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Weber Grill Academy at the Jolly Gardeners, Earlsfield
The day we went to The Jolly Gardeners in Earlsfield it was snowing, not exactly the perfect weather for a barbecue! But that was the whole point; that we shouldn’t think of the barbecue as being something that we only crank up in the summer, that it can be used with flair and imagination to produce food for you and guests all year round.
A small group of us looked at the menu; ever had soup cooked on a barbecue before? Ever had Brussels sprouts cooked on a barbecue? How about a whole turkey? Or Yorkshire pudding? Or sticky toffee pudding? No, me either! We were thrilled that our lesson was hosted by Dhruv Baker, winner of the 2010 Masterchef. It was clear that under his guidance that there were to be no burnt offerings. It was also clear that this was an event that attracted men, I was the only woman in the class, and was told that I was the only woman to have been at any of the lessons. There really is a thing about men liking the nature of barbequing. There were lots of questions asked about charcoal vs gas, direct and indirect heat, and the gadgets available to produce the perfect dishes. We were to see a lot of these in action; some of which are must haves – the chimney to get the coals going evenly and quickly, the cleaning brush, the griddles, and the pizza stone. Others such as the Dutch oven, are perhaps more for the fully committed barbecue enthusiast.
Fortunately, the food preparation part of proceedings was indoors. We each selected something from the menu that we’d like to prepare and set to chopping, slicing, grating, seasoning, and whisking. The first thing to be started on the barbecue, using the rotisserie attachment, was the whole turkey. A dish of Hasselback new potatoes was placed underneath to catch the juices from the bird and cook in those juices.
I helped prepare the flatbreads; goats’ cheese and sliced figs drizzled with honey. These cooked in minutes on the pizza stone on the barbecue and were a perfect warmer whilst we carried on with the preparations.
I was intrigued by the smoked salmon; this was achieved by soaking apple wood chips in water and then placing them in the barbecue with the salmon as it cooked. It infused a subtle smoky flavour to the salmon. We had this with rosti potatoes cooked on the griddle and a delicious sauce. I have to say that this was my favourite part of the meal and something that I will definitely re-create on our Weber at home. The hickory wood chips are best used to achieve a bigger flavour hit and would be great with ribs or beef brisket.
The wood chips were used again to infuse the cream used in the vegetable soup; it’s only fat that will absorb the flavour.
I was stunned that the Yorkshire puddings, lovingly mixed by me, came out so amazingly cooked on the barbecue. The beef was lovely too, using a meat thermometer meant that it was still tender.
Meanwhile, the parboiled sprouts were stir fried with chorizo and pickled onions, and the turkey carved – it had only taken about an hour and 10 minutes to cook, the potatoes took longer. Quite a few of my fellow classmates were so impressed that they were vowing to cook their turkey this way henceforth.
I really didn’t imagine that it would be possible to cook sticky toffee pudding on a barbecue, accompanied by a boozy date sauce it was delicious.
I can say, in all honesty, recommend the Weber barbecues – whilst they might seem expensive compared to some other brands they don’t need covering in winter and they last for years. I had my previous one for 18 years, and my current one is now 4 years old with no sign of wear at all. It’s also a rather pretty turquoise blue!
If you fancy attending one of these cookery classes, have a look at the website for dates and venues. I can say that our day in Earlsfield was brilliant and highly recommended,
We were guests of the Grill Academy. My Weber was purchased by myself and the endorsement is freely given.