Australian BBQ Society
This used to be the official website for the Australian BBQ Society.
Content is from the site's 2013 archived pages.
ABBQS current website can be found at: www.ausbbqsociety.com
About Us, ABBQS serves as a one stop shop for all things Barbeque related
The Australian BBQ Society (ABBQS) is a nonprofit Organisation aimed at promoting BBQ in all forms throughout Australia.
ABBQS was founded by Justin Mellar and Alex Newton with the help of their friends and family in 2008. We don’t profess to be experts, we just love our hobby and want to share it with others
ABBQS serves as a one stop shop for all things Barbeque related including;
- Information on barbequeing, definitions and styles.
- Recipe ideas.
- Networking through our forum and links to BBQ sites and shops within Australia.
- "How to" make your own BBQ.
Into the future, we hope to gain more members and sponsors, and showcase Barbeque to the Australian public through various promotional events and contests. We are primarily based in Melbourne but are looking for help from other enthusiasts to help promote barbequing throughout Australia
What is BBQ?
Let’s face it; barbecues are an important part of our national identity. The trusty ‘backyard barbie’ is as Australian as VB, blue singlets and winning The Ashes. But is having a few mates around to sink tinnies, watch the cricket and burn snags really barbecue in the true sense of the meaning?
The short answer is: yes and no. There are many different techniques of cooking meat that fall under the barbecue term. The one thing that all these techniques have in common is the cooking of meat using the application of a dry heat. The main variables are fuel type, time, and degree of heat that the meat is exposed to.
In the US, particularly Texas and Kansas, barbequing is all about the ‘low and slow’ style of cooking, where the meat is left for hours to cook in wood smoke and tasty marinades. The results of this type of cooking can be spectacular, but you are required to invest a lot more time in both preparation and cooking to get the best results.
The Brazilian ‘Churrasco’ method is to slow cook skewers of meat over coals, in a similar fashion to a spit. The meat is then served by slicing on to a plate using large knives.
In the Pacific Island region barbecuing may involve burying meat in a pit of coals to cook for hours before being enjoyed. Often the meat is cooked overnight so a lot of time is required, and obviously not everyone has access to a large pit of coals.
So the term ‘barbecue’ means different things in different regions of the world. While some people may argue that the great Aussie past time of throwing a few chops and snags on a hot plate is actually grilling, not barbecuing, we here at the ABBQS are happy to include any of these cooking techniques under the general ‘barbecue’ term. And better still, we’ll try our best to show you how to use these cooking techniques to produce some of the best tasting food you have every cooked.
Beginners guide to Homebrew
|Although we’re primarily a BBQ focused website, beer and BBQ go so well together that we had to write something about it. Not only can you save some money by brewing your own beer, but it’s a good way to fill the time while you wait for a brisket to cook or meat to marinate. Now there are plenty of sites out there dedicated to homebrew and delve right into the details of brewing from basic ingredients, but I wanted to give a brief overview and introduction to homebrew in order to help get the beginner started using kit beers.
Advantages of Homebrew
- An average slab can cost you $40-$50. That’s 24x375ml (or 335ml in a lot of cases these days) = 9L of beer at $5/litre.
- Homebrew = $20 for 21L = $0.95/litre. That’s a huge saving in these hard economic times! Not included is the $70-$100 initial set up cost which almost pays for itself after just one batch.
- Homebrew doesn’t have the additives that mass produced beer has (e.g. Sulphur dioxide, silicone, beta-lactamase, ammonia caramel, rhoiso-alpha acids), and as a result your chance and severity of hangovers are substantially reduced.
- Increase your appreciation for beer as you learn how to distinguish the
- Save the environment by not buying beer that’s been shipped halfway around the world and trucked in from interstate. You also get to recycle all of your bottles.
- If you get REALLY good at homebrew you might even get a job as a professional brewer or international beer taster.
Beginners guide to grilling
First, let’s start by qualifying this ‘guide’. We don’t know everything about grilling, and we’re still learning and experimenting with recipes to find out what works and what doesn’t (usually we find what doesn’t…). But having said all this, if you use the information below as a rough guide you’ll be on your way to great grilling.
Grilling is a fantastic way to cook and has become one of Australia’s favourite pastimes. Grilling will seal in the flavours of the meat and can also be a surprisingly healthy way to cook. There is very little fat added in most recipes and the fat that is present in the meat cooks out during the cooking process.
As with other types of barbequing, grilling only involves a few basic steps: selecting a heat source; preparation; and knowing when the meat is cooked. If you can master these few principles, success is almost guaranteed. If there’s one thing an Aussie bloke can cook its usually BBQ.
