Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
As regular readers will be aware I have an ongoing fascination with BBQ. I have already got a Pro Q Frontier smoker and have spent many happy hours utilising it and eating the results. Whilst in theory this can be used as a conventional BBQ grill, in reality, it is not suitable for serious grilling. I therefore decided I would use it as a dedicated smoker and invest in a big bad arse BBQ grill (my current kettle BBQ being on its last legs).
With birthday money to dispose of (21 and a bit – well a lot- being a special birthday 😙), I spent a number of hours trawling the internet comparing different BBQs before making my choice.
I would say I never contemplated getting a gas BBQ as to me you may as well just put stuff in the oven/under the grill and then take it outside to eat if it is a nice day.
If you live in a country where you can live outside for a good amount of the year then I can sort of see the benefits of a gas BBQ ( well not really – as has to be cooking with coals for me to be BBQ). Residing as I do in Wales, a particularly rain drenched part of the UK, outdoor living is in no way a desirable option (unless you have webbed feet). On this basis I simply cannot understand the proliferation of gas BBQs in the UK. If lighting charcoal/briquettes is too much hassle (really!) just use the oven\grill or hob and take the results outside to eat! Maybe I am missing something, but I just don’t get gas BBQs.
So charcoal it was and after much indecision as to whether to get the Weber One Touch (highly rated) I saw in my local Costco a Nexgrill charcoal grill. This pressed all the right buttons for me in terms of cooking surface size (big) and storage space (lots) and so the decision was made for better or worse. I worked on the principle that I was unlikely to ever have to cater for numbers that the Nexgrill couldn’t handle, with its 820 + square inches of cooking place (according to the box it came in, which oddly was different from the 775 sq inch claimed on the Costco website).
To me it looked huge, hence the behemoth reference in the post title, but I suspect to most self respecting American BBQers it would be regarded as a tiddler
On the Costco website it states that it requires minimal assembly time of no more than 30 minutes. Ha, they have clearly no idea who they are dealing with, as I take DIY incompetence to a whole new level and was confident that it would take me many hours if not days and much swearing to put it together. When I attempt anything practical (a very rare occurrence indeed) Mrs. SF wisely departs to a safe distance and waits for me to explode.
To say build time is mininal (at 30 minutes) is in my view taking the proverbial. On perusing the manual, with its 24 (yes 24) diagrams of assembly instructions and about a hundred parts, I cried a little and then promptly decided the grief of even trying to construct it (and inevitably cocking it up) was not worth it. I, therefore, did what anyone sane DIY incompetent would do. Yes with no hint of shame, I rang a handy man. Many people my treat this admission with the distain it undoubtedly deserves, but life is too short (although certainly not as short as my temper when building things or rather vainly attempting to) and I’d rather pay someone to do stuff like this than have my blood pressure go through the roof and still have done a dogs dinner of a job at the end.
Enter Kev the Handyman, who put it together (amongst other jobs) and saved me much angst.
So on the construction front it is not by any means minimal especially if you are like me and have no practical skills whatsoever. It even took Kev, a seasoned handyman, just over an hour and a half to do it. On this basis it would have taken me forever.
I would say, therefore, that the mininal (30 minutes) construction time referred to on the box is at best a woefully optimistic and at worst a somewhat disingenuous statement.
Build quality and looks
Well it certainly is a sturdy beast, coming in at a whooping 56kg. In terms of build quality, the control panel, handles and side shelves are stainless steel (the reason for this being these areas get the most contact I assume), with the rest of it steel covered in a black powder coating.
The cooking grates are porcelain coated cast iron and are reassuringly heavy. They look and feel infinitely superior to those thin weedy looking standard BBQ grill racks
The whole thing has a built to last look and feel to it.
All in all it looks good quality (certainly for the less than £250 price) although it isn’t much of a looker being very blocky. Reminds me of a robot in a cheap " Z" list 50s sci fi movie.
As well as the usual (temperature gauge etc,), the Nextgrill has a couple of nice additional features. The ability to adjust the hight of the charcoal tray with three different settings is great and really allows for the heat to be modulated .
The fact that this can be moved up and down with the easy shifting of a handle (like a gear stick) at the front is great. I also like the ease of use of the air vents and the fact that the shelves at the side (handy for putting food ready to go on grill and of course a beer or three for the cook) can be easily collapsed when grill in not in use (makes it easier to put the cover on).
In addition to the porcelain coated iron grate cooking surface there is a useful bit of racking off the direct heat which is integrated into the lid/ This will be handy for any indirect cooking or to keep stuff hot but off the direct heat.
There is a temperature gauge within the lid that goes up to a frankly ridiculous 700 °f, although the user manual warns not to exceed 600°f !!!!!! Don’t intend to do any smelting so should be OK capping it temp. wise at 600°f
A further nifty feature is the thingeemajig that allows for easy lifting of the cast iron grates and makes refueling much easier (on many kettle BBQ this can be a pain and certainly is with my Pro Q_smoker). A simple, but effective tool.
I also like the easy pull out tray for ash removal, although it does feel a bit flimsey.
Included in the price was a sturdy cover which adds to the good value this product represents at just under £250.
First impression were me likey, me likey a lot, although I suspect if I had tried to build it myself I would hate it with a passion.
So to the important bit, is it any good at cooking stuff? At the end of the day every other aspect is irrelevant if it doesn’t cut the mustard on this front.
I cooked for my test run some pinchos murano ( marinated pork kebabs using a recipe from Cardiff blogger – The Plate Licked Clean – highly recommended recipe, they were very good), a couple of burgers and some lamb steaks.
Once I got the coals up to temperature using a charcoal chimney it was easy to pour them on to the large flat tray and have a separate area away from the direct heat. This enabled me to cook the meat and heat up burger buns and pittas without the risk of them burning. I got a good even grill on all the food with nothing burnt which is great for first run use on a new grill. In short easy to use, with good results
I was very happy with the end result.
Bar from the fact that for a DIY incompetent like me it is nigh on impossible to build this, it is a good bit of kit and great for catering for a fair few people. For the price of just under £250 I thought it was a bargain for what you get.
Now, I have to clean it .😒
It is currently available on line at Costco (price detailed online is Costco members price – non members can buy but at a higher price). I paid £250 inc delivery
Update – June 2015
It seems Costco UK no longer stock this BBQ and the only place I can now find it on sale in the UK is Amazon, but for the very expensive (in my view) price of £659.98. I think that is way to much bearing in mind I paid only £250 and it was offered as cheap as £199 by Costco at one point.
It is perhaps worth keeping an eye out on ebay to see if any come up for sale.