Over the past year I have seen alot of BBQ enthusiasts cooking using the Smokerig Planchas. Seeing the cooks posted on social media everyone seems to rave about them.
One enthusiast that really caught my eye is Mark Quigg (@markie_q_bbq) who seems to do tonnes of cooks on planchas. His Smash Burgers always get me salivating. He owns a few different models so I thought it would be great if Mark would review the planchas and share his experiences using the different versions.
I also read a tweet this morning where Smokerig refer to him as their ‘unofficial tester’ so I was delighted when Mark agreed to write this review.
How it All Started
Hello, my name is Mark and I’m a plancha addict? I think it was in early 2018, I saw messages from a company on Twitter by the name @smokerigBBQ. They were trying to gauge interest in a new product they were about to release. At that time I had spent hours watching American BBQ cooks on YouTube, using flat-top griddles and this seemed a perfect product for me, so I registered my interest and purchased one.
What is a Plancha?
A plancha is an extremely simple concept. It’s a flat sheet of 6mm thick heavy-duty carbon steel. They weigh around 10kg, so are substantial. This makes it an excellent surface to cook on, due to the thermal properties of the material. It also requires very little effort to clean and maintain. I would suspect they will outlive my Weber kettle.
Due to the thermal nature of the metal. It enables you to create a variety of cooking methods. You can easily create sear zones and cool zones, by positioning coals accordingly. This makes it perfect for creating dishes such as Philly Cheese Steaks and traditional American style burgers. You can create a low even heat across the surface making it perfect for pancakes.
How does is Cook?
I am fortunate to have been given the title of ‘unofficial product tester’ by Steve and Les at @smokerigBBQ and they have very kindly sent me some of the variations to play with over the last 12 months, which has been great fun for me and my family.
The ‘Standard’ Plancha
The first model is the standard plancha, a new design. This is for the 57cm Kettle BBQs. It gives a huge cooking surface and two handles to enable you to easily move it, rotate it or slide more coals through if you need more heat. Due to the surface area, you have a great amount of control over the temperature zones making it an incredibly versatile and useful BBQ accessory.
Weber Q2200 Plancha
This is the second model I tried and I didn’t think I’d use it much, but I have used it loads over the winter. It’s for the Weber Q2200 gas bbq. The Weber Q naturally has a side that burns hotter, mine does on the right-hand side. This makes it perfect for two zone cooking on a plancha. Because of this, it’s not as versatile as the kettle version, because you have fixed zones and the temperature difference is also pretty fixed. However, it heats up quickly and is cheaper to run.
This is the Fifty50 model. Half plancha, half grate model. This is a great design. The open grates can be used directly over coals and the plancha side can be used to keep warm, or you can spin it and have the plancha side for searing over the coals and use the grates for toasting. The open grates allow you to add wood chips and you can get a more traditional bbq flavour. They also make it possible to brown sausages all over. I think this is going to be a very popular design.
Smoke Ring Plancha
This is the latest plancha model. I’ve only had it for a few days, so have only managed to season it and cook once on it. It’s called the smokering and has a removable cooking grate in the center. There are plans to release risers for the middle section, which will enable you to cook Santa Maria style, which is my favourite way to cook a chicken. Again, with the design, it allows for a multitude of techniques.
Cooking on the Plancha
When cooking on the Plancha, I initially keep the lid on to help warm up the Plancha. Once it’s at temp, I used cloches over certain items such as onions, peppers, eggs, etc. It helps to sweat them out and speeds up cooking. I have also been known to use a cooling rack with a tray over it. This is to lift food off the heat and cook them slower or keep them warm until needed.
I’ve not used the slow ‘n’ sear with it yet, but the fifty50 model is designed with it in mind. Will need to carefully balance the heat, as if it is too hot it will burn off any seasoning.
Setting Up the Coals
I tend to place coals across the bottom grate. If I’m doing pancakes, I use an even layer all over the bottom (1/2 chimney) if I’m doing burgers, I’ll bank the coals right up to one side (3/4 chimney) to create a really hot sear zone and a cooler side.
Cooking the Patty
My patty recipe changes quite often. But ideally, like to keep it simple. I get as good quality chuck as I can and use a cheap hand grinder and grind it twice on a medium-coarse blade. I don’t add any seasoning until after it’s smashed. The beef has to be the star of the show.
With the patty recipe, it’s really basic because of the way it’s cooked. Smashing the burger on a plancha for 10 seconds, creates an amazing crust all along the surface of the burger and forces the juice to cook up instead of out. So you get a juicy burger with amazing flavour from the crust. So you don’t need to be adding much to it for additional flavour. The @MotzBurger onion smash burger is so good, there’s no need for any sauce even.
I’m a big fan of the innovative new designs. They also have models for the Weber go anywhere, kamado joes and other brands. Planchas are a really fun way of cooking and help create some wonderful food. Once you make an onion Smashburger on one, you’ll be converted for life. It’s hard to recreate the crust and juiciness of the food.
If you have any questions about the Planchas feel free to contact Mark through his Twitter account.
I have really enjoyed seeing the plancha cooks Mark has shared over the year. Love seeing his cooked breakfasts but my favourite cooks are his Smash Burgers. He is definately worth a follow on Twitter.
After reading his review it has persuaded me to take the plunge on my first my plancha, which will be getting ordered later this week.