“ Grill, Charcoal, No Wheels „
I first spotted the COBB on TV on the gadget show and whilst I don't do a great deal of camping or boating I was looking for a compact BBQ which was easy to set up and clean, the UK weather isn't great and one minute it can be sunny the next raining so having a BBQ which didn't take much time to set up was a big plus, also with the added benefit of not taking much in the way of fuel would mean bags of coal would last a few times rather than the bigger BBQ's which take most of a bag.
The new Cobb premier is made up from the following parts:
1. A stainless steel mesh base unit (old model shown in link)- due to the fact the main cooking area sits inside the base the outside stays cold, this allows you to pick up and move the BBQ whilst cooking and cook on any surface.
2. A stainless steel Cobb bowl this has a moat surrounding the centre to allow you to place liquids in for steaming, for adding juices whilst cooking or putting vegetables in, the inner part of the bowl holds the fire basket.
3. A non stick cooking plate, slightly raised in the centre and with holes on the outside edge, the cooking fat and juices run into the holes and then into the moat of the bowl meaning no flare ups and healthier food.
4. Cobb Dome, the stainless steel lid which turns the Cobb into an oven and keeps the heat in
5. Carry bag, keeps all the Cobb together in one easy to carry bag, you can even fit the fuel needed to cook with inside.
A number of other accessories can be purchased such as a roasting rack, grill plate, frying pan, these do not tend to come as standard, and again are not cheap.
The main benefits of the Cobb BBQ are:
It allows you to cook food with only a small amount of fuel. It only takes 6-8 briquettes to give you 2-3hrs cooking time, so on a normal BBQ you may end up using most if not a full bag of coal and the BBQ will remain hot for hours after cooking so a waste of money, a bag of charcoal will do at least 15 BBQ's so good value for money.
You can cook in any weather and if required even inside the house, although not recommended. You need to light the BBQ outside but once the coals have gone grey and ready to cook on it can be moved inside and as long as you have a window open or under an extractor fan its fine (ventilation needed due to the carbon monoxide released from BBQ's) So due to its compact size and the fact you can move it you can have BBQ's throughout the year. Also given its size you can take it away for camping, the beach, or picnics. One point to make is if it is very cold outside the lid is not insulated and so more heat is loss and food takes longer to cook.
Versatility, you can cook a large number of meals on it. From a full Sunday roast to a pizza. The cooking area is 32cm diameter, whist this may appear small it's ok for a couple and probably even 4-6 people depending on what your cooking. You can fit a 1.5Kg chicken on it and within 2 hrs have a very succulent bird.
This is straightforward, after cooking by pouring some water in the well; it will steam and will help in cleaning. You do end up with a well of fat juices and ash (sludge) but this is no different from most BBQ's, the only exception is some of the juices and fat are burnt if cooking over coals on a normal BBQ whereas the COBB drains them all into a well - but then you don't get flare ups on the COBB. Once you've emptied the ash and cooking fat out of the bowl it can be placed in the dishwasher along with the non-stick plate. Whilst the stainless steel won't stay gleaming like the day it was bought it is something that will last a long time and parts are easy to come by from the main Cobb website: http://cobb-bbq.co.uk/products.html
As a BBQ its ok, you don't get that flamed effect and super high heat cooking, it's more a relaxed cooking experience, and it takes some trial an error to judge the cooking times etc. It does work best with the dome lid on as this retains the heat, so it is more like an oven than a BBQ. And does tend to work better on hotter days as less heat loss.
To light you just add a couple of fire lighters, light them and then sit the basket of coals on top, give it say 20mins for the coals to turn grey, stick the cooking plate on and then the lid after ten minutes your ready to cook on. Alternatively you can purchase Cobb stones, whilst slightly more expensive they are ready to cook on after a 3-4 minutes and they don't break down like charcoal so easier to clean. Occasionally ash gets into the well when using coals and if you haven't wrapped food in foil it can be a waste. They do recommend if using charcoal to use the Australian heat beads - available in supermarkets for about £6 for a 4Kg bag.
You can pour beer or wine in the well to add flavour, add woodchips for smoking. Its both easy to set up get going and cook with followed by fairly easy clean up means it gets more use than a normal BBQ. If on occasion like me you want to cook for a group or want a more flamed cooking experience then I have a cheap standard BBQ in the garage.
