Belfast BBQ Academy

bbq academy

Can you believe that before Saturday I was a BBQ virgin? There had not been a single occasion in my 30 years of life that I had prepared even one course on a BBQ… I know… weird…

So when Belfast BBQ Academy  invited me to attend one of their courses, I was intrigued. To be honest, I really didn’t expect to enjoy BBQing as much as I did. I thought I might find it interesting to cook in a very different way to I am used to, but I didn’t expect to want a BBQ so badly by the end of the day!

This branch of the Weber BBQ Academy is located in the fabulous Hillmount Garden Centre.

5 Things I learnt at Belfast BBQ Academy

Hillmount Weber BBQ Academy 1 (2)

Charcoal does not take hours to heat up!

For some reason I had it in my head that if you wanted to have a BBQ on a Charcoal grill, you had to light it a few hours in advance! I think I may have been thinking of years gone by. Or just made this up in my non BBQ experienced head. But this IS NOT the case. With the help of a chimney starter your BBQ can be ready to go in 20 minutes. MIND BLOWN.

I am certain this is why we have never invested in a BBQ. Matt has always been certain that gas BBQ’s are not as cool as charcoal – and I have always been certain we would never be organised enough to have light our BBQ hours in advance… #notwise

ALWAYS BBQ with the lid down

It stands to reason that this would be the way to cook something well. The heat being distributed through out the dome cooking the food from all directions. It also means your dinner cooks faster too… I clearly watch too much TV though. As I have images in my head of pool parties and open BBQ’s?

The benefits of keeping the lid down on your BBQ as much as possible were demonstrated perfectly by our BBQ academy classmates ( A stag party! ). Sarah n I tried to behave ourselves and follow directions as much as possible. However the stags simply could not bear to leave their burgers / chicken breasts hidden under the BBQ lid. Hence why Sarah and I were tucking into our grub first every time! #goteamgirl

Hillmount Weber BBQ Academy 1 (4)

There is such a thing as direct and indirect heat…

I’m not going to get too technical here – but cooking on a BBQ is not as simple as spreading your coals out over the base of your BBQ and going for it! What you are cooking dictates where you should position the food in relation to your coals / gas burners. Anything thicker than your hand can be browned / glazed over direct heat, but should be moved to indirect heat to cook through. This prevents your item burning on the outside before it is ready to consume!

You can hot smoke food on all BBQs

Fancy a delicate smokiness to your BBQ goods? Dampen some wood chips and sprinkle them over your charcoal, or place them in a burner box if you are using a gas BBQ. I think it is only possible to obtain a delicate smokiness this way – but I am already dreaming up my ideal fish dish…

Hillmount Weber BBQ Academy 1 (3)Desserts can be BBQ friendly too…

Really! Who knew! I think I would have worked out the wonders of stuffed banana but apparently you can cook a whole host of other desserts. I have a recipe for chocolate brownies I am keen to try ( if and when a BBQ enters my life )

So – what did I think?

Natalie and the rest of the team at Belfast BBQ Academy do a brilliant job of balancing informative talks with plenty of chat and giggles. They had their work cut out for them on our course – with the remainder of our class being made up of an exuberant stag party. But I can confidently say everyone had a good time. Sarah and I enjoyed being honouree members of Johns stag party – and I am currently lusting after my very first BBQ. A great result all round!

Are you a BBQ fan? Or a relative newbie? I’d love to hear about your favourite BBQ dishes – Inspire me!

Hillmount Garden Centre invited me to attend their 1/2 Day BBQ course free of charge. However, I was under no obligation to blog about my experience. All words and opinions are 100% my own. If you have any questions please ask 🙂