Another major advantage of grilling is that you can cook just about anything from tender seafood entrée dishes, succulent steaks, sweeter fruit-based recipes for deserts, or a chocolate cake (laugh all you want, but you can do a cake pretty easily, check our recipe section)
STEP 1: Choosing a heat source
Most people will agree that there are two main types of grill (or what we would usually call ‘bbq’): coals or gas. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so the best way to make up your mind is to try both methods and see which works for you.
Gas is very convenient. You simply turn a knob, light the burner and you have full control over the intensity of the heat source. You don’t have to mess around with lighting and waiting for coals. On the down side, some purists will argue that gas doesn’t develop as much flavour in the meat and can in fact impart a ‘gassy’ flavour to whatever is cooked.
On the other side of the fence, coals are said to give a more even distribution of heat, which is something to consider if you have something very large to cook. Coals are also pretty cheap and give a nice flavour to the meat.
STEP 2: Preparation
A little bit of preparation at an early stage means better results later on. ‘Preparation’ takes many forms; you can pre-marinade and refrigerate the meat before cooking; apply a dry rub to a steak or simply prepare some skewers the night before (ok, this doesn’t really affect the final outcome but you have more time to drink beer with your friends which is just as important).
Take a look at our recipe page for some great ideas.
Step 3: Get Grilling!
If the meat is marinating in the fridge take it out about half an hour before cooking, you want it as close to room temperature as possible. Start by getting the heat (gas or coals) going well and then wait 5-10 mins for the grill to get really hot. The best way to cook a cut of meat is to sear the outside quickly using a very hot grill, then turn the temperature down a few notches and continue the cooking until done. This will seal the juices in the meat (juices = flavour). Try to avoid turning the meat as much as possible after searing, this will also help to keep in the juices. The hardest part about grilling is knowing when the meat is cooked. As a really rough guide, cook each side of a steak for about 5 mins for a rare steak, add 2 mins each side to go from medium to well done. The next important thing to do is to let the meat rest after cooking, just place it on a plate or in some foil and leave it for 5-10 mins, but be careful as the meat will continue to cook once you have removed it from the grill. Hopefully you have a great final product! If not, don’t stress, with a bit of practice you’ll get it just about perfect.
Beginners guide to smoking
If you’ve ever travelled around the US, you’ll have no doubt heard of the local ‘Barbeque’ that is so popular amongst the southern folk. Barbeque is big business, and there are circuits and championships held every year to determine the most succulent brisket and most mouth wateringly perfect pork ribs. They’re very proud of their cooking style, and rightly so. If done properly southern style smoked meat will melt in your mouth.
The stories of blokes cooking meat for hours (sometimes days), fussing over every last detail to produce the best result and taking their smoking recipe secrets to the grave are probably true, but that doesn’t mean its hard to start having fun and getting great results. All you need is time and patience.
STEP 1: Which style of smoker?
There are 2 styles of smoking, ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’. The ‘direct’ smoker is about as simple as it gets. You have some meat suspended above a heat source, and you add wood chips or logs. There are some pretty fancy designs out there, but they’re all roughly the same. The ‘direct’ smoker is easy, cheap and effective.
To get the very best results, you’ll want to look into an ‘indirect’ smoker. This is the more traditional style smoker that is often seen in the US. It has a heat source called a firebox (usually full of logs or coals) which is separated from the cooking chamber. The heat and smoke is then piped from the firebox to the meat. This means the meat is cooked at a lower and more even temperature for longer which means more flavour.
STEP 2: Selecting the right cut meat
Historically, meat used in Southern Style Barbeque’s were the cheap “off-cuts” given to the cowboys and other ranch workers after the ranch owners had taken the best cuts. The meat was fatty and tough and needed to be slowly cooked for hours in order to be even half way edible.
These days, due to recent health conscious “fads” most butchers now trim as much fat from the meat as possible before selling. This is not a great starting point for smoking as it’s the molten fat which really cooks the meat through.
Nothing is more important in your quest for Barbeque glory than selecting the right cut of meat. You may have to talk to your local butcher and ask for a special cut with some fat left on, it took us ages to find a good butcher.
