Missing the Essentials
Traveling without my Essentials
I have recently been away on holiday abroad, staying in a villa. I always try to get a place with a BBQ as I do enjoy cooking whilst away, not every night but a few cooks through the week. What struck me this time when cooking is how much I missed the essential BBQ gear I use at home to help start and manage my cook. The villa where we were staying had a Weber 57cm so a nice BBQ to cook on.
We found a big Carrefour supermarket close to where we were staying. They had a great range of food and I even managed to find a pretty decent BBQ section and picked up some Weber briquettes. Seemed like a pretty good start. We decided on some steak for dinner, which we were going to serve with some pasta.
Lighting the BBQ
I went to light the briquettes, but it then dawned on me I didn’t have a chimney starter so would have to manage without one. I originally learned to start a BBQ without a chimney starter, but the process of doing this again reminded me what a game changer the chimney starter really is. I arranged around 10 briquettes in a pyramid, broke up some firelighters and pushed them into the briquettes and lit them with all vents open. It really does mean you have to start the process of lighting the BBQ early, or you will have a hungry and unhappy family.
It took a while to get going and once the briquettes had caught I added another half dozen briquettes and waited for them to catch. Moving and arranging briquettes without heat-resistant gloves is a tricky business (and a hot one)!
Whilst the briquettes were coming up to temperature, I salted the steak and let it come up to room temperature.
Managing the Cook
Once the briquettes were ready to cook on I started the steak off on the indirect area of the BBQ. Not an essential but I missed not having any wood chips or wood chunks to add a little more flavour. What was more apparent is that I did not have a thermometer to check how the steak was coming along, so I was now into guessing the ‘doneness’ of the beef. Again, it smacked me round the face how much easier my Thermapen makes it to check on the progress of my cook.
I saw a tweet from Richard Holden recently where he said he takes his Thermapen with him when he travels, that is a lesson I will definately learn from.
So I guessed when my food would be ready and finished it with a quick sear directly over the coals. The one thing the villa did have was a decent pair of tongs so out of the 4 essentials I think you need to help your BBQ I had one at my disposal.
The End Result
Overall, I ended up with a pretty good cook. The steak was a little more overdone than I would have normally cooked it at home and I was also a little later serving up than I had planned.
What was really apparent was that not having my essentials to hand, did make it much more difficult to light the BBQ and also manage my cook. I think I was fortunate I had some good fuel to use and the steak I had was a nice cut. However, I can never see myself being able to BBQ regularly without the essential kit. You can still turn out some pretty decent food without it, but using the essentials make cooking easier and much more enjoyable.
Read my dedicated article to the 4 essential pieces of BBQ equipment are to get the most out of your cooks.