Napoleon PRO Charcoal Grill- Review by Tim Donald, @silverbackgrill

Napoleon PRO Charcoal Kettle Barbecue (PRO22K-LEG-2)

First impression was “man this thing is a weighty bit of gear”. On unpacking, it is not difficult to understand why. Not only is there a heavy gauge porcelain lid and bowl, but also, a hugely impressive cast iron hinged cooking grid that weighs 8kg on its own! Assembly is fairly straight forward, just be sure to get the legs in the right place. During assembly I was struck by a couple of things:

1) There is a huge hole in the bottom of the porcelain bowl. Surely, there is no way you are going to be able to control air flow with that.
and
2) The steel band that fits to the bowl is a great aesthetic feature, but its thinner than the porcelain and probably more conductive so you are going to lose a load of heat and what does it really add apart from looking pretty.

Well I couldn’t really have been more wrong! The ash catcher slots in to the bottom of the bowl and ingeniously doubles up to regulate the air flow. This design has the advantage of doing away with more fragile moving parts and also making it incredibly easy to clean out the bowl after use.

The steel band is a really nice feature on the grill. It is also integral to being able to adjust the grill to three different heights, as the bowl is then the same width over a greater range, allowing a 14cm height differential. This gives you more control when cooking and also allows you to drop the grill right above the coals when searing. As for losing heat through the band, well I can find no evidence of that.

The grill is a real design thoroughbred. It seems very efficient on charcoal consumption and in fact you need to be very careful not to light too much coal if you want to keep temperatures low. On the contrary, it is very easy to get the cooking temp up above 250c. The cast iron grid itself I really like. It is hinged so you can easily place wood on the coals for smoking, or add more coals. The hinge itself is more of a hooked over part of the grill, which means you can easily remove the sides for cleaning and you don’t get grease stuck around the hinges. I really like the look of it with the Napoleon flames in the middle and the wave pattern. Like other parts of the design it is not just for looks, the wave design helps keep smaller things top side of the grill.

Napoleon is a Canadian company that began life as a steel fabrication business in 1976. My review mentions “design” and “easy” a few times, so it comes as no surprise to me that Napoleon has lead the way with new and innovative patented technology across its ranges. The jury is out on whether the steel diffuser plate adds anything or not, I would lose that and include charcoal baskets which currently do not come as standard.

    Broccoli and Marscapone Pizza

    Broccoli and Marscapone Pizza

    Broccoli and Marscapone Pizza
    • Prep Time5 min
    • Cook Time10 min
    • Total Time15 min
    • Yield1 Serving
    • Cuisine
      • Italian
    • Course
    • Cooking Method
      • Pizza Stone

    Ingredients

    • 1 ball of defrosted Northern Dough Co original pizza dough,
    • (rosemary and chilli pizza dough also work well for this recipe),
    • two tablespoons of tomato passata,
    • a handful each of olives, capers and sunblush tomatoes,
    • a tablespoon of mascarpone,
    • 3 spears of Tenderstem broccoli blanched.

    Method

    1

    Set your bbq up with an even layer of coals and put the pizza stone on to heat up

    2

    Roll or stretch your pizza dough on a floured worksurface to around 10-12 inches.

    3

    Spread the passata, then add the veggie toppings, and drops of mascarpone, then arrange the Tenderstem spears.

    4

    Bake on a BBQ pizza stone or in a wood fired oven for 60-90 seconds (or in a hot domestic oven for 8-10 mins). Slice and enjoy!

    Northern Dough can be found in freezers across the UK https://www.northerndoughco.com/

    Chocolate and Raspberry Calzone

    Chocolate and Raspberry Calzone

    Chocolate and Raspberry Calzones
    • Prep Time5 min
    • Cook Time10 min
    • Total Time15 min
    • Yield4 Servings
    • Cooking Method
      • Pizza Stone

    Ingredients

    • 1 ball of defrosted Northern Dough Co original pizza dough,
    • Four tablespoons of chocolate spread,
    • Fresh raspberries or raspberry coulis,
    • Chopped roasted hazelnuts (optional)
    • Icing sugar for dusting

    Method

    1

    Set your bbq up with an even layer of coals and put the pizza stone on to heat up

    2

    Divide your dough ball into four equal pieces, and roll/ stretch into rough oblong shapes.

    3

    Spread half of the surface of each piece of dough with a tablespoon of chocolate spread, and add a few raspberries and a sprinkle of hazelnuts. Fold the dough over so that the edges meet and pinch together to make a tight seal (like a pasty).

