Despite what the summer weather has been like in Wairarapa so far this year it is nevertheless the season for barbecues and we all like to think we are competent barbecue cooks.
Reporter Jake Beleski made it his mission last week to seek out the best advice for achieving the perfect barbecue.
Ever wondered how to cook the perfect summer barbecue for friends and family?
Jonathan Tanner, of The Grove and JT’s BBQ in Greytown, has three simple tips to help you achieve just that.
The first tip on the path to the perfect meal is to not push your meat down on the barbecue.
“Here’s the secret, and it doesn’t matter what meat it is,” Mr Tanner said.
“Don’t prick your sausages and never press your meat with your barbecue tool because it squeezes all the moisture out.”
Pushing meat down is the single biggest mistake people make while using a barbecue, but if you have to do it, he encourages you to do it while it’s still raw.
“I would say to people if you want one tip, once you’ve got whatever you want on the barbecue in the shape and size you want it, just don’t mess around with it too much.”
And as for flipping steaks and other meats on the barbecue?
“There’s two schools of thought on this.
“Probably the most common school of thought is that you put your steak on the grill on one side, and you flip it once, but then there’s another which says that it’s okay to flip constantly.
“There might be an argument about whether you keep flipping them, and there’s science behind both theories, but there’s no argument on pressing them down, that’s the secret.”
His second tip is one that should stop you messing up those important sausages and the chicken.
“The other main mistake with those meats is that they get overcooked,” he said.
“Investing in a barbecue fork that doubles up as a temperature gauge is great for those meats.
“It’s one of the best investments you can make.”
Chicken is safe to eat at 75 degrees, but some people prefer to cook it more than that, he said.
“That’s fine, but if you cook it to 90 or 100 degrees it will be very dry.”
His final tip to maintain your dignity and cement your place as the go-to chef at family gatherings is to rest the meat before you serve it.
“If you have a really nice steak and cut it straight off the grill, it lets a lot of moisture out.
“If you’ve cooked it for five minutes and left it for five minutes, it stays juicy because the moisture remains in the meat instead of running out onto your plate.
“You can cook meat perfectly but if you cut it too soon you end up with juice running everywhere.”
Defrosting meat fully before cooking was also a good idea, he said.
“Red meat, in particularly steaks, are important to have fully defrosted.
“I always take my steaks out at home at least 20 minutes before I’m going to cook them.”
Follow those tips and you should be fine with the barbecue tongs in your hands.
Although most New Zealanders enjoy a good summer barbecue, the weather doesn’t always play its part.
The best of summer may not have arrived in Wairarapa yet, but Scotty’s Meats in Martinborough have still been enjoying a successful period.
An employee said the lack of summer-like weather had not had too much of an impact on their business.
“We’re in a holiday town so regardless of bad weather or good weather people still come here and go around the vines and vineyards, and they always go back and have good meat.
“It doesn’t affect us too much because we’re usually busier in times when other butchers aren’t.”
There has been a transition of people moving towards charcoal cookers as opposed to gas, but they were prepared for that, he said.
“We’ve just gone with the flow and catered for that and produced larger barbecue items.
“We do a really nice seasoned half butterfly leg and larger scotch on the bone.
“Behind that we also give a bit more cooking information to people.
Being a butcher requires being able to cook it well and also being able to tell your customers how to cook it well, he said.
Jeremy Sharp of Stihl Shop in Masterton said Weber products had proved extremely popular this summer.
“This is the third season we’ve had Weber, and this would be our biggest season so far.
“Weber has an avid following, so it’s almost like the more we sell, the more people see the products and then we end up selling even more.”
An average summer to date was never going to have too much of an influence, he said.
“The summer has been a bit average but Kiwis just love to barbecue.”
Stihl sell the Weber Q gas model as well as charcoal and smoker options, and the charcoal option was becoming a popular choice.
“It’s a very popular barbecue due to the fact that you can have a few cold ones on a Saturday or Sunday and have a roast chugging away for three or four hours,” he said.
When the best of summer does arrive, you should be well prepared to enjoy a successful Kiwi barbecue.