It’s simple, right? Fling a sausage on the barbie and cook it until it’s done.
For Darren Moncrieff, co-owner of Berties Butcher and Little Bertie BBQ, there’s a little more to it than that. If you want to progress beyond backyard novice and impress your guests this summer, here’s a handful of tips from a barbeque expert.
Choose your butcher wisely
“The best butchers work in butcher shops,” says Moncrieff. “They don’t work in supermarkets.” He says a good butcher will always give you consistently sized cuts, and provide extras that a lot of people may not know about. “A full-carcass butcher like us has every cut,” says Moncrieff. “The meat will be quality and the fat-to-meat ratio spot on.”
One of the hottest barbeque trends in recent years has been the rise of the low-and-slow American style, which smokes the meat while it’s cooked. Moncrieff says those looking to try this at home don’t need to invest in a large smoker – it can be achieved with just a few basics. “A lot of people think they need a smoker but all they really need is a barbeque with a hood,” says Moncrieff. “A Weber or a little smoke-box.” Moncrieff says you can pick up a smoke-box from a hardware store.
Don’t skimp on steak
If you don’t have the time to wait around while the meat smokes, steak is a high value option. “A lot of chefs come in and just order rump,” says Moncrieff. “It’s the best value steak for the barbeque.”
Moncrieff recommends searing steak on a hot plate before it hits the grill. “Get the flat plate as hot as possible, and the grill on medium,” he says. “Sear the steak for a minute each side on the plate, then transfer it for another three minutes and sear it each side on the grill.”
Cooking times will depend on the thickness of the steak, regardless of cut. If you aren’t sure how long it’ll need, Moncrieff says there’s an app for that. The team at Berties swears by the Steak Master app, which gives times based on thickness and desired style.
If you really want to impress your guests, Moncrieff says bigger cuts like whole eye fillet or butterflied lamb leg are both easy to cook and look spectacular on the table.
“A lot of people buy eye fillets for catering because you can just chuck it in the Weber,” says Moncrieff. “A medium rare eye fillet sliced in front of you on the board ... people just go mad for it.” For a butterflied lamb leg, barbeque for 12 minutes each side, then rest for another 12.
Many modern barbeques come with a small spit, but you can also buy one separately. At Berties (and other butchers), you can drop around your spit and they’ll prep it for you with meat and marinades, ready to cook.
“It’s easier than barbequing,” says Moncreiff. “You can put it on and forget about it for three hours.”
In the interest of health and variety, you’re going to want some vegetables. Asparagus, whole peppers and mushrooms are perfect for grilling. Moncrieff says a bit of olive oil and salt is all they need.
Pat your meat
Pat down any marinaded meat with a paper towel before barbequing. This will help the meat to brown. Moncrieff says to always brush marinade over the meat, rather than pouring. It will help avoid flare-ups and keep the meat from stewing in the liquid.
If your meat is frozen, make sure to defrost it for 12 hours or overnight in the fridge, not on the bench. As summer temperatures climb, so does the risk of bacterial growth.
Now that you’ve got these tips down, strap your apron on, put your beer on ice – perhaps a James Squire Swindler Summer Ale or Little Creatures Dog Days – and start cooking.
This article is part of the Summer Craft Beer Quarterly presented in partnership with James Squire.