Three simple barbecues
Lesson 2 - Steaks
Most people enjoy a steak. It is quite simple to cook and it is worth learning how easy it is to barbecue. Maybe you want to be able to cook it for yourself or surprise someone else. Pick some nice steak, rump or sirloin, about 15mm or 1/2" thick. These will be great grilled over a hot heat.
Light some charcoal in a starter chimney the amount will be determined by how much you are going to cook. To find out more about this there is a guide to lighting your barbecue. If you are going to cook some steak for upto four people 1/2 a chimney of lumpwood or a 1/3 of briquettes will be enough.Your charcoal is ready when there is a light grey covering of ash over all of the charcoal.
After cleaning the barbecue arrange the charcoal retainers to hold your charcoal in the centre of the barbecue. You can read more about the grilling technique. This will help you understand how you will be cooking your food. In this kettle grill the charcoal retainers are approximately 1/3 from the sides to give three equal areas. If you don't have charcoal retainers you will place the hot charcoal in the centre of the barbecue using a metal poker to drag any hot charcoal that breaks loose.
If you are not using a starter chimney place three pieces of firelighter on the charcoal grate. Pile some charcoal over the firelighters evenly. By placing the firelighters on the charcoal grate you will give yourself room to get the firelighters lit and the charcoal will soon get going. It is difficult to advise the amount of charcoal to use as everyone will have different ways to measure. There are some pictures to help visualise it below. If you feel you want to use more do so, you will learn how much you need depending on what you are cooking. Let the firelighters burn through and the charcoal will take. Initially it may be smoky and don't be tempted to do anything until the charcoal has a grey ash covering all over.
With the charcoal hot and ready to cook place the cooking grill on the barbecue. After a minute any residuals from previous barbecues will begin to burn. Use a wire brush to clean the grill as necessary. Let the grill get hot, 5-10 minutes will be enough. This will help to make those criss cross lines. If you are using a gas barbecue turn the burners to maximum and let the grill get hot.
For medium steaks place your steaks directly over the hot charcoal, season the steaks as you like but avoid adding salt until after they are cooked as this will draw the moisture from the steak. Place the thickest steak on first as this will take a little longer to cook than a a thinner steak to them same stage of doneness. After a minute or two turn your steak, you shouldn't see any juices coming from your steak yet. Cook for a further couple of minutes and turn again. If you want the criss cross lines make sure to look which way the marks are and place the steak accordingly. Cook the steak for a further minute. You will probably see some juices just coming through the steak. Turn one more time so that both sides have had two turns at facing the heat. After a further minute you should see some evidence of the steaks juices coming through. Rest for a couple more minutes and enjoy.
If you like your steak more or less done experiment with 30 seconds more or less. For a very blue steak a couple of minutes each side is going to be enough. Timing will vary according to the thickness of your steak. Use the juices coming from your steak to help give you an idea of when to turn. By turning the steaks twice (you could do it more frequently if you wish but the marks will not work too well) keeps the steak moise as the juices are retained within the meat.
Good job, that steak is going to taste really good.