Barbecuing with charcoal
Everdure has teamed up with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to release a range of barbecues including two gas models (one of which was part of our annual barbecue test) and a portable charcoal model. However, the most innovative in the range are the Hub and Fusion HBCE1B – charcoal barbecues that use an electric element for ignition.
We put the Fusion to the test in our labs.
The Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Fusion electric ignition charcoal BBQ HBCE1B features:
- built-in rotisserie with three height positions
- retractable power cord
- porcelain enamel firebox and charcoal tray
You can even purchase a freestanding pedestal as an optional accessory to make it a more permanent fixture in your backyard or alfresco area.
If it's a gas BBQ that you're after, take a look at our gas BBQ reviews.
To get the barbecue started:
- Place the charcoal (we used Everdure by Heston Blumenthal natural lump charcoal) over the element and press the ignition button.
- The ignition timer is set for seven minutes – long enough to light the charcoal.
The instructions suggest that you can start cooking after 10 minutes but we found the charcoal needs at least an extra 30 minutes after the element has turned off to completely ignite before distributing the charcoal across the charcoal tray and cooking.
A maximum of 1.2kg of charcoal can be used at one time but we found this much can overflow and take longer to ignite.
We thought the instructions could've added more detail on how much charcoal you need for cooking different foods as well as guidance on how to ignite the charcoal (for example, do you leave the charcoal piled until it's turned completely white which means it's fully ignited?).
We put the Fusion through the same performance testing as we do gas barbecues and we were impressed with its performance. It was excellent for grilling sausages, steak and marinated chicken wings and scored very well for barbecuing a whole chicken.
Important cooking considerations:
- Distribute the charcoal evenly, as this can affect the evenness of cooking.
We noticed this when grilling sausages as small areas were unevenly grilled. Moving the charcoal during cooking can be tricky – while the grill rack can conveniently bend in half, you'll need to move the food to one side (more difficult if you have a full rack cooking) and carefully lift the grill plate which gets dangerously hot.
- Allow the charcoal to preheat for the right amount of time, as this is vital to getting great results
We barbecued two 1.4kg chickens using the rotisserie (which can accommodate a maximum of 15kg) and found we needed to preheat for 30 minutes to get 1kg of charcoal fully ignited. After 30 minutes of cooking we found the temperature dropped – requiring an extra 500g of charcoal and another press of the ignition button to get the temperature back up. The end product was very juicy chickens with evenly browned, slightly crispy skin with a nice smoky flavour.
Ease of use
- The Fusion allows good access to food when cooking, however it can produce a lot of smoke, especially when cooking fatty meats.
- The rotisserie is easy to assemble with large forks that hold meat firmly in place but we found the three retractable positions on the rotisserie didn't operate smoothly.
- The Fusion only has a char grill plate and no side panels to protect food and flame from draughts (although the cover plate can be used as a wind break for the back of the barbecue).
- The two button controls illuminate and are labelled with symbols, one for the rotisserie and one for the ignition.
The Fusion is fairly easy to clean – the exterior is easy to wipe over and the foldable char grill plate is easy to fit into a domestic sink. There's a small tray under the coils that traps ashes, which is easy to remove, and the coil element will need wiping over with a dry cloth after use as it can become covered in ash and grease. The enamel surfaces on this barbecue also help when it comes to cleaning.
The Fusion is an option to consider if this is your first venture into charcoal cooking. The electric ignition should make things simple for those who are new to cooking with charcoal, however the instructions could make the process simpler. More realistic preheat times and guidance on how much charcoal to use for different cooking tasks would go a long way to making this product the whole package.
Bear in mind that while this barbecue looks portable, you’ll need a power source nearby, which limits where you can take it. It can also be awkward for one person to carry. It’s not suitable for balconies due to the amount of smoke it can produce and you won’t be able to use it during total fire bans.
Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Fusion electric ignition charcoal BBQ HBCE1B
Everdure by Heston Blumenthal 10kg Natural lump charcoal: $30