The fascination of fire

Black Forest barbecuing with Peter Amann 

People come together to share food – especially from a barbecue. This year we opened the barbecue season with grilling expert Peter Amann in St. Märgen. Hotel Hirschen has an idyllic location in the Black Forest highlands, where cuckoo clock meets modern design. In fact, they go remarkably well together. The hotel’s garden provided the perfect atmosphere for an inspiring interview.


What is important for a successful barbecue? Nobody is better qualified to know this than Peter Amann. He trained as a chef, but now devotes himself entirely to the barbecue. His fascination for grilling was ignited in the USA, where he worked for more than 10 years, including as sous chef at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas and banqueting chef at the Marriott Hotel in San Diego. “I came back from America with a passion for the barbecue in my hand luggage, so to speak,” laughs Peter. He is preparing a mixture of spices in the garden of the Hotel Hirschen, which will later be used to marinate the cuts of meat. Peter tells us that this is where the secret of successful grilling begins. He regards all elements of the process equally important: from preparing the marinade, cutting and seasoning the meat, to its cooking on the grill. He takes great care at every step. He also keeps his knives always at hand and they are very important to him.

A passion for grilling


“It’s crucial that my knives are always sharp”, explains Peter as he cuts the saddle of beef he brought with him into tomahawk steaks with a hand-forged knife. To keep his knives in good shape, the grilling expert takes time to sharpen them once a month. Instead of sharpening for several hours at a time, as he did in the past, it is now done quickly and easily with a HORL®2 sharpener. This way Peter sharpens all his knives in the time it takes to drink his coffee. When he has finished, Peter is well-prepared for the coming month. "I once knew a chef who said: ‘With a good mise-en-place half the cooking is already done.' And the same is true with knives," remarks Peter. “Once they're sharp, my knives are pure joy to work with.” Just in case, he always takes his HORL®2 along, should a knife need resharpening: "I just take out my HORL and the knife is quickly sharpened."


After the Tomahawk steaks, Peter turns to the Louisiana cut ribs. "When it comes to meat, quality is the key for a good result," Peter explains. "I buy regionally from a butcher that I trust, because it's important for me to know where and how the animal was kept."

He cuts flat-iron steaks from the shoulder. These have only recently become popular in Germany. This special cut of meat has its origins in the USA, as with many things in the world of BBQ – such as smoking, where the meat is not placed directly over embers, but cured in hot smoke.

“Americans like a traditional BBQ. That means 'low and slow' and smoking the meat with lots of aromatic wood”, says Peter. For dishes like pulled pork or brisket, the meat often stays on the grill for 18 to 20 hours at low temperatures. In the case of our ribs, it's quicker, because we only cure them in the smoking pan first.


In the meantime, Peter prepares beef tartar as a starter and cuts the beef into very fine pieces. There is also a vegetarian tartar with finely chopped leeks, onions and carrots. Then it's time to fire up the grill. Peter first places the impressive tomahawk steaks and blue potatoes on the grill. At the barbecue we meet Johannes Schneider, hunter and cook at the Romantic Hotel Spielweg. He has brought wild boar fillets and asparagus for grilling. Michael Wickert of Glut & Späne, the smoked fish factory, has also brought something for grilling: namely freshly caught rainbow trout and salmon trout.


The fire crackles, the aromas from the barbecue are in the air around us and Peter is visibly in his element. “Barbecuing is like cooking, but sexier,” laughs Peter. He turns the tomahawks and also keeps an eye on the wild boar fillets and the fish, while Johannes and Michael are still preparing side dishes. “For me, a barbecue is also a social occasion. You get to chat and enjoy one another’s company.”


As the sun begins to set behind the silhouette of the Black Forest, it's time to taste the delicacies from the grill. From Peter's juicy ribs and tomahawk steaks, Johannes's barbecue-steamed dim sums and wild-boar with broccoli to Michael's herb-flavoured roasted fish, accompanied by side-dishes of finely roasted sweet potato, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage and avocados. We feel completely spoiled for choice, but our unanimous verdict is: It all tastes fantastic! Of course, we ask Peter for his recipe for success: What is the most important thing in barbecuing? “Good quality meat, properly prepared for the grill and cut with sharp tools – and they make it a positive pleasure to prepare," beams Peter. And, of course, good company is another essential ingredient.



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