Summer is the time to sizzle

It’s that sizzling time of year again, barbecue season. Time for the best steak ever, especially for Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21.

This past winter, I had one of the best barbecue lessons in Buenos Aires (it’s their summer when it’s our winter). I would say the Argentinians are passionate about barbecue. They barbecue on their rooftop terraces, they barbecue on the sidewalks, and they barbecue on construction sites.

One of my fondest memories is of the city road crew setting up for the day’s work. The chief enterprise was organizing the barbecue so that lunch would be ready by 1 p.m.

A heaping bed of coals was carefully assembled with bricks at either end to support the large grill on top. The coals were lit and enthusiastically fanned until they produced a glowing heat. Then an array of chicken, sausage and famous Argentine steaks were laid on top of the grill.

The worker grabbed a large piece of cardboard nearby and neatly placed it over the meat to protect it from the debris of the roadwork. Barbecue Argentine style!

At lunchtime, I had the pleasure of seeing those same workers in their bright yellow uniforms lined up side by side at the edge of the site, crusty bread in hand, filled with the finished barbecue of their choice, happily munching away!

Tips for beef barbecue

Although many Canadians use a gas barbecue rather than coals for grilling, you can still add soaked and flavoured chips for additional flavour.

Virtually all beef cuts can be barbecued but marinades and cooking depends on tenderness. Tender cuts like rib roasts and steaks, T-bone, sirloin, filet, porterhouse, strip loin and ground beef require no marinating and for best results all, with the exception of ground beef for food safety, should be grilled to rare or medium. Ground beef should be cooked until juicy but no longer pink inside.

Medium-tender cuts such as blade, cross rib steak or roast require a marinade and should be grilled to the medium stage. Also, they may be cooked slowly in foil over the grill, then uncovered for the last 30 minutes for browning and flavour.

Less tender cuts such as short-ribs, braising ribs, flank steak, rump roasts, and sirloin tip, require a marinade to increase tenderness. Grill short ribs slowly brushing frequently with barbecue sauce. Grill flank steak to medium-rare.

Make sure your grill is cleaned and oiled before using. Use tongs to turn steaks rather than a fork, to avoid piercing meat and have juices escape. Trim excess fat to avoid smoking and flare-ups.

Use the following grill guide for perfectly cooked beef.

1 inch thick
Rare: 5 to 7 minutes a side
Medium: 7 to 9 minutes a side
Well-done: 9 to 11 minutes a side

1½ inches thick
Rare: 7 to 9 minutes a side
Medium: 9 to 11 minutes a side
Well-done: 15-18 minutes a side

2 inches thick
Rare: 12 to 14 minutes a side
Medium: 15 to 18 minutes a side
Well-done: 25 to 30 minutes a side

Chimichurri sauce

This sauce from Foodland Ontario is typically served with Argentina’s grass-fed beef. It would be an ideal addition to our beef barbecue too.

1 cup (250 mL) parsley leaves
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh tarragon leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) water
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, salt and red pepper flakes
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

In food processor, combine parsley leaves, tarragon, garlic, vinegar, water, salt and red pepper flakes. Process until finely chopped. With motor running add oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Spoon into serving dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with barbecued beef. May be made a day ahead.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~

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