Sosij Sausages

Think you know your way round a decent sausage on the BBQ? It may be time to have a re-think. If you aren’t familiar with the name Sosij it may be worth looking them up. Whether that be because you fancy something a little different, or you want to see their collaborations sausages they have been coming up with of late.

Hailing out of Bristol, Ali is the sausage handling mastermind behind the company, and after 15 years of cheffing and running kitchens he turned his hand to street food and then making sausages. That turned out to be a very good move on his part as his products seemed to be an overnight social media success. He was selling out as word got around about the weird and wonderful flavours coming from the Sosij stable. The flavours kept coming and then Sosij bombs were born. Sausagemeat balls wrapped in bacon. Look them up.

After sitting back for a while, I saw a post pop up on Instagram saying there was a selection of the Sosij range available as a one off, so I decided it was time to part with some money and give them a go. The pack I bought included some of Sosij’s Irish Black butter pork and apple sausages, some Cajun peach pork sausages, some smokey bacon pork sausages, some cheddar jalapeno pork sausages and Texas hot links beef and pork sausages. Quite the collection.

Needless to say it hasn’t taken me long to get stuck in over the last few weeks cooking them in a variety of different ways from super low and slow smoking for a long time, to fast grilling, then back to normal smoking as part of a BBQ platter. Each time I have been impressed with what I have eaten and it leaves me wanting to cook the next pack. The first thing you notice is how plump these sausages are, not your usual banger by any means. The packaging catches the eye as do the variety of flavours. These sausages cook up so well and retain a good snap and the ones I have cooked to date always stay nice and juicy too. Favourites for me so far being the hot links as a part of a BBQ platter and the Irish black butter ones in a breakfast sandwich.

Then, only one week after placing my order Ali announces his latest idea, subscription boxes. So, having just had my order arrive should I be re-ordering so soon? Well when I heard the limited-edition flavours in the first box, I knew I had to try them. Birria beef cheek taco sausages??? Then Brazilian linguiça sausages? I am yet to try both of these so can’t comment but the feedback I have heard has been all good. In each subscription box you also get a pack from the range, a surprise pack, the box I had included some breakfast patties which were really good, I built a monster breakfast muffin with mine, and then this pack had a sauce in from the Upton Cheney chilli company and a big pack of rub. Delivered fresh and safely to your door for the princely sum of £45. There has been a second subscription box since where Sosij collaborated with Chef Thom Bateman from The Flintolock. It sounded amazing so I really can’t wait to see what the future boxes hold.

If you want to try some of the Sosij products you can find them being sold online by Village Butchers or wholesale by Longcroft and Old. The subscription boxes go straight onto the Sosij website as noted below. When you try them, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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BBQ-Toro Stainless Steel Rib Rack Holder

I’ve been cooking ribs various times for a few years now and when I need to cook 6 racks, it takes up virtually all the space in my Weber Smokey Mountain 57cm, so no room for any more meats.

I’ve tried a few things over the years to act as a rib rack, a rib roast holder upside down, the IKEA pot lid organiser but they weren’t up to the job.

A quick search on the internet I found the BBQ-Toro Stainless Steel Rib Rack Holder. This looked sturdy and ideal for my needs. Ordered from Amazon (check availability) end of May 2020 it arrived a few days later. Looking at the reviews on Amazon, some people complained that the edges were razor sharp so be careful when using. I must admit some edges were a bit sharp but nothing I really worried about and not as bad as the reviews claimed.

I prepped 6 racks of baby back ribs (sourced from Costco), applied some French’s mustard to them and sprinkled my favourite rub over them. I let them sit for 20 mins whilst the smoker was coming to temperature. Then on goes the rib rack holder followed by all 6 racks. The racks slotted in perfectly with a little overhang at each end. I was worried at first that it maybe too big to close the lid with all 6 racks in, but I didn’t need to, as it closed just fine.

The ribs held perfectly over the duration of the cook and left me with a whole rack on the lower part of the WSM free so I could cook other meats if I needed to.

Overall this rib rack holder is a great solid piece of kit and I will be using it a lot now when cooking baby backs. I haven’t tried with spare ribs, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to get 6 racks on the top shelf. I would probably cook on the lower rack shelf and remove the upper, which should do the trick.

Unfortunately at the time of writing this review it seemed to be out of stock on most places online, if you can find it and are looking for a rib rack, I highly recommend this rib rack holder.

