Our barbecue sits on the deck just outside the kitchen - and it's under cover. It's rather like having two cooktops. Even on a sunny day in winter we can barbecue lunch. But in summer it really comes into its own, with breakfast also being served from the barbie on occasions.
Gas barbecues are convenient because they are ready to cook at the flick of a switch. Many barbecue aficionados maintain gas barbies do not provide the same flavour or atmosphere as the charcoal barbie. But charcoal is odourless and flavourless. The so-called "charcoal flavour" is imparted to the meat by the flare-up and smoke resulting from the dripping meat juices and fat on the hot charcoal. The same kind of flare-up results from the meat juices that drop on to the hot rocks provided at the base of many gas barbecues.
To reduce or eliminate excess flaming, first trim the surplus fat from the meat. Use lean, minced meat for burgers. If the food has been marinated, wipe off the excess marinade, start the cooking process, then baste if necessary close to serving time.
If the flames jump up, douse with a spray of water from a spray bottle. Turn the food with tongs rather than a fork to prevent juices from escaping.
One of my recipes this week has been influenced by two Australian foodie friends, Lyndey Milan and Ian "Herbie" Hemphill. Their Moveable Feast show is on the Food Channel on Wednesdays, and their dishes feature a good helping of fresh and dried spices and herbs. A variation of their BBQ Prime Rib of Beef recipe follows.
One delicious grill accompaniment is a simple idea from their book, Just Add Spice. Saute finely sliced silverbeet stems in butter until just tender. Add the finely sliced leaves and when almost wilted and sprinkle with Chinese five-spice powder to taste. Yum!
SWEET PAPRIKA BBQ BEEF FILLET
500g piece beef fillet
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each: ground sweet paprika, ground coriander
1/2 tsp each: flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brush the fillet with oil. Combine the seasonings. Rub over the beef. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove and return to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat a covered barbecue to about 200C.
Place on the grill and barbecue for five minutes, until brown and crusted on one side. Turn the meat over just once so only one set of grill lines are burned on to the outside. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness.
Rare steak feels soft and spongy when you push it with your finger. Medium steak feels firmer and springs back. Well-done steak feels very firm.
Peppers (capsicums) can be chargrilled at the same time. Great served with boiled potatoes tossed with melted butter, chopped mint and lemon pepper. Serves 4.
GLAZED BARBECUED & BAKED CHICKEN
Brine: 1L water
2 tbsp flaky salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 sprigs thyme
6 chicken legs
Glaze: 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Finely grated rind and juice 1 orange
1 tsp prepared mustard
Place the chicken in a pan just large enough to hold the legs in a single layer. Combine the ingredients for the brine and pour over the top, ensuring the chicken is well covered, or place in a large plastic bag, moving the chicken around occasionally so it marinates evenly. Marinate in the brine in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Brush the barbecue grill with oil. Drain the chicken and pat dry. Cook on medium for five minutes each side. Place in a large roasting pan. Brush the chicken with the combined glaze ingredients. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over, brush with glaze and bake for another 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and tender. Serves 6.
MARINATED SCHNITZELS & ONIONS
This marinade is also excellent with pork sausages.
500g lean pork schnitzel
Marinade: 1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp each: dried oregano, smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
4 juniper berries, crushed
Trim the schnitzels if necessary and cut into serving portions. Place in a plastic bag. Combine the ingredients for the marinade and pour over the pork. Move it around so it is well coated. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Move the bag around occasionally.
Before cooking, return the meat to room temperature. Lift out of the marinade and pat dry. Place the onions in a frying pan on the barbecue and stir-fry until tender. Add the marinade and heat through. Barbecue the schnitzel for one to two minutes each side. Serve topped with the onion mixture. Serves 4.
MUSSEL PACKETS WITH ASIAN FLAVOURS
Butter: 50g butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1&1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp chilli pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cornflour
Mussels: 24-30 small mussels in their shells
1 small red pepper (capsicum), diced
1/4 cup chopped coriander
4 kaffir lime leaves or baby lime leaves
1 lime, thinly sliced
To make the butter, cream the butter, garlic, seasonings and cornflour until smooth. Scrub the mussels well in cold water and snip off the beards.
Cut four 30cmx30cm squares of foil. Divide the mussels into equal portions and place in the centre of each square. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with red pepper, coriander, Kaffir lime leaves and lime slices. Wrap up in the foil.
Cook on a preheated grill for about 10 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that do not open. Serve in bowls with lime wedges. Serves 4 as a starter.