/ Food & Drink

Time to throw the coals off the barbie?

Metal hotplate 'plancha' barbeque

The Aussie trend for barbequing food on a big hotplate (or ‘plancha’) is starting to catch on here. Are you ready to cast coals aside, or are classic British burnt sausages too much of a staple on your summer menu?

During my misspent youth I spent a year in Australia. When I got invited to my first barbie, I had several surprises.

1) It was dark (the sun sets earlier in Australia than it does in a UK summer); 2) everyone had to take some meat with them; and 3) the barbecue looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.

Instead of a grill with hot coals underneath, part of the barbie was a flat metal hotplate. I soon realised that this is how Aussies do a lot of their alfresco cooking. Apparently hotplates are common in Spain, too, where they’re known as ‘planchas’.

Will placha-style barbies take off in the UK?

We’ve just tested 22 barbecues for our latest trial in Which? Gardening magazine, and we found that ‘plancha’ style barbecues are now beginning to make an appearance over here.

B&Q are selling models that are half grill/half plancha – the Westpoint 2 Burner Gas Barbecue and the Nevada 3 Burner Gas Barbecue – and one that is just a plancha – the Samani 2 Burner Gas Hot Plate Barbecue.

So will they catch on? Planchas are certainly more versatile than a traditional barbecue – they’re good for cooking fish or steaks that can be quickly seared, and for frying eggs or onions or cooking tomatoes and mushrooms. The downside is that there’s less room for grilling barbecue staples such as bangers and burgers.

It will be interesting to see what the British public make of them this summer. Maybe in a few years’ time, we’ll all be cracking open a few tinnies and throwing another prawn onto the plancha…

Comments
Profile photo of dean
Member

Not for me, eating carbon is one of the only ways I can reduce my footprint 🙂

Seriously though, I do love the taste of british blackened bangers

Profile photo of Hannah Jolliffe
Member

I know what you mean Dean, there’s something vaguely comforting about a burnt banger – reminds me of my childhood! For me, it’s the smell too – you just don’t get the same barbeque smell with the hotplate barbies.

Like Veronica, I spent time in Oz and New Zealand, where these are all the rage. They are good in hot countries when more summer meals are cooked outside – it means you can cook more diverse meals outside and don’t need a constant supply of charcoal. But, for our cooler climate, when we have fewer opportunities to eat al fresco, I reckon our traditional barbies are as good.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
26 May 2011

I don’t think it’s very healthy to eat burnt food, or food cooked on charcoal before the flames have died down, so this plancha idea may be a good one for those who don’t know how to use charcoal correctly or for those indeed who cook outdoors all the time. However, if you throw a few grapevine twigs on the charcoal or other types or aromatic twigs, nothing replaces the taste you get from that.

Profile photo of colin c
Member

We’ve been using an improvised form of hotplate for the last couple of years – we have loads of small logs from tree pruning to use up, so we make a surround out of bricks, start a little bonfire of the logs inside the bricks and then put a 2 foot diameter circular metal baking tray on top. It takes all the sausages, burgers, tomatoes, onions etc at the same time, and we don’t have the wait for charcoal to grey down. The only downside is the logs burn up very quickly, so the heat only lasts a few minutes unless you keep adding logs to the fire. And of course you don’t get the burnt flavour, but maybe that’s a bonus!

Member
Chris Nation says:
6 July 2011

“The downside is that there’s less room for grilling barbecue staples such as bangers and burgers.”

Really? How so? Is that an inherent attribute of a flat plate as opposed to an open grill? You give me the steel and I’ll make you a plancha the size of you front door.

Member
Chris Nation says:
6 July 2011

“The downside is that there’s less room for grilling barbecue staples such as bangers and burgers.”

Really? How so? Is that an inherent attribute of a flat plate as opposed to an open grill? You give me the steel and I’ll make you a plancha the size of your front door.

Member
JamesAard1 says:
30 March 2012

There is this amazing thing in my kitchen called an oven. I can cook food properly in it without giving the neighbourhood food poisoning. It has a little beeper to tell me when it’s ready too! I then use my legs to walk outside and serve it there. If we go out for the day, then we pack a pic-a-nic basket and eat it cold. Steer away from those loud smoky heathens I say!