1st – 3rd March 2013
South Beach Reserve
St Kilda Beach
St Kilda VIC 3182
Disclaimer: Libby attended the BBQ Masterclass as a guest of the Redheads Gourmet BBQ Festival and GRAM magazine.
I’m not usually one to fork out what sounds like an astronomical amount of money for a BBQ master class (because I don’t own a BBQ at home for one thing). But when Danielle from GRAM magazine emailed me to offer me a ticket to the $200 per head BBQ master class on the first weekend of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, I knew I couldn’t say no.
The dude running Sunday morning’s program called ‘Playing with Fire’ was Chris Girvin-Brown, the director of Urban Griller BBQ School. He was a booming figure from Perth who presented a very informative class with splashes of humour in between. The main gist of the class was to cook your meats according to temperature (hence why a meat thermometer is important!), but we did learn a lot of other stuff. Rather than provide you all with a detailed rundown of what happened in those two hours (and give away all of his secrets, nosiree!), I’m going to present to you the top 13 things I learnt in BBQ school.
1. You can now buy pink Traegers (wood pellet grills)! Okay, so this will probably be the last thing I will see at my red blooded tradie friend Tim’s house (well that, and a girl).
3. It’s amazing what brine does to meat We prepared these chicken wings three ways: one batch with no brine, one batch with brine and one batch with brine and garlic. The two batches that were soaked in brine overnight produced wings that had amazingly plump and tender textures, while the one that went without was extremely dry. It also didn’t taste as nice.
6. Using heaps of sugar in your marinade is normally a no-no (sugar burns, guys) but soaking your pork loin in apple juice (and rinsing the juice off for a couple of seconds before cooking) will result in pork that’s full of flavour.
Mmmm pork loin. Yes, the inside is still pink but it’s okay to eat (Chris says so and I’m still alive so…)
7. However, if all that pink is freaking you out, you only need to rest it for five minutes before the colour becomes more even.
8. Sea salt and cracked pepper really goes a long way.
9. Guys who run BBQ schools tend to not like vegetarians. If your mate brings his or her vegetarian partner to your BBQ, trip him or her out by making a mushroom potato (use a knife and an apple corer).
10. Pork butts are more expensive (and harder to find) than lamb shoulders. Stuff the American pulled pork trend that’s ‘in’ at the moment and be all Sam Kekovich by making pulled lamb instead. All you need to do is to chuck it in the Traeger for 12 hours and you’re done.
Hell, it still tastes good when it’s cold.
11. Chris says that the guys at Hog’s Breath chuck a big piece of meat into a slow cooker to let it ‘cook’ for 18 hours. When someone orders a steak, all the cook needs to do is chop away whatever cut the customer requires…
Chris says that it’s an effective and efficient way to bring the steaks out to customers in no time but it often makes the steaks taste horrible. Doing the same thing on a Traeger, however, will give it more flavour.
That’s the difference between a roast (beef that’s just been taken out of a Traeger) and a steak.
12. You can also cook curries in a Traeger (just letting you know that I’m not endorsing Traegers or even Chris’ BBQ cooking school). All we (well, Thanh and Agnes) did was cut a coconut in half, take the water out, and put chicken pieces and Passage to India’s korma curry mix in it. The results were divine.
We ate them until they all disappeared.
The class went for two hours and although Chris said that there was still a lot of things he wanted to cover, I went away knowing more about barbecuing techniques that I ever did. I can’t wait to show off my new skillz the next time one of my friends holds a BBQ. The class may have ended at 11am but the BBQ festival was in full swing so we had the rest of the day to walk around and listen to blues music, sip on some cider and enjoy some briskets under the sun. Unfortunately, I had to dash off to another event in the city so I guess I’ll have to come back again for another Gourmet BBQ Festival next year.