Twitter  –  @bbqstuuk
Instagram  –  @bbqstuuk

Note: I was not paid to review or gifted this rib rack holder. I purchased it full price from Amazon.

ProQ Excel – Smoker

Some brands of BBQ manufacturers produce a product and then stick to the ‘If it aint broke, don’t try to fix it’ school of thought. Well that’s all well and good but more recent times in the BBQ world have meant that some of these long standing and well-established manufacturers are being left behind. The market for outdoor cooking is ever growing, and more and more people are looking to get involved, and are now armed with more knowledge than ever of cooking styles and types of BBQ and grilling, thanks to social media, BBQ blogs and YouTube videos. As that’s where more forward-thinking brands like ProQ have stepped up to the challenge.

Way back to their original models of the classic ‘bullet shaped’ smoker (so named because of the shape), it was clear that ProQ wanted to offer their customers more. More flexibility, more options, more cooking styles and more enjoyment out of their products. But in the last few years, the guys behind the ProQ brand, looked over their models from top to bottom to see what could be changed to make their smokers even better; the result is a stronger than ever product offering with a host of new features. So, let’s have a look.

The smallest of the ProQ line up is called the Ranger with a 37cm wide circular cooking grate; next up is the Frontier with a 43cm circular cooking grate; and finally, the largest in this range, the Excel, with a 50cm circular cooking grate. The Excel is the model we will focus on but most of the features discussed span the whole range, but please check the ProQ website for full information
I’ve been cooking on a ProQ Excel for around 8 years now but the guys at ProQ kindly offered me an upgrade to the latest version for review. That said, I am still free to give my own and honest opinion on the products in the article.

One of the biggest changes is to the main construction of the unit and the high-grade porcelain coated steel that is used. Heat retention in these units is key and whilst some manufacturers are saving money thinning the metal and coatings they use down, ProQ have gone the other way, meaning the units are more efficient and less fuel is used for each cook. Who doesn’t like saving money?

These range of smokers all break down into 4 sections giving several different set up styles, depending on the type of cook you are looking to do. This is one of the major advantages of the ProQ models over similar bullet style smokers, who only usually have one way they can be set up. The 4 sections on the ProQ working from the bottom up, are the base with the legs and 3 air vents, this is the part that holds the fire basket; then stacker 1, which would usually hold the water pan and have your first cooking grate and side handles for moving around; then stacker 2, which holds your second cooking grate and also has side handles; and then finally the lid with the hanging bar inside, the top vent and handle on the outside. Each of these stackers comes with the new and improved spring-loaded clips for a tighter seal.

So, as I mentioned above, these smokers come with a water pan; if you are not familiar with these, the idea is that for long cooks you fill the pan with water and it creates a nice moist environment inside, to help the meat during the cook, but to also help the smoke get onto the meat too. It also helps to keep a more even temperature as energy is used to heat the water, so less swings up or down in temp.  Just make sure the water pan doesn’t boil dry else you may see that temp change pretty quickly. A mistake we’ve all made.

Hanging meat in a smoker has become way more popular in recent years, and whilst the ProQ models (Ranger excluded) have always had a hanging bar tucked away in the lid it has mainly been used for cold smoking. But now more and more people are hanging racks of ribs and legs of lamb, as well as many other cuts in their smokers. And with the water pan removed, any fat drips go straight down onto the coals, creating an unmistakable smell and flavour that is one you just have to try. And once you do you’ll literally be…. hooked.

Vents! How many times have you burnt a finger adjusting a vent during a cook, well it’s no longer a problem with the cool touch tabs on all of the vents and handles. This covers the 3 daisy vents at the bottom, the exhaust vent at the top and also the chamber door and lifting handles on each of the stackers. No more burnt fingers for any changes needed during a cook.

The fire basket has now been improved to incorporate grooves, so one of the grills will fit securely in place if you are using it for high heat direct grilling, and there is also now a stand holder so you can attach one of ProQ’s other accessories, their Flip N Grate. Also handy and giving you huge versatility on the way you can cook from one single BBQ.

Each stacking level has a single silicone probe eyelet so you can easily feed through 2 wires for meat probes or grill temperature probes. These come in handy when you are cooking multiple meats on different levels in the BBQ. As they are silicone it means they won’t damage your cables and you don’t have to worry about feeding cables in through a vent or trapping them between the lid and potentially breaking a cable. A simple thing but really does help.

