Go Here… UK BBQ School

Jul 2, 2024 | Featured Articles, Go Here

Where? Newlands Farm, Cullompton

Cost: £125pp

How to book: www.ukbbqschool.com

Go Here… UK BBQ School

Jul 2, 2024 | Featured Articles, Go Here

“Subtle with a bit of tickle” is how world-famous BBQ teacher Marcus Bawdon described the rub we’d prepared for a bed of chicken thighs – soon to be laid out over a grill about 5cm above a BBQ bowl of burning charcoal.

We were about three hours into the BBQ Fundamentals course Marcus offers from his open-sided barn adjacent to Fordmore Farm Shop and already I’d learnt how much I didn’t know about the art of the BBQ.

First the fire itself. Avoid any kind of charcoal (lump or briquettes) that contains any kind of accelerant or fire propellant. This means most of the options at the garage! 

Instead find a local supplier of good lump charcoal or quality briquettes. You can also use wood, but that requires skills that Marcus covers in his intermediate and advanced courses.

Our group of eight were using what Marcus calls the ‘Ford Focus’ of BBQs, the classic 22-inch kettle BBQ made famous by Weber. I’ve had one most of my adult life, and yet this was the first time I’ve truly understood how it works.

It’s all about the interplay between the lit charcoal and the air supply. Sticking to the motor car analogy, Marcus labelled the vent at the base of the BBQ the ‘accelerator’ and the vent at the top the ‘brake’. He hardly touches the brake, leaving it open unless there’s an emergency and he needs to cut off the air supply entirely. Instead he makes one or two fine adjustments to the accelerator to get the ambient temperature to hover around 200-220°C (measured by the thermometer on the kettle lid).

We placed charcoal into a basket that occupied about a third of the BBQ floor space and placed a small piece of cherry wood on top. Then, once the charcoal was lit and the requisite temperature reached, we laid a truly massive topside of Beef on the centre of the grill, but not directly above the coal, and stuck a digital probe thermometer into it. At that point the lid went on with the open vent directly opposite the coals.

That’s when we got involved in preparing the chicken thighs, doing half with the rub Marcus had shown us how to prepare and half with a store-bought rub (no comparison!).

At some point the digital thermometer went ping alerting us to the fact the joint had reached 30°C internal temperature. We lifted the lid, turned the joint over, and put the lid back on.

It was that easy!  

As the afternoon wound down, we listened to some of Marcus’s fabulous stories about BBQing around the world while our beef was doing its thing. 

The key came towards the end, when the second ping told us the joint had reached 50°C.  We let it then rest for probably 10-15 minutes while getting the table laid with salads, beers and cold drinks during which time it actually carried on increasing in temperature, getting to 55°C (medium rare) before being carved.

What a way to end the week! And I haven’t even mentioned the hanger steaks… trimmed and thrown directly onto the coals, with long red peppers directly on another bed of coals, and allowed to char for four minutes on each side, basted with a delicious olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic and anchovy baste – then served on freshly wood stove baked focaccia. Delicious. It’s no wonder charcoal has inspired poets…

The charcoal kiln
A deer watches
The evening smoke
(Hayano Hajin, 1677-1742)

The BBQ courses are primarily aimed at meat eaters, but Marcus welcomes interest in a non-meat course which is being considered in the future.

For full details on all Marcus’s BBQ courses, visit www.ukbbqschool.com

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