Got A Kettle BBQ?
Here Are Some Great
Tips And Tricks
If you own a kettle bbq, such as a Weber barbeque, then here are some great tips and ideas to help you get the most from it.
As well as your standard gas grill barbecues, the kettle is another
popular type. There are more than one manufacturer, but perhaps the most
famous is Weber.
You’ll often find that the terms 'Weber BBQs'
and 'kettle BBQs' are used interchangeably when people are talking about
them, and I’m no different. I own a Weber and think it’s great (I have
no affiliation to Weber, I just like their barbecues!).
BBQ uses briquettes (like small pieces of charcoal) to cook food. These
briquettes are lit using fire lighters, and then they heat up to become
glowing coals (after about 45 minutes). These coals then become the
source of heat to cook your food.
One advantage a kettle bbq has
is that you can use it for both direct and indirect cooking. Direct
cooking is when the food is cooked directly over the hot coals. Cooking
this way is much quicker, and similar to a regular barbecue. Indirect
cooking is when the hot coals are placed to the sides of the kettle, and
the food is placed on a rack just above and in between the coals. The
heat then surrounds the food and cooks it. It’s a slower but less
intensive method, but the results are well worth the wait.
you buy a kettle bbq, it’s important to read the instructions carefully.
It will give you the information you need for that particular type when
it comes to quantities of briquettes and so on. The tips I’m going to
give you below are more general. Given the range of kettles on the
market, I simply can’t cater for each type!
Let’s start from the
beginning – I’ll assume you’ve placed the required number of briquettes
in the kettle along with some fire lighters to get them started. Her we
go with some invaluable tips that I’ve learned from years of practice!
sure the air vents at the bottom of the kettle are fully open. I’ve
sometimes forgotten and wondered why everything was taking so long.
you’ve lit the fire lighters, wait about 10 seconds to make sure
they’re well alight before placing the briquettes over them.
- At first, the briquettes may produce a lot of smoke. Don’t stand there breathing it in, and make sure you close any doors or windows to the house around you.
you’re trying not to breath in the smoke and fumes, spend a minute or
two checking that the fire lighters haven’t been smothered and that
they’re still burning well.
- Once your satisfied everything’s
burning well, then you can leave the kettle while the briquettes heat
up. However, leave the lid off the kettle to allow as much air as
possible to feed the fire. If it’s windy though, some kettles have a lid
rest that allow you to prop the lid open while protecting the fire from
wind. Do that, if your kettle allows for it, otherwise try to find a
more protected spot.
- The briquettes usually take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to heat up completely. It is very important to allow this process to complete. All
the briquettes should be completely ashed over (so they’re white or
beige in colour) before you start cooking. If not, your food may have an
unpleasant taste to it.
- Sometimes you may notice that some
briquettes are fully ashed over, while others are only half so, or still
unlit. Furthermore, there may be fewer briquettes alight on one side of
the kettle than the other. I’ve especially had these problems on windy
days, even with the lid supposedly protecting the fire. Often, too, the
fire lighters may have gone out too soon. What I’ll simply do is (using
tongs) move the briquettes around so there’s an even spread of lit and
unlit coals. Try to place completely unlit coals directly on top of lit
ones so that they catch alight.
- Once the fire is ready, you
can start cooking. I’ll use some cooking spray on the wire rack to stop
the food sticking to it. Oh, and when you put the rack in, make sure you
are wearing some protection on your hands as you’ll find the handles of
the rack will go directly above the hot coals! Ouch.
your food is in, and you’ve placed any drip trays in (depending on what
you’re cooking), put the lid on and make sure that both the lid vent and
the bottom vents under the kettle are open. This is very important as
kettles work by drawing cold air in through the bottom, heating it with
the coals, cooking the food with the hot air, and releasing said hot air
out the top.
- While your food is cooking, don’t be tempted
to continually check on it by lifting the lid! All this will do is
release a lot of heat which will adversely affect the cooking. Be
- Once the time is up for whatever you’re cooking,
then remove the lid and take the food out. If it’s a roast, then put it
straight onto the carving tray. I find I need help with this step – I’ll
remove the meat with tongs and a carving fork while someone else holds
the tray. Oh, and don’t forget gloves for this step either.
the food is resting, you need to close off a kettle bbq to allow the
fire to extinguish. Put the lid back on, and close both top and bottom
vents. This will starve the fire of oxygen and so eventually put it out.
Note that this takes a while, so make sure small children are kept away
until you’ve checked the kettle has cooled down. This can take several
- Another great thing about a kettle bbq is that you
really don’t need to spend too much time cleaning them. Just empty the
ash out into a plastic bag, and then use a hose to give it a once over. I
just make sure there’s no leftover ash lying around. I’ll scrape any
excess fat residue from the rack but really this adds to the flavour of
the next barbecue, so don’t clean it too much!
That’s it. Hopefully you’ve picked up a few good tips here, or maybe I’ve answered a nagging problem you’ve had!
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