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Things to cook on the BBQ

Australia Day is one of my favourite public holidays. It’s not that I’m super patriotic (although I do get a little teary eyed whenever I hear ‘I still call Australia home’) it’s more that it’s a time to celebrate what I love about being an Aussie.

Our beautiful beaches, our countryside, our outdoor lifestyle, our irreverrence and love of ‘taking the piss’, our sense of humour, our fabulous meat and produce, our willingness to embrace the new food cultures of our migrants, and of course our obsession with the Great Aussie Barbie.

I’m not sure what I’m doing this Januray 26th but I hope it will involve family and friends, good Aussie vino and a barbie in some form. Happy Australia Day everyone.

i. don’t cook cold meat
If you’re only going to change one thing about your BBQ habits, make sure you always bring your meat back to room temperature before cooking. The biggest struggle with cooking on the barbie is to get the heat from the outside of your steak into the middle without burning the surface to a cinder. The warmer things are in the middle before it goes onto the fire, the easier it is to win the battle.

ii. preheat properly
If you’re going to get a good crust on your food and that lovely BBQ flavour, you need your barbie to be hot before you start cooking. This also helps if you’ve been a bit slack in the cleaning department.

iii. thin is in
The thinner your meat, the less far the heat has to travel to cook the middle, so the easier it is to get the inside right without burning the outside. I like to start with steaks about 1cm (1/2 in) thick then push them out with my hands to about 1/2cm (1/4in). This mechanical action also tenderises the meat and increases the surface area for more BBQ flavour.

If you really must have 2 inch thick steaks, think about starting them on the barbie to sear and get the flavour and then finishing them in the oven.

iv. don’t poke & prod
It takes time for your caramelised BBQ crust to develop and this won’t happen if you’re continually flipping your steaks or burgers. Only turn once or twice. And definitely don’t squash everything down as this forces the juices to run out and leaves you with sad dry meat. Sausages are also best left alone – piercing the skins dries them out.

v. don’t fuel the fire with fat
I used to pour the marinade over my meat on the grill and wonder why the flames flared up and turned everything to charcoal. It took me a while but I finally figured it out. Now I make sure my meat is well drained of excess marinade or I cook it on the hot plate. For fatty meat like chops it’s best to either trim or cook them on the hotplate and finish them off on the grill.

vi. remember food hygiene
It’s funny how the outdoors can make some people forget the basics. Always put your cooked food on a clean plate or chopping board and never add marinade that was used for raw meat to cooked meat. Simple.

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