Burnt sausages. Burnt burgers. Burnt fingers.
I suspect this would be the extent of my BBQ cooking skills if I were to light up a grill. Well, until I attended Belfast Barbeque Academy at Hillmount Garden Centre. Now, I won’t be burning anything. Instead, I’ll be cooking perfect (if a little mustardy) burgers while lecturing the person unfortunate enough to be standing beside me on the differences between direct and indirect cooking.
I was invited to try a session with Laura making me instantly worried. She’s the food blogger and one with very high standards. Her Instagram feed is full of succulent dishes cooked to perfection while I am not exactly known for my food presentation skills. I’m good at eating.
After a warm welcome by Natalie and her team, it was time to get straight into prep work. Laura and I were very fortunate to be joined by a stag party. So, we became honorary stags for the duration.
The three-hour class consists of preparing and cooking three courses, all on the BBQ. To make the class flow better, all the ingredients were sorted and prepared into portions of us.
The first course was chicken with salsa. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I like my salsa (usually on nachos), so it was a pleasure to make. It was also a pleasure to lecture Laura on how I like to make it.
Barbequing the chicken was the fun part. It was at this point I learned the difference between direct and indirect cooking. I won’t give all the secrets away, but chicken is to be cooked directly. Before this, we were shown the different barbeques and I managed to light a charcoal one alone. We were advised to keep the lid closed while cooking (to retain heat).
Laura and I had finished our cooking, sat down and ate our starter before any of the men had even thought about sitting down to their scrumptious salsa (and chicken) . It seems they felt close to the stereotype; they had to keep checking the chicken every 30 seconds to make sure it was still there, losing heat and adding cooking time.
After the boys finished their starters, it was time to make the burgers. Again, the ingredients were laid out. This time, a tub of mustard was with everything else giving you free reign to use as much or as little in your burger. I took the waste not, want not approach and put it all in.
The burgers were glazed with a bourbon sauce prepped earlier in the morning. Again, the girls were the first to cook their burgers. I was tasked with flipping the burgers and failed miserably on Laura’s. It may or may not have crumbled into three pieces. She clearly didn’t use enough mustard.
Dessert was a stuffed banana. I don’t like bananas. So, naturally I stuffed the banana with as much caramel, biscuits, marshmallows and chocolates as I could. Then when it came to eating them, I left the banana. What can I say; the inner 6-year-old came out in me.
The event finished soon after and we walked away happily knowing someone else was going to be doing the dishes but also with a vast array of barbequing knowledge that I would not have gained otherwise.
Oh, and I left with a MASSIVE bag of marshmallows that’s helping to feed my hot chocolate addiction…
The Weber Belfast Barbequing Academy hosts a range of courses from those who want a small taster session so those who want to specialise in cooking certain dishes on the grill.
56 Upper Braniel Road, Gilnahirk, Belfast, BT5 7TX
Telephone: 028 9044 8213
Price: £20 – £99