Even before he opened Bluestone American BBQ in Melbourne’s north, Al Malel’s life revolved around cooking with fire. “I’ve been barbequing since I was a little boy,” he says. “We’re Uruguayan background, so growing up, every family get together was an asado, which is like a Uruguayan barbeque.”
The charm of barbequing for Malel is more than just the flame-licked food – it’s also a social experience, he says. “Barbeque is the most fun way to cook. You’re not by yourself, you’ve always got people around you when you’re barbequing. As soon as you light a fire or some charcoal or even put some gas on the barbeque, everyone’s excited and everyone knows it’s a party.”
Now a barbeque chef – the American term is pitmaster – Malel blends the style of his South American background with flavours from the barbeque tradition of the southern US, serving up everything from Memphis-style sticky ribs to Cuban pork with arepas. But he also knows a thing or two about Aussie barbeque staples – and how to elevate one of the classics.
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Whether you’re in the backyard firing up your Everdure Furnace, standing in line to vote or hovering outside a community sausage sizzle, the sausage in bread is an Aussie icon. Now Malel’s shared two condiment recipes for boosting the snag to new heights.
His first tip: start with good quality ingredients to do the sauces justice. That means ducking around to your local Vietnamese bakery for a crispy bread roll and, ideally, avoiding the supermarket for your sausages. “Even if you’re going with the standard Aussie sausage, you can buy this from most butchers and the quality will be a thousand times better. You only get out what you put into a barbeque,” he says.
What you cook with matters, too – a powerful barbeque like the Everdure Furnace can handle steaks that need powerful heat to create the ideal char, scallops that require a delicate touch and, of course, sausages.
Beyond quality, there’s no real prescription here: just go for whatever flavours and styles of sausage work for you. “My personal favourite is a chorizo, but that’s because of the things I grew up with and what I think is best, but it’ll work with an Italian sausage, a bratwurst – anything,” he says.
The first condiment – chimichurri – is an asado classic in Uruguay and Argentina, giving rich meat dishes much-needed lift and zing. “Food’s all about balance, isn’t it?” Malel says. “When you’ve got the salty vinegar from the chimichurri [and] the fattiness from the sausage, everything works really well.”
Chimichurri’s typically a vinegar-based sauce packed with parsley, chilli, garlic and oil, but almost all the ingredients are up to your preferences. The only rule: no blender. “Chop your stuff with your hands and everything will be fine but use a blender and you’ve got to call it something different – it’s not chimichurri anymore,” Malel says.
The other condiment, pebre, is a Chilean sauce similar to chimichurri, but with the addition of fresh spring onion, tomato and fire-blasted capsicum. “We burn the capsicum, take the skin off and that adds a bit of smokiness to it,” says Malel.
In both cases, it’s best to make the condiments at least an hour in advance to let the flavours marry in the vinegar and oil. Then you just have to decide which to put on your sausage – or perhaps both, Malel suggests. “They work amazing together. The flavours work off each other – they’ve got similar flavours – so even putting them both on one sausage is a flavour explosion.”
Recipe: Al Malel’s Chimichurri
Prep time: 10 mins
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup olive oil
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
Allow to stand for at least 30 mins.
Recipe: Al Malel’s Pebre
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
1 whole red capsicum
4 tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch spring onion, sliced
1 bunch coriander, chopped
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Char the capsicum on all sides on the barbeque, place into a stainless steel bowl, cover with cling film. Allow to steam for 10 minutes.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients while you wait.
After 10 minutes, the skin of the capsicum should peel off easily. Cut capsicum open, remove seeds and brunoise (dice finely into 5mm cubes).
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Stand for at least 30 mins.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Everdure.