We were blessed with sunshine and good spirits yesterday as we kicked off our first barbecue class for the season. I really love this class and sharing tips and tricks so people go home feeling confident to ‘break out’ and to try new dishes which can take their barbecue cooking and enjoyment to a whole new level! These days, most everything that can be cooked indoors, can also be cooked outdoors on the barbecue. We have come along way from the simple sausage on the barbie! I added some beautiful barbecued pears to the menu yesterday which were a big hit and so very simple. I hope you enjoy.
Don’t miss the great barbecue cooking tips below the recipe too. Lots of valuable info there to you too can become a true grill master!
Here’s to good food, cooked outdoors in the sunshine over coming months and shared with those you love.
BBQ Pears with cinnamon and brown sugar
4 firm beurre bosc or packham pears, unpeeled
2 cups water
1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in 2
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, slit in half lengthways & beans scrapped in (use 1 teaspoon vanilla paste if you do not have vanilla beans on hand)
Crème fraiche, yoghurt or ice cream to serve
Fresh mint leaves, to serve
Wrap the pears in a double layer of foil. Cook in a preheated barbecue for approximately 30 minutes.
Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring the syrup to the boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until the syrup thickens slightly. Set aside
Unwrap the cooked pears and serve whole or cut large slices. Place on a platter and spoon over the cinnamon and brown sugar syrup and dollops of creme fraiche or ice cream and topped with fresh mint leaves.
Cooking on the barbecue – the basic tips:
* Get a good heat before cooking. For direct cooking, light all burners and close the lid for 7 minutes or so, or until the temperature gauge reaches 280°C. For indirect cooking allow 3 to 4 minutes for pre-heating.
* If you are just starting out, buy smaller cuts of meats, such as steaks and the likes and progress at your pace to cooking whole fish, roasts, etc.
* Buy small amounts of the best. An amazing piece of beef only needs a little salt, lemon and olive oil. This, with a gorgeous salad, and you have a sensational meal!
* If cooking fish, choose a good thick fillet. Oily fish can work well too. If cooking a whole fish, snapper, salmon and barramundi are fabulous!
* Season your meat with salt before and possibly after cooking. Use pepper, if required, only after cooking as pepper can burn on the barbecue and alter the taste of the dish.
* Oil the food and not the barbecue plates. This helps avoid flare ups as well as burning the oil on the barbecue before any food even hits the plate. Sometime though, you may need a little oil on the plate say if you were doing a stir fry or likes.
* Really important – bring meat to room temperature before throwing it on the barbecue. Be mindful though of leaving it outdoors for too long in warmer weather. Bring it to room temperature indoors and on hot days, bring it to the barbecue only when you are ready to cook. A cold steak, straight from the fridge, will contract when it hits the heat and this will cause it to toughen.
*It is important to rest your meat after cooking to allow the juices to settle – if you slice your meat as soon as it is cooked, the juices will run and the meat dry out.
*Marinades do help tenderise and enhance your produce but they should never be overpowering or too sweet. If they are, the sugars will caramelise and burn.
* Use a hot barbecue for fish. Only turn it once to achieve a good crust. Fish continues cooking off the heat, so remove it when it is three quarters of the way done.
* Turn your meat once. You can also rotate your meat once, should you want the criss cross effect from the bars, but do only aim for one turn or flip and one rotation each side. I personally don’t rotate the meat but it is useful too if you are aware you have some hot spots on the barbecue for more even cooking.
*Meat thermometers are fantastic and take the guess work out of knowing when your foods are done. Particularly useful for larger meats and roasts, etc.