Thanks to Home Herb and Garden CEO Patrick OBrien
One of the icons of modern life in many countries is the humble BBQ.
BBQ’s provide an opportunity for families and friends to gather together, and share quality time. All too often the ladies gather inside in the kitchen, drink tea or wine, and prepare salads and share the latest gossip, while the men supervise the lighting of the BBQ, drink beer, and share their latest gossip.
But it’s all part of our culture, and in spite of the awesome experience many cooks have with BBQs, often the end result is charred sausages, and a tough, chewy, old piece of burnt steak.
And it doesn’t have to be like that. A little thought, some preparation, and a little care, BBQ’s can provide just the best food! In our BBQ Magic eBook, we will give you some ideas to make your BBQ’s just the best food experience, and your BBQ’s will be the talk of the town!
[Cooking] [Getting it Together!] [BBQ Tips] [A Few Gutbuster Recipes]
Some of the best BBQ’s I’ve seen were homemade. 2 round plough discs are each welded to the end of a 4 foot piece of pipe (that makes it stand up!). A fire is built in the top plough disc, and a piece of steel placed over for a hot plate, and it’s finished. I’ve used one of these for years, and it provided some very good feasts!
Many family sized BBQ’s are made from an old 44 gal steel drum. The drum is laid on its side, and the side of the drum is cut out leaving 2/3rds of the drum behind. Legs are welded on to the drum, a fire lit inside it, and a piece of steel placed over for a hot plate.
Many small camping BBQ’s are available that operate on the same simple principles, a container for the fire and a hotplate or grill plate to go over it.
The simplest of these travelling BBQ’s is two house bricks and a small rack or steel grill to go over them. I carry one of these in my 4-wheel drive all the time, and it has been invaluable. A fire is built between the bricks, and the grill plate put over it. Simple, quick and efficient when you are traveling, and good for the coffee pot, too. An old fridge or oven baking rack placed on the bricks, and over the fire, and the coffee pot, or tea billy, is hot in no time!
Most of these homemade BBQs use wood, and quite frankly, there is nothing like hardwood to make good hot BBQ coals. In many counties now wood is hard to get and expensive. The trick with wood is to get the fire going with any scrap softwood, then lay on some hardwood pieces.
In Australia most people use ironbark, although any hardwood is okay as long as is doesn’t have a high eucalyptus content. When the hardwood has burnt into hot glowing coals, the BBQ plate is put on. It doesn’t take long to heat up to the right temperature, and it will hold the heat well, due to the heat in the coals. The trick is to cook the steaks before the heat dies out of the coals. If you misjudge the timing, and the plate gets cool, you have to add more wood, the steaks are not properly cooked, and the result is not good!
Gas, v briquettes, v timber!
Okay, so you have thought about making a BBQ, but it’s too hard, and besides you don’t have a welder. So it looks like you will have to buy one. If you are on a tight budget like the rest of us, look around the secondhand shops, markets, and garage sales. The garage sales are good because often people are moving interstate, and want to get rid of everything quickly and cheaply. As well, often you can pick up outdoor furniture such as BBQ tables and chairs for a song.
If you are buying new, there is a bewildering variety of BBQ’s for sale. Starting from the small Hibachi type, they range up to 4 and 6 plate monsters, and some even have gas rings on the side to do stirfrys. For more info about stirfry vegetables go to: http://www.home-herb-garden.com/stirfries.html
I even saw a Hibachi recently that was a small hot dog type stove, about 16 inches high, with a BBQ on top of it! You can also get BBQ’s that bolt onto the siderails of a boat so you can have an easy BBQ at sea, or at least when you are on the anchor. A BBQ is great on boat when you are tired out from a hard days sailing, swimming, and beach walking!
The majority of BBQ’s nowadays are gas, charcoal, or briquette fired. Gas is the easiest, and you can control the heat much better. Briquette and charcoal BBQs are still very popular, and in good hands produce some wonderful meals. One of the things you need to very careful about is lighting them. In my opinion, you should never use lighting fluids, only firelighters. Lighting fluid is very dangerous, especially if it gets into young hands.
While we are talking about safety, I saw a bloke’s BBQ apron catch on fire once. While it was hilarious at the time, it is a very real danger, and he could have been badly burnt.
Most of the briquette and charcoal BBQ’s are kettle types, usually with a lid. These are great because you can smoke with them too, as well as roast and grill. The larger BBQ’s are usually gas fired for convenience. Much as I love a wood fired cooker, gas is so very easy to use.
Some of the larger BBQ’s have a gas ring on the side for a wok. Mine hasn’t, but some of the Weber type BBQ’s have a smaller ring in the center which can be removed, and a large wok fits in there perfectly! I have two BBQ’s, one a three plate gas burner, and the second a round Weber type with a lid, which I mostly use for smoking, roasting, and sometimes for woking.
I purchased a small portable gas cooker that takes small cans of gas, and it fits nicely on the side of larger BBQ. It’s handy for keeping food hot, and great for fried rice or stirfries.
Like BBQ’s there is a bewildering array of accessories, and you could easily go broke trying to keep up with them alone. You can buy boxed gift sets of BBQ tools for hundreds of dollars, if you ever want a buy a present for the BBQ’er who has everything else. There are candles and lights of every description for outdoor evenings, tools that defy description and all sorts of racks and trays for cooking on.
You only need three tools really, a pair each of long handled tongs and scraper, and a solid brass wire brush for cleaning the plate. A steel dish is handy for keeping food warm on the side of the BBQ, and anything else you may need can be found in the average kitchen.
In my view, the most important accessory is a temperature probe. This is small instrument, with a dial gauge on top, that you poke into roasts to determine if they are cooked or not.
Just slide the probe into the center of the meat. If you hit a bone, pull it a back a bit. With a chicken the last part to be cooked is the thigh joint. The temperature should read 72 degrees for chicken or pork, 68 for roast beef or lamb, and 58 for bacon.
About Patrick OBrien: Patrick is a retired Master Butcher and businessman who also has broad horticultural experience. He has owned a restaurant, commercially grown organic vegetables, and he operated a herb nursery for many years.
To learn more about home herbs, garden, health, and homebiz, please visit: http://www.home-herb-garden.com