Now the weather is warming up, it's time to dust off the barbecue. Cooking on the barbecue is usually my husband’s domain, and my comments on how to cook with it are not always appreciated. It has taken me many, many summers of subtly recommending ideas to achieve the perfect steak. Now the BBQ season is upon us, I thought I would share my tips with you.

  1. Ideally allow the steaks to come to room temperature before cooking - this helps the steak cook more evenly. But if you don’t have the time, don’t worry.
  1. Rub the steak with oil, salt and pepper. Only salt the meat just as you are about to put the steak on the barbecue. If you salt the meat too early, it will draw the moisture out and make it dry.
  1. Contrary to popular belief, turn the steak often, probably every minute or so. Your steak will cook faster and more evenly by turning it frequently. Ideally start on the flat hotplate and then finish off on the grill for the last minute or two to get a nice crust.
  1. Now the big question – how long do you cook it for? It all depends on the thickness of the steak.
Thickness Medium–rare Medium Well done
2½ cm 6–7 minutes 8–9 minutes 10–12 minutes
3½ cm 8–9 minutes 10–11 minutes 12–14 minutes
4½ cm 10–12 minutes 14–16 minutes 18–20 minutes

These are total cooking times, not for each side, and are based on our gas barbecue. Times may vary slightly depending on the type of grill you have and whether you use wood, charcoal or gas.

If you are using a rib eye on the bone or a T-bone, for example, cook for 1-2 minutes longer than the times suggested above.

  1. Finally rest and relax – both you and the steak. When the steak is cooked, remove from the heat, cover loosely and rest for 5 minutes.

Barbecue Steak with Caramelised Onions or Mushroom Sauce

4 steaks (choose your favourite cut)

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Mushroom sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ red onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4–6 field or Portobello mushrooms, sliced

½ cup red wine

1 cup beef stock

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

freshly ground pepper, to taste

Caramelised onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

2½ red onions, thickly sliced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Allow steaks to come to room temperature. Heat barbecue (or griddle pan) until very hot.

Rub the steak with oil, salt and pepper. Place the steak on the hot barbecue (or griddle pan) and turn the steak often, probably every minute or so. Ideally start on the flat hotplate and then finish off on the grill for the last minute or two. When the steak is cooked remove, cover and rest for 10 minutes.

To make the mushroom sauce, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cooking until soft, then garlic and mushrooms, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add wine, reduce (2–3 minutes) then add stock and cook for a further 5–10 minutes. In a cup, mix cornflour with water and add to the pan, stirring constantly. Finally add the balsamic and pepper, cook for 1–2 minutes, then simmer on very low until steaks are ready to serve.

For the caramelised onion, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook onions for 8 minutes stirring occasionally. They should not brown but just soften. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and stir for 2 minutes.

Serve with a Tomato Salad and Beetroot Salad (Summer TABLE pages 