Weber Genesis connected test: a kitchen on the patio

With its connected features, large surface area, precise controls, and Crafted accessories, the next-generation Weber Genesis gas grill is an outdoor kitchen in good shape.

Weber Genesis connected test: a kitchen on the patio

With its connected features, large surface area, precise controls, and Crafted accessories, the next-generation Weber Genesis gas grill is an outdoor kitchen in good shape. Six-course trial.

I like to cook on the barbecue. Both my old gas Weber Spirit and my charcoal barbecue (for which I have three different fuels: coconut logs for slow cooking at low temperatures, briquettes for more constant cooking and charcoal for searing) run 12 month by year.

I love barbecue so much that I once bought a grill with a friend for three weeks, when I lived in a dorm with twelve snorers in a hostel in Sweden. Some would rather have paid for a better solo room with its own toilet. Not me. You have to know how to put your priorities in the right place. So when my editor-in-chief Kazzie asked me to test the new connected Weber Genesis, which combines my passions for techno and barbecue, I didn't hesitate for long.

The device tested here is the Genesis SX-335 ($2099). It is a connected model, liquid propane (but there is also natural gas), with storage space for Crafted accessories (we will come back to this), the Crafted adapter, three burners, a side burner and steel grids.

There are dozens of possible permutations of the barbecue, for a price ranging from $1299 for the Genesis E-325s (without connected features, without Crafted and without side burner) to $2999 for the Genesis SE-SPX-435 (which notably comes with additional burner, larger size, LED lighting and smoker box).

I have always cooked with compact barbecues. The Weber Genesis, even the smaller three-burner version tested here, is not compact. If it was a car, it would be a big SUV. I quickly became aware of this fact by looking at the barbecue box on my porch, which was not only too big to fit through the door, but also came on a pallet (!).

Fortunately, the installation complexity was not proportional to the size of the device. It's not new this year, but I particularly liked the ability to use the BILT mobile app, which walks you through a complete 3D model of the barbecue.

The paper guide is more practical most of the time, but as a complement to answer our questions (does this thread have to go through this section? What direction does this piece go?), the application is frankly practical. IKEA should also take inspiration from it.

At the heart of the techno experience of the new Weber Genesis range is a large connected thermometer, integrated into the shelf to the right of the barbecue. This represents for Weber the culmination of an evolution that began a few years ago, with the launch of a succession of connected thermometers and mobile applications that allowed the American manufacturer to refine its recipe.

Compared to older generations, the thermometer stands out for its prettier design, Wi-Fi connectivity and a large screen that displays the temperature (which the iGrill 3 platform was sorely lacking). However, it only has two ports for probes, and only one is delivered with the barbecue.

The thermometer is also a little more complete than before. Not so long ago, equivalent devices only relayed the temperature from the probes, and just looked like they had been stuck on the barbecue at the last minute. Here, the integration is finer. We can thus have an approximation of the level of the propane tank directly on our smartphone and receive an alert when it is about to be empty. Note that the dial thermometer usually integrated into the tank has here been replaced by a probe connected to the docking station, so it can be used to see the ambient temperature in the tank, in addition to that inside meat.

This last point is particularly important, since you will be able to follow the temperature of the barbecue on your phone without having to constantly plug in a probe as was the case before. Is it revolutionary? No, but it is a welcome development.

Note that the more complex thermometer comes with a small downside: it consumes a lot of energy, to the point of having to be plugged into an electrical outlet to operate. Fortunately, an external lithium-ion battery can also be used if no socket is accessible. The battery can be connected with a USB-C cable, and it has a storage space sheltered from the weather under the side shelf.

It's worth noting that while the Weber Genesis can display its temperature on your phone, you can't control it remotely. Such a feature would obviously have complicated the design of the barbecue, and might also have been dangerous (although measures could be implemented to prevent accidents). It is nevertheless, I believe, the next big step in the evolution of gas barbecues, and an essential step if these devices are ever really to replace an oven.

The Weber Connect application, which allows you to interact with the barbecue's connected thermometer, is not really new, but for those who do not change their barbecue every year, here are some observations.

In addition to allowing you to consult the temperature, the application offers different recipes and cooking programs. The choice of recipes is not the largest, but it is sufficient, and above all suitable for cooking barbecue classics. In the beef section, for example, I counted no less than 29 different steak recipes, and that's not counting all the simpler guides found in the cooking programs. Weber knows his audience.

In my various trials with the Genesis, I appreciated that the guides were precise (to know when to turn the piece, for example) and that an effort was made to ensure that the meat was not overcooked. , notably.