    4

    Bake in a wood fired oven for 20-30 seconds ,or in the bbq or a hot domestic oven for 3-4 mins). Sprinkle with icing sugar and the chopped hazelnuts and serve with a pot of raspberry coulis for dunking.

    Northern Dough can be found in freezers across the UK https://www.northerndoughco.com/

    Smokerigbbq Plancha- Review by Mark Cole

    I first saw the Beefy boys doing burgers on a plancha, early this year I started to see a few people cooking on the smokerig plancha I thought to myself that looks like a cool bit of kit and promptly bought one.

    When it arrived I was impressed with how heavy it was, 11kg and 6mm carbon steel which is supposed to conduct the heat very effectively. Before cooking on the plancha you need to wash and season the surface to create that natural non-stick coating. This is the same process as seasoning a steel wok or cast iron cookware. The seasoning process is the baking of a thin layer of oil into the surface of the metal. Repeating the process helps build up the layers of baked oil and gives the steel a dark tanned shiny appearance.

    Once seasoned I couldn’t wait to do my first cook, I have always had a guilty pleasure of McDonalds McMuffin for breakfast and I thought the plancha would be perfect for recreating them. My Recipe is on the website if you want to give it a go. http://ukbbqweek.com/recipes/mcmuffin/

    I lit ¾ of a chimney of charcoal and when it was ready to go I tipped it into the bbq leaving an area with no charcoal, this would mean that one side of the plancha where the coals where, would be very hot and the other side with no coals under would be cooler. I put the plancha on and the lid of the bbq and waited about 10 mins. I then tested the temperature with an IR Thermometer.  The plancha definitely conducts heat effectively.The hot side was about 250c and the cooler side was 180c. If you want, you can put an even layer of charcoal under the plancha and obviously less charcoal means less heat if you need to cook something more slowly.

    As well as the McMuffin, I have cooked steaks and fajitas and smash burgers , the size of the plancha means you have so much more cooking space than you would on a griddle pan and the solid surface helps create a great crust on your steak or burger. You can see some pictures of my cooks below.  I know some of the rest of the team have cooked, pancakes, drop crumpets, a full English breakfast and philly cheese steak. So all in all the plancha is a well-made bit of kit which has quickly become an essential and I can see myself using for many years to come.

    When it comes to cleaning the plancha this is very easy, while it’s still hot I scrape the surface with a metal scraper or spatula and wipe down with a paper kitchen towel. If there are any burnt bits stuck to the surface I spray water and scrape again. Before storage and to help build the non-stick surface I add a film of oil before storing away.

    My Plancha is for the 57cm Weber kettle but Smokerig BBQ are currently developing a range of planchas for a variety of bbq’s. I also believe there is a pizza steel currently in the testing stage and I am looking forward to seeing peoples thoughts

    Plancha available from https://www.smokerig.co.uk/

    The Men and Women behind UK BBQ – Adam Johnson Head Development Chef for Raymond Blanc

    1. What got you into BBQ’ing?
    Sheer love of food and cooking for your friends and family. Plus you cant beat the smell of smoke and cooking juices over hot coals…..especially with a bottle of home brew :0)

    2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home?
    One weber kettle, weber smokey mountain (small one) and a £10 bucket bbq from the supermarket

    3. Favourite piece of BBQ equipment.
    Chimney starter

    4. Worst BBQ disaster?
    Cooking my first beef brisket…….I didnt order USDA standard and it ended up like a piece of beef jerky

    5. A dish you’ve never cooked but would love to try?
    Whole Ox roasted on a Wagon wheel spit

    6. Best BBQ food you ever ate?
    Burnt Ends by Dave Pynt in Singapore

    7. Person you would most like to cook with?
    Lennox Hastie, Firedoor, Surrey hills NSW, Australia.
    We worked together at Le Manoir when I first started and he has gone on to have one of the best restaurants in the world cooking on only wood fire.

    8. Favourite song to cook too?
    Anything cheesy

    9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger?
    Homemade chilli sauce, fresh pickled onions…..as well as all the usual suspects.

    10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure?
    Bought Chicken and Mayonnaise sandwiches

    Link to cook school  https://www.belmond.com/hotels/europe/uk/oxfordshire/belmond-le-manoir-aux-quat-saisons/cookery-school

    The Men and Women behind UK BBQ – Jackie Weight

    Jackie Weight was the first and to date only non-American to win the coveted overall Grand Champion Title at the Jack Daniels Invitational BBQ Competition (2004) in Lynchburg, Tennessee

    1. What got you into BBQ’ng?
    I’ve had a love of cooking since childhood, so cooking outdoors was a natural progression, that and a fascination for fire!

