by Julie White
This time of year the BBQ is beckoning us outdoors for easy and healthy meals of chargrilled meat and crisp zingy salads. Whether it’s your back yard, a neighbour's, the beach or a local park, there is nothing like cooking and eating outdoors.
It’s a great way to get the whole family involved in a meal. Marinate the meat, chicken or fish in a freezer bag with a curry paste, mix of sauces or spices or for convenience, a bottle of commercial marinade. Prepare it in the morning before work and dinner is well on the way to being a gourmet meal the minute you walk in the door.
Get your partner to fire up the BBQ while you make a salad, organise the kids to set the table and dinner will be ready in no time at all!
Here our top tips on getting the most out of your BBQ:
• Firstly check it isn’t a Total Fire Ban in your area
• Only cook outside in a well ventilated area with adequate clear area around and no strong winds
• Make sure your frozen meat has defrosted before cooking, particularly chicken
• Give the BBQ a wipe down and remove all residue fat that could catch fire
• Make sure the grill is as hot as possible. Be patient and wait until it is very hot. The meat should sizzle when it hits the grill
• Only turn your meat once and use tongs not a fork, which will pierce the meat and you’ll lose precious juices. Once you see beads of juice on the uncooked side, it's time to turn
• Lightly press the meat to test for doneness. Rare meat feels like the pad at the base of your thumb, soft, medium like the centre of the palm of your hand, firm, and well done like the base of your little finger, very firm. Don’t cut your meat to check, you’ll lose all the juices
• Cook meat until almost done, as it continues to cook once removed, then rest for 5 minutes before serving, to allow juices to settle
• If using a marinade to make a sauce, always bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria. You can continue to cook and reduce to a thick sauce or thicken with a couple of teaspoons of cornflour blended first in water
• Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least half an hour to prevent them from burning; it's always a great idea to spray them with oil before threading meat, to prevent sticking
• Regularly check the gas cylinder, hoses and connections for any leaks or deterioration. To check, brush the hoses with a soap water solution and if bubbles appear there is a gas leak
• Always get a licensed gas fitter to do any repairs on your gas BBQ
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