The complete barbecue guide

Grilled aged rib-eye with Bearnaise sauce.
Neil Perry's grilled aged rib-eye with Bearnaise sauce (recipe below).

Guru Bob Hart lists the rules, tools and recipes you need to perfect the art of cooking over flames.

It's that glorious time of year again when the roar of the footy crowd gives way to the smell of smoke from a million backyards as barbies - scrubbed, fuelled and readied for serious griller warfare - are fired up for the first of the summer campaigns.

Barbecuing, we like to think, is a national pursuit: a curious ritual that drives man (and, yes, often men - some of whom would struggle to find their way around their own kitchens in broad daylight) to take charge of ferocious, gas- or charcoal-powered backyard cooking devices with, it has to be said, mixed results.

There are a few local masters of the dark art of cooking outdoors over a flame, but there are many more who struggle to do justice even to the humble snag and who seem, dangerously, to confuse the word "barbecue" with the less-pleasing word "cremation".

But help is at hand. Barbecue mastery of sorts is available to anyone prepared to give the matter a bit of thought and digest the following. You have nothing to lose, after all, but that layer of charcoal on your chops.

Fact
Barbecued food cannot be expertly prepared by anyone who cooks with the lid of his barbecue open so he can constantly poke and prod the meat, or who cooks - horror of horrors - on a metal hotplate rather than on a cast iron or stainless steel grill that exposes the meat to the kiss of the flames and the swirl of the smoke. Ridiculous novelty aprons are also to be frowned upon.

Fact
Mastering the dark art of barbecue is not something that requires advanced culinary skills. Learn the tricks, follow the rules and you will dazzle your friends and confound your enemies, while quite possibly infuriating and/or tantalising your neighbours.

To grill or roast things over smoke, the kettle barbecue is the answer. But to grill things at high temperatures - cleanly, quickly and efficiently - the gas grill is the superior option. But just as it takes a supreme effort to achieve stratospheric temperatures with a kettle, it is impossible to achieve real smoke flavour with a grill. So the choice is yours.

A few rules

- Don't use firelighters to light your charcoal because, despite claims to the contrary, you will taste them in your food. Use a chimney charcoal lighter (Heat Beads are an excellent choice) and fire up the charcoal with three or four sheets of newspaper or, if you have one, a gas flame or blowtorch.
- If using a kettle, place a few unlit briquettes or chunks of charcoal in each of the side baskets and top them with the lit charcoal. Ensure you have positioned a large foil tray of water between the charcoal baskets. Replace the lid and let the fire settle and the temperature rise.
- Always use wet hickory chips or chunks when you cook over charcoal: add them (just before the food) to your fire or fire baskets . Let the smoke begin to rise before placing the food on the grill.
- And finally, whether you settle on a gas grill or a retro charcoal-powered device, remember, "Barbecue is the enlightened application of heat, smoke, spices and ingenuity to protein, fruit and vegetables ... outdoors" - or so someone once said. Hang on: I think it was me.

Below is a series of barbecue recipes and guides from the goodfood.com.au collection.

Recipes and more

Barbecued beef sirloin with onion, parsley and lemon salad

Barbecued beef sirloin with onion, parsley and lemon salad

  • 2 hrs +
  • Medium

Neil Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Unilateral seared tuna steak with pinenuts, currants and mint. Karen Martini FISH recipes for Epicure and Good Food. Photographed by Marina Oliphant. Styling by Caroline Velik, dark blue linen from Minimax, linen napery from The Works,

Seared tuna steak with pine nuts, currants, sorrel and mint

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Karen Martini

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Steak.

Grilled aged rib-eye with tomato, onion and chipotle salsa

Neil Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (13)
Barbecued lamb cutlets with mint sauce.

Barbecued lamb cutlets with mint sauce

  • 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Medium

Neil Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Food

Marinated lamb leg with chickpea salad and garlic yoghurt dressing

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Neil Perry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (5)
Barbecued butterflied lamb

Barbecued butterflied lamb

  • 1-2 hrs
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (2)
Lamb burger with capsicum relish

Lamb burger with capsicum relish

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

jane and Jeremy Strode

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Teresa Cutter's burger.

Aunty's burger

Teresa Cutter

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Mushroom burgers with haloumi, served with fried onion rings.

Mushroom burgers with haloumi

  • < 30 mins
  • Easy

Caroline Velik

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (6)
Corn, coriander and chilli salsa with lamb cutlets.

Corn, coriander and chilli salsa

  • < 30 mins
  • Easy

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Grilled corn with chipotle butter

Grilled corn with chipotle butter

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Caroline Velik

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Barbecued mango cheeks with pomegranates

Barbecued mango cheeks with pomegranates

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Warm peaches with creamy ricotta and rosewater syrup.

Warm peaches with creamy ricotta and rosewater syrup

  • < 30 mins
  • Easy

Lynne Mullins

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Chilli relish.

Chilli relish

Bill Granger

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (6)
Spicy sweet chilli sauce.

Spicy sweet chilli sauce

Bill Granger

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (5)
Tahini sauce.

Tahini sauce

Bill Granger

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Churrasco barbecue

Churrasco barbecue

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Greg Anderson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Barbecue nori prawns with lemon soy

Barbecue nori prawns with lemon soy

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Jill Dupleix

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (3)
Summer Barbecues - Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Kate Gibbs

Piri Piri barbecue chicken with chips.

Piri piri marinade for barbecue chicken

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Brigitte Hafner

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (14)
Wagyu beef burger

Wagyu beef burger

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

jane and Jeremy Strode

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)
Steak Sandwich.

Quick steak sandwich

  • < 30 mins
  • Easy

Caroline Velik

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (12)
Barbecued scallops with smashed lemony peas

Barbecued scallops with smashed lemony peas

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Kate Gibbs

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Grilled chicken, peaches and avocado

Grilled chicken, peaches and avocado

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

Tony Chiodo

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (7)
Barbecued vegetables with tomato, rocket and chilli sauce

Barbecued vegetables with tomato, rocket and chilli sauce

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

STEVE MANFREDI

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader rating (1)
Grilled corn on the cob

Grilled corn on the cob

  • < 30 mins
  • Medium

STEVE MANFREDI

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (2)