Spoiled for choice in sizzle season

by Andy Bryenton

The barbecue used to be a simple thing. Back in the past this method of cooking got its name from pirates who, unable to muster up a chef’s skills, simply dragged the iron grille from their ship’s gunpowder hold, set it up over a fire and threw fresh-caught slices of wild pork on top. 

But now the art of the true barbecue is making its presence felt. Through the television and internet we’re graced with visions of the true pitmasters of this culinary way of life, and tastes are changing.

Say that you’re planning a summer barbie today and people will be asking about your plans for a dry rub for that brisket, or your secrets to perfect slow cooked pulled pork. 

This means making a fundamental choice before the summer season really hits. It’s time to assess the grill itself, and see what kind of cooking you’re going to indulge your friends and family with. 

Choosing a classic charcoal kettle marks you out as a purist, and is sure to deliver a real old-fashioned flavour. There’s a lot more can be achieved with this classic design than many people realise, and it all comes down to a careful use of charcoal to deliver slow and even heat. 

A gas grill has been the front runner for many households for the past decade or more, and is also a versatile outdoor kitchen thanks to its lack of actual coal or wood chips. 

Definitely a must for the boat, a gas grill may not be able to provide that smokey flavour all on its own, but quick and even heat mean that it’s a great platform for cooking all kinds of different fare, from seafood to steaks and even, with the fitment of the right accessories, a mean rotisserie. 

The outdoor cooking setup of the moment, however, features an offset firebox in the style of barbecues in the American southwest. This method allows a fire to be kindled in a separate chamber from the meat itself, and delicately flavoured wood chips can be added to mix their aroma with the slowly cooking main course. For the master of the backyard kitchen, there are barbecues which combine three or more of these functions – offset firebox, gas grill and charcoal, or gas, charcoal and a rotisserie. 

No matter how you grill, the key to a great result is to choose the best cuts of meat, to prep with marinades and rubs for flavour well in advance, and to be patient. 

Good things take time when it comes to the new, slow-cooked trend in barbecue, but the taste is well worth the wait.