AUSTRALIA DAY, THE SPIRIT OF BARBECUE
No matter how you say it, translate it or interpret it, barbecue conjures up thoughts of meat dancing and sizzling over an open flame. The smoke and flavours from an open grill envelop us in a cloud of nostalgia and get our mouths watering in anticipation of whatever is being prepared. At times, just a short walk down the street and a simple waft from a neighbour’s barbie may change your dinner plans all together. Your ideas for a cooktop or oven meal may be instantly discarded for something delicious straight off the grill. That’s the power of barbecue!
Since the dawn of time, at least since we started cooking the food we hunted and gathered that is, man has become extremely creative with ways to prepare food ready for the grill. Fortunately, caveman-style barbecue isn’t the only way to go these days. We have become adept in the creation of spice blends, marinades and sauces as embellishments to our grilled meat, fish and seafood as well as delicious ways of grilling other foods to accompany them. Grilled vegetables, cheeses and breads are becoming extremely popular and make for a completely satisfying vegetarian meal alternative. If you’re not a vegetarian they make great side-dishes to accompany grilled meat, fish or seafood. If you’re so inclined, they make delicious appetisers as well. As our palettes evolve and our senses broaden, improvements in grilling equipment have allowed us to become more inventive with what we put on the barbecue and how we cook it. These are indeed fun times to be grilling.
With Australia Day around the corner I have been experimenting with native herbs and spices. The continent has a wealth of flavours for the entire world to explore. If you’re Australian, you’re probably familiar with the terms Bushfood or Bush Tucker, which encompasses all native foods including meats, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. I’ve been concentrating on native herbs and spices and when it comes to Australia’s native flora, aromas and flavours range from mild to wonderfully pungent and from sweet to tear-jearkingly sour. While many of Australia’s flavours may be new to some aficionados they offer a wealth of possibilities to those willing to explore. They can be used on or in anything that more traditional herbs and spices can be used for, from a full range of sweet to savoury dishes they offer a unique, distinct and well-rounded palette of flavours. Adding these to traditional recipes gives old dishes another dimension entirely. Even substituting similar herbs or spices in existing recipes works wonderfully. Why not try Mountain or Dorrigo Pepperberry in your pepper grinder? Or try Native Sage (a wonderfully piquant minty flavour) in a traditional stuffing recipe. The possibilities to reinvent your favourite recipes are endless.
We all realise that flavour is an important key to a delicious meal. Naturally, this is directly related to the freshness of the goods we buy, the ratio of seasonings used and the way the food has been prepared, not to mention the presentation since we have a tendency to eat with our eyes first. We often forget however, the importance the appliances and tools we use have on the food we’re preparing and our very safety:
- While using grills or tools that have rusted may not cause any severe health concerns from what I’ve researched, I don’t take any chances and I replace them. You should be diligent; there’s a BIT of rust and then there’s just plain RUSTED. There’s also a very common belief about rust being toxic. Truth or not and though I’m not an expert on the matter, you may just end up turning your guests off before they even sit down. On the flip side of that coin however, well seasoned grills that have been properly maintained cook spectacularly. With a bit of research you too can make an informed decision about what’s best.
- Be sure that if you are using tools or accessories that don’t have insulated handles that you be careful as they will heat to the point that could cause serious burns. Always use your protective gloves!
- Keep raw meat away from other foods and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- If using an electric rotisserie, keep the wire away from hot surfaces or open flames.
- Run a standard soap test to check for leaks on all gas connections at the beginning and half way through the BBQ season.
From BBQXL we wish you all a safe and delicious Australia Day 2014!
And be sure to take advantage of our great Australia Day discounts.
Posted on January 15th, 2014 by Matthew C. exclusively for BBQXL