Whenever I show our local (= my region) BBQ gear to “outsiders” (all people which did not grow up in our region and never went to a local BBQ), people are impressed. So I thought, let me export this great invention out in the world. Maybe someone out there is interested enough to build the simple solution which has a lot of features.
As a picture tells more than a lot of words, let me first let you look at it.
The BBQ device which I show you here is called a “Schwenker”. The operation of grilling something on a Schwenker is called “schwenken” (the direct translation of schwenken is “swinging around” or “to swing”). As you may guess, this is because you swing around the meat (or vegetables or fish or cake (I have read that one winner of the national BBQ-competition had a Black-Forrest-Cherry-cake on the grill) or whatever people may want to put there) over the fire. The meat which is very often prepared on the Schwenker is called “Schwenker” (we are efficient with words in our region…). Basically this is the meat of a pork which relaxed a day or two in oil, onions and paprika (add pepper, salt and herbs to your own liking, other variations are with garlic and green herbs). While the Schwenker is on the Schwenker, you can put a little bit of beer on it to add a little bit of taste (this is optional). It exists a small Wikipedia entry about Schwenker, there you can even read about other meanings of the words Schwenker/Schwenken (all related to what you see/read here).
So, how to build one? Its easy. Take a metal plate (best is a triangle where the edges are bend a little bit), attach 3 metal poles (they need to be strong enough to carry the grill and the meat) to it in a way that you can attach a metal roll between them (like a hoist, it is there to lift the grill) and that the metal poles form a tripod. You get bonus points if the roll can be rotated where it is attached, but is is enough if it is aligned with one of the poles. Now take a grill (round) and attach 3 little chains to it (in the picture above, those chains are not so little, but it is a big grill, you can feed at least 10 people at once) so that the grill is leveled when you attach those 3 chains to a single point. The 3 chains need to be attached to a long chain, and this chain needs to put on the roll which is attached on the tripod. Now attach a hook on one of poles in a convenient position (if you stand in front of the tripod you need to be able to access the hook easily) and attach the chain which is connected to the grill and the roll. It looks a little bit more high-tech if you use a winch instead of a hook, but then you need to use a metal rope instead of a chain.
- variable heat intensity (lift or lower the grill by attaching a different part of the chain to the hook)
- ecologic/equal heating (swing and/or rotate the grill over the fire, you can cover a lot of grill area with a small fire, all meat gets about the same heating without the need to move the meat itself on the grill a lot)
- keep some meat hot while eating (lift or lower the grill)
- food safety (you need to create more fire but you already have some meat on the grill: move the tripod to the side; you want to move the fire in the fireplace: the chain is not as hot as the grill, use it to move the grill a little bit to the side while moving the fire in the fireplace)
Tips & Tricks
The fireplace in the picture is a part of the barrel of a washing machine (somewhere between a half and a third of a barrel). I got mine for free from a local white-ware shop (from a broken washing machine, off course).
If you create the grill yourself, take care that a sausage can not fall through. The metal needs to be of high quality, ideally stainless steel. Make a little border around the grill, this way you can prevent accidents where a sausage lands in the fire or on the floor.
Instead of 3 metal poles you can use 6. Attach 2 together in a way that they do not separate if you lift the tripod, but allows to separate them if needed (this allows to take the tripod with you). In the Schwenker in the above picture the metal poles are connected with screws to the metal triangle, I did not use any tools to attach it hard, I attached the screws by hand. This allows me to detach everything without any tools. Each of the 3 metal poles consists of 2 small ones. They are connected by tapping a thread into one, and attaching a tube with a corresponding thread to the other one.