Sip & Sizzle – A Guide to Australian Barbeques
Long before Hoges promised to “slip another shrimp on the barbie”, summer in Australia meant barbecue time. But these days, you probably want to serve up more than a few snags and the odd charred chop.
And, of course, the right booze makes every barbie go down so much better.
Who invented the BBQ?
The term “barbecue” has its origin in Central America. The Spanish invaders heard the native Americans refer to a wooden frame they used for drying and smoking various types of fish and game as a ‘barbacoa’. The word evolved into ‘barbecue’. The tradition of the barbecue as an event, not just a cooking method, first took hold in America, where it involved a whole animal cooked over a fiery pit.
Barbecue beer matching
At any Aussie barbie, an ample supply of ice-cold beer is a given. Aficionados suggest the bitterness of an IPA works best with burgers, a sweeter Belgian-style beer goes with a steak, while a light ale without dominant malt or hop characteristics complements chicken. But hey, who’s that picky?
We’re not being formal here, right? So go with your favourite red or white (or both) rather than getting fussy about wine and food matches. It’s a chance to bust out those hearty reds, though, as fatty meats go well with big tannins. And remember, room temperature certainly doesn’t mean 35o in the shade. The ideal drinking temperature for red wine is around 16o, so your reds will benefit from an hour or so in the fridge or 15 minutes in the ice-filled Esky.
Carry the can
Barbecuing poolside or hiking in to your favourite picnic spot? Consider canned wine. Yes, it’s a thing. Putting wine in a can raised a few eyebrows in the beginning, but now more and more producers are going this route. Of course, you won’t find top-of-the-range drops in a tinny (wine in cans has a shelf life of about a year, so it’s not for the collector) but many of these wines are surprisingly drinkable.
Bonuses: lighter to carry, faster to chill and unbreakable.
Speaking of unbreakable, plastic drinking glasses have come a long way from those flimsy, disposable supermarket items. Polycarbonate glasses come in all shapes and sizes from classic schooners to champagne flutes. They’re light, they can go in the dishwasher and they feel almost like real glass. Perfect poolside or pretty much anywhere in the great outdoors.
Eat your drinks
It’s amazing what a slug of booze can do to perk up your barbecue cooking. A quick session on Google will reveal a host of alcoholic marinades and basting sauces. How about grilled salmon steaks, marinated overnight in a mixture of Guinness, lime juice, mustard, ginger and chilli? Or chicken wings, marinated and basted with a sticky mix of bourbon, honey, molasses and spices. Margarita prawns, cab-sav lamb chops or spicy cider spare ribs are other delicious options. The easy way to marinate anything is in a plastic bag, so you can squish all those flavours into the meat.
If you’re invited to someone’s barbecue, the first rule is to leave the cooking to the host (or, in rare instances, the hostess). It’s bad form to touch the barbecue unless you’re invited to. Ask what you can bring and even if you’re told “don’t bring anything” a bottle of wine never goes astray. And the five-second rule doesn’t apply – anything that falls on the ground belongs to the dog.