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In our house back in the day a BBQ was part of doing the garden and anything flammable would go in the tray. Chicken legs’ tasting of smoked pine needles was a unique delicacy on the street. If it wouldn’t light in a typical damp British summer those firelighters would be backed up with some petrol. I even recall lighting the thing with a hairspray flamethrower one year. Boys will be boys!
Now they have the one click gas jobby its half the fun. Hank Hill would turn in his grave if he knew we weren’t using propane! But people are so fussy about their food and health risks these days they want to know its cooked proper and don’t like the fun and risk of charcoal. But a BBQ would not be a BBQ without charcoal and so I stay traditional. Going to the garage to get your firelighters and bag of charcoal is all part of a traditional British summer. You savor the rare warm night by having a good booze up with you mates in the garden. The downside is your neighbors will start arguing with each other at 3am down the street at their BBQ. You slept with er…. I know you did!!!!
We Brits are crap at BBQ and only in the southern hemisphere do they really know how to do it. I used to organize the Braai in backpacker/hotel in South Africa where I worked on my travels and the guests loved it. With the beers and conversation flowing it’s a much better evening than the local boozer. That familiar smell of firelighters meeting charcoal wafting over the wall or fence is a very enticing aroma like grass cuttings and rotting rubbish outside Indian restaurants are in Britain.
The Landmann is the kettledrum design where you have a lid to keep the rain out and the heat in, critical in the United Kingdom, of course. It’s not like you can wheel it inside when it rains. It has only two rubber wheels so you have to lift and drag it around with a grip handle on the drum and so better for soggy lawns in July than the 4 wheel ones. It’s about 20kg empty so no real issue when it has charcoal in. The handle can get a little warm even though its supposed to be heat resistant though as it’s near the flames so be careful there.
The drum is quite deep and a catchment tray at the bottom to remove the smallest ashes that often spit at you. The air vent helps to flame it up better’. Lighting any charcoal BBQ is never easy but all part of the fun. I generally use a ton of firelighters and newspaper under some wood chippings and then feed the charcoal on top. You can adjust the grill to the height of your pathetic flames and a thermometer in the lid to see if it’s safe to cook. I have already melted that so you can see I like a roaring fire. The 45cm cooking area isn’t great to be honest and so a lot of spitting fat and crackling charcoal sparks funneled up. I’m not suggesting wearing goggles or anything but arms length with this one. You will need to get in there to move the grill up and down to control your cooking. There is no side flaps to put cooking things on though. Design fault.
They provided four utensils to pick and pluck your food with but you end up using the same two anyway. Put on grill… turn over… take off grill. Cleaning the grill is pretty easy as you just release the ash from the bottom lock and then use a steel brush inside to take off the edge of the charcoal staining. It is solid steel so make sure you keep it out of the rain when done. A tarp over the top is not enough. They rust like Italian tanks.
This isn’t cheap guys and can retail up to around £200 on some websites. Ours is secondhand and a gift from our neighbors who have had the builders in for two years doing up their house and a reward of sorts for putting up with the hammering and sawing. So we thought. A week later after they gave us this BBQ they presented planning permission for an extension in their back garden that will swallow up most of our light and take another two years. Meanwhile they have bought a new BBQ, costing over £300 pounds. Its propane, just like Hank Hill’s. Hashtag middle class neighbors.
