BBQ Dragon and Chimney of Insanity

The BBQ Dragon and Chimney of Insanity have been around a few years in the states and not really available here until now. Here’s a review from Mark Quigg (@Markie_q_bbq)

Those of you that follow me on social media, will be aware that I am a big fan of plancha cooking and have a great relationship with Smokerig and their sister site Totally BBQ. A few weeks ago, we were chatting about a new kettle BBQ they will be stocking when it is released in the coming months. They mentioned a new product that they had just managed to get hold of from America.

That product was the BBQ Dragon and the Chimney of Insanity. I must admit I had never heard of them, but they very generously offered to send them to me to play with. Just to clarify, they have at no point asked me to review the products, or promote them in anyway. I am free to give my honest opinion.

The BBQ Dragon is a stainless steel, battery powered variable speed fan on a flexible neck. At the other end is a heavy-duty rubber lined bulldog clip to fasten it, so it is completely hands-free. It has a variety of uses, from lighting fires, increasing temps, to recovering smouldering fires.

    The Chimney of Insanity’s design from the outside looks like most chimney starters, apart from the protruding hole on one side, towards the bottom of the chimney. When you look inside, the charcoal grate is not conical, but flat and you can see that the hole that protrudes for the side, is actually a 90-degree elbow joint. The concept is that you place a firelighter in the elbow joint and this causes a large draw of air up through the coals.

    But this is where they come into their own. The hole is the exact size of the BBQ Dragon fan head, which slots into the hole on the chimney and transforms it into more of a rocket stove. On my first use, I lit a chimney full of new Weber briquettes in 4 minutes and 32 seconds. No mean feat. It’s capacity is slightly less than a Weber chimney starter, probably around ¾ the size. This isn’t an issue for me as I rarely used to light a full chimney.

    Since then I have been experimenting with them both and having a lot of fun.  I have used the BBQ Dragon at the end of cooks to bring the temperature of the coals up, so I have an intense sear zone. This is great with a Slow N Sear. It’s worked well with my Kadai Fire Bowl, on some Oak wood that has always previously really struggled and always smouldered. It has also worked with my Ooni 2S, to fire up the pellets quicker and in between pizzas to keep the temperature up. All of which it has handled with ease.
    I’ve used the Chimney of insanity with a grate across the top, with the BBQ Dragon on and cooked some proper flame grilled steaks. On YouTube others have also used them as a Wok burner.

    I am very impressed with them so far. The build quality seems great. It’s the first chimney starter I have used where the handle doesn’t even get slightly warm. The BBQ Dragon runs on 4 x AA batteries. It does have a micro USB socket on the handle, so you can trickle charge rechargeable batteries if you like.

    So do you need one in order to be able to BBQ?  No.  But do you want a quicker method of lighting your BBQ, that’s portable, handsfree and can help searing, fire management, pizza making etc? Then I would recommend checking it out. It’s one of those gadgets that once you have it, you wonder how you ever coped without it. The BBQ Dragon and Chimney of Insanity are available separately or as a bundle on  Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or Instagram (@Markie_q_bbq) if you want any more information.

    Rib of Beef

    Rib of Beef

    The Next Cook

    Budget Q is back again, and this time we are cooking a Rib of Beef.

    Modifying the BBQ

    After using the BBQ last time I found that the air intake blocked very quickly with ash, so I’ve modified it with a cut down sieve to try and improve matters,

    We will be cooking the beef using a two zone system and finishing the beef off on the direct side (called reverse sear).

    Cooking the Rib of Beef

    Fill the chimney starter with charcoal and light a eco fire underneath and in 15 -20 minutes we will be ready to go.

    Meanwhile I am going to setup the BUDGET thermometers. These were purchased from Aldi they retail at £12.99, but I got these on sale for £5.00, YES a fiver each ………. Bargain!

    They are a single probe and they can be changed from centigrade to fahrenheit and are wireless. The base unit stays near the BBQ and the readout unit goes anywhere convenient.

    I ran one thermometer for the pit temp and the other was monitoring the beef temp. I tested them together because I didn’t think they would side by side but worked very well.

    I also prepared a few potatoes and popped in a tray with a bit of olive oil and salt to sit under the Rib of Beef.

    When the charcoal is up to temperature carefully pour the coals onto the fire grate. Pop in small piece of your wood of choice – I went cherry.

    Don’t get carried away with smoking wood. It’s easy to oversmoke. Less is more guys!

    Pop on the cooking grate, insert the pit temperature probe through a screwed up piece of kitchen foil to keep it were it needs to be.

    Next put the lid on and watch the pit tempature rise up to 225 / 250 f (107 / 121c).

