The great Aussie barbie would have to be Australian’s number one social activity. Almost every home in Australia would have a barbecue in the backyard, where friends and family gather for a relaxed meal. You’ll find a free barbecue in most Australian parks and nearly every community group owns a portable barbecue, that can be taken to fundraising events and “sausage sizzles”
Our home barbecue areas range from a grill plate over a wood fire, to an elaborate stainless steel outdoor kitchen. The most popular would be the hooded barbecue where you can cook everything from the humble snag (sausages to the rest of the world) to a full roast dinner.
Australians barbecue for every meal. After a big party the night before, it’s not uncommon to fire up the barbie to serve guests a breakfast of sausages, bacon eggs and onions, washed down with orange juice.
Meat on the Aussie Barbecue
Our barbecue menus have become a lot more sophisticated in recent years. From skewers and chicken, to marinated prawns,there is very little we won’t throw on the barbie. However our traditional barbecue is very much based on red meat. I’ve read articles which talk about cooking kangaroo and emu on the barbie. These couldn’t have been written by an Australian. In over 50 years I have never come across these meats on a BBQ.
Snags, lamb chops, steak and burger patties, with onions, mushrooms and thinly sliced potato on the side would be a fairly standard barbecue menu. These are all slathered with lashings of tomato sauce or barbecue sauce.
While a barbecue is very much a relaxed affair, the man of the house usually takes his barbecuing duties quite seriously. All the men usually stand around the barbie to “help”, which means drinking a stubbie of beer while the host turns the meat. Just don’t be tempted to turn the steak more than once
Nibbles at an Aussie barbecue.
While the men are supervising the meat, the ladies are usually inside organising the nibbles and salad. No Aussie barbecue is complete without a platter of Jatz biscuits, French onion dip, cheese and chopped cabanossi. Just to make sure your guests don’t get too hungry while they are waiting for the steaks to cook. Usually a table will be laid out with food to share and everyone sits around juggling their plates on their laps, in true relaxed Aussie eating style.
Australian Barbie Salads
When you head to an Australian barbecue, you will usually be asked to “bring a plate”. This doesn’t mean your hostess is short of crockery. It means you need to bring either a dessert or a salad for the table. Like the meat, salads have become much fancier in recent years.
However the basic barbecue menu will usually have a pasta salad, coleslaw, potato salad and a Greek salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives and fetta cheese.
Most Australian ladies’ have their “signature dish”, or favourite salad that they whip up if they want to provide something a little special. My prawn, mango and avocado salad usually comes out around Christmas time, when the fruits are in season. Like all good recipes, it was stolen from a friend.
It doesn’t matter if you are too busy or simply couldn’t be bothered to cook. It is perfectly acceptable to duck into the supermarket for a prepared salad or dessert and pop it on a plate. No questions will be asked.
Dessert at an Aussie barbecue.
Once the last of the leftover meat and salad have been crammed into the fridge, it’s time to bring out the dessert. (You haven’t supplied enough food if you don’t have leftovers.)
Pavlova would be Australia’s number one dessert. There is ongoing debate as to whether the Aussies or the Kiwis first concocted this gooey sweet that you will definitely find at most Australian barbecues.
A soft meringue base is topped with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries, kiwi fruit and passionfruit. There are many variations to top a pavlova, always fruit and/or chocolate. However the above is the standard Aussie pavlova topping. The dessert is so common in Australia, that I know very few people who actually cook the meringue base anymore. Why would you, when you can pop into the supermarket and buy a prepared base?
Cheesecake would be Australia’s second favourite barbecue dessert. From a basic vanilla cheescake topped with fruit, to elaborate recipes made from Toblerone or biscuits. Once again, you will find a great selection of cheescakes to take for the dessert table in any supermarket freezer.
With our abundance of fresh fruit to choose from, why would’t we enjoy a fruit platter to end our meal? After all the cheese and biscuits, more meat than we really intended eating and creamy salads, a slice of watermelon may be just the thing to finish the meal.
Drink at an Aussie Barbecue
When you are invited to an Australian Barbecue, you will usually be asked to “BYO”. This means “Bring Your Own” and can apply to drinks or meat. Always best to check with your hostess if she wants you to bring meat.
Where in the past we would fill the bathtub with ice to keep all the drinks cold, these days most people have a drinks esky to take with them. Most of us also have a beer fridge in the garage or on the patio to keep the drinks cold.
With Australia currently in the middle of winter, we can’t wait until it warms up and we can grab the esky, whip up a pav and head off to a barbie.