Spring arrived in all its glory and along with it came some nice, sunny days. Being one of those people who more or less live in the garden when weather permits, I soon realised that a grill would be needed if we were to enjoy the full potential of outdoor living. A good friend was visiting recently and thanks to her and her credit card, we now have a nice kettle-type grill sitting amongst the copious collection of weeds that I inherited from the previous tenants last summer. It was bought because we wanted to do a barbie during our celebration of Norway’s constitution day (17th May), so a few days previous, we popped down to Wilkinson’s and as I’d always like the kettle types, the choice fell on the Landmann Kettle Grill. Being as we’re both the sort of people who never do anything until it’s absolutely necessary, the grill stayed in its box, in the boot of my car, until the actual day arrived. Then it was panic stations. We wanted to light it at 5 o’clock, and it wasn’t until 4 that we remembered we hadn’t actually set it up yet. Ever optimistic, we were certain it couldn’t be that difficult to set up. Just a matter of screwing a few bits into some other bits and we’d be off and grilling before we could spit three times. Or would we? Well as it happened, it wasn’t too difficult to set up, but that doesn’t mean to say it was easy either. There were lots of bits to be screwed together but luckily, the instructions were reasonably clear (compared to a lot of instructions I’ve recently had to deal with). A phillips screwdriver was needed, and again, we were lucky because I actually own one. The first thing I noticed was that the handles on the side of the actual kettle, the part where the coals go, are plastic. I wasn’t sure how they’d withstand the heat because these babies can get VERY hot, but after using it
twice, they still look fine so I guess they aren't going to present a problem. Anyway, handles went on, legs went on, the rack and tray that resides between the legs went on and all seemed rosy and bright. It took a pair of dozy females about 20 minutes to assemble. Now came the moment of truth. Could we actually prepare food on this thing? There’s plenty of room in the bottom for the coals. We lit the coals and within seconds flames were leaping out at us. Boy did it burn! About 15 minutes we were ready to put the food on. The cooking rack is set at a fixed height, which is a bit of a drawback but nothing I can’t live with. The Landmann has a lid. What does that mean? Is it just there to stop rain getting in when it’s not being used or are you supposed to have the lid down during the cooking process? Well, there’s no doubt that the lid’s handy for keeping the rain out, but that isn’t its main purpose. The lid is there for barbecuing. There’s a difference between grilling and barbecuing y’see. Let me explain, in case you don’t know. When you GRILL food on one of these things, you’re cooking it quickly over hot coals. Small bits and pieces, like prawns and small pieces of fish will cook in about 3-4 minutes and large beef steaks and the likes will take about 15. Sausages about 6 minutes. Keep turning the food so that it doesn’t burn too much (although having it a bit burnt is part of the charm of grilling isn’t it?) and whatever you do, make sure it’s properly cooked before you eat it. You’ve seen that advert haven’t you? The one with the sausages? YUK!! Right, now on to BBQing. This differs from grilling in that you put the lid down and cook your food slowly. You shouldn’t use quite as much coal for this method and it should be left a bit longer, with the lid down, before cooking commences. The lid contains the hea
t and reflects it downwards, cooking the meat through from both sides. I very rarely cook my outdoor food by this method, but it’s handy to put a few extra sausages and burgers on and let them cook slowly so you have something for later if you get a bit peckish. The Landmann has a vent underneath it, which I presume is for adjusting the heat of the coals. I’ve never used one before and as I’ve got along perfectly well without it, I doubt I’ll use it now either. There’s also a vent on the top for adjusting the heat inside the kettle, but unless you’re BBQing, you won’t need it. The grill has a 47cm cooking area, which is big enough for general garden use. There’s a tray underneath that would normally be used for a plate or similar, but ash leaks through the bottom vents and lands on the tray so I won’t be using it for much. Below the tray there’s a grid, but this is so low that it’s not really useful at all and presumably only put there to stabilise the legs. There are plastic wheels for ease of movement but they didn’t fit quite as well as you’d expect so the whole things a bit wibbly wobbly. I’d say that at £19.99, it’s not a bad grill. You get what you pay for after all, and at that price, if it only lasts a season, I shan’t complain. If you can afford to double that, there are far better grills available, but for anybody on a tight budget I’d say this is probably one of the better models around. I just wish it’d bloomin’ well stop raining so’s I could get out in the garden and use the darned thing more! British summers, eh? Tsk. ~~+~~+~~
Cooking area of 55 cm in diameter, with chrome plated cooking grill, charcoal grid, ash catcher, bottom shelf, air ventilation. For direct and indirect grilling with charcoal baskets.