The Weber Gourmet BBQ System is a set of cast iron, porcelain enameled cookware designed for use on the grill. I love the concept - I've been experimenting with cookware on my grill for years now, and I wanted to see what Weber came up with.
The Gourmet BBQ System consists of four pieces:
I should include a fifth piece. While not absolutely necessary, the Gourmet BBQ system was made to work with Weber's charcoal baskets. The charcoal baskets are the perfect size to fit underneath the hole in the grill grate, or to move the charcoal over to the side for indirect heating.
I'm glad Weber chose porcelain coated cast iron for these pieces. I love the heavy, heat absorbing cast iron combined with the no-fuss maintenance of the porcelain coating.
I never have any luck with regular cast iron. Eventually, it starts to rust on me. I'm sorry, Greg. I've strayed from the one true path of black iron...
However, there is a down side to porcelain coated cast iron. I used Weber's porcelain coated cast iron grill grates for a number of years. Each set would last about three years. Then the porcelain coating would start to crack from the high heat of the grill, and rust would start to creep up the grates from the bottom. I'm assuming the Gourmet BBQ pieces will last much longer than that; my grates would live in the grill, and have to deal with preheating and the corrosive effects of staying outdoors all the time. But I don't think the Gourmet BBQ cookware have the almost eternal life that plain cast iron does.
Also, you can't use metal utensils with this cookware; that will scratch the porcelain coating, and start the aforementioned cracking much sooner.
OK, enough preamble. It's time for the reviews.
|Weber Gourmet BBQ System Griddle|
The griddle is my favorite piece from the set. When I make a side dish that might fall through the grill grate, or something that needs protection from the direct heat of the grill, I reach for the griddle. I used it for a number of vegetable side dishes as well as a basting pan for pork tenderloin, and it does the job well. Griddle: Highly recommended.
*I'll share my Grill Pan Green Beans recipe later in the week.
|Weber Gourmet BBQ System Sear Grate|
The sear grate was a little disappointing. Now, it does what it is supposed to do: after preheating, it quickly sears diamond shaped "grill marks", and they look impressive. But the sear grate isn't very big - 12" around - and I could only fit three or four chops on it at a time. I'm serving five or more people every time I cook, so the small size forces me to sear in batches. Also, I love charcoal because you don't need the heat stored in the grates for searing; why limit myself to diamond grill marks when I can sear the entire surface of the food? A cast iron sear grate for a charcoal grill seems redundant. Sear Grate: Meh.*If you really want the extra searing power of cast iron, I recommend the Lodge grilling grate. It has a much larger surface area than the Gourmet BBQ Sear Grate, and the narrow mesh of the cast iron lets it do double duty as a vegetable grate. The lodge grate is raw cast iron, with no porcelain coating, so you have to maintain it carefully. Mine gave me years of good service before I forgot to oil it last winter...and now it's rusting. I need to scrub it clean and re-season it.
|Weber Gourmet BBQ Wok|
The Wok leaves me with mixed feelings. It is a beautiful piece of cookware - a hefty, cast iron, 14" diameter wok with a flat bottom. Let it heat up for a while, say ten minutes or so over the coals, and it will hold onto plenty of heat for a sizzling stir fry. But...I can't use my metal tools with this porcelain enameled wok; they'll scratch the enamel and ruin the surface. Also, I'm used to tossing ingredients with my carbon steel wok, using its long wooden handle to flip the contents into the air and get them thoroughly mixed. Trying to toss the contents of the Weber cast iron wok would be a really bad idea. It weighs a ton, is glowing hot from the charcoal, and has tiny, ear shaped handles. This is a wok that stays where you put it. Finally, I have to wait 30 minutes for my charcoal to ash over, then another ten minutes for the wok to heat up, just for a quick stir fry. The end result is a well heated wok, that can handle whatever I throw at it...but that is an awful long time to get ready for a quick stir fry. Wok: I'm conflicted. If you aren't an unrepentant wok tosser like me, and if your stove is so underpowered you need to use the grill for some real heat...then this wok is a good purchase. Or, if you're looking for a high quality porcelain enameled wok for use indoors, check this one out - nobody says it HAS to go on the grill. Me? I'll be sticking with my carbon steel wok and stir frying indoors...but I can also see myself bringing this wok along to our cottage, where the stove is weak but the Weber kettle is always waiting outside.
|Weber Gourmet BBQ Grill Grate
(removable insert in place for grilling)
Finally, there is the grill grate with the removable center. It is supposed to act as a holder for all the cast iron pieces. I like using it with the wok; the hole in the center of the grate steadies the wok and keeps it from sliding around while I stir-fry. For the griddle, though, I leave the "removable center" insert in place. I don't want the griddle stuck in one spot - I adjust the heat by moving it around on the grill. Slide the griddle over the coals - high heat. Move it to the cool side of the grill - low heat. Locking it in the center of the grate means moving the coals around instead of the griddle, and that isn't as easy to do. *This is why I mentioned the charcoal baskets earlier - they do make it easier to move coals around. But...not easy enough. I still prefer moving the griddle.
|Weber charcoal baskets, in position|
Now, you would think this means I don't like the Weber BBQ System grill grate. Quite the opposite - I love it. It has replaced my regular Weber grill grate. Why? It is a much thicker gauge wire than the regular Weber grates. I think it was meant to be sturdier, to support the heavy cast iron pieces; whatever the reason, I love those sturdy, thick bars on the grate. The only downside is the removable insert. There is no way to lock it in place, and I'm used to hanging the grate from the side of the grill. When I do that now, the center piece drops out onto the grass next to the grill. Still, I'm willing to put up with it until Weber releases a "regular" version of their grate with these thick gauge wires. Grill Grate: Highly Recommended
Don't have a charcoal grill? Don't worry - all these pieces will work equally as well on a gas grill. (Like I said, I've been reaching for the griddle a lot - both for my charcoal and gas grilling.)
The Weber Gourmet BBQ System is a creative approach to grill cookware. In summary, I love the heavy cast iron and like the porcelain enamel coating. I love the grate that holds all the pieces, but as a regular grate, not for its intended use of locking everything in. If you are looking for a solid set of grill cookware, check out the Weber Gourmet BBQ System.
Weber's page on the Gourmet BBQ System [weber.com]
What do you think? Questions? Other favorite grill cookware? Leave them in the comments section below.
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