Whilst most of these ideas have focussed on the ProQ being a smoker one of the best tricks it has up its sleeve is by removing the middle stackers and leaving but the base and the lid. Now you have a super portable grill you can take anywhere with you for a picnic, to the beach camping or wherever you need to. How many other BBQ’s have that as an option?

All of these features and ways of cooking really give you a sense of why the ProQ offers such excellent value for money. All of this is backed up by a level of customer service that is second to none. Should you ever need to, the team will be happy to help via email or over the phone which can be a rare thing these days.

So I’ve owned a ProQ smoker in some form for around 8 years now and there is a good reason for that, they just work and they give you so many cooking options at a very reasonable price. And that price does not mean a compromise on quality. It has taken me from an absolute beginner cooking my first ever pork shoulder smoker overnight, through to the variety of cooks we now enjoy and with a lot more confidence in using the smoker. You can see from some of the pictures here and on many more of my social media feeds how much I enjoy cooking on my Excel in various different set-ups. And there are now more options too with the new plancha, rotisserie and Smartfire attachments, some of which we will discuss in later reviews so please keep checking back.

Please check out the ProQ website to see their full range of products including accessories, large commercial style smokers, cold smokers, BBQ controllers, charcoal, smoking wood, as well as recipes and tips.

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Instagram: @proqsmokers



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Outback Jupiter 4 burner Hybrid BBQ Review by ArtustBBQ

Around this time of year, I get asked the question a lot about what grill should someone buy. It’s such a massive question as what’s right for one isn’t right for another, then there is space, budget, family size and so many other factors to be considered. But the first starting point for most seems to be gas or charcoal.
Now as a big BBQ fan, my heart always leads with charcoal, but you forget that for the majority of folks out there the convenience of a gas grill is right for them and their situation, hence why they always were, and still are, so popular with many backyard grillers.

    But what if there was the option to have a grill that could do both? The convenience of a quality gas grill, but also the opportunity to really drive some charcoal flavour into the food you cook too? Well that option now exists through the Outback BBQ’s range of Hybrid grills. New for 2020 is the Jupiter 4 grill from Outback and that’s the one we will focus on for this review, however you can see the full range on their website, and you’ll find the link at the bottom of this article.
    For total clarity, I was sent the grill to review and I have also worked with Outback for content creation for social media. This does not mean, however, that I must give this grill a good review, my account and uses below will be honest and detailed. The grill was delivered to me disassembled as it would be delivered to a customer, this gave me the opportunity to get hands on with the nuts and bolts of the grill and understand the build quality. In a real world situation it took 2 of us around 1 hour and 20 minutes to build the Jupiter 4. This was with a few refreshment stops along the way.

    Thankfully for me and anyone buying this grill, large sections are assembled in the box ready for you to just build the main base stand and then bolt together. The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow and we had no missing parts. There may be some re-sellers of the Outback range who will assemble them for you for a small additional fee.

    Let’s start by discussing the basics of what a hybrid grill is. The name Jupiter 4 is linked to the fact this is a 4-burner gas grill, meaning essentially, they are 4 stainless steel tubes underneath the grates creating heat from gas. They get super-hot very quickly which is why people love the convenience of this type of grill. Switch the burners on, shut the lid and within a few minutes the grill is up to temperature and you are ready to grill. Wait a few minutes more and you’ll be up to super-hot temps ready for searing steaks etc. Remember the bars of the grill always take a touch longer to catch up heat wise and really absorb all the heat for searing etc.

    Each of the dials on the front of the grill is linked to a burner and as the dial is turned, you’ll hear an ignition click and the burner will be alight, it’s then fully adjustable through the heat range from low, medium then to high. So, if you were only cooking something small and quick, then you may only need to light one burner and so you use less gas and keeping the lid down through any cook makes the grill even more efficient and helps to stop flare ups too. Above the main grill there is also a removable warming rack which is there to help you find a cooler area for food that is cooked whilst you wait for others to finish. In addition to the four main burners this grill also includes a side burner gas ring that you can use independently of the grill itself. This is perfect for warming sauces, melting a garlic butter for basting or boiling some new potatoes, or anything else you need.

