There's something beautifully ironic about hovering over a hot barbecue in the middle of winter, but that's exactly how I spent a cold, blustery February evening earlier this year.
No, I'm not one of those crazy year-round grillers, though plenty of my countrymen (and women) will happily light up their grills even when we're knee-deep in snow.
However, thanks to the Weber Grill Academy, I got to experience the joys of winter grilling in their state-of-the-art indoor training facility. It's basically a barbecue enthusiast's dream come true, filled with a dozen or so gas grills, charcoal grills, and even a couple of Smoky Mountain drum smokers.
Over the course of the evening, their in-house expert Chef Michael P. Clive taught us to make an entire meal (including dessert!) using gas and charcoal grills, all in the comfort of the indoors. Did you know you can make cake on the barbecue? Believe it or not, it can be done.
And then, when it was all over, they sent everyone home with a Weber Q 1200 portable grill in our favourite colour. Mine, as you can see, is a pretty shade of bright sky blue.
Now that the weather is finally warmer, I decided to dust off my new-found grilling expertise and take my shiny new toy for a spin.
Like most grills, the Q 1200 doesn't come fully assembled, but the good news is that all it took was a few minutes and a Phillips head screwdriver to put everything together into a fully functional grill. (And all on my own, might I add! Definitely not something I'd normally try with a grill.)
I tested out a few different dishes to put it through its paces, and had absolutely no complaints. Burgers came out juicy and flavourful, vegetables came out with gorgeous grill marks, and these spicy Jerk Pork and Pineapple Skewers? Let's just say you'd never know they weren't cooked on my regular propane grill.
Best of all, it's got all the bells and whistles of a full-sized grill - electronic ignition, built-in thermometer, two fold-out side tables, and a full-sized temperature control knob.
The cooking surface consists of two cast-iron cooking grates, which are solid enough to hold a good even heat, and the porcelain enamel coating means they're easy to clean up after the fact (especially since each grate is small enough to wash up in the kitchen sink).
For a few bucks more, you can also get a cast iron griddle plate that can be swapped out for one of the grates... Bacon and eggs on the grill, anyone?
In fact, my only quibble with the Q 1200 is that the whole "portable" business really just means I can pick it up and carry it around without worrying about pulling a muscle.
Remember those cast-iron grates? Well, they add just enough heft to make it difficult to easily transport. If you're looking for a grill you can easily tote on public transit for a weekend picnic at the park or pack up for a hardcore canoe camping trip, this one isn't for you.
Still, I could see it being absolutely perfect for occasions where you only have to carry it short distances, like tailgating or car camping, or for anyone who has limited outdoor space but still wants to cook on a proper gas grill.
As for me, I'm not going to be kicking my full-sized grill to the curb anytime soon, but I'll be keeping this guy on standby for work nights when I just need to quickly grill up a couple of burgers for dinner.
The Bottom Line
- Good-sized cooking surface can grill up to 8 burgers at a time
- Heats up quickly and evenly compared to regular propane grills
- Quick and easy to assemble - no special tools required
- Compact easy-to-carry design
- Fun, eye-catching colours!
- A little too unwieldy to carry for long distances
- Small propane cylinders require more frequent replacement (though you can purchase an adapter for use with full-sized 20lb tanks)
About the Weber Grill Academy
The Weber Grill Academy is Canada's first dedicated grilling school - a custom-designed, fully equipped facility that's dedicated to the fine art of gas and charcoal grilling. They offer a variety of scheduled classes, and can also be booked for private parties and corporate events.
To get more information on upcoming classes, check out the Weber Grill Academy's website.
Disclosure: The wonderful folks at Weber invited me to attend a special bloggers-only class at the Weber Grill Academy and sent me home with a Weber Q 1200 for review purposes. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
- 3 tbsp jerk seasoning paste
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 lb boneless pork roast
- 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
- 3 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
- In a small bowl, whisk together the jerk paste, soy sauce and oil until smooth and combined.
- Cut the pork roast into 1½" cubes and transfer to a large zip-top plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, and shake around to coat the meat. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour. (If you're using bamboo skewers, now would be a good time to put them in some warm water to soak.)
- When ready to cook, preheat a lightly-oiled gas grill on medium-high heat.
- While the grill is heating up, assemble the skewers. Start with a piece of pork, followed by a chunk of pineapple, then another piece of pork, then a green onion. Repeat this pattern on each skewer until all the pork has been used up.