However, I would have liked a few more recipes related to Crafted accessories (pizzas, for example), or at least for those to be ranked higher. A search function – surprisingly absent – ​​would also be appreciated. The French translation of the recipes often leaves something to be desired. They are not all translated, and several are downright in Franglish.

In short, there is still a little work to do on this side, but Weber is in the right direction.

Crafted is Weber's big novelty this year. This new system of accessories of all kinds complements the barbecue and allows you to vary the types of cooking that can be done there. Newer Genesis models are all compatible with the system, and most Genesis and Spirit models from later years are too, provided you purchase a Crafted grille, for around $75.

I will share other observations later, but I had the opportunity to try four accessories for this test:

This is my favorite of the system. A large, thick and solid cast iron plate, which seems to have come straight out of a tinsmith's workshop, not from a tableware factory. The Weber plancha can only be used on one side (unlike others on the market which are reversible), but it is deep, heavy and has a very large surface area.

It takes some effort, especially because you'll have to season it (to learn more about this concept, you can watch Weber's explainer videos, or even the first season of Emily in Paris on Netflix) and wash it with water immediately after use, but the results are worth it. At $190.99, it's pricey, but if you like to cook outside, it's worth it.

A large glossy pizza stone that is also of good quality, thick and cleanable (provided you rub long and hard). At $153.99, however, its purchase is more difficult to justify, especially since there are such large stones sold for a fraction of the price, and its lustrous finish did not strike me as a big enough advantage to explain the price gap.

I have used small roasting baskets for years to cook my vegetables on the barbecue. Weber's uses the same concept, but in a more efficient way since it is placed on the fire directly, and not on grids as was the case in my old barbecues. Its format is also much larger.

Only downside: the roasting basket must be placed to the right of the barbecue, i.e. where you normally grab the food. To make a steak with vegetables, you will therefore have to make the vegetables in advance, then keep them warm, which does not seem optimal to me.

If vegetables are at the heart of your menu, this one is however sensational, since it is large enough to allow you to have direct and indirect cooking zones, or to adjust the intensity of the burners according to the delicacy of the food. .

I think the roasting basket ($153.99) will be a must for some (those who don't just cook meat on their barbecue), but others may want to settle for a small roasting basket. normal roast.

That's kind of my surprise from Crafted accessories. It's a cast iron griddle that can be used on both sides (meat on one side, fish on the other) and easily replicates the tiling that a professional grillard would do in your favorite steakhouse (I'll tell you more). elsewhere in a future column about my experience in the kitchens of a famous Montreal steak restaurant).

I was not convinced of the relevance of this other accessory at $153.99, for the simple reason that the difference between the two faces of the grid is minimal, and that it is anyway easy to make a tiling without the accessory (it is enough to cook in 4 stages rather than in two, and to perform a 90 degree rotation at each stage).

After a few weeks, however, it is clear that I had underestimated the interest of the grid.

There are two main categories of grills in barbecues: large cast iron grills, which are less expensive and retain heat better, but are more difficult to maintain, and steel grills, which are resistant to all weather conditions and are a charm to wash off, even after making ribs.

The double-sided grate therefore allows you to have the best of both worlds: a cast iron grate when it is advantageous, and a steel grate when it is simpler or messy.

Note that there are also other Crafted accessories, including a rotisserie basket ($131.99) and a set of rotisserie skewers ($87.99). The system is also compatible with older Gourmet accessories, such as woks and a smaller pizza pan.

Mobile apps and Wi-Fi thermometers are all well and good, but what about barbecue itself? Here are my observations, in six of the dishes I've cooked over the past few weeks.

The Genesis SX-335 can cook 20 hamburger patties at the same time, according to the manufacturer. A completely absurd measure, since at 20 meatballs, you risk mainly serving dry meat to your guests.

That said, I liked the experience with only two meatballs, especially the fact that the cooking surface is large enough that I was able to keep my buns warm to the left of the barbecue, without these don't dry out, which was impossible with my old grill.

Another advantage of the grill, it heats up very quickly: you can go up to 450F in just over 10 minutes, so you can use it for lunch (provided you work from home) without compromising your break.

You will notice that the cheese has partially flowed around the meatballs. This was easy to wash on the steel grids, but also in the bottom of the tank, since the latter can be removed for each use to facilitate cleaning.

For breakfast, I cooked bacon, eggs and pancakes on the griddle, and toasted bread on the left grill.

