There’s nothing like a bit of out of doors cooking to carry out the competitiveness in males.
And as I load up my new barbecue with sufficient meals to feed a small military, I am reminded of the well-known scene in Crocodile Dundee, the Eighties comedy motion film by which a weathered Aussie bushman relocates to New York.
Mick Dundee, performed by actor Paul Hogan, is confronted by a mugger who threatens him with a small flick-knife.
‘That is not a knife,’ says the deeply unimpressed Dundee, producing his personal fearsome, foot-long weapon in response: ‘That is a knife!’
And, in contrast with the brand new alfresco cooker by Aga, regular barbecues are equally put within the shade.
TOM RAWSTONE: There’s nothing like a bit of out of doors cooking to carry out the competitiveness in males
TOM RAWSTONE: And as I load up my new barbecue with sufficient meals to feed a small military, I am reminded of the well-known scene in Crocodile Dundee, the Eighties comedy motion film by which a weathered Aussie bushman relocates to New York
Well-known for cast-iron kitchen ranges beloved by nation cooks, Aga’s outside cousin is to not be outdone. At £4,150 not solely is it ‘reassuringly’ costly, however additionally it is each bit as huge and brassy.
Even its stainless-steel lid is supersized. Eradicating it, I am reminded of the large gong struck by the strongman initially of flicks produced by the Rank Organisation.
But it surely’s what lies underneath the bonnet that issues. The round cooking prime measures 2½ ft throughout — or 76.2 cm to be exact.
Manufactured from a weighty metal alloy, it’s heated from beneath by two individually operated round gasoline burners.
In contrast to a conventional barbecue with a slotted ‘cattle-grid’ grill that exposes meals to the open flame beneath, be it from burning charcoal or gasoline, right here the warmth is subtle throughout the strong metallic cooktop like an enormous frying pan — often known as a griddle or ‘plancha’.
The concept is that you could sear meat, fish and greens at a excessive warmth, however with out the chance of setting fireplace to your lunch. Not solely that, however, in keeping with one of many world’s most well-known cooks, your meals will style higher as effectively.
Earlier this week, David Chang, whose flagship restaurant in New York has two Michelin stars, claimed that flaming barbecues had been only a ‘advertising and marketing lie’.
‘We’ve got assumed as a tradition that in summer season, we eat a burger, and it is grilled,’ he mentioned. ‘I truly suppose the grill is a horrible factor for the burger … a juicy burger goes to show right into a assured grease fireplace, why use it?’
And he added: ‘The success charge of the griddle is healthier than the grill, and likewise there is not any clean-up, you don’t have anything to fret about. This complete concept of imparting flavour from the grill, the one flavour that is being imparted is the carbonised c**p that is on it.’
Whereas accepting that hen and lamb had been higher suited to conventional barbecues than burgers, his conclusion was that the one actual flame-grilled ‘champion’ was ears of sweetcorn. Controversial stuff. However the proof is within the burger. Or no matter it’s you select to prepare dinner.
My speedy concern earlier than firing up the Aga wheeled cooktop grill (in-built collaboration with Aga’s sister firm Evo) was how I might cease the uncooked meals from welding itself to the super-hot, metallic cooking floor.
However, as long as the griddle is correctly ready, that ought to not occur. Like a cast-iron cooking pan, the cooktop needs to be ‘seasoned’ earlier than use.
That is achieved by rubbing the metallic floor with an appropriate oil previous to cooking — a corn oil is beneficial as a result of it may be heated to excessive temperatures with out burning.
After that it is a case of turning on the 2 gasoline burners, deciding on a temperature and lighting them with a click on of a button. Warmth is reached in simply 5 minutes.
I sear two côte de boeuf within the scorching centre after which transfer them to the sting for a slower prepare dinner by means of. A pair of sea bass be part of them on the cooler perimeter.
Later, I add eight lamb chops, a few burgers and a choice of greens. The concept is that the asparagus, carrots, peppers and sprouting broccoli will char prepare dinner — the outside blackening barely, sealing the juices inside.
Final to go on are the tiger and king prawns which solely want a few minutes on all sides to tackle an exquisite shade of pink.
Had I been cooking a bigger joint of beef I might have used the large lid to create an oven-type impact to gradual prepare dinner. In the identical means meals could be steamed and even smoked.
If wanted, a small pot could be positioned on the floor and heated as if on a traditional range.
My cook-up goes fairly effectively. The meat has a charred exterior, the veins of fats sustaining moisture inside. The prawns are significantly tasty — benefiting from the extreme warmth which suggests they’re carried out in a scorching flash.
TOM RAWSTONE: My cook-up goes fairly effectively. The meat has a charred exterior, the veins of fats sustaining moisture inside. The prawns are significantly tasty — benefiting from the extreme warmth which suggests they’re carried out in a scorching flash
TOM RAWSTONE: As a substitute, as a result of the cooking floor of the Aga Evo is barely convex, the grease runs off the sides right into a round gutter beneath and is then channelled right into a detachable container for disposal
As for the greens, asparagus cooked this fashion is a favorite. The one problem I’ve is with the fish, whose pores and skin glues itself to the metallic floor. Extra oil — or silver foil? — wanted, maybe.
And what in regards to the burgers? As Chef Chang observes, there aren’t any flare-ups utilizing a griddle. Which, judging by the rivers of fats that the chops and beef give off, would have been a problem had I used a conventional barbecue.
As a substitute, as a result of the cooking floor of the Aga Evo is barely convex, the grease runs off the sides right into a round gutter beneath and is then channelled right into a detachable container for disposal.
Cleansing the griddle is easy. A wipe down with some paper towels is adopted by a scrape down with a metallic spatula.
That is adopted with the appliance of extra, clear oil that is scrubbed into the floor with a nylon scrubbing bush. Based on the directions, no cleaning soap or detergent should ever contact the cooking floor, so no wrestling with it within the sink.
My confidence buoyed, later within the week I fireplace up the grill for a barbecue with mates in a bid to see if it delivers one other promise — ‘sociable cooking’.
Based on Aga’s spokesperson, individuals are drawn in the direction of the grill. ‘The form encourages social cooking because it permits everybody to hitch in,’ she says.
TOM RAWSTONE: The largest plus for the chef is that the meals can all match on the griddle without delay. It is also Instagram-friendly, too — as long as you select the correct menu
I did not have company clamouring to take over the tongs however the round form and absence of a hood do make it straightforward for individuals to face round and chat whilst you prepare dinner.
The largest plus for the chef is that the meals can all match on the griddle without delay. It is also Instagram-friendly, too — as long as you select the correct menu.
Earlier this summer season, Christian Horner, the boss of the Crimson Bull F1 racing workforce and husband of former Spice Woman Geri, was roasted on-line after posting photos of a ‘bland’ barbecue of burgers and hen that he had cooked on an identical, griddle-style cooker.
‘Married a Spice Woman but there aren’t any spices to be seen on that meals,’ one commentator noticed reasonably cattily.
However get it proper, and you will be racking up the likes as if there is not any tomorrow — a barbecue bonus for us aggressive male cooks.