. When the barbecue lid is open, more oxygen feeds the heat source, encouraging flare-ups and causing burnt, charred and bitter-tasting food. 'Closing the lid also forces you to really trust and have faith in your tools', explained our tutor, 'this in turn enables you to get the most out of your Weber barbecue'. I paused for a brief moment, then realised that with a high quality and robustly engineered barbecue like Weber before me, it wasn't difficult to do! All of a sudden, the world of barbecuing became this wonderfully exciting adventure and started to realise that barbecuing opened up so many more possibilities! I was it seemed, getting the BBQ bug!

Weber Grill Academy - Sausages    Weber Grill Academy - Sausages

A final thought...

Certain meat products and poultry can be tricky to cook on the barbecue. If like me you tend to cremate food to ensure its thoroughly cooked right the way through, perhaps you too need the help from this nifty little gadget - The Weber Folding Pocket Thermometer! Granted, it's not a new idea by any means but it's quite possibly one of those gadgets not many will have in their kitchen drawer, yet it really can be a cook's best friend! For most meat products and poultry to be cooked thoroughly and red meat to be cooked 'well done', the optimum temperature in the centre of the joint or meat product should reach 74 - 75 degrees centigrade. Whether you're new to the world of barbecuing, or simply need a nudge with some inspiration and ideas, the Riverside Garden Centre and Weber have a whole load of ways to help you get started and make the most from your Weber BBQ! Weber Barbecue Anytime CookbookYou'll find a great range of Weber Barbecue Cook Books at the Riverside Garden Centre, full of hundreds of delicious recipes for you to cook up a barbecue feast for your friends and family! Contact the Riverside Garden Centre for more information on Weber Grill Academy Courses, or speak to a Weber Specialist who can advise you on which Weber barbecue would be right for you and the accessories you'd benefit from the most! Simply call us on 01992 514 778 | Visit our Main Website above | or Come down and visit the Largest Weber Showroom in the UK - Riverside Garden Centre, Lower Hatfield Road, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG13 8XX Great News from the Riverside Garden Centre...

The Ultimate Weber Barbecue Cooking Demonstration

Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th May 2013 Weber Experts will be at the Riverside Garden Centre - cooking up a storm and demonstrating BBQ techniques using FIVE different Weber Barbecues! Weber Gas BBQ Weber Charcoal BBQ Weber Smokey Mountain Weber Q Barbecue Weber Pizza Oven Come and join us between 11am & 3pm on Saturday 3rd May & Sunday 4th May 2013 for the 'Ultimate BBQ Demonstration' Learn how to get the most out of your Weber Barbecue * Understand the technique of 'Smoking' to inject awesome flavours in to your food * Demonstrations using the NEW Weber Charcoal Pizza Oven * Understand both 'direct' and 'in-direct' cooking techniques on your Weber BBQ * Taste some great barbecue flavours and get inspired to cook up a barbecue feast for your friends and family! * Weber Experts available to offer tips and advice * Exclusive In-Store offers * See the entire Weber range of Barbecues & Barbecue Accessories available for 2013! *

Officially the Largest Weber Barbecue Showroom in the UK!!! For more information call us on 01992 514 778 Riverside Barbecue Centre at The Riverside Garden Centre, Lower Hatfield Road, Hertford, SG13 8XX

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