Barbecue Areas Are Everywhere.
Barbecuing areas are everywhere, all are free and most have gas, also free. There are barbecue areas in the mountains, in parks and on the beaches.
When we had breakfast on the beach at Redcliffe, the free barbecue area was like a home from home. The kitchen at the back, dining room, complete with table and chairs, at the front, overlooking the sea. Nice.
And barbecuing at home is almost the Australians replacement for the pub. Barbecuing in Australia, pretty much as it is in England, is the bloke’s job. But out here you had better get good at it fast.
In the UK, I suspect I used to have around two barbecues a year. And by the time I had fired it up and allowed myself to get distracted once or twice, some other bloke would always step in to grab the tongs in my absence. That bloke was normally a guy called Steve, he liked barbecuing. So by and large I’d let him get on with it.
That’s not going to happen here. It’s a bloke thing and a bloke does his own barbecue or he is a pathetic pom. If you allow someone else to take over you’re barbecue that’s like letting a stray dog wee up your gatepost. You just don’t let it happen. Command your own barbie!
As barbecues here are more of a two times a month thing rather than two times a year, I have had to get my eye in. Here’s some tips I’ve found useful.
- Ban chicken from the barbecue – eliminate the need to worry about ruining everyone’s weekend and feeling bad about doubling up all your guests with food poisoning.
- Offer just three meats – sausages (snags – Aussie lingo), steak and burgers – you just can’t go wrong with these.
- Ask everyone how they would like their steak and concentrate on achieving just that. Blackened sausages or slightly crispy burgers are no big deal, but mess up someone’s steak, and you’ve messed up their meal.
Here’s how I do it:
- Put the steak on the hot plate and pat it with that thing that looks like a small flattened shovel.
- When you see blood start to bubble on surface of the rare side of the steak, the bit you’re not yet cooking, flip it over and cook for the same amount of time on that side.
- Your steak is now sealed. You just need to vary the cooking times depending on how it is wanted.
- Rare: Probably about a minute each side.
- Medium: About 3 minutes each side.
- Well Done: As long as you like really. Just ask them every now and again “is that good for you or shall I keep going?”
- Medium rare? I don’t think so. Of course, the trick is timing, you need to put the “well dones” on a long, long time before the others.
Babecuing Mistakes to Avoid.
- My wife always used to insist that I cook all the meats and place them on to serving dishes to put on the table. Then, everyone would select their meat after piling their plates up with all the other stuff. I’ve banned that too. It is guaranteed all the meat will be cold by the time everyone has served themselves and sat down. Instead, ask your guests to collect their meat from the barbecue when they’re ready to eat it.
- Don’t bring your two foot wide charcoal burning tin can with you, don’t even mention it nostalgically. Get a barbie that looks like a cooker…..
Look, I’m a chef! Who’d have though that?
When I first got here, having a barbecue would get me into a mild panic. Me? Cook for eight people plus all those kids? Now, I just crack open a stubby and cook the meats.
Meanwhile, the wife deals with preparing the salad, cooking the potatoes, getting the plates out, the rolls and the bread, clears and prepares the table, prepares and lays out the bowls of pre-meal snacks, gets the serviettes and makes a selection of deserts and puts together the cheese board.
And yet, most amusingly, after my guests have eaten, they invariably say “Thanks Bob, that was really good!”
Life in Australia and barbecues, I love it.