Priced at between £90-120 it isn't cheap, but should last a long time, it weighs in at 3.8kgs, with a 33cm diameter with lid on and 33cm high. It has been reviewed on the gadget show and gets used by the likes of the Hairy Bikers. A number of places sell it such as Lakeland, eBay, Cobb website, and other websites, some do an offer including the roasting rack and carry bag included so worth looking around.
Whilst it's aimed at those looking for a portable BBQ to take camping, boating, caravanning etc, it's just as useful for everyday use at home. If however your cooking large amounts of food, or really looking to flame grill food then its worth getting a standard BBQ.
I wouldn't recommend for fast grilling of food, whilst you can use as a standard BBQ the COBB does rely on the lid to retain the most heat and make the most form the small supply of coals used. So you do have to pre-heat the cooking grill first, otherwise you end up with uncooked food or boiling the meat. I guess its down to personal opinion if the smaller cooking area is not an issue then the only issues are the cooking method, whilst the COBB may take longer to cook food its also not likely to burn food as easily so less carcinogenic burnt food. In order to do the usual burgers and sausages, you have to wait for the coals to stop flaming and add the cooking plate, then put the lid on and wait about 10-20mins, then the plate should be hot enough.
The majority of reviews on the COBB are good, but you cannot please everyone and the poor reviews tend to come from people who expect it to act as a normal BBQ, or those that haven't followed the correct set up procedures.
The Cobb is genius! Ever considered cooking a roast dinner whilst camping? You would think it was impossible but it is easy with the Cobb. The cleverest design feature of the Cobb is the wire mesh outside which helps give the fire oxygen but also means it is stone cold. This means you can pick up the Hobb even when its been on for hours and you can move it. It is brilliant practical idea, there has been loads of times when I have had to rearrange everything around the BBQ but now i just move the BBQ. You could in theory sit with it on your lap but be warned the lid still gets quite hot.
The Cobb is the Swiss Army knife of camp cooking. There are lots of great functional items all enclosed in one Cobb. The well around the inside of the Cobb can be used to bake your potatoes or cook some corn. There is a frying pan and a grill plate as well as a grill, with the lid on it acts as an oven. My friend is a veggie and because there are so many cooking sections you can easily accommodate both needs.
The Cobb is incredibly efficient and easy to use but most important of all it is easy to clean. BBQs are notoriously messy to clean but the Cobb only makes a small amount of ash because little fuel is needed and it there is very little soot.
I love the Cobb and can't imagine going camping without it. It is not as fast as using a gas stove and doesn't have the smokey smell of a good old fashioned BBQ but it is a fast and fuel efficient stove that is very practical and easy to use. It is great fun to create culinary masterpieces and still have a nice warm fire to huddle around when you finish.
COBB Barbeque Oven
I have had a cobb bbq oven for over four years now and it is the one piece of camping kit we would never part with.
It is a circular design and depending on the model chosen the base is either a black plastic finish or steel mesh. Within the base is steel bowl with a central fire bowl which holds the fire basket where the heat beads (charcoal) is burnt. Sat on top of the steel bowl is a non stick cooking plate and a large dome lid completes the basic kit.
The cobb is great for many reasons such as,
1. The base stays cool to the touch and can even be used on a polished table! This means that it can be moved if it starts raining or you take your cobb indoors!
2. The fat draining off the plate is channeled into a moat in the inner bowl away from the coals which means that you do not get the smoke of the fat hitting the coals.
3. Using the lid you can use the cobb as a standard oven. In the moat under the cooking plate place parcels of veg and potatoes and on the plate place a chicken or joint of meat and 1.5 - 2 hours later your dinner is ready.
4. Economy. After the intial purchase you really save on charcoal. It is design for use with heat beads which are like compressed charcoal and using between 6 and 8 depending on the heat you want they burn for approx 5 hours.
5. Once you have finished cooking, remove the plate and there is a panholder built into where the beads go that is good to put the kettle on to do the washing up
6. Take inside to warm your tent!
I bought mine through ukcampsite as they often have a deal with the main suppliers but they can be bought from festivals and online and off ebay.
Judged by Time magazine as one of the best international inventions of the year the versatile design of Cobb lets you cook a variety of foods just about anywhere