BBQ basics for the BBQ beginner

Summer is just around the corner! Ok, ok, summer is still months away but can you blame me for getting ahead of myself? Summertime means sunshine, late nights and of course, lots and lots of BBQs. There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day, watching the sun sink into the horizon to the sounds of laughter and meat sizzling.

With BBQs being a staple of Australian backyards and balconies, you would assume that capable BBQ operators would be a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s due to alcohol blunted brain cells or sun ravaged retinae, the act of cooking meat on a grill seems to be lost on the vast majority of Australians. 

You don’t need to be like them. Having BBQ skills means you will never go hungry for friends or good food ever again. Even if you are scared to light a BBQ, after this short guide you should be well on your way to grill master supreme. 

Good lookin’ cookin’

Before we start immolating sausages, it’s good to have an overview of the basics of a BBQ. There are two ways to heat a bbq, charcoal or gas. Charcoal BBQs use a bed of coal to heat up a grill; this has some benefits for flavor. This type of BBQ can be challenging to cook with, as it requires a lot more time to heat and maintain a consistent temperature. Unless you are a serious BBQer, it’s doubtful you will have a charcoal BBQ. 

Gas BBQs are the most common type of cooker. They work like the gas stovetop in your kitchen. These BBQs are popular because they can be brought up to cooking temperature quickly. These units are usually pricier but are more comfortable to cook with and clean. Regardless of your BBQ, there are tips and tricks common to both styles of cooker.

Get your grill on.

The first thing you will want to do is preheat your hotplate or grill. For a gas unit, make sure the gas is connected correctly and the valve is open. Allow 10-15 minutes for the grill or hotplate to heat up. Once the grill is preheated, use a wire brush (brass is best) to scrape the gunk and charred bits from any previous food cooked. If you are using your BBQ regularly, it’s advisable to leave the grease on the grill top when you finish cooking as this will help protect the metal from rust.

Once the crud of previously meals has been scraped off, apply some cooking oil. To avoid barbequing your fingers, use some tongs and paper towel to rub the oil in. An oil with a high smoking temperature like canola oil is preferable. By preheating, cleaning and oiling your BBQs cooking surface, you can ensure your food will be cooked cleanly and won’t stick as much to the grill.

Pro Tips.

With all the prep work out of the way, you have already become a better griller than most Australians. By keeping your cooker clean and oiled, you can ensure the best environment in which to cook your food. If you want to take your BBQ to the next level, there are some tips and tricks that can make all the difference.

Special care should be taken when flipping or moving meat when it is grilling. Keeping your flips to a minimum ensures your meat seals itself in its own juices and cooks more evenly. It might be tempting to press down on your meat with a spatula, but all this does is force the tasty juices out of your meat. If you are bored while grilling, tell a tall tale instead.

Cooking a delicious meal on your BBQ need not be difficult. With some basic preparation and some discipline behind the grill, your guests will be delighted, and your meat will be edible.