Ex­pert tips for the bar­bie.

As bar­be­cue sea­son heats up, MARIAM DIGGES grills some of the coun­try’s lead­ing ex­perts for tips, trends and ad­vice on

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

Some peo­ple col­lect stamps and oth­ers hoard art. But for Vic’s Meat Mar­ket’s co-founder, An­thony Puharich, it’s all about bar­be­cues. The fifth-gen­er­a­tion butcher and man be­hind Syd­ney’s Vic­tor Churchill, de­scribed as the best butcher shop in the world, cur­rently owns 11 bar­be­cue-style con­trap­tions. They range from spits to smok­ers, a Ja­panese ce­ramic ka­mado to a Cypriot-style sou­vla ma­chine, ca­su­ally placed around his back­yard in North Bondi.

“I think for all men, it’s pri­mal,” Puharich says. Pri­mal or not, most of us could use some guid­ance on the grill. So we asked the ex­perts for sizzling tips you can use when fir­ing one up this sea­son.

IRON AGE

“I only ever cook on cast iron,” Puharich says, as op­posed to stain­less steel. “It’s the best con­duc­tor of heat and gives you that beau­ti­ful caramelised crust.”

Bar­be­cue stores sell cast iron plates. Let re­frig­er­ated meat come to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore putting it on the bar­be­cue, which needs to be smok­ing hot for the best re­sults.

STEAK YOUR CLAIM

Puharich prefers a scotch fil­let on the bone, rib eye or a T-bone, 4-5cm thick.

“It cooks bet­ter and you can get that medium-rare done­ness eas­ier. I pre­fer carv­ing a big piece to share rather than in­di­vid­ual por­tions.” And strictly no prodding or turn­ing. “I sub­scribe to the two-thirds cook­ing time on one side, one-third on the other,” he says.

FLAVOUR HACKS

“We have a lit­tle rose­mary ‘brush’ that sits in olive oil,” Sean Dono­van, chef at Mel­bourne’s Fitzroy Ho­tel, says. “We brush ev­ery piece of meat that comes off the grill with it.” To make your own, cut rose­mary into 8cm pieces and se­cure one end with a rub­ber band.

GOOD WOOD

If you’re us­ing woods, the gen­eral rule of thumb is to use fruit and nut woods for white meat (poul­try, pork) and hard wood such as mesquite, oak and mallee for red meats. “And use bricks in­side your ket­tle bar­be­cue to sep­a­rate coals and cre­ate dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ture zones for dif­fer­ent pro­duce,” Dono­van says.

COF­FEE DATE

Some­times the best flavours stem from in­gre­di­ents al­ready in your kitchen.

Jess Pryles, co-founder of Aus­tralasian Bar­be­cue Al­liance, rec­om­mends us­ing cof­fee as a rub on beef.

“It pairs beau­ti­fully with smoked, earthy chilli pow­ders like chipo­tle and en­hances the flavour of the meat,” she says. Just be sure to use ground cof­fee, not in­stant, which dis­solves on contact.

MOVE OVER, MEAT

At Syd­ney restau­rant Fire­door, chef Len­nox Hastie pre­pares ev­ery­thing on the menu by wood­fire, in­clud­ing the hum­ble let­tuce. “The grilling process in­ten­si­fies the nat­u­ral sweet­ness in the veg­etable,” Hastie says.

He rec­om­mends firmer va­ri­eties like cos or radic­chio, which hold their shape, quar­tered and grilled quickly over a fairly in­tense heat. “The re­sult is nicely charred leaves but the let­tuce still has a nice crisp tex­ture.”

BE­YOND THE SHRIMP

Fish with a high fat quota are best for bar­be­cu­ing, as the nat­u­ral oils pro­tect them while they cook, says Hastie. Cook skin-side down to pro­tect the meat.

The chef rec­om­mends us­ing a fish rack or a greased hot­plate as well as ven­tur­ing out­side typ­i­cal seafood op­tions and try­ing pipis, straw­berry clams or blue mack­erel.

THERE’S THE RUB

While Dono­van isn’t mad about mari­nades that can over­shadow beef, less flavour-packed pro­teins like chicken or veal can ben­e­fit from them.

“A North African cher­moula is a great one,” he says. “Com­bine gar­lic, chopped red onions, co­rian­der, lemons, pre­served lemon, saf­fron, cumin, co­rian­der, pa­prika and chilli.” Rub some over the meat and use the rest as a sauce on the side.

The pun­gent herb sauce can also be used on veg­eta­bles. For the per­fect bark (or crust) ev­ery time, Billy Gib­ney, from Meat at Billy’s in Bris­bane, rubs a lit­tle brown sugar and salt into the meat’s sur­face be­fore bar­be­cu­ing.

JUST DESSERTS

“Fruit is great off the grill,” says Hastie. Grilled blue­ber­ries and stone fruits, such as peaches, can be paired with ice cream and hazel­nuts for an in­stant treat.

The sug­ars in the fruit caramelise, height­en­ing the in­her­ent sweet­ness.

REST AS­SURED

The gen­eral rule is you should rest steak for half as long as you cooked it, lightly cov­ered in foil. “Rest your steaks on a plate to col­lect the juices, and then pour this over the sliced meat for ex­tra flavour,” says de­li­cious. on Sun­day food editor War­ren Men­des. Also bear in mind that meat con­tin­ues to cook for about two de­grees once off the grill.

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