    2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home and what is your favourite method of cooking?
    Err, I may have to plead the 5th on that one .. don’t tell anyone but I have around 17 at last count. I can’t narrow down my favourite way of cooking, but I love the indirect low and slow cook that my GMG Pellet Grills give me as well as cooking indirect and searing on my Kamado, it really depends on what I’m cooking.

    3. What is your favourite piece of BBQ equipment? This can be a BBQ or an accessory and we want to know why.
    Probably my Cold Smoker (which I use with my ProQ CSG), partly because my other half Dave made it for me, complete with Perspex door so that I can see what’s going in inside, but mainly because without it, there would be no bacon!!

    4. What was the best BBQ food you have ever eaten?
    That’s easy! The best BBQ Food I’ve eaten is with friends at BBQ Competitions mainly in America … the relaxed evening cookout before everything goes mental.

    5. Tell us about your worst BBQ disaster?
    Almost setting fire to a 12th century Tythe Barn during a catering event years ago! I left my cooker in the ‘capable hands’ of my late husband only to come back and find that he had let things get a little too Hot!

    6. Name a dish you have never cooked but would love to try?
    I’m not sure there is one! If I really want to try something I’ll always try cooking it.

    7. Who is the person you would most like to cook with?
    I usually cook alone, but I’d like to cook with like minded people who share my passion for BBQ and like to have some fun.

    8. What is your favourite song to cook to?
    Anything from Queen is a good start for me as it drowns out my singing!

    9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger?
    Slow cooked caramelised red onion and decent ‘melty’ cheese

    10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure?
    I absolutely love to bake, so anything that involves cake!

    For more information visit http://jackieweight.com/

    The Men and Women behind UK BBQ – Richard Holden BBQ

    Richard Holden BBQ is on a mission to bring brilliant barbecuing skills to more people across the UK. He travels  the country leading live product demonstrations, hosting bespoke hands-on masterclasses and catering for private events, with the aim of educating and inspiring others to get creative with food and give barbecuing a go themselves.

    1. What got you into BBQ’ing?
    I had my eyes opened to home barbecue when I first had roasted meats and vegetables cooked outside. It was around 2004, I’d just moved to Canada and with the stonking hot summers they get out there my sister was buying all the barbecue cookbooks she could get her hands on and fast became a BBQ Ninja!!
    I started to take barbecuing seriously in 2012 when I took a job working for Weber as an in-house chef. I began travelling the UK and Ireland with their amazing Land Rover and Airstream exhibition unit hosting mini masterclasses at retailer locations and big food shows such as CarFest, Grillstock and Jamie Oliver’s BigFeastival. I loved how people gather around the barbecue and along with creating great food together the barbecue inspires newly treasured memories and life moments!

    2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home and what is your favourite method of cooking?
    HAHA At last count I had 15 barbecues of various descriptions. These are working grills and go on the road with me to the events I host. There are charcoal, gas and pellet barbecues as well as dedicated smokers and portable styles in there too.
    My favourite method for cooking has to be roasting as it opens up the endless possibilities of what you can cook on your barbecue. Roasting also allows the barbecue to take the strain while you have time on your hands to do other things be it things around the house or actually catching-up with the people you invite to your home.

    3. What is your favourite piece of BBQ equipment? This can be a BBQ or an accessory and we want to know why.
    In the same way as The Complete Work of Shakespeare and A Religious Book are automatically given in Desert Island Discs I’m going to assume we already have a chimney starter, a good toolset, IO Shen knives and a Thermapen!!
    This being the case I would have to say my cast iron Dutch oven is something I could not be without. One of the best things about cooking on a barbecue is that for grilling and roasting you don’t really need anything to put the food on like you would in the kitchen as food goes straight on the cooking grate. This is fantastic when it comes to washing up, but there are times in the year where I want to be able to cook something outside the norm. Chilli con carne on bonfire night or moules mariniere with crusty bread and a glass of white on a warm summer evening are just 2 dishes that instantly spring to mind. The Dutch oven is in my Top 10 pieces of barbecue kit for sure!

    4. What was the best BBQ food you have ever eaten?
    I’ve been lucky enough to judge twice at the Jack Daniel’s International BBQ Championships so it goes without saying I’ve eaten some of the best barbecue food in the world.
    The other worthy mention though has to be the first time I ever ate low ‘n’ slow brisket! It was July 1997, I was visiting Canada with my parents for the first time and we were at the Calgary Stampede (google it!). As we walked around the park grounds I caught the very distinctive aroma I’d later come to know as hickory wood smoke. This was a taste revalation and if I ever think of hickory smoked brisket now I’m straight back at the Stampede that summer; Fantastic!

