Looking forward to summer? Weber's latest outdoor cooking upgrade is a smart thermometer. Yes, we know there are already several smart thermometers on the market – and some excellent 'dumb' ones – but this one promises to be so smart, it almost removes any need for skill when barbecuing. That's going to annoy old-school pitmasters almost as much as it pleases less competent barbecue chefs.
The US-based BBQ manufacturers handy smart probe system is called the Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub and it's hitting UK and US stores just about now. Weber calls its new BBQ toy a ‘step-by-step grilling assistant’ and it might just revolutionise the way we grill meat and veg in the future.
Weber is no stranger to grill progression and barbecue innovation. Its SmokeFire system, lined up for this summer, claims to combine a slow smoker and high-temp searing grill in one barbecue. That is an idea to have serious chefs salivating, but Weber is also aware that many of us either haven’t a clue what we’re doing at the grill, or are too busy entertaining guests (or necking beers) to really give the barbecue the concentration it needs.
As a result, a number of errors get made. We put the meat on early, before the charcoal is ready, which invariably scorches the meat, leading us to believe the food is properly cooked when in actual fact it’s still raw in the centre. Or we grill everything to cinders for fear of giving our guests a dose of salmonella. Well… No more.
Tell me more about the Connect Smart Grilling Hub!
The Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub replaces the old Weber iGrill. It's comprised of a sleek master module with huge LED temperature indicator, four probe ports and a pair of wired probes, one for the food and another for ambient temperature within the grill. Yes, it would have been extra nice had they included another two meat probes but, hey, you’ll just have to buy yourself some more if you plan to grill a range of different cuts.
We can’t tell you precisely how well this new digital sous chef functions but what we can tell you is that it works in conjunction with an iOS or Android app that keeps the user in the loop throughout the entire grilling process. Simply push one or more probes into the centre of the meat/s and another somewhere inside the grill to record ambient temperature, launch the Weber Connect app (not available at time of writing) and connect it to the Connect Smart Grilling Hub via either Bluetooth or WiFi.
The really smart bit is that the system not only sends real-time temperature info for each probe straight to your phone; it also lets you know roughly how long the food will take to cook. Oh, and even when to turn it over during cooking. The app also features ever evolving content, including interactive recipes for all skill levels, and a host of BBQ tips.
What will make or break this is how clever the Weber cooking algorithm is. As I said in my Traeger Pro 575 review, Traeger got this pretty much spot on with the smart cooking system it includes.
Although the Connect Smart Grilling Hub is designed for any brand of barbecue, we can only assume that, if using a third party charcoal model, you may need to drill a small hole in the side of the barbecue’s body through which to push the wired probes; thankfully, most gas BBQs usually have a ventilation gap between the lid and the main body so this shouldn't be a problem. We also imagine that the system works most effectively with the BBQ lid closed at all times.
Weber’s no stranger to smart probe-based food monitoring – its popular iGrill has been around for some time – but this one looks to be on a whole new level of functionality.
We’ll bring you more details as soon as we get our hands on the product. In the meantime, you can snap one up at a few UK stores for around £110.
Fantastic Weber BBQs for Australia that you can buy right now
- Weber Pulse 1000 hands on a purely electric smart grill for urban settings