Grilling on the Petromax Atago may seem like cooking on any other BBQ grill and in many respects it is – except when it comes to heat…
The Atago is an exeptional piece of kit and we love it not just for outdoor cooking but also indoors in the warehouse, barbeques in the winter are just cool and you can do the whole baked potato thing as well as Dutch oven cooking too no matter what time of year it is.
The Atago does take a little getting used too especially if you are used to cooking on a traditional barbeque or open fire. In rural Spain, most barbeques are wood fired, there is little point in buying charcoal when you have a natural fire source at your disposal. The main source of natural wood fuel is pine which isn’t the best for creating hot coals but it works.
We use pine to get the fire going then layer split almond on top, the almond burns hotter and longer which is ideal for grilling and for the BBQ. The Atago lights easily and it’s not long before you have a decent fire going – this is where timing is important.
your chef head will be telling you to get the meat on straight away before you lose the heat
A traditional barbeque is essentially an open fire, the Atago is not and it may be tempting to start cooking sooner than you think as your chef head will be telling you to get the meat on straight away before you lose the heat from the wood coals or ‘brasa’ as they call it in Spain.
The Atago is very fuel efficient and it’s easy to add more wood than you need – this generates a tremendous amount of concentrated heat, more than your average open barbeque design.
Grilling on the Petromax Atago [tips]
- Light the fire well in advance
- Wait until the wood coals are small
- Shut off the adjustable air flow intake
- Wait until the heat becomes less intense
- Test grill a small portion of whatever you’re cooking
It is easy to start cooking too soon, due to the design of the Atago, heat is retained and funnelled upwards, in other words there is no ‘wasted’ heat, it all heads towards the grill and will nuke your food if it’s on there too early.
Wait until the coals are small, in a normal open barbeque you’d be struggling to cook anything over these but in the Atago small coals still have life and plenty of it! Other than that, the unit will grill food very well and the usual things to watch out for still apply when grilling like flare ups from dripping fat etc.
I wrote this post as a head’s up to first time Atago users, I’ve been grilling on barbeques of all shapes and sizes for the best part of 40 years but the Atago caught me out. Just keep an eye on the heat to avoid any grilling disasters…