    Control the temp by opening or closing the air dampers on the bottom , leave the exhaust damper on the lid wide open.

    When up to temperature open the lid and quickly pop on the meat. Push in the meat probe and quick as you can pop the lid back on making sure the exhaust damper is over the meat (so the smoke flows over the meat).

    Now just relax………keep an eye on the temperatures and adjust damper accordingly. If you’re anything like me you can now tidy up the trail of destruction left behind in the kitchen.

    Note on temperatures, don’t get stressed or hung up. If it goes up to 275f (135c) even 300f (149c) don’t panic and close the intake damper all the way. It’s just like steering a boat, steer and minutes later it turns ,just make slight adjustments and wait. If it goes down and the vents are wide open pop some more charcoal into your chimney and light, then pop in the BBQ.

    When the meat temp reaches 120f (49c) lift off the lid and move the meat over to the hot direct side and brown on all sides until the internal temp is 135f (medium rare) 57c.

    Take off the beef, lift the cooking grate and remove the potatoes and serve.

    Rest the beef for 10 minutes, which allows the meat to reabsorb the juices.  As the chef you need to ensure you get the first slice – just for testing purposes of course.



    Basic BBQ Tips: The Chimney Starter

    Chimney Starter
    Strangely in life the harder the things you learn to do the easier it to forget how you did it, remember riding a bike?
    BBQ is just the same!
    The hardest thing I found was lighting the BBQ. Open the bag of charcoal put directly into the BBQ then squirt with lighting fluid, BOOM big ball of flames and two minutes later it goes out, add more fluid and fan the flames, moving charcoal about and burning your fingers whilst having helpful comments like “people are arriving in 15 minutes”.
    If this sounds familiar read on …..

    Enter the game changer, the humble chimney starter. My preferred method is fill the chimney starter with charcoal (lump or briquettes) but never instant light charcoal.
    Light two eco firelighters and pop the chimney starter on top. Twenty minutes later you have perfect lit charcoal ready for instant use….that easy
    Wow they must be pricey? Cant be that easy? Well most cost between £8 – £20 and last for ages, and it really is that simple, like riding a bike….

    Chimney Starter: An Essential Accessory

    Lit Chimney Starter with Charcoal

    An Essential

    For anyone with a ‘natural’ BBQ where you need to light either charcoal or briquettes a Chimney Starter is an essential item to own.

    What is a Chimney Starter and How to they work?

    A chimney starter is by far one of the easiest ways to light the charcoal for your BBQ.

    The old method of placing a few fire lighters under a stack of charcoal then dousing it with lighter fuel not only adds a bad flavour to your food, but it can take a long time before your coals are ready to cook on. Add to that the fact that not all the charcoal will light at the same rate and it can easily stress you out before the first piece of meat hits the grill!

    A chimney starter takes away all that annoyance as it will light all your charcoal evenly and quickly. It becomes especially useful when lighting briquettes as they are notoriously harder to light that standard lumpwood charcoal.

    So how do they work?

    You simply fill your desired amount of charcoal into the chimney starter. Then place some form of lighter on the charcoal grate of your BBQ and set the chimney starter on top of it.

    The starter is designed to draw air through the bottom, up through your charcoal and out the top (like a chimney). The rush of air flowing through the coals lights them up quickly and as they are all held together in the cylinder, they are evenly lit all the way through.

    You will know your coals are ready when the top layer of charcoal has turned white and the flames are dancing at the top.

    Using a BBQ Glove, simply pour the lit coals into the BBQ and add your cooking grate. After a few minutes with the lid on to pre-heat your cooking grate, you are ready to cook.

    A full chimney starter of lumpwood charcoal should light in around 10-15 minutes. Briquettes can take up to 20-25 minutes to get a full chimney going.

    A lot of people moved away from charcoal BBQ’s as they were such a pain to light but this simply isn’t an issue any more. It is recommended that you pre-heat your Gas BBQ for around 15 minutes before cooking so the time difference between the two is negligible.

    Adding the right amount of fuel

    Another great benefit of a chimney starter is that they allow you to measure the amount of charcoal you are adding to your BBQ so you will quickly learn how much fuel is needed to achieve a desired temperature.

    By keeping track of the level the chimney was filled to and the resulting grill temperature, it can make it easier to hit your target temperature i.e. ½ chimney starter of briquettes = 160-180C….. Ideal for roasting when setup for indirect cooking.

    I’ve never talked to someone who has purchased a chimney starter and didn’t think it was one of the best investments they had ever made. They make getting a fire going really easy and hassle free allowing you to concentrate on the things that matter, cooking your food!

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