Beef Brisket: Brisket is a tough cut of meat from the underside of the cow, it’s usually pretty fibrous and fatty, but that’s what you want. Try to get a good 1-2 cm ‘cap’ of fat over the top of the cut. Marbled fat throughout the cut is desirable, but not essential. I know it sounds bad but don’t worry, you wont die from cholesterol after your first brisket. As the fat cooks and dissolves it drips though the meat, and the residual ‘cap’ peels right off after cooking. It’s not going to appear on any Jenny Craig diet, but it’s no worse than the meat in your average barbie. Ask for an ‘untrimmed’ brisket from the butcher, 1- 2kg is a good size, will yield 5-10 servings roughly and will take 4-6 hrs to cook. General rule of thumb is about 1.5 hrs per 500g (+15 mins each time you check it…more on that later)
Beef Ribs: Beef back ribs are tough to cook, and will test your patience as they take ages to cook, so they’re not the ideal meat to try first time around but after a little practice you’ll find they taste great when finished with some Barbeque sauce. Ask your butcher for the meatiest rack of back ribs that they have, the more meat the better. A whole rack of ribs will weigh about 4-5kg, but you want them to cut it in half lengthways so that the ribs are about 15-20cm long and you can choose if you want half or the whole lot. 2.5kg will feed about 5-6 people There is a tough membrane on the back of the ribs that needs to be removed before cooking. If left on the membrane prevents the smoke and heat passing through the meat and it doesn’t taste great either, trust us. If the ribs are very fatty, feel free to remove some, but be sure to leave a little as it will melt through and help to cook the meat.
Pork Ribs: Good pig ribs are the stuff of legend. At first is can be a little tricky to get the right balance of time and temperature, but after some practice you’ll get surprisingly good results. We’ve found it hard to get the right cut of ribs, you might want to ask your butcher for untrimmed ribs and trim them yourself
STEP 3: Preparation
Preparing the meat is as important as the actual cooking process. Special sauces and dry rubs are precious secrets that are applied to the meat prior to cooking to ensure the end result is packed full of flavour. Simple rubs and sauce recipes are easy to find (see our ‘Recipes’ page), so feel free to try something basic then start experimenting with your own flavours.
Basically the longer you leave the meat to marinade or baste the better it will be. It’s best to let the meat soak up flavour overnight in the fridge, but it you’re in a rush an hour or two will do.
It’s also necessary to make yourself a ‘mop’ sauce (again, see our ‘Recipes’ page). This is a thin, strong sauce that you will use to brush over the meat at various points during the cooking process which helps keep the meat moist. It’s called a ‘mop’ sauce because cowboys used to use a mop to baste whole cows when they’d have a pit Barbeque.
STEP 4: Cooking
Smoking seems like a lot of work, and you haven’t even started cooking yet. But don’t worry, most of the work is getting it ready and then all you need is a little patience. Set your smoker up, keep an eye on the temperature and fuel, grab a beer and relax. After the meat is sealed (about 2 hours) you’ll need to baste the meat every hour with your ‘mop’ sauce, just use a kitchen brush to spread it evenly.
Brisket takes about 1.5 hours for every 500g. ‘Mop’ every hour or so, and add 15 -20 mins cooking time for every time you open the lid as the heat, smoke and steam from the water pan will escape. Make sure you leave a container of water in the bottom of the smoker to ensure there is moisture during cooking. Set the smoker to cook at around 150 degrees Celsius. If you’re in a rush and want a shortcut, you can wrap the brisket in foil after a couple of hours and place it back in the smoker, or even an oven. The foil will trap all the juices and help to cook the brisket more quickly, but you will lose flavour and bragging rights. Brisket is great as a sliced meat in burgers or sandwiches, or on its own drizzled with your favourite bbq sauce.
Horizontal spit bbq
BUILD YOUR OWN SPIT BBQ
Spit BBQ’s are an instant ticket to backyard parties and will elevate your social status to dizzy new heights. With a spit, or “rotisserie”, bbq you can gently cook the meat to perfection, and the best part is its dead easy. Here is a rough plan on how to make one on the cheap. Some parts (rotisserie motor and meat hooks) will need to be purchased.
Again we used a keg as the basis of our bbq design. Let’s just say that we know the right people. If you can befriend your local publican and ask nicely, (hint: bribe with promise of bbq) they may even let you get your hands on some old kegs. But please don’t steal kegs, it makes pub owners angry. If you want a larger bbq, substitute a keg with a 44 gallon drum or similar metal vessel.
LIST OF MATERIALS
- 1 x Keg (or similar)
- 1 x Angle Grinder
- 1 x Drill (+ drill bit)
- 1 x Hinge(s)
- Nuts & Bolts (for fastening the hinge)
- 1 x Rod (apprx length = height of keg/vessel)
- 1 x Rotisserie motor
- 1 x Set of meat hooks (for holding the meat during cooking)
- Planks of wood (for the plug and stand)
STEP 1: Cutting the lid.
