*Any typos in this article are attributed to hunger-induced drool.
There are many ways in which Aussies like to spend spring weekends, but with limited options out out there for the near future at least, many will spend their days entertaining on the picnic rug. BBQing and grilling therefore feels rather fitting given many be marking milestone birthdays and special occasions in the outdoors.
Grilling is a great way to play with Aussie flavours and get everyone around the table rug connecting over good food. Grilling especially means you can step away and speak to your guests, leaving the BBQ to do its trusted thing.
Here, Sarah Glover, ambassador for Traeger Grills Australia and author of WILD: Adventure Cookbook, shares her top x8 tips for grilling and entertaining the al fresco way, as well as a ripper braised beef pie recipe.
Remember to pre-heat the grill: Always remember to pre-heat the grill to ensure you’re throwing the food on at a hot temp and it doesn’t just sit there and soak. Secondly, make sure you’re sticking to top quality meats. Let the meat come to room temperature before grilling, and also let it rest before serving for maximum flavour. For most Traeger products, your grill will need between 4 and 5 minutes to preheat.
Pre-prepare your menu! It will save you the stress of feeling overwhelmed on the day: Think about how much time you have and choose dishes you feel most comfortable serving. Anything that can be pre-prepared ahead of time is wonderful, taking away a level of stress and leaving you with more time to mingle with your guests. The more you can prepare, the more relaxed you will feel.
If your hosting a BBQ picnic near your place, pre-buy your ingredients the night before so you know what you’re cooking: No one wants to subject themselves to that last-minute rush, not to mention that supermarket hours may differ thanks to COVID restrictions. Much like pre-preparing the meals, you want to make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go, so I suggest shopping the day prior and writing a very thorough list.
Make sure your grill is cleaned, full of pellets and ready to be turned on as soon as you get home: What some of you may not know, if you’re new to the gilling world, is that grease and oil goes bad over time. That built up residue left on the grill goes rancid in hot weather especially, meaning next time you slap some bacon on there it will not taste good. If your BBQ got a workout over the summer just gone, I recommend taking some time prior to clean down the grill and plates, and re-grease them for a fresh feed . When looking for pellets, Traeger’s pure wood pellets grant the perfect burn for the optimal wood fired flavour.
Buy extra food, and invite some to a second-shift picnic. The more the merrier (I like to say): You can never have too much food…think of the leftovers (we all know it’s just as tasty the next day). I think this is a helpful tip too, in case you run into neighbours, family friends, or find out everyone is bringing their partner, just prior to the BBQ. Don’t be excessive by any means, however a big breakfast spread is the best kind.
Get others involved, ask them to bring something to put on the grill or some bread etc. One way to take a little of the burden off your plate (literally and figuratively), is to ask everyone to bring or contribute something to the BBQ. I often find this is a wonderful way to not only have a super varied offering, but a great conversation starter. Traditions, family recipes, new favourite foods are all revealed, leaving no room for boredom and some very intrigued taste buds.
Don’t forget the beverages! Sometimes even I’ve made the mistake of getting too carried away with the foodie side of things and forgetting that drinks are important too. Dependent on the time of day of course, you may want wine, beer, water, or juice for the little ones. If you like cutting corners and it’s a breakfast BBQ you too are hosting, I often ask for everyone’s coffee order ahead of time and have someone run down to the local cafe to get some barista quality coffee that way – genius!
Have FUN, set the table and have community around you: Last but certainly not least, have fun with it! While sometimes the pressure can get to you, don’t forget why you put your hand up to host in the first place – because you love providing for your friends and family! Set the table, curate a playlist, make it an occasion to really spend some quality time with loved ones.
1.25kg beef chuck, diced and cut into 3cm cubes sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
3 tbsp plain flour
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2½ tbsp tomato paste
200ml red wine
200ml veal or chicken stock
1-2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water
Preheat your Traeger Grill to 160°C.
Season the beef with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tbsp flour until evenly coated.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof heavy-based pan over a high heat.
Add beef in batches and cook for about five minutes per batch, until well browned, then remove. Add more oil if the pan dries out.
Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook over low heat for about five minutes, until softened.
Add the tomato paste and 1 tbsp flour and cook out for a minute or so. Add the red wine and stock, and stir until the mixture boils.
Return the beef to the pan, cover the pan with foil, place in your Traeger Grill and cook for two hours, or until tender, then stir through the peas and mint. Allow to cool, then chill in the fridge until cold (warm filling will ruin the pastry).
When the beef filling is ready, heat your Treager Grill to 180°C
Divide the pie filling among four 300ml ramekins or pie dishes. Top each with a piece of pastry large enough to hang over the edge of each dish (it is important to remove the pastry from the freezer only 5-10 minutes before you need it, so it thaws but stays chilled).
Press the pastry down firmly around the edges of the dishes and brush evenly with the egg yolk. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, until puffed and golden