barbecue cooking

cookery chat with david & sandra biddle

3: barbecue cooking

We had a bit of a quandary last week when we were out on our boat. Basking in the sun as we boated down the Oxford to Napton junction it was decided that it was too hot to heat up the boat cooking. Unlike most boats we don’t have any gas and all of our cooking is done on a Heritage Uno cooker, basically an AGA equivalent, it also supplies all of our heat, central heating and hot water as well. These are great for our country's climate where we have only a few weeks a year of scorching hot weather. However when it’s very hot it can heat the boat up too much and of course it takes an hour or so for the whole cooker to stop throwing out heat. The odd weeks in a year when this happens we revert to healthy salads or the BBQ.

Sandra and I to be honest have never been salad people and the only time we have enjoyed them have been on holidays to America where they serve them dripping in high fat dressings – our favourite being blue cheese dressing. So we mainly stick to the BBQ, however, neither of us actually like to BBQ. In fact when invited to friends for the annual obligatory BBQ we visit with a sense of intrepidation, as nearly all of the time the meats are charcoaled, over cooked or worse undercooked and at least one of the hosts has to be sweating over the BBQ for most of the time. Meat feasts are not our delight but we still enjoy well cooked marinated meats BBQ style.

A few years ago during summer time we spent ages trying to find a good BBQ for the boat. It was with luck, that whilst on the cut one evening our friends Colin and Heather asked us to join them for the evening.

Cobb bbq cookerSitting on a pop up table there was a smallish silver half globe with very little smoke coming from it but with an amazing aroma of cooking meats with a hint of herbs and spices. We soon learned that this contraption was a COBB – a smoker style BBQ.

On further investigation I realised, other than the lid, that the bottom and sides were cold to the touch. Colin informed us that sometimes, so long as the smoke is blowing away from the boat, that he sits it on top of his boat and cooks from there. What intrigued us about the COBB was that neither Heather nor Colin attended the unit. We just sat there drinking and enjoying the conversation.

After about an hour, they took the lid off and started to serve us, smoked chicken fillets, tandoori chicken, baked onions and green peppers and the most amazing garlic potatoes. Heather nipped onto the boat and came back with a bowl of green salad and a couple of baguettes. The food was delicious, all simple stuff, tasty and not a bit of carbonised meat – all tender and extremely succulent. Of course it was washed down by a glass or two of wine!

COBB bbq - insidesThe following week we ordered a COBB – not cheap, around £130.00. We also purchased the obligatory cook book to accompany it. Since then we have enjoyed many COBB evenings. Basically you load tin foiled vegetables around the coals in the centre, you then put the meats on a raised mesh, put the lid on and leave it for approximated hour. Lift the lid – all cooked. We find it definitely our sort of cooking. The only down side is that they are a pain to clean – so whilst at the Crick boat show last year we treated ourselves to some disposable foil liners for the COBB which you can throw away after each cooking session without the need for any cleaning. Result!

Over the next few months we will be looking at recipes for the BBQ, this will give you time to buy one of these. (Don’t worry I’m not an sales agent – I just like to celebrate good bits of boating kit!).

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About David Biddle

David & Sandra Biddle have been boating for around 25 years. They have both made their careers out of cooking, and enjoy sharing their passion for food and good wine. Their tastes are wide ranging - from spicy, to Italian to good old English.