Lay the keg down on the side and chock it so it won’t roll away. Mark out a section on the keg to cut away, this will become the lid. A smaller lid will hold the heat better and may cook more evenly, but make sure you make the lid large enough to give yourself some working room and for placing/removing the meat. Use the grinder to remove the large metal tube inside the keg. Clean out the inside of the keg and grind down any sharp edges, watch for metal filings.
STEP 2: Making the holes
Stand the keg upside down, so the end that beer used to come from is on the ground. Carefully mark a hole in the centre of what is now the top surface and drill out a hole slightly larger in diameter as the rod. It’s important to try and get the hole as close to centre as possible otherwise the rod might not rotate easily.
Build your own BBQ keg smoker
After working in Texas and experiencing the local barbecue, it seemed inevitable that we’d try to emulate the ‘smoked meat’ cooking technique back home in Aus. Before you get started, you need to decide which type of smoker you want; a direct smoker, or an indirect smoker.
A direct smoker type uses a grill or rack to separate the meat form the heat source. The smoke then rises from the heat source, through the meat and out an opening at the top. A direct smoker is quick and easy to build as well as operate, and is also a great way to experiment with different flavours.
An indirect smoker uses a separate firebox to create the heat source and smoke. The smoke is then piped into the cooking chamber, passing through the meat and out an opening. The advantage of the indirect method is that the meat can be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, and is less prone to overheating. This can result in a better flavour and tenderness, but it is more difficult to build.
Using mostly off-the-shelf parts and the plans below you should be able to build a direct smoker and start experimenting with your own recipes. Plans for an indirect smoker are in the making...
LIST OF MATERIALS
1 x Keg
1 x Angle grinder (+ a few grinding discs)
1 x Drill (+ 3/16” titanium drill bit)
3 or 4 Angle brackets (from Bunnings or similar)
1 x Pack of bolts (3/16”, or same diameter as drill bit)
Large gauge wire mesh
TEP 1: Preparing the container
We chose to use an old stainless steel keg in our design. If you can’t get hold of any kegs, don’t worry, you can use just about anything that you can find. We're certainly not encouraging you to pilfer items from your local Pub, no one wants to get on the wrong side of the person who serves you beer. There are other designs that use ceramic pots, metal bins or even cardboard (check the 'Links' page for more information). Whatever you choose to build your smoker from, it just needs to contain the smoke.
Lay the keg on the side and chock it so it doesn’t roll away. Then cut the keg at about 1/4 from the top. Try to make your cut as far away from the heat source (bottom) as possible, but remember to leave enough room in the lid to fit the meat.
Once the keg is cut, carefully clean the inside of any remaining beer (resist the urge to drink it) and use the angle grinder to clean up any edges around the cut. Remove the large tube using the grinder. Stainless steel is very strong and we went through a couple of grinding discs in the process.
STEP 2: Making the rack
Use the lid to trace out the diameter on the large gauge wire mesh. Then use the angle grinder to cut out a circular wire rack. Use some wire off-cuts or a coathanger to create 4 ‘S’ hooks and hang the aluminium tray under the wire rack (ours was a little oversized, use a smaller size if possible).
The tray will catch the juices from the meat during the cooking process. The juices are then heated and will help the meat to keep moist, as well as add to the flavour. You can experiment by adding ingredients to the drip tray during cooking.
STEP 3: Finishing the container.
All that is left to do is to install some brackets and create some holes/slots in the bottom of the cooker to aid air flow.
Measure the diameter of the keg, and then mark equal distances around the outside of the lower part of the keg with a marker. What you are aiming to do here is install 3 or 4 brackets around the outside, but have a little bit of bracket protruding above the cut-line. This will help to keep the lid on while cooking.
Once the bracket locations have been determined, it’s a pretty easy task of drilling out the holes and installing the brackets. Try to use steel bolts to hold the brackets, initially we used aluminium rivets but they deformed under the heat and weight of the meat during the cooking process.
Once the brackets are done, you will need to cut some slots in the bottom of the container to aide air flow. Cut several slots about 2 or 3 inches long around where the coals will sit in the bottom. You might need to widen the holes if you find you can’t get the coals to stay burning.
That’s it! Your smoker is now complete and you’re ready to fire it up and start cooking meat! Take a look at our other articles for help and advice on smoking your first brisket…