We all like to consider ourselves masters when it comes to being in charge of the BBQ.
It’s a huge honour to be handed the tongs that mean the success of a sunny afternoon in the garden now rests entirely on you.
But despite our confidence and bravado, it turns out many of us have been making a critical mistake when it comes to cooking meat in the great outdoors.
Lennox Hastie is the chef at Sydney restaurant Firedoor, where there are no ovens or stoves and every dish is grilled, smoked, baked or warmed by fire – so he knows a thing or two about cooking on an open flame.
He says if you’ve been suckered in by the adverts boasting about ‘flame-grilled’ meat and tried to replicate it yourself, you’ve probably been ruining your food.
Scorch or grill marks on a steak might look fancy, but Lennox says they are simply evidence that you don’t know what you’re doing.
“Nothing should ever be grilled on flame,” he told News.com.au. “You should never subject an ingredient direct to the flame because it’s a completely different flavour – it’s more astringent and bitter.
“You go to all that trouble of sourcing the best ingredients, so you don’t want to mess it up by putting it over the flame.”
And if you use a gas barbecue, he says you should never put meat directly on the grill to avoid “that grill mark flavour because you’re literally just branding it”.
Instead, buy a grill basket, which acts as a buffer and allows it to cook properly.
Lennox also recommended using spray oil for the meat rather than following the recommendation of many barbecue books that say you should brush your food with oil first.
Too much and your pricey meat will be engulfed in flames, but a spray gives you more control to provide a “light misting” which will help it cook to perfection.