It was during my first experience with the plancha, and I was thrown to the ground. The surface did not stick at all, and allowed me to slide my pancakes like with a non-stick pan.

This plancha does not stick after being seasoned. Chef Gabriel would be proud. Photo: Maxime Johnson.

The eggs were also a real success. To cook them, I used a little trick that I had observed several years ago during a lunch at Dusty's the day after a much too short night: put a little water next to the egg and place a bell on it so that the steam cooks the top a little too.

The bacon was less interesting. I foolishly pushed it to the bottom of the plate once it was done cooking, as if it was less hot in the bottom, so it continued to cook too long). It also made a lot of fat, which needs to be picked up if you don't want it to sink to the bottom of the barbecue. I wasted the equivalent of a small boreal forest in paper towels to mop it all up.

The pancakes were also very good, especially the last one I saved for this photo and which fried in bacon fat like at the sugar shack. Stupid.

Overall lunch was no better than having it indoors, but it didn't smell like old grease in my apartment afterwards, and the experience was much nicer in the sun than 'inside.

The Weber Genesis SX-335 has three burners, two of which are associated with a sear zone (activated with another small burner), which covers roughly two-thirds of the area to the right of the grill.

There is a burner under the first third, but I had a hard time getting it in a proper way in this section, as seen here. The pork, which I had grilled on the left since the vegetables were the real star here, just didn't get enough browning, even though the heat was on high. It's not a problem, but you will have to learn how to cook by maximizing these different areas according to their respective strengths and weaknesses.

The vegetables were perfect. Nothing fell through the holes in the basket, and the large surface area allowed me to create different zones to adjust the temperature and cooking times, since a mushroom cooks faster than a watermelon radish, for example.

I simply sprinkled thawed salmon from Ikea with a St. Lawrence herb and seaweed salt from Les jardins de la Mer for this meal, and the result was sensational. Ricardo would write on his site that it is “the best”.

Is it because of the cast iron griddle which grilled the salmon well (much more than I normally do), without overcooking the flesh inside? Or because of my generous sprinkling? I don't know, but this recipe, which looked like nothing, turned out to be a real favorite.

Note that I hadn't oiled the fish or the searing grate, so the flesh came off a bit when I flipped the fillet, even though I was using the "fishy" side of the latter. Also, since I was using the grill, I had to take a small basket for the vegetables, not the big jumbo Weber basket.

With the pizza stone, you won't be able to use the burner for searing, and the barbecue should reach a temperature of 550F in just under about twenty minutes. Beyond that, the temperature rises far too slowly to be worth the hassle, and your propane cost could make your Uber Eats delivery charges green with envy (that is,).

During my test, I found my crust to be perfectly crispy on the bottom and soft on the inside, but I would have appreciated a bit more heat from the top. The result is respectable and tasty, but this barbecue does not achieve the same results as with a dedicated device, capable of quickly rising to 750F, for example (the Weber Genesis can reach such temperatures, but with more difficulty).

What I liked about the Genesis though, is that it retains its heat easily. When you open the barbecue to change the pizza, it will have dropped to 400-450F, but it will quickly regain its cruising speed thereafter.

To do again in the summer, when I don't want to heat the oven inside, but my patio won't turn into a real pizzeria in the next few months either.

For the main course, two aged prime rib steaks, purchased from one of my two favorite butcher shops (Lawrence sur Saint-Laurent in Montreal, the other being Dans la côte, the butcher shop in the Marché des Saveurs at the Jean Talon).

Interestingly, the Weber Connect application saved me from disaster here, by sending me an alert that my propane tank was at less than 10% of its capacity, just when I was about to start cooking. 30 minutes later, I was back with 20 pounds of propane and a big smile on my face despite my stomach grumbling its displeasure at the delay.

I used the connected thermometer and the Weber Connect app to cook the steaks. Grilling two 4 cm steaks requires precision, which the app allows by indicating exactly when to turn the steaks over, and when to remove them from the heat to let them rest (note that the barbecue only comes with a single probe , so you'll have to buy a second one to cook two pieces like this, or approximate a similar time for both).

The success was total. The meat was not overcooked, the grill marks were nice and the flavor was divine.

For the accompaniments, I grilled asparagus directly on the grill on the left (with just a little oil and Sel du Pèlerin) and I cooked carrots glazed with maple and caraway in a cast iron skillet on the side burner (which allowed me to do them at the same time as everything else).

On the plate, all this was superb. But you'll have to take my word for it, because I was too hungry to take a picture.