‘Tis the season to light the barbie, but do you really know what you’re doing? Jane Pikett serves up some hot tips…
We love a barbie in our house (well, garden…) to the extent that we have a home-built permanent structure dedicated to the purpose. There’s nothing quite like the barbie lit, beers on ice and the cricket on the radio, but are you actually doing it right?
Well, first off, if you want the true taste of the barbie, don’t use a gas grill, as you might as well just use your kitchen cooker. Do, on the other hand, use charcoal and wood chips because the smoke is an ingredient in itself. If you are using wood chips, soak them in water for a few hours, drain and then wrap in foil and put them in the coals. The water will make them smoke, which gives a wonderful depth of flavour.
Assuming you’re not a fan of burnt offerings, barbecue heat should be low and the cooking slow, which is how you ensure everything is cooked through. So, light the barbie 40 mins before you want to cook and let the flames die down and the coals go white before you start cooking.
To gauge the temperature, place your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack; the heat is high if you have to move your hand in 2 seconds, medium if you have to move your hand in 5 seconds, and low if you have to move your hand in 10 seconds.
Marinate your meat to tenderize it, and take it out of the fridge half an hour before you cook it to allow it to reach room temperature. Don’t add salt until the meat is cooked, otherwise it will become dry and tough, as the salt draws away moisture.
It’s important to keep the juices in the meat, so don’t stab it – turn it carefully using a spatula. And let it rest for 10 mins before you serve it. To reduce the amount of browning or blackening of meat, only apply barbecue or other tomato-based sauces containing sugars in the last 10 mins or so. Now, try these recipes…