    5. Tell us about your worst BBQ disaster?
    Easy! Grillstock Bristol 2014. I was heading up the weekends 30-minute demos in the Weber marquee and someone asked me a thought provoking question that got me off topic! My school reports always said “easily distracted” so I went in feet first and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. What I was actually cooking was a Tarte Tatin, which had had the puff pastry lid put on and was on the barbecue to bake off. Mid conversation someone asked if the barbecue behind me was supposed to be smoking. I said it wasn’t possible as I was just “baking” but true enough when I turned around I saw heavy black smoke coming from the grill. I’d baked it too far long and not only had the pastry “over-baked” but the caramel in the bottom of the dish had burnt to smithereens.
    I don’t believe in hiding your mistakes as they can show that if you take your eye off the ball, as had happened in this case, anyone can burn something! I wanted to post a picture of the charred remains but was told by someone higher than me that the photo should go nowhere near the internet, which means you now have an exclusive!! 😉

    6. Name a dish you have never cooked but would love to try?
    I’m dying to get my own house to be able to have space for an Asado and cook a butterflied lamb or side of beef on it! I’ve seen it done at events like Meatopia and spoken with people about it but haven’t had the opportunity or space to do it for myself yet.

    7. Who is the person you would most like to cook with?
    Australian cook and food write Donna Hay. There have been so many influences for me from Australia in the last year and Donna is just one of the people I’ve discovered along the way. Her food and knowledge are vast and to cook with her while discovering Aussie cuisine would be something pretty cool!

    8. What is your favourite song to cook to?
    I have music playing most of the day so this is tough but “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas will always remind me of a sailing trip I took around the Whitsunday Islands in 2010. In my mind it’s tropical blue waters, hot sunny days and barbecues off the back of the boat whenever I hear this song!

    9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger?
    I like to keep it classic with cheese, grilled streaky bacon, tomato and sliced avocado.

    10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure?
    I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream! I love it in all its’ glorious forms and over the summer months you may find the odd Magnum wrapper in the drivers’ door pocket of my van…….. lol

    For more information visit https://www.richardholdenbbq.co.uk/

    Heat Beads- Review by Christine Dale

    Heat Beads are the number one best seller in Australia. One of our supporters Heat Beads UK offered the team a bag of briquettes to try out and review, as I had never used them before I said I would do it. I have seen a lot of people saying that Heat Beads are their favourite briquette. I live in Northern Ireland and haven’t seen anywhere that stocks them locally, this could well be an opportunity for someone.

    The bag is 4kg in weight and the briquettes when I opened them were smaller than the Weber ones I usually use (see picture below), they did however seem much denser and were heavier. Briquettes are my fuel of choice if doing low and slow as they provide a more consistent heat than lump wood. The exception to this is in a Ceramic BBQ where I always use lump wood.

    I decided to use our baby Bristol Drum Smoker and the minion method to see how long they would last. I set up the fire basket and only used half a bag. I had heard that they were hard to light so I put a bit of lump wood in the mini chimney and a few heat beads on top. I used a wood wool starter to light. In about 15 mins they were well lit and I tipped them into the drum. I put in the deflector plate and set up the IGrill to monitor the temperature (Our kitchen is on the first floor so this saves a lot of running up and down to check the temperature) After about 15 mins the bbq was coming up to temp, this is slightly quicker than the weber ones, that can take 20-30 mins, I closed the two side bottom vents and left the middle one fully open, and the top vents to half closed and on went the pork shoulder. The bbq sat quite happily between 220°F and 250°F  with a few tweaks now and then on the vents, this is very similar to the Weber briquettes but the Weber ones need a bit more babysitting. You can see this on the graph in the picture below, the top line is the drum temperature.  At around the 7 hr mark the temp started to drop and as the pork was ready to wrap, I wrapped the pork and added a few more briquettes as the fire basket was down to a handful of unburned briquettes, this brought the temp back to the desired range and after another 2 hours the pork was ready. The Weber briquettes would last a similar length of time in the Baby drum although in the slightly bigger fire-basket in the Weber Smoky Mountain I have got 13 ½ hours but obviously this was using more briquettes. I have no doubt the Heat Beads would do the same.  I need to try Heat Beads in the Weber Smoky Mountain.

    I still have some left and I plan to do a Rotisserie cook with them, I am sure they will work equally well at the hotter end of the temperature spectrum and their density will make them long lasting too.

