Easy BBQing Tips
While cooking over fire dates back centuries, barbecuing is a national past time in Australia and has evolved to include all manner of equipment with smokers increasingly popular. When I was a little girl it was Dad cooking sausages for us and chops or steak for him and Mum over a fire made of foraged wood from the bush. Even with the evolution of what we now consider a BBQ it is possible to do it with the simplest of equipment, but there are a few guidelines worth following.
Barbecuing is the most successful when you are well set up for it, though you don’t need much specialist equipment. Long-handled tongs and a long metal spatula are a must. Flat metal skewers are great for kebabs as they don’t burn like bamboo and a hinged grill rack holds delicate items like fish together. Paint scrapers from the hardware are perfect for cleaning the grill as is a stiff wire brush. Otherwise a really wet sponge or chux on the hot BBQ works well.
- Bring food to room temperature before you cook it as it then cooks more evenly.
- Building a good fire is essential, so whether it’s gas, charcoal or wood, make sure you pre-heat it. To judge the heat, hold the flat of your hand around 12cm from the heat source and count the seconds: 1-2 seconds is hot, 3-4 seconds is medium hot, 5-6 seconds is medium, 6-7 seconds it medium low and 8-9 seconds is low.
- Seal your meat over high heat, then reduce the temperature and do not flip it over and over. Once is enough to cook it evenly and keep it moist.
- Exact cooking times are difficult to predict as BBQs burn differently under different conditions. Always check for yourself, before the recommended cooking time is up. Do NOT cut your meat or pierce it to see if it is cooked. You can always use a digital thermometer to give you a guide.
- The intense heat of a BBQ can dry out naturally lean meat so marinating helps retain moisture. Marinades comprise acid (to tenderize), oil (to moisten) and something (like herbs, spices or sauces) to flavour. Marinate in non-reactive containers like glass, pyrex, ceramic, stainless steel or plastic and never for longer than the recommended time. Boil marinades for several minutes before using as a sauce, after cooking the meat, to kill bacteria from the raw food. It is best to have food at room temperature before barbecuing, so take it out of the fridge 20 minutes beforehand.
- Don’t overcrowd your BBQ or the food will steam rather than seal and don’t prod or turn it in the first couple of minutes of cooking.
- Oil the food you are putting on the BBQ, or oil the grill grates with a brush or chux dipped in oil (don’t pour it on!) or for delicate foods, use a silicon pad or foil and baking paper.
- Baste meat with a glaze or sauce towards the end of cooking as otherwise it will burn.
- Always clean your BBQ before and after you use it. It is easier to clean when warm.
- And never leave a lit BBQ unattended!
Read an interview with Lyndey about Barbecuing here.
BBQ recipes here.