How to cook a steak on a barbecue

Sometimes even the most inexperienced people with the most modest skill set can be called on to helm the barbecue. Here are some simple guidelines to cooking up a great barbecue steak.

How hot should the barbecue plate be?

Where most people go wrong, says Ian Groves from Ellerslie Meats Organic Butchery, is that they don't have the barbecue hot enough. It must be sizzling, and you add just a touch of oil or fat to stop the steak sticking initially, especially if it's very lean. A little bit of fat round the outside of the cut will help the cooking, giving the steak extra flavour.

How long to cook a steak?

For an average-sized steak, a cooking time of five to six minutes on the first side is recommended. Wait for the blood to rise to the top. When you see that light layer of blood appear, flip it over. Depending on how you like your steak done, cook the other side for up to five minutes.

Should we cover it and simmer?

Bad idea, says Groves. You should leave it on, and when it is ready, take it off and give it a minute or two to breathe. Groves recommends placing the steak on a cold plate, but says you can put it on a preheated plate or dish and let the juices and flavours emerge.

What about marinating it?

Groves suggests a touch of kiwifruit juice or cracked pepper. He's also keen on a touch of plum sauce. Many pour-on products are available, such as dried peppers.

What about rubbing it with garlic?

If you put garlic on the barbecue you have to be sure that everyone likes it as it tends to go through everything.

I can't see the steak.

The hardest environment in which to cook a steak is poor light. The chef must know when to draw the line or, at very least, when to pack a big torch.

After the cooking.

Burn off the surface residues, and when the barbecue has cooled, use a brush to clean all cooking surfaces. Remember to turn off the gas bottle.

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