Australia’s known the world over for its barbecuing prowess. But how can you be sure not to let the side down when you dust off your barbie and tongs this summer? Follow these rules and you’ll be the ultimate Aussie BBQ hero. Sponsored by Matador BBQs
1. Choose the right barbecue
How often will you use it?
How much space do you have?
Will you be moving the barbecue to other locations?
A large gas hooded barbie such as the Matador Titan 6 Burner, is the perfect home entertainer and ideal for roasting and baking. While a smaller Artiste 2 or Boss 3 Burner BBQ’s are perfect for those smaller backyards.
2. Put your barbie in prime position
Once you’ve chosen the barbecue, make sure to place it in a well-ventilated spot. As any Aussie knows, congregating around the barbecue to chat, help hold the tongs or share a cold beer is part of the process, so make sure your BBQ isn’t tucked too far away from the party.
3. Don’t go too hard too soon with the flames
It’s tempting to throw the meat on the fire as soon as it lights up, but wait a while, otherwise, you run the risk of the meat charring on the outside while remaining raw on the inside. As a rule of thumb, hold your hand about 10-12 cms above the grill and count how long you can hold it there. Less than 2 seconds means that the fire is super-hot, 3-5 seconds indicates a medium heat while more than 6 seconds is low heat. Tip: roll up your sleeves before holding your hand over an open flame and take your hand away as soon as it gets too hot!
4. Beware the meat-turning conundrum
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when people gather around a cooking flame, there will be a debate about how often to turn the meat. Even the best chefs can’t seem to agree on this score, with some advocating for turning meat often (as much as every 30 seconds) while others recommend turning meat only once. While the jury’s still out on this one, we do suggest you keep the poking and prodding to a minimum. Use tongs to turn meat quickly, so you don’t allow the moisture to escape.
5. Expand your repertoire
While steaks, chops, sausages and seafood are standard Aussie BBQ fare, you can show off your extreme barbecue prowess by adding a few ‘out-the-box creations on the grill. Pizzas, large mushrooms, and vegetable skewers all grill well and are great options for vegetarian guests. You can take the barbecue theme straight through to dessert, too, by cooking mangos, bananas, or pineapples on the hot grill.
6. Make sure you’re equipped for the job
With the right accessories, you can cook almost anything on a barbecue. Egg rings for a perfectly round fried egg are a must-have for the brekkie BBQ, while a good tong and spatula set will help you master your flipping technique. One of our favourite accessories is the reusable BBQ sheets (available from Bunnings), which you can use to keep your home barbecue clean or take with you to the park for use on shared barbecue facilities.
7. You can never have too much ice
For a large barbecue, it’s important to keep meat and especially seafood cool while it’s waiting to go on the grill. Ideally, it’s better to keep these proteins inside until the last minute, but if you don’t have that option, make sure you have an Esky packed with ice to keep everything cool. Barbecuing is thirsty work, so pack a couple of cans to keep the chef happy, too.
8. Marinate the meat wisely
Get the marinade ready at least two hours in advance to allow the meat time to absorb the flavours. Be careful with marinades that are acidic or contain alcohol, as too much time in these marinades can cause the meat to toughen. In general, two hours should be sufficient time for most marinades. Before placing marinated meat on a barbecue, gently pat it down with a paper towel. If the meat has too much marinade on it, it will stew rather than sear. Tip: The least messy way to marinate meat is to do it in a plastic bag. This keeps all the marinade around the meat and the bag can be easily discarded at the end.
9. Choose great sides
The key to a great barbecue party can be as much about the sides as the meats. Add some potato wedges to the grill for a smoky barbecue potato salad or cook up corn on the cob loaded with spice. For a truly Aussie experience, try your hand at a homemade damper served with butter and a drizzle of golden syrup.
10. Let it rest
The meat’s cooked, the guests are hungry and everyone is rushing to the table, but if you truly want the meat to be delicious, wait just a few minutes before serving. The general rule of thumb is meat should be allowed to rest for at least half the time it takes to cook. Despite any protests, the waiting is worth it. The reason? If you cut meat as soon as it cooks, all the juices run out and the meat becomes dry. While the meat rests, the fibers in it begin to relax and the juices get redistributed and reabsorbed.
11. Treat your barbie like it’s your best mate
It’s tempting to walk away from the barbie once you’ve finished with it, but – just as you wouldn’t just walk away from a friend without a proper goodbye – you shouldn’t leave your BBQ without tending to it first. While the grill is still warm, give it a quick brush to remove any baked-on residue. Empty the drip tray and line with a fresh sheet of aluminum foil for next time. Once the barbecue is cool enough, wash it with soapy water and a sponge or special BBQ wipes. And, lastly, spray vegetable oil or cooking spray over the plates and grill to prevent rusting. (Brought to you by Matador BBQs)