Apparently the warm nights, fortnightly storms, and infestation of flies that typifies our Australian summer are behind us… but we digress. If anything, it seems more like summer now than it did in January!
Autumn attempts to caress us with a cool breeze every couple of days, but summer retaliates, sending hair-defying humidity and more rain than we have seen all year. So if you’ve still got your fans out and air-conditioner on, why would you even consider putting your beloved barbecue away now?
Although autumn will eventually come, for now, this is the prime time to cook some prime ribs or steaks on your barbecue. Often we romanticise barbecuing in the summertime, but when push comes to shove, standing over a fire in forty-degree heat while covered in insect-repellent isn’t all it is chalked up to be. So, as the nights grow milder, keep your trusty tongs at the ready to cook up your autumn feasts.
Prepping your BBQ for its second season
Firstly, if you’ve already put your barbecue away, drag that beautiful piece of outdoor cookery back onto your deck and take off its protective cover. There, doesn’t that look a million times better than being in your shed?
In order to make the most of its second season, it is best to clean and re-season your grill. Get out your steel wool and scrub off the old remnants of summer barbecues past from the grates, and be sure to use a mild soap to clean the flat grill side. Once you’ve removed the bulk of the grease, season the surfaces with a thin layer of oil and then remove the excess with a paper towel.
Grilling up an autumnal storm
Now that everything is prepped, the fun begins! Summer grilling is all about sausages, burgers, steaks, salads, and beers, so mix it up. Instead of pairing your food with a crisp beer or apple cider, opt for a red wine, or if the climate allows, make up some mulled spiced wine. But the main difference between summer and autumn barbecues are the endless sides and autumnal vegetable dishes you can dish up.
Just like the warm colour of deciduous trees in autumn, opt for vegetables that are orange and red. Whether it’s pumpkin, sweet potatoes, eggplant, capsicum, squash, or carrots, there are dozens of dishes you can make to turn these vegetables into autumn salads or as a side to your main course. Why not add some barbecue-roasted pumpkin into a spinach and pine nut salad? Or create a twist on your sweet potato wedges with a pinch of allspice, some orange juice, and molasses.
And, because the summer heat is slowly passing, you can add more heat to the food you cook up. Peri- peri chicken, or spiced lamb racks are not only more welcoming in the cooler months, but they’ll warm you up, too. Or just add an autumnal twist to your classics, like sweetening up pork ribs with some homemade barbecue sauce.
To complete your feast, think about using your grill to cook up the perfect autumn dessert. Whether it be a chocolate brownie cake, or a grilled apple galette, your barbecue will completely eradicate any need for your indoor stove or oven.
Plus, it keeps you outdoors where all the action is. Games like backyard cricket and soccer are even easier to play in autumn out of the scorching summer sun, so by cooking everything on your trusty grill, you’ll still be able to keep score.
Don’t forget to clean up
Just as you would when you cook inside, make sure to clean up when you’ve finished using your grill. Not only will it help your grill last longer and work at its fullest potential, it also saves you from having to do excessive cleaning before you reuse it the next time. And who wants to spend half an hour cleaning when there is food to be made?
After you’ve scrubbed off all of the excess grease, make sure to complete a list of basic checks to maintaining your barbecue:
Check how your drip trays are faring. Do you need to replace the aluminum lining? Do your drip trays require a clean? Does it need fresh fat absorber in it?
Check your gas levels and safety. If you have a gas barbecue, make sure to check how much gas you have left in the bottle and that there isn’t an issue with any of the tubing connecting it to the barbecue. To gauge how much gas is left for next time, simply pour hot water along the side of your gas bottle; you should be able to tell a difference in temperature from where the gas starts. If you think your bottle is nearly empty, be sure to stocked up next time you get petrol.
Cover it with its protective cover so that it isn’t affected by dust or the weather, so you can be confident that the barbecue you cleaned is still clean when you need it next.
Get creative with new flavour combinations, new autumn-inspired side dishes, and using your barbecue for making desserts. But, just as we do in summer, be sure to invite a friend or two over to show off your barbecue in all of its glory, because autumn is technically a second summer anyway.