    So, we’ve covered the gas side of the Outback grill, here is the hybrid part. You can lift out the grills and then take off the v shape covers that sit over the gas burner bars and insert what Outback call their ‘Charcoal basket’. This can then be loaded with specially produced Outback briquettes laid out in a grid pattern (shown in the pictures of the review). You simply then light the burners underneath the charcoal basket, set to full and shut the lid. When you return 15 minutes later the briquettes should be alight, ashed over and ready to cook on. So simply turn off the gas burners and then all your heat comes from the coals. Now you are ready to get that lovely charcoal flavour onto your chosen food and it’s great for things like steak and chicken. I used the charcoal basket for my rib cook in the pictures using the indirect method.
    So, I had the charcoal basket off to one side and the ribs away from the heat over an unlit burner, I then placed some small wood chips on the bars above the coals and shut the lid to let the ribs smoke away. I added more wood chips every 15 mins or so, and after 45 minutes turned the ribs 180 degrees so the other side of the rack was now facing the heat. After 90 minutes I wrapped the ribs in some foil with a dash of BBQ sauce and some apple juice and let them run. The briquettes stayed producing the heat needed for about 2hr30 minutes and then I just kicked the gas back on at the end to maintain heat. Once foiled, the ribs weren’t going to take on anymore charcoal flavour so using the gas again was fine.
    Once the ribs were tender, I then unwrapped them, brushed on both sides with a little more sauce and left them unwrapped for the sauce to set for another 10 minutes. The pictures speak for themselves and I was left with a nice lightly smoked rack of tender ribs in just a few hours. Clean up is then made easy by sweeping the briquettes down between the bars into the pull-out drip tray accessed from the back of the grill. There is a handle on the tray, and I have lined mine with foil for easy clean up.

    Having the 4 burners and bigger grill space gives you more options around your chosen cooking methods and range of temperatures too. As mentioned above you can set up zones in your grill for either direct cooking where the food is directly above the heat, or indirect where you set the food off to one side away from the heat for slower cooks making more of an oven effect with heat convection. All of this is a good thing.

    So, what are the interchangeable multi cook grills inserts? Obviously, the grill style centrepiece comes included in the grill, but for a small additional cost you can buy additional inserts for the centrepiece to help you cook in different styles. Outback kindly sent with my kit the pizza stone and the double-sided porcelain griddle featuring a flat top surface perfect for fried eggs or pancakes, and grilled side with ridges for those perfect grill marks, and there is even a wok too. I used the pizza stone for well… Pizzas and I have to say as an owner of a pizza oven I was genuinely surprised by the results, just some super high heat from all four burners and within 5 minutes I had perfectly cooked home pizza. I did use some homemade dough to really make sure you got the best crust possible, but I would definitely get this insert and have a go. I also used the flattop as part of a full English breakfast cook up I did and It couldn’t have gone better. Perfectly cooked eggs with runny yolks and the whites just crisped at the edges, sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms and some hash browns for good measure.

    Let’s talk about the cool bits this grill has built in that Outback feel make life at the grill a little easier. The built-in bottle opener kicks things off, neatly built into the side of the grill it’s tucked away but there when you need it. The opener also has a magnetic base meaning no more bottle caps on the floor hiding in the grass ready to pounce when the flip flops are off. My favourite of all the features has to be the built-in chopping board on the shelf on the right side of the grill. I love this little touch. So handy as it pops out of its location easily with a finger hole for grip, meaning it’s also easy to remove for cleaning after you have been chopping or even better to serve your finished dishes on. Open the doors to the storage area underneath the grill you’ll see a very handy stacking rack for all the inserts for the interchangeable multi cook grill.  Perfect for keeping them all in one place by the grill and out of sight too. The amount of times I have searched around looking for grill bits before in the shed or garage, this just seems so obvious and it’s so useful.

    Along the front of the right hand shelf there is also a hanging bar for you to keep your BBQ tools, hot gloves and even a tea towel on etc. They have provided 3 movable hanging hooks for you to hang any items from too, again just a neat and handy feature. The grill sits on casters so you can it can easily be moved around the garden or out door cooking area. And when you want it to stay in place, 2 of the casters lock to ensure the grill doesn’t move around. As with most grill now, on the lid of the Outback there is a temperature dial to really help you dial in the perfect temperature for your cooks. The dial on the grill feels premium over some and I would describe it as oversized (in a good way) to make it easy to read with a quick glance. Another additional item that Outback sent with the grill was the premium outdoor cover.

    We’ve had all the weather in the last few weeks and the grill has been kept safe and dry from the rain and the cover has stayed in place thanks to the Velcro straps at either end. A must have item for anyone leaving a grill outside and uncovered. The grill also comes with a pre-installed regulator to fit your gas canister.

