Australia Day: Rules for a well-done barbecue

We've come a long way: Typical barbecue fare demands more than a few sausages nowadays.
We've come a long way: Typical barbecue fare demands more than a few sausages nowadays. Photo: Jim Rice

Do use additives

Keep the meat simple, then use spices, relishes, chutneys and chilli sauces to intensify flavour without adding stodge. Think harissa, sambal, tahini. Yoghurt is brilliant as a marinade.

Do get barbie-literate

Learn how hot your barbecue is by holding your hand 10 centimetre from the grill bars. If it's hot, you should be able to hold it there for up to three seconds. If it's medium-hot, up to five seconds. If it's medium, about eight seconds.

Do leave well enough alone

Don't poke and prod and flip. Cook your meat until 80 per cent done on one side, then turn and finish to your liking on the other. Use tongs rather than a fork, which can pierce the meat and spill those precious juices.

Do have a drink

Rehydrate constantly with water between drinks. For something special, serve Australian sparkling shiraz. Being red, it's good with meat; being sparkling, it's good for celebrating; and being cold, it's perfect for a summer day.

Don't just grill corn on the cob on the barbie and slather it with butter


Add that essential dude food touch by slathering it with Sriracha chilli mayonnaise and topping it with fluffy grated cheese.

Don't try too hard

We're Australian, right? We like taking things easy. Open a bag of chips, set out a bag of bread rolls and a bottle of tomato sauce for the snags.

Don't try to assimilate.

This country is made up of wonderful people from all over the world - that's what makes us interesting. So celebrate your past as well as your present. If French, throw a lamb noisette on the barbie; if Korean, celebrate with beef short ribs; and if Greek, bring a horiatiki salad, heavy on the feta. It will all be appreciated.

Don't overdo it

Judge when meat is done by touch. Relax your left hand and poke a forefinger into the fleshy part between your thumb and forefinger - that's what rare meat feels like. Spread the fingers and poke again - that's medium rare. Make a fist and press the same area for medium.

Don't forget the lemons

Lemons are crucial, whether to freshen up prawns and seafood, make vinaigrettes, add to cocktails and relishes, or heat through on the grill for their warm, dribbly juices. It's like adding sunshine to your food.