I like to experiment when I'm cooking. With the barbecue that I bought recently I spent the first couple of weeks getting to grips with the basics. It's not like cooking with other tools I've used. You can't simply turn it on, set the temperature and cook. You have to master every little aspect of the process starting with lighting the charcoal. Getting the charcoals lit and up to temperature can easily take 20 minutes and then you have to wait for the barbecue to come up to temperature for whatever you're cooking. So it does require a bit of patience.
Fortunately there are thousands of videos, articles and blog posts out there on doing pretty much anything you could imagine with a barbecue, so I've been spending quite a bit of time watching and learning. Of course watching all the videos has also provided a lot of inspiration for things to try with it as I get more confident.
So my basic plan was to get to the grips with the basics ie. cooking your average barbecue fare such as burgers, sausages and other bits of meat. Once I got reasonably confident with those I thought I'd try to branch out to more elaborate things, like using my Weber as a smoker.
I picked up a smart thermometer as keeping track of the temperature of the meat and the real temperature in the barbecue is important if you want to do anything beyond a few steaks. Besides it produces really cool graphs and other stuff, so it's a bit of fun to play with!
The meater came beautifully packaged and overall works very well.
It's not without its annoyances, like dropping connections for no apparent reason.
You can set up alerts in the app so that if the temperature rises to high or drops too low it'll let you know.
Last weekend my first smoking experiment was to do a full chicken. You may have heard of the "beer can chicken", which essentially is chicken cooked with a half full can of beer (or other liquid) stuffed into the cavity. Chicken is quite "forgiving" so I thought it would be a good option for my first attempt at adding a bit of smoke. I'd picked up some wood chips when I bought the barbecue, but I hadn't got any kind of poultry roaster. If I'd been feeling more adventurous I might have attempted to balance the chicken directly on a beer can, but I could see that ending badly!
You can get a lot of accessories for barbecues, but for the "basics" the Weber branded stuff is pricey. There's plenty of other options at this time of the year, with just about every shop selling barbecue accessories. I picked up a cheap and cheerful poultry roaster which came with a decent enough sized dish.
As it as my first experiment doing chicken I opted for the cheapest full chicken I could get my hands on and used a rub from Cape Herb & Spice that I picked up in Dunnes.
The end result was pretty damn good:
Nice and crisp skin and the meat was nice and juicy. I got three meals out of it, so that worked out well!
The barbecue is wonderful when the weather is nice, but as long as it's not lashing rain I've been able to cook on it most evenings, though I save the more complicated and slower cooks for the weekend when I've got more time.