How to make your bar­bie the best

Luke Pow­ell’s tips for a great home bar­be­cue

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & DRINK -

KEEP IT NICE

First make sure your bar­be­cue is clean. Last week’s bar­bie should not be this week’s disas­ter. Use a wire brush on wet bars and cre­ate a clean sur­face, so you can re­spect the pro­duce you’ve just bought — and im­press your guests.

BE PRE­PARED AND PRE-COOK

You can make it eas­ier on your­self by slow-cook­ing some pro­teins the night be­fore. Try slow-roast­ing beef short ribs at 85C for 12 hours in the oven. Then wrap it tightly in cling film. Sim­ply caramelise on the bar­be­cue on the flesh side, then warm through on the bones. Braise a slab of pork belly, press it un­der weights in the fridge overnight, then cut “steaks” and cook skin side down on the bar­bie to get your crack­ling and warm it through. It’s a fail­safe way of im­press­ing and re­duces any chance of over­cook­ing your meat.

BEEF

Cook­ing any­thing on the bone is bet­ter, and it’s al­most a must for steak to en­sure you don’t ruin some­one’s meal. Rib-eye and sir­loin on the bone or T-bone are great be­cause the bone will help re­tain mois­ture in the meat and pro­vide an even con­duc­tion of heat. Also go for a thick steak — it’s harder to over­cook and gives you more time to get it right.

PORK

Ribs or pork loin chops are the go-to for pork, par­tic­u­larly the lat­ter. It’s even more im­por­tant to cook pork on the bone, and you re­ally don’t want to over­cook it, be­cause it dries out eas­ily. If you want crack­ling, put a skewer through your chops to con­nect them and stand them up so the skin is face down on the bar­be­cue to get a good crackle. Then lie it on its sides to cook. Brin­ing your chops overnight will also help them stay moist.

SAUSAGES

What­ever you do, don’t ever prick them (an old method to negate ex­pan­sion and split­ting). If you prick the sausages you lose all the nat­u­ral juices and fat and they will end up dry. In­stead, cool your jets. Cook the snags slowly on lower heat. High tem­per­a­tures will cause them to split. Take your time, flip them con­sis­tently and cook them all the way through. Also, for bet­ter re­sults, dry your sausages overnight by leav­ing them in the fridge un­cov­ered. This will re­duce spit­ting and al­low them to cook more evenly.

CHICKEN

Chicken can dry out but if you cook it on the bone it will be a star. Buy a small chicken or spatch­cock, cut the back­bone out with scis­sors and spread it out, but­ter­flied. Place it bone side down, close the BBQ lid and cook un­til al­most done. This cooks and steams it and the un­der­neath takes all the heat. Turn it over near the end and cook it on the skin so you crisp that up. Mari­nades should re­ally keep to a

min­i­mum. Lemon on cooked chicken will bring it to life.

FISH

For best re­sults al­ways cook fish whole on the bar­bie. Whole snap­per, baby barra or mack­erel are great. Pull the guts out, sea­son the cav­ity and the out­side. Add oil and lemon and make sure you have a fish slice so you can get un­der the fish and flip it over. Just have a peek in­side the fish and the thick­est part to see if it’s cooked. Don’t tear it too much, just enough to see in. The bone pro­tects the flesh and you’ll get the real flavour of the fish. Don’t have the heat too high.

PRAWNS

Leave th­ese whole in their shell. Salt them and cook them as is. The shell pro­tects the del­i­cate flesh in­side, but you’re also get­ting the rich flavours from the prawn head, and the thin mem­brane of fat in­side the shell adds flavour. This is es­pe­cially the case for big prawns. If you want to split your prawns, be care­ful and keep them moist. Cook them flesh side down and flip them af­ter a minute. Be care­ful not to over­cook.

VEG­ETA­BLES

Corn, as­para­gus and zuc­chini all work re­ally well. Slice the zuc­chini and oil and sea­son it. Pep­pers love the char, too.

REST YOUR MEAT

As a rule of thumb, rest­ing is half the cook­ing time. That’s just a gen­eral rule. Meat on the bone rests dif­fer­ently, and slower. High heat tenses the meat up: the juices go to the middle, then when the heat is re­moved it re­laxes and lets it all out. If you rest the meat it will ab­sorb the juices and be a bet­ter eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE CAKE TESTER

If you don’t have a ther­mome­ter, get a cake tester. It’s es­sen­tially a skewer with a heat­proof bit to hold. You put it in and if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Sim­ply insert it in the meat and pull it out; feel the skewer and you can find out if it’s warm, hot or cold in the cen­tre with­out cut­ting into the meat.

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