‘I barbecue 52 weeks a year’
For Roger Beck, who lives in Limerick, barbecuing is not just a way of cooking, but also a way of life. "I barbecue 52 weeks of the year and I would normally barbecue three nights a week in winter and six or seven a week in the summer," he says.
The owner of several barbecues, when he started barbecuing 15 years ago, he quickly found out he didn't enjoy cooking on gas versions and moved onto small, cheap charcoal ones, before trying better ranges and working up. His favourite to use is a ceramic barbecue, the Big Green Egg, into which he puts everything from casseroles to ribs of beef and plum puddings at Christmas.
"There is just no comparison in the quality of food that comes off the Egg. Really, what you're doing is not cooking with the heat that's in the charcoal but with the heat that's in the ceramic," he says. "All the juices stay in the food because the ceramic is so thick, the juices can't actually get out because there's no ventilation to let them out."
On the rare occasions that he cooks a chicken in a conventional oven, he invariably thinks it's a waste of a good chicken. Barbecuing is, he believes, a healthier way to cook because you're cooking your food in dry heat and not using fats and oils. Does he find it cost-effective?
"If you're cooking fatty meats like burgers and there's a lot of fat dripping down onto the charcoal, the coals burn very quickly," he says.
"But if you're cooking a slow-cook shoulder of pork I could put it in and it will burn away for probably €7 or €8 worth of charcoal for 24 hours."
He has two large Big Green Egg barbecues and a mini one. The bigger ones are used for sides of salmon, turkeys, chickens, legs of lamb and base pizzas, in fact he hasn't found anything yet that he can't put into it. An active participant on barbecue forums online, he finds it to be a convivial way of cooking food.
"It's about sharing your knowledge and your lifestyle and it's great to get into," he says.
'I barbecue 52 weeks a year'