From tips to up your grill skills to ingredients you may never have thought of barbecuing, here's your go-to guide to kick off BBQ season including expert tricks from the BBQ master himself, Curtis Stone.
Now in season and super-delicious when grilled, asparagus only takes 2 mins to cook on the barbecue. Serve with steak as a side, or top with tomatoes, bocconcini and balsamic vinegar - get the recipe here.
"For best results, remove meats from the fridge about 30 minutes before you start cooking. Chilled meat takes longer to cook so it's harder to measure cooking times, and is prone to heat 'shock' from hitting the hot grills which can make steaks and other meats tough." - Curtis Stone
"Cooking skin-on chicken or a whole chook? For irresistibly crispy skin, cook skin-side down on the grill first for about 5 mins or until the skin is golden, before turning over to cook it through." - Curtis Stone
Find you can never cook skewers evenly without the ingredients sliding around? You’re not alone, so here’s a good hack: double your skewers. Make sure the ingredients are wide enough to be pierced by two skewers and you’re good to go. It makes turning meats like sausages a breeze, too.
Cake on the barbecue? Yes, please! For a simple yet impressive dessert, thickly slice Coles Madeira Cake, then cook on the grill until lightly charred. Divide among serving plates and top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and seasonal fruits – bonus points if you grill the fruit, too.
Forgot to clean your barbecue after the last use? For quick cleaning, try heating the barbecue and sliding half an onion over the grills to help lift dried-on grease. Of course, you’ll save even more time if you remember to clean it after each use – and here’s Curtis’ top cleaning tip: “After cooking, leave the heat on for 5 mins, then scrub the grates with a stiff-bristled grill brush. Turn off heat and allow the barbecue to cool before wiping the charcoal from the grates with a wet cloth.”
To avoid burning any sauces or marinades that contain sugar, brush them on in the last 3-4 mins of cooking. For really sugary glazes, such as honey-soy, cook over indirect heat to prevent burning.
If friends are coming over for a barbie, here’s how to make it cost-effective and avoid waste (although most leftovers are great the next day). Write a list of guests and plot out how much meat and sides you’ll need. Use this as a general guide per person: 3 unpeeled prawns, 2 regular sausages or 2 premade kebabs, and 1 small piece of steak or chicken. When it comes to sides, budget for about 2 small rolls and 1 cup of salad per person.
Not everyone has the space for outdoor cooking. If that’s the case for you, one solution is this Curtis Stone BBQ Teppanyaki Plate that can be used on most stovetops, excluding induction. It gives you the same smoky results as a barbecue – just make sure your kitchen is well ventilated.
Not sure how to tell if your meats are cooked to your liking? For steak, try Curtis’ tong test: “Press the top of the steak lightly with the edge of your tongs – medium-rare steak will be springy with little resistance, almost like the squishy part of the palm of your hand, and a dark pink colour when you cut into it. If you’re cooking a whole chook, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer – if the juices run clear, it’s ready.” Curtis Stone
This seasonal hero makes a delish snack. To make spicy kale chips on the barbecue, heat a barbecue flatplate on medium. Toss kale leaves in 1 tbs olive oil, 2 tsp sesame oil, ¼ tsp chilli powder and 2 tsp sesame seeds. Cook on flatplate, turning, for 10 mins or until crisp. Cool before serving.
For easy steamed fish that tastes amazing, pop it in a parcel. To do it, top large rectangles of foil with fish fillets and any extras like chilli and spring onion. Fold over the long sides of foil, pleating along the edge to seal. Cook on the barbecue using indirect heat (see the letter ‘X’ on p26) for about 10 mins. Take care when opening, as steam will escape and can burn you.
For a family favourite with a smoky twist, cook nachos on the barbie. Arrange corn chips in the base of a large heavy-based flameproof frying pan or skillet pan. Add your toppings of choice, then cover with foil. Cook on grill for 5 mins. Uncover and cook for 5 mins or until heated through. Top with any fresh ingredients to serve. Get the full recipe here.
For great results when barbecuing meats, seafood and vegetables, be sure to coat in oil before grilling. This stops them from sticking or breaking apart – which can happen with more delicate cuts, such as fish – and helps with caramelisation, too. You can also grease your barbecue grill or chargrill with an oil spray or a brush dipped in oil before you heat it.
We know how delicious a pizza is when it’s loaded with smoky barbecue sauce, so why not go the extra mile and chargrill your pizza base, too? For bought pizza bases, cook on a chargrill for 3-4 mins each side or until lightly charred, then top with your favourite cheeses and meat or veggies. Cover and cook for 10 mins or until the cheese melts and is golden. For homemade dough, place on a pizza stone or in a skillet pan before topping and cooking in the barbecue for 10-15 mins.
Nothing beats prawns cooked on the barbie – and it’s one of the fastest ways to cook them, too. Thread peeled prawns onto metal or soaked bamboo skewers, then season and cook on a hot grill, turning, for 3-4 mins or until the prawns change colour.
What’s Curtis’ secret to juicy steak, chicken or fish fillets? Resting! “After barbecuing, rest meats for about a third of the cooking time or up to 15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it tender and full of flavour and preventing the juices from running everywhere after you cut into it. To stop the meat from overcooking as it stands, rest it on a wire rack set over a baking tray.” Curtis Stone
Here’s another spring green that’s super-tasty on the barbecue: sugar snap peas. Thread them onto metal or soaked bamboo skewers, then brush with a little oil and cook on a hot chargrill for 1-2 mins each side or until lightly charred.
Mexican-style dishes are typically loaded with irresistible smoky fillings (just like the nachos – see the letter ‘N’), so why not add extra flavour to tortillas by cooking them on the barbecue, too? To do it, heat a greased barbecue grill or chargrill on medium. Cook the tortillas for 1-2 mins each side or until lightly charred, stacking and wrapping the tortillas in a clean tea towel as you go to keep them warm.
For a zingy sauce to serve with chargrilled seafood, combine 1 cup (300g) mayonnaise, 2 tbs tomato sauce, 1 tbs lemon juice, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika and 1 small crushed garlic clove in a small serving bowl.
Here’s another hot tip from Curtis: “When grilling steak, get your barbecue really hot before cooking. This will caramelise the outside while subtly increasing the sweetness of the meat.” - Curtis Stone
Crisp and juicy, watermelon is the perfect addition to spring and summer salads. To really ramp up its delicious flavour, cut into wedges and cook on the grill until lightly charred before tossing with tomatoes, fetta, mint and basil.
Indirect heat: Ever heard of indirect cooking? It means cooking on the unlit side of a barbecue, with the other side lit. To do it, heat all burners for 10 mins. Turn off burners under the side you want to cook on, leaving the burners on the other side lit. This is especially useful for cooking whole meats on the barbecue, or cooking low ’n’ slow (see the letter ‘L’).
Direct heat: You guessed it – if a recipe calls for direct heat, this means your food is to be cooked over the lit side of the barbecue. This cooking method is ideal for chargrilling ingredients that cook quickly, such as vegetables and thin cuts of meat.
Keen for even more barbecue inspiration? Head to youtube.com/coles to check out our handy how-to videos, including Curtis’ ultimate guide to cooking whole chicken on the barbecue. And for loads more BBQ tips, go to coles.com.au/bbqtips.
We know fresh lime and lemon are perfect garnishes for lots of meals, but to add even more irresistible flavour, grill them first. Cut a lime or lemon in half, then cook, cut-side down, on the grill until lightly charred. Squeeze over cooked chicken or fish, or add to seafood platters for a pop of colour and flavour.