EQUIPMENT I USE
by Neil Clifton
I have a wide selection of knives, many Japanese, some German an six hand made for me to my design in the UK.
I have paid as little as £6 from Makro and been over the moon with how that knife has cut through the toughest of pork ribs in prep. I have also paid over £300 for one knife and what I have concluded is, how you look after your knives is more important than what you pay for them.
It's is always useful to have in your collection a chefs knife, a paring knife and a boning knife - I'll leave it to you to how much you spend.
This is where it all started for me in the smoking world. I met Ian McKend, the designer of the Pro Q at Grillstock festival in 2010 - I had no idea what I was talking about but I wanted to cook ribs - Ian told me about different types of smokers and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
I ended up buying my first smoker from him and dedicated my weeknights to planning my weekend cooks. They are so easy to use, easy to refuel and the temperature control makes cooking competition winning ribs and brisket very easy. Ian ended up sponsoring us when we went into competition bbq and from that when we started catering we cooked onsite from these smokers and catered for weddings and birthday parties.
The versatility is extended by being able to remove the middle section and using it for direct grilling.
What I learned is that selling you a smoker isn't what Ian is about - he wants you to buy into BBQ, the culture, the camaraderie - the amazing food.
If you are serious about smoking this is the equipment you need - if you speak to Ian - tell him I sent you.
I wanted a pizza oven and so did quite a bit of research, I didn't have the space for a wood fired oven, which Ideally is what I wanted - but I did want something that could cook some pizzas for the kids with little or no fuss.
Now, pizzas are about 5% of what in my Roccbox - flat breads of all varieties, burgers, chicken kebabs and the most epic toasted sandwiches.
Knowing the temperature of what you are cooking is the sure fire way to creating much better food. Being able to get an immediate temperature of your food means you avoid the 2 most common fears cooks have, undercooking or over cooking.
It is amazing how much better chicken wings taste, for example when they are cooked perfectly rather than over done.
PRIMO OVAL XL
Ceramic BBQ's best known name is Big Green Egg, no doubt they are eggcellent (geddit ;-) ) But 7 years ago I had a friend working for Primo UK and I managed to get my hands on an ex-demonstrator model.
Why oval? Well, the advantage of an oval BBQ is that you can split the grills and deflector plates (the plates you use to stop direct flames cooking your meat instead of smoking it) It also has a bigger capacity.
Why ceramic? The screaming hot temperatures you can get to sear steaks really quickly and then cut of the airflow and it allows the steak to cook slowly to perfection is the first reason - but really because of the heat retention, meaning on longer cooks, less re-fueling, no temperature spikes ruining your brisket cook. Also, the dome shape means that it can be used as an oven too.
They are expensive, but I have had mine 7 years and cook on it 4 nights a week on average and it shows no sign of wear.
WEBER KETTLE 57CM
A well known brand, great build quality and versatile. For an all round BBQ this is a a great starting point. You can grill and cook low and slow, but the reason I love it is for the rotisserie attachment. Chicken, gammon, beefribs are just the start. It is easy to control the air flow and keep clean.
Simple and effective and also a good reason not to buy a gas bbq or use lighter fluid. Place a single lighter block under the base, fill with charcoal and in 15 minutes you have burning coals ready to cook.