When it comes to great Australian traditions, the Australia Day barbie is up there with ANZAC biscuits and Boxing Day tests.
Often it’s a bunch of friends gathering around the hooded flat-plate barbecue, sizzling snags, searing steaks, flipping chops and hoping that the chicken is cooked all the way through.
But for many aficionados of outdoor living, there’s a new style of cooking that takes meat into a new dimension of flavour and texture.
The mantra of low and low cooking is all the buzz at the moment and the success of stores like the Smoking Brothers in Orange has inspired many others to experiment in what is new to many BBQers.
For Forest Reefs resident Tim Steell, his obsession with smoking meats has grown from roasting a few joints of meat on his Weber kettle, to designing and building his own movable offset reverse smoker.
“It’s cost me about $500 but I had a lot of RHS and grid mesh and then it was just a bit of plate,” he said.
As the smoker is of his own design, Tim is continuously tinkering with it.
“I need to get a new grid in the firebox and put a baffle in as well to help control the temperature,” he said. “There is a bit of trial and error involved at the start.”
Mounted on a trailer, the big black box is all ready to go for catering jobs, and what is a large part of the smoking obsession, competitive cooking.
“I’ve been doing some work with Smoking Brothers and they’ve given me a few pointers, but I’ve already had a few large cooks in it and catered for my partner Emily’s family Christmas lunch,” he said.
Fans of shows like BBQ Pitmasters on Netflix would be aware that cooking with this method though is not for the impatient or impetuous, and it’s often an overnight affair.
“I cooked 20 kilos of meat for Emily’s family and I started at 11pm on the night before, cooked it all night so that everything was ready and staggered it all out so that by midday it was all ready to go,” he said.
Strongly rooted in the deep south of America, offset smoking is now taking on a special Australian flavour, and Tim is a big fan of it.
“I originally just used hickory and those timbers when I started, but now all I use is redgum and ironbark as I really like the flavour it puts through the meats, and it’s a lot cheaper and easier to come by,” he said.
Whereas the Americans tend to stick to beef, pork and chicken, it’s lamb that is rapidly becoming popular amongst Australian smoking devotees.
“I have my own lambs here and they’re tremendous in the smoker and I plan on rolling one with garlic and herbs inside it,” he enthused.