Ooh yeah! It’s BBQ season soon, which means time to take out that old barbeque and giving that dirty little thing a good scrubbing like she deserves. Given it’s age and the effort required to clean, why not just buy a new one? The thought crossed my mind over and over again and there was some sense to it. My current barbeque has had its run and we’ve shared some good memories (well not really since it never did distribute heat evenly across the plates like newer, fancier and shinier barbeques). This trusty $99 special from Bunnings lasted me through countless parties, lunches and dinners since 2003 and the thought of retiring it made good sense. But as a lot of us humans do, we find it hard to let go of our beloved possessions. Why should I replace something that still works? I was sure that there was a better way of making this barbie work better. The question was, how could I make this cheap four burner barbie perform better?
So off I went on the internet and researched for countless hours on how to mod my barbie for the better. Turns out there is actually an Aussie barbie forum out there containing fantastic BBQ information (who would’ve thought? Follow the link to find out more www.aussiebbq.info/forum). The way to go seems to be with volcanic/lava rocks…exported all the way from the fiery depths of Mt Pompeii in Italy, just kidding! Anyway, the deal with these lava rocks is that these are used to replace the factory metal flame tamer tray. Reportedly, this lowers the chance of flare ups (creating better heat distribution) and most importantly your meat gets the mouth-watering smokey flavour and smell. The downside is that whilst I am inhaling the delicious scent of my bbq meat, I could also lose an eye too. Not to mention these lava rocks will begin to explode once they absorb too much oil/fat from cooking. Face mutations weren’t quite the side effect I wanted from my barbeque.
Not disheartened from my previous find, I kept poking about on different sites and soon stumbled across ceramic briquettes. These babies did everything the lava rocks did without the explosions and were more uniform in size. Obvious choice then, ceramic briquettes it is! And even better, Bunnings stock these ceramic briquettes and matching tray by Gasmate! Forty dollars well spent for both items (of course the free option would be to borrow a shopping trolley and utilise my man skills to mod it to fit the briquettes. However I am a law abiding citizen so I didn’t do that).
Installation was a breeze, could not have been simpler if you asked me so no need to go into details. It was a matter of removing the old flame tamer and dropping this in. If you cannot install this, I have nothing positive to say but man up!
Final verdict: it did take much longer to heat up the barbie, but almost immediately I could tell the heat was more even and there was next to no flare up when fat dribbled off the meat. My steaks cooked very evenly, had a subtle smoked flavour and left much sexier grill marks.
Overall that $40 investment saved me from buying a $500 glorified barbie. Bring on the festive season, time to get your flame on!