Australia Day BBQ Recipes
A BBQ at home, with mates and an esky full of ice. It's about as Australia Day as you can get. Right? We think so too!
So, we turned to our trusted and passionate foodie, Rebecca from local boutique catering biz Black Hen Kitchen to help us create a delicious, fresh, fuss-free Australia Day BBQ menu.
And here you have it... a little taste of the delicious memories of Australia Day feasts from Rebecca's childhood... How lucky are we?!
When I think of summer several things come to mind. Lazy afternoons laying in the shade of a jacaranda, figs plucked fresh from the tree and grilled souvlakia eaten straight off the barbeque, dancing around the smoke from oil hitting hot coals.
As does grilled octopus, prepared by my grandmother and barbequed by my grandfather. A well-loved staple of Greek cooking, it can be found hanging to dry in the sun outside of many seaside tavernas in Greece. In Australia octopus seems to have an undeserving reputation as being difficult to cook and strange to eat. I’d like to change your mind.
- 1 kg baby octopus
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ doz peppercorns
- Lemon to serve
- Greek oregano to serve
- Olive oil to serve
You can get a head start on the grilled octopus a day in advance, otherwise allow yourself a few hours for prep. If you’re unsure of how to clean octopus, ask your fishmonger to do it for you. Octopus needs to be tenderized before cooking, however most store bought octopus already come tenderized in one way or another, so there’s no need to worry about that. If you do want to do it yourself, grab a rolling pin and give them a good whack for ten odd minutes, till they begin to foam up.
It’s up to you whether you skin your octopus and a contentious matter in my household. My grandmother swears by removing it, I prefer to keep it on. For this recipe, you can do either.
Place a large pot over high heat and when hot, add your baby octopus. There’s no need to add any water, after 5 – 7 minutes, the octopus should have released its juice. Once it has, lower the heat to a medium low, add your peppercorns, bay leaves, red wine vinegar and let it braise in the liquid for 35 - 40 minutes. Be sure to check the tenderness of the octopus after 30 minutes as no two octopi are the same. You want it tender, not mushed.
Once tender, let the octopus cool in its liquid and then drain. Now is where you can strip the skin, if you’d prefer. The octopus can be left in the fridge overnight or is ready to go on the BBQ immediately.
In my family, we have always used a charcoal barbeque to give our meat that smoky, charcoal flavour but this works on gas also. Prepare your barbeque and when the grill is at very hot, add your octopus. You can cut it into pieces or grill whole. If you are grilling whole, make sure to butterfly each baby octopus, so that they don’t curl into themselves over the heat.
The octopus need only be on the grill as long as it takes for them to get colour and char, so make sure to keep an eye on it. You don’t want to overcook them and end up with rubbery, chewy and largely inedible cephalopods.
Pile your grilled octopus onto a plate, drizzle with a good quality olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon and garnish with dried oregano.
Watermelon & Feta Salad
- ½ large seedless watermelon
- 200g Greek feta
- Mint leaves to garnish
- Pomegranate seeds (optional)
This is a really simple, refreshing summer salad that comes together in under ten minutes and works really well as part of a spread, or as we’ve had it, with grilled octopus.
Chop your watermelon into large but bite size pieces, crumble chunks of feta over it and garnish with mint leaves. If you’ve decided to include the pomegranate, cut it in half horizontally and using a rolling pin, give the back of it a few firm whacks to loosen the seeds. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and any juice over the salad and serve immediately.
Grilled Stone Fruit Pavlova
- 4 egg whites
- 300gm caster sugar
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 200gm mascarpone
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 apricots, halved
- 2 nectarines, halved
You can prepare the pavlova shell up to 3 days in advance for this, storing it in an airtight container. I have to thank Yotam Ottolenghi for the shell, heating up the sugar before adding it to the egg whites gives you a lusciously thick meringue that sets well and doesn’t drop in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees and whilst you’re waiting, line two baking trays. Place the sugar in one baking tray, leaving the other for the meringue. Set aside and separate the yolks from whites, placing the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once at temp, put your tray of sugar in the oven for approximately 7 minutes, until the sugar is hot. Be careful not to go too far and begin to melt your sugar.
When the sugar is hot, remove from the oven, lower the temperature to 120 degrees and immediately turn your mixer on to medium high, whipping the egg whites until they begin to foam. Once they have foamed, add a tablespoon of the hot sugar at a time and continue to beat the meringue until it’s cool. Add the rosewater, beating for two more minutes or until the meringue has formed hard peaks and is sticking to the whisk. Spoon the meringue onto your lined baking tray and place it back in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours. When the meringue is done, leave it to cool in the oven with the door cracked ajar.
In the meantime, place your halved stone fruit on a hot grill, grilling on both sides till they are blistered and the fruit has begun to collapse into itself. Remove from the barbeque and leave to cool in a bowl. Combine the mascarpone, heavy cream and a tablespoon of icing sugar in a medium size bowl and whisk to medium peaks, set aside in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the pavlova.
When you’re ready to serve, spoon the mascarpone cream on top of the pavlova shell and place the cooled fruit and their syrup on top of the cream. Serve immediately.
We're so grateful to Rebecca for sharing her delicious recipes with us. Black Hen Kitchen offers boutique catering and bespoke desserts for small gatherings, weekends away and celebrations. Using seasonal produce and making everything from scratch, they aim to provide you with an intimate and home cooked culinary experience. If you would like to chat to Rebecca about all-things-food and learn more about the catering services Black Hen Kitchen offers across the Highlands; you can get in touch via their website or via email.
To sample a little taste of their DELICIOUS food, head to the Exeter Village Markets on the first Saturday of the month and the Bowral Public School Markets on the second of every month where you'll find their stand of yummy treats.
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