    The briquettes give off much less ash than others I have used and this is great as this means there is less chance of them snuffing out. I will try and source these briquettes although delivery charges may be a killer. That’s one of the joys of living in Northern Ireland some people think we are in Outer Mongolia.

    In summary, 7 hours on half a bag in our baby drum is an excellent result, much longer than the 4 hours they claim to last and I can certainly recommend these briquettes. Good consistency and heat throughout the cook.

    Heat Beads are distributed in the UK by

    http://www.hiltonbanks.com/5_heatbeads.htm

    The Men and Women behind UK BBQ – Emma Millest Bunch of Swines

    Emma is the prettier half of the competition team Bunch of Swines, (Sorry Ed) they have been competing and winning in competitions all round Europe and America in recent years. Emma was also a competitor on ITV’s UK BBQ Champ in 2015

    1. What got you into BBQ’ng?
    YouTube found some Texas guys cooking big chunks of meat on a Webber kettle and thought I can do that.

    2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home and what is your favourite method of cooking?
    Where do I start…at home we currently have a Yoder pellet cooker, a PK grill, a UDS and a Webber kettle. However, at our lockup we have a Jambo (stick burner), 4 gateway smokers, 2 WSM, 1 Backwards cabinet smoker, 1 meadow creek and several Kettles and much much more. My favourite method of cooking is hot and fast over a mixture of wood and charcoal.

    3. What is your favourite piece of BBQ equipment? This can be a BBQ or an accessory and we want to know why.
    For me it’s the Thermaq with mini needles are so small that they do not leave any needle marks in the meat and the leads are easy to wrap in tinfoil too. Also, and almost just as important my slippers! (especially when cooking competition, you are constantly on your feet and must be comfortable.)

    4. What was the best BBQ food you have ever eaten?
    At the American Royal 6 years ago, I was given a slice of brisket from an American team called Big T’s crew and it was the best brisket I have ever tasted. He then went on to win team of the year in brisket that year.

    5. Tell us about your worst BBQ disaster? My BBQ disaster was cooking mussel, the mussels overcook really quickly and exploded across the room. They can get some serious air distance!

    6. Name a dish you have never cooked but would love to try?
    I would love to learn how to cook Dim sum.

    7. Who is the person you would most like to cook with?
    It would have to be my partner in crime Edward Gash, I know its soppy.

    8. What is your favourite song to cook to?
    Anything that has a good beat, normally drum and base.

    9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger? Caramelised red onion and blue cheese.

    10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure? Chinese food seaweed and salt and pepper squid.

    The Men and Women behind UK BBQ – Marcus Bawdon of Country Wood Smoke Fame

    In addition to running multiple websites, which include food blogging, fantastic photography, reviews on BBQ Equipment and a U Tube Channel. Marcus produces UKBBQMag and runs BBQ courses.

    1. What got you into BBQ’ng?
    I’d recently started eating meat and had just moved to the countryside, I was cooking burgers and sausages for ever larger social gatherings, but realised I was missing out on a lot because I was stuck to the grill. I started researching other ways of cooking such as whole pigs on rotisseries, wood fired ovens and low’n’slow American style BBQ, I soon realised I was hooked.

    2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home and what is your favourite method of cooking?
    I have around 40, and 8 wood fired ovens, I’m very fortunate to work with a number of brands and do a lot of reviews, photography and videos with them. I can’t really pick a favourite I love all forms of outdoor cooking.

    3. What is your favourite piece of BBQ equipment? This can be a BBQ or an accessory and we want to know why.
    I couldn’t be without a thermapen, not just for temps but for knowing by feel how meat is cooking and when the tougher cuts are ready.

    4. What was the best BBQ food you have ever eaten?
    I remember a grilled seafood platter and a cold bottle of white and watching the sun go down over the sea in Queensland very fondly.

    5. Tell us about your worst BBQ disaster?
    Back when I tried my hand at BBQ catering, stood in a sodden field, with thousands of pounds worth of sausages and meat at a supposed big event, where everyone stayed away due to a bad weather forecast.

    6. Name a dish you have never cooked but would love to try?
    A whole cow cooked slowly near a fire.

    7. Who is the person you would most like to cook with?
    Francis Mallmann

    8. What is your favourite song to cook to?
    A bit of dirty Blues, no song in particular.

    9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger?
    Amercian cheese, good bacon, gherkin and chilli jam

    10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure?
    Caramel crème pots

    For more top tips visit his web site @ http://countrywoodsmoke.com/

    Follow Marcus on social media
    FB:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/CountryWoodSmoke/
    You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/CountryWoodSmoke
    Twitter:  https://twitter.com/devonwoodsmoke#
    Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/countrywoodsmoke/