Here’s what you need to take your barbecue cooking to the next level this year.
Anthony Puharich of 138 year-old Sydney butcher Victor Churchill recommends a beautiful dry-aged steak or a big t-bone.
“A premium quality steak that has been carefully dry-aged for three to five weeks and then cooked over charcoal is the recipe for the perfect Australia Day barbecue,” he says.
The dry-ageing allows the natural enzymes to soften and elasticise muscle fibres, intensifying flavours, and making the meat more tender and relaxed.
Chef, author and restaurateur Ben O’Donoghue believes the secret to optimal barbecue flavours lies in the marinating of your meat.
“Sauces and rubs can take a simple piece of meat to the next level,” he says.
O’Donoghue’s American style ribs are the perfect example of this; dry rubbed then slow-cooked to achieve meat that’s tender, moist and smoky. It’s finished with a sticky-sweet glaze using creamed horseradish.
No Australia Day barbie is complete without throwing another shrimp on it, or as Jason Collins-Smith of Ocean Made Seafood recommends, king prawns from Spencer Gulf in South Australia.
This premium species of prawn boasts a superior quality taste, texture and flavour, therefore a classic marinate of lemon juice and garlic is ideal.
“I think the simpler it is the better it is,” Collins-Smith says.
Cook, author and restaurateur (and national treasure) Maggie Beer has a special affinity with the crisp crusted soft centred meringue dessert. In her early married life she was a natural at cooking meat, fish and vegetables but struggled with desserts – until she perfected the pavlova.
A duck egg convert, Beer suggests using them instead of chicken eggs for a lighter, fluffier, marshmallow like pavlova. As for the topping:
“I like to top mine with something a little different, and certainly something very Barossan; dried apricots from our heritage orchard with flaked almonds, and a mix of crème fraiche and freshly whipped cream,” Beer says.
The traditional Australian soda bread once prepared by swagmen, drovers and stockmen is out of favour these days, save for with campers who bake it in the coals of their campfire. Bourke Street Bakery suggests instead their soft crust Olive Oil Bread, perfect for soaking up juicy things from the barbecue. They also recommend their Semi Sour Baguette.
“Crispy, crunchy crust and soft, slightly sour white bread inside – sausages love it.”
Byron Bay brewers Stone & Wood make craft beers suited for the Australian palate and climate. Designed to satisfy that insatiable thirst this Australia Day, Head Brewer, Brad Rogers, recommends their Pacific Ale, a beer brewed using all Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops.
“The Pacific Ale is a refreshing beer that reminds you of an Australian summer. When it hits the nostrils with its fresh happy punch you can pick up the distinct aromas of tropical fruits,” he says.
There’s a lot to like about chocolate dipped sponge rolled in coconut with a jam filling. There’s even more to like about Darren Purchese’s replica.
“We’ve mashed all of the flavours together in an ice cream sandwich consisting of coconut ice cream, soaked sponge, and raspberry jam sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits dipped in dark chocolate and covered in coconut,” he says.
Tim Tams and Iced VoVos
Add a tub of Gelato Messina’s Tim Tam Slam to your Australia Day festivities, thus eliminating the need to suck hot coffee through the iconic biscuit. If the gelato coffee base with crushed butter-cream filled chocolate covered chocolate biscuit doesn’t float your boat, the Iced VoVo cake will.
“If you grew up in Australia you probably had an Iced VoVo biscuit as a treat. We thought we’d replicate it in a cake,” says co-owner Declan Lee.
Comprising a biscuit base, coconut gelato and batons of raspberry gel and marshmallow running through it, the Iced VoVo cake is only available for a very, very limited time.
If you’re still following your clean eating resolution and the above delicacies are off the menu, Amy Crawford from The Holistic Ingredient has some fail-safe tips to keep you on track this Australia Day.
• Use organic, grass fed, unprocessed cuts of meats to eliminate antibiotic and growth hormone exposure
• Choose gluten free bread to cradle your sausage
• Make a roast vegetable salad and dress it lovingly with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs
• Skip the lamington opting instead for chocolate quinoa muffins
• If you’re going to drink, drink the good stuff; organic wine with minimal preservatives or non alcoholic kambucha or iced tea