Is this the best BBQ ever?

Could be…..It certainly cooks a mean lamb chop

Words & Pictures: Tiffany Daneff

Singed on the outside, pink and bleeding on the inside – and that’s after an hour of faffing about with barbecue coals and ending up with your clothes and hair reeking of sticky smoke. Nope, barbecuing has never been my idea of fun.

Setting aside the inevitable rain, wind and cloud that descend the moment you put a match to charcoal, it just never seems to deliver the goods. The food all cooks at a different pace, the meat (of which there is always far too much) has no juice and there’s the whole business of buying those horrible burger buns the kids insist on. As far as I can see the only decent outdoor cooking is done by the Portuguese who have got grilling sardines down to a fine art.

That’s all changed though since I discovered the Cobb barbecue. This is compact, light and easily sits on a table while being big enough to cook a whole chicken – and vegetables too.

You can either burn charcoal (it needs fewer than a conventional bbq) or, better still, light up one of Cobb’s special briquettes which are made from coconut husks. These catch incredibly easily, are ready to cook on 20 minutes later, and burn really well for a couple of hours. Why coconut? Because the Cobb was originally made for the townships in South Africa where many people didn’t have an oven or cooking appliance.

If cooking with the lid on there’s a moat running around the coals which you can fill with beer or wine or water if you’re roasting meat, which ensures a delicious tender result. It can also be filled with vegetables.

We’ve been bbqing chops and kebabs which really turn out well. The meat cooks perfectly, tender inside and with just the right amount of smokey char on the outside to give you that proper bbq flavour.

The secret, of course, is to marinade the meat beforehand. Try lamb chops left to marinate covered in the fridge for a several hours in olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice (add rosemary, chilli flakes etc as you will). Or cut skinned and boneless chicken thighs into small pieces (small is key so that they cook through well) and leave to marinate in the fridge, covered, in a mix of lime juice and zest, fresh shredded chilli, a little bit of soy, likewise of fish sauce plus a few cloves of crushed garlic). Remember when threading them on skewers to leave plenty of space between the meat (so that it cooks on all sides).

If the wind changes direction it is easy to pick up the Cobb, holding the sides which do not heat, and move it somewhere where it won’t smoke out the house or you.

When you’ve finished shove the dirty racks in the dishwasher and you’re done.