A Labor Day weekend barbecue is the proper way to say goodbye to a sweet, sultry summer. But before you go grab the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers for your Labor Day spread, consider switching up your routine with some advice from the Aussies, who religiously barbecue in a country where summer never ends.
Australians really know how to chill and grill better than anyone. In a place where the beach is never far away and the weather is "beautiful one day, perfect the next," getting together around a barbecue isn't a seasonal activity, it's a way of life. Most Australian backyards are equipped with a grill, and they've mastered a wide selection of techniques.
Here are some pro tips for bringing some of that laid-back sun-and-surf lifestyle to your Labor Day barbecue to ease your end-of-summer blues.
Cook It Quick
Beef is great, but Australians are all about sausage and lamb. The classic Aussie move is a grilled sausage slapped between two pieces of white bread with "tomato sauce" (Australian for ketchup).
If you're not a sausage fan, try lamb in cutlet, chops or leg cuts. If you want to go full-on Aussie, try getting your hands on some kangaroo or emu meat. These two iconic Down Under animals are popular for barbecue meats, according to the Guardian, which recommends fillets and tenderloin cuts seasoned lightly and cooked quickly on the grill.
The main difference between the meat you'll find at an American barbecue and an Australian one is really more in the preparation than the meat itself. Yasmin Sabir, a Senior Editor at Food Network Magazine and a native Australian, says that Aussie barbecue is all about speed.
"In Australia, the term barbecue refers exclusively to grilling," Sabir said in an interview. "While in the U.S., you can go to someone's house for a barbecue, there is also a long history and tradition behind American slow-cooked barbecue. Anything cooked at an Australian barbecue is pretty fast — nothing slow-cooked or smoked."
Alcohol Is the Best Marinade
In Aussie barbecues, there aren't too many fancy or complicated marinades required for your meat. A simple barbecue sauce can be achieved by just adding "garlic, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil to lamb chops" says Sabir.
Basting what you have on the grill with beer or wine is another common Aussie move. You already have it in your hand, why not sprinkle a little on top?
Grill Your Fruit
Pineapple is a must-have at any Australian barbecue. Sabir recommends grilling pineapple rings right along with whatever meat you're cooking. If you don't want to cut an entire prickly fruit, grab the rings that come in a can and pop them on the grill. Homemade by You suggests adding mint sugar to the grilled pineapple for an extra kick of flavor.
Don't Forget the Pavlova
Pavlova, a baked meringue treat topped with fruit, is considered Australia's national dessert, Sabir said. After gorging on heavy meats, it's sweet and light and pairs well with a dessert wine like Moscato. A berry combo — strawberries, blueberries and blackberries — is a nice option, but throw some kiwi on there to make it a bit more Down Under.
The most essential step in truly embracing the Australian barbecue experience is to bring something to the party. If you're not the host, don't show up without a contribution. Sausage, pavlova, pineapple, beer or a bottle of wine — whatever you want to bring, barbecues are B.Y.O... anything! So don't show up empty-handed.