    Wrap up. So far, I have cooked on this grill over 12 times and have been happy with each and every cook. It’s easy enough to build with 2 people, looks great when you have it built too (this model comes in a few different colours so as well as the red I have you can also get blue, green and then stainless steel), it has a lot of well thought out extras that other manufacturers in this price bracket do not include, and most importantly it’s able to cook a whole range of different food using both gas and charcoal and most importantly of all it does it well. To make sure I was giving the grill a fair review I have tried cooks of all different types using both gas and charcoal and I did not encounter any issues. I obviously cannot vouch for the longevity of the grill, but a good cleaning routine and the outdoor cover will help massively. In this hybrid range there is also a smaller 3 burner and a larger 6 burner model should you require more or less space.

    The retail price of this Outback Jupiter 4 grill is £599 and comes with a warranty of 2 years for the hood and body, and 12 months for all other parts.

    About Outback taken from their website. “Since its formation as a family business in 1979, the Outback brand has stood for quality, innovation and total customer commitment, providing a comprehensive range of cutting edge British-designed barbecues, spare parts and accessories that leads the way in quality and value.

    Linked with the world class Chinese manufacturer TPA for the past 35 years, Outback is able to respond to the latest market trends and developments quickly and efficiently – simply click on to any of our comprehensive range of charcoal and gas barbecues to see how we stand out from the competition.

    The Outback factory has been ISO9001 approved since 1995 and has been awarded safety certificates from testing authorities worldwide. We have built our reputation on taking your alfresco dining experience very seriously. From the initial concept and design stages, to choosing the most up-to-date and sustainable materials, right through to our shipping and handling systems, we pay particular attention to every last detail to make sure the product delivers you 100% satisfaction each and every time.”

    Outback and all their range of BBQ’s covers and accessories can be found on their website

    Instagram: @outbackbbqs

    Twitter :@ArtustBBQ
    Instagram: @ArtustBBQ

    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.

      SNS Grills – Slow ‘N Sear

      What is a Slow ‘N Sear I hear you ask. Basically it turns your kettle bbq into a smoker to allow you to cook food at a low temperature. Pulled pork is a great example. Normally cooked at 110°C (225°F) over many hours which is not easily achievable on a kettle without a lot of baby sitting.

      I bought this a while ago from Totally BBQ after watching a load of YouTube videos and being initially attracted by how easy it looked. I’ve seen numerous basket set ups and snakes etc in the Weber that will do a similar job but this seemed a lot easier to use, so the Slow ‘n Sear 2.0 was ordered.

      Arrived and unboxed, first impressions were a well-made sturdy piece of stainless steel which fitted perfectly in my Weber 57. The coals obviously go in the back and the water baffle is filled with hot water.

        The instructions said to start a few coals in one end of the basket as shown above. (I now just start some in my small weber chimney and stack in when hot). Once initial coals are going, fill with more fuel and then I filled the baffle with water from a boiling kettle. Add a couple of bits of your favourite wood on and your good to go.

        The baffle can be removed if you just want to use it with charcoal for a sear zone of for indirect cooking.

        Once the  lid was on it didn’t take long for it to approach the desired temp of 110°C (225°F) and then just cracking the bottom vent and the top vent slightly open, it didn’t need much tweaking for it to stay around there for the next 8 hours.

        Just for information I was using Cococabana Grillbriketts

        Here’s them at 3 hours, 6 hours and 8 hours respectively. The temp was easy to maintain with just a little vent tweaking now and again.

        I’ve now used this on a quite few cooks and been more than pleased with it. To be honest it doesn’t really come out of the BBQ unless I’m using the Fuel Dome for wings. As there’s only two of us at home now, I even got rid of a couple of smokers that now just weren’t being used.

        There’s a few extras available for it like a griddle pan and a rotating rack with a bigger flip up portion for adding coals.

        For me, I really like it and if anything happened to it, I’d definitely replace it in a heartbeat.

        Available from Totally BBQ.

        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.
        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.

          Char-Broil Kamander – Review by ArtustBBQ

          Kamado style barbecues are having a bit of a boom in the UK at the moment. In a market that has always been a choice between green or red (Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe), there now seems to be a new option wherever you look. Even the supermarkets are getting in on the action this year selling unbranded and unknown brand kamado style grills at seemingly very competitive prices. There must be over 15 different brands and models available now in the UK market, most of which seem to be coming from imported brands with no presence behind them. So whilst paying sometimes less than a quarter of the cost of the main two players for what looks like a similar grill may seem like a good deal, is it really? One thing we have learnt over the years about ceramic is that it is delicate, and heavy. Very very heavy. So you pretty much need to pick a spot for your ceramic grill and not consider moving it for a while, and of you do decide on a change of spot then proceed with caution as knocking that grill over is not an option.
          But what are your other options? Well, in the last few years an alternative to ceraminc kamado’s has also stepped forward in the form of the double walled steel versions with insulation in-between. So is this a good alternative? We were very kindly sent the Charbroil Kamander to test out and see if it stands up to the test.

          It’s always a good day when a new grill arrives and when this bright yellow Charbroil box arrived on a pallet it was smiles all round. There were two of us unpacking and building the Kamander and it took us around 45 minutes to put together and was pretty straightforward as we actually followed the instructions for once. I know the usual process is bin the instructions and see what happens and keep them for fire starters later, but we wanted to do this by the book. There is still a little weight to the unit so definitely worth having that second pair of hands available. The pay off was the first feast off the grill for helping out which was deemed to be more than a fair trade.

            So let’s start with the weight. The Kamander comes in at around 52kg which is about a two thirds of the weight of its equivalent in a ceramic kamado grill. So a fairly hefty chunk lighter but don’t forget the Kamander also comes set into it’s own wheeled cart with folding side shelf. Figure that into the equation and you start to see this is a fair whack lighter than similarly sized ceramics. But does lighter mean a drop off in performance? We have put the Kamader through a whole host of different cooks to see. The cart the Kamander is set in is pretty sturdy, if you clip the lid shut then then large handle acts as a grip to lift and roll the whole unit around with on its back wheels. The Kamader grill has been stored a few meters away from the cooking area and moving it across the patio and grass was easy thanks to the large rubberized wheels. The side table on the cart pulls out and drops to the side whilst remaining attached so that the storage space needed for the grill set in its table is less when stored and covered. This handy side table is helpful for many things including preparation, holding ingredients or fuel or even your BBQ cookbook of choice. There are also a number of tool hooks off to the side of the table making it handy to hang your tongs and grate tool etc. These are a little fiddly as they sit underneath the lip but a few attempts has your tools safely stored and out of the way. But the side table in this instance serves a bigger purpose, as a quick glance shows a daisy wheel vent housed to the back right of the grill itself inset into the table. This is part of the very clever vent system that Charbroil has used on the Kamander making it easy to make temperature vent adjustments without having to lean under the grill. Whilst not an issue for most to lean under a grill, anyone suffering with back issues could find this really useful when combined with the lighter weight of the unit itself. All the usual features are there such as a temperature dial that reads up to 425c. Yes that’s Celsius not Fahrenheit. A giveaway about how hot this unit can get with its insulation. The gasket between the lid and the main bowl is not of the felt variety that has been seen on most kamado units until now, but is the new style and harder wearing braided unit that compresses when the lid is clipped shut to form a tight seal and also acts as a cushion should you drop the lid. There is a latch to clip the lid shut to form an airtight seal and a large lifting handle. As the grill is steel construction and not ceramic the lid does not weight a ton making them hard to lift one handed as with some grills. The cooking grates are porcelain coated cast iron so hold heat in really well for those classic grill marks on steaks but also remain easy to clean too. The grate comes with another neat feature as it is in 2 parts. There is a very small section at the front that is removable with a handy tool CharBroil include that means you can easily top up on fuel or smoking wood mid cook. This doesn’t fit 100% tight for the first few cooks and feels like it could slip, but get a few cooks through the grill and it holds much tighter in place. There is also a very handy removable step up grill included with the kit there are 2 slots (left back and right back) that this can be slotted into, and then there are also 2 heights that the step grill can be set too. Very handy for those cooks where you need some extra space or it can also be used to separate food types if needed or also as a warming rack. But another neat feature of this is that is can swing out to the side of the grill giving you total access to the food on the main grill or act as a super cool zone away from the grill surface if needed. Underneath the grill there is a hanger in which you can place the drip pan which also acts as a diffuser for smoking creating an indirect cooking set up, but also can be used as a water pan if you so wish. The pan isn’t very deep so would probably require fairly regular top up’s during those really long low n slow cooks. We have been foiling it during cooks to keep it clean. Working your way down you have the charcoal grate, then at the very bottom of the grill sits the ash pan which has the air flow holes drilled into the sides at the top. Thankfully this pan is very deep meaning you can crack though a fair few cooks before it needs emptying. But they have thought the design of this through well and it has a lifting handle across the middle for easy removal.

            So having had the Charbroil Kamander unit in the line up for 3 months now and having cooked upwards of 20 cooks on it, I have to say I am very taken with it. Having yearned for a ceramic kamado grill for a number of years getting the opportunity to try the Charbroil Kamander was one I grabbed with both hands. I have cooked everything from a 14hr low and slow pork shoulder, chilli brisket, spatchcock chicken and lamb ribs right up to high heat steaks, seafood and even some brownies and it has coped well with everything I have thrown at it so far. The side table really plays a big part here with having somewhere to rest plates, rubs, glazes and tools which is something none of my other barbecues have. The built in tool hanger is very handy in keeping the table surface clear or tongs and lighter. It has taken some adjustments in my cooking technique to learn just how much heat these type of grills retain but learning is what makes BBQ fun. You definitely need to light less charcoal or briquettes on start up with these types of grill as once the insulation kicks in the temperature will climb rapidly and given the chance it will shoot over your desired cooking range. So some minor adjustments where needed in my cooks to ensure the temps stays level as the grill does want to cook hot. Briquettes are definitely recommended for low n slow cooks to keep in that 107c/225f-135c-275 sweet spot. The pork shoulder was cooked using heat beads briquettes and it sat in this range for the whole 14hrs with minimal vent changes during the cook. The one thing you will find is that the vents need to be shut down a lot lower than on some grills due to the nature of the insulation, again too much air going in will make the temperature rise above you desired cooking range as with any grill. For higher heat cooks this grill comes into it’s own. The charcoal grill is a little lower from the cooking grates than on some grills but this doesn’t seem to affect it. A good covering of some good quality lump charcoal on the grate can be lit and have you up to those 425c-797f high heats for the perfect sear in no time at all. One simple cook of some Sherwood foods Tomapork with a simple salt and pepper rub and some oak wood chunks had one guest asking how it was possible to get so much flavour into pork. That was a good moment and cemented the fact that the Kamander has it’s place in the barbecue line up.


            The big players in the market make amazing units and have great reputations for quality and after care, but the cost makes them prohibitive for most people. The Charbroil Kamander comes in with a recommended retail price of £699 in the UK making it very very competitive against most other brands out there. But there is one small sticking point in that this grill sells at a lower price in the US. But that said, taking into account that mark up applies to every other grill and product imported into the UK, you can see that it’s something you have to swallow and that it’s still a very good deal. Also, if you keep your eyes peeled there have been some deals around for as low as £499 saving you a massive £200 and making the Kamander a no brainer in its market.

            Once again the Kamander grill was supplied to us for review but we are free to add our own thoughts and have been honest and fair in our review.



            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.

            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

            Kadai Fire Bowl – Review by Chillin n’ Grillin

            After cooking on a wide variety of BBQ’s and smokers including a pellet smoker we decided that we would like to go back to basics and try some cooking over a wood fire. A bit of research led us to the Kadai Indian Fire Bowl. We were lucky to get it in the end of season sale and as a result we also purchased the cooking tripod with chain and the cooking bowl. They recommend putting some sand in the bottom to protect the bowl, we did this along with a sheet of tinfoil.

            We contacted our local stove supplier to see if we could get logs to burn and where lucky to get a barrow bag of silver birch for £35. A barrow bag is about the size of a wheelie bin. To light the Kadai, we use a flamer, a little charcoal and a few twigs from the hedge at the bottom of the garden, this makes the logs very easy to light. We have been starting with three logs and adding as needed depending on the length of the cook

            Our first foray was to hang a chicken over the grill. We had seen Marcus from Country Wood Smoke cooking a leg of lamb in the same way. The chicken turned out lovely and moist as they normally do when cooked outside. We have since cooked a casserole using our dutch oven, a chilli using the cooking bowl and after purchasing a hacienda swing grill, spatch cock chicken, harrissa lamb and shawarma cauliflower.

            All in all the Kadai is a great bit of kit and good fun to cook on, in the cooler weather I still prefer one of the bbq’s that have a lid to preserve the heat but we will definitely get good use of the Kadai.