Top tips for cooking adventurously on your Weber

We attended Chef Shirley Guy's Weber course at the Cook Franschhoek Festival.

by: Cathryn Reece

With a three-day programme of events such as Spanish Tapas in the Winelands hosted by Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill Wine Estate, Mushroom Foraging at Pierneef à La Motte, Snout to Tail hosted by Bread & Wine at Moreson Wine Estate and a four-hour master class hosted by Rueben Riffel in his private kitchen, the weekend promised a veritable buffet of events to choose from for every palate and every budget.

The highlight of the weekend for this novice foodie was most definitely the Weber Cooking Class hosted by chef Shirley Guy, Weber Wizard and braai-mistress extraordinaire. Set against the backdrop of her Guest House at Fransvliet Farm, guests were treated to her artful food preparation skills (and amazing multi-tasking abilities), as she prepared no less than eight dishes on the Weber in just over an hour.

Complemented by tastings by owner and engineer-turned-winemaker Dieter Sellmeyer from Lynx Wine Estate, Shirley demonstrated how to prepare tasty South African favourites food for scores of guests in just minutes at a time, and busted several myths and bad habits most commonly committed around the fire (yes, I’m looking at you, South African men!)

A Butterflied Leg of Lamb Teriyaki and Whole Yellowtail in a Salt Jacket were the highlights of the day’s lunch, and the Weber Pizza and Foccacia Bread will make me think twice about ever attempting baking in a normal oven again. Even dessert – ice cream with a dark cherry kirsch sauce – was done on the fire!

The only criticism this reis, vlies en aartappels girl could come up with is that her Smashed Baked Potato recipe instructs the chef to ‘allow one potato per person’. Sorry Tim Noakes, I caved!

I’ll certainly be looking at my Weber differently after Shirley’s hospitality at Fransvliet farm! Here are the top five things you should remember when mastering the Weber Braai!

  • 1. Align your Weber to the wind
    I thought it was mad science, but lining up your Weber so the leg without the wheel faces into the wind will ensure the best possible convection cooking. Make sure the top and bottom vents are open for the perfect circulation of heat.
    1. Align your Weber to the wind
  • 2. Coals go around, not below, your grill
    A Weber works by circulating air around the meat, so you don’t want to singe your meat on the bottom from too hot a fire. It’s an oven, not a stove. Stacking your coals to the side of your food will make for even heat distribution. Twenty-five briquettes on either side is more than enough.
    2. Coals go around, not below, your grill
  • 3. Accessorise!
    With the right additions to your Weber – like this Manturion Griddle – you can cook pizza, bread and stir-fries in minutes.
    3. Accessorise!
  • 4. Resist the urge to peek; and don’t fiddle!
    South Africans love to micromanage their braaivleis but the worst braai sin a man can commit on the Weber is to continually open the lid to check on the meat. Turning it every few minutes ruins the cooking process. Leave it alone, it will taste better that way. Promise!
    4. Resist the urge to peek; and don’t fiddle!
  • 5. Fat is your friend!
    When it comes to preparing your grill, that is. Rub a hot grill with an offcut of fat from your choice of meat before cooking. This covers the grill with a layer of oil that will ensure the meat won’t stick to the metal and fall apart right at the end. And in the case of a whole fish, a little egg white goes a long way to keep a salt crust in place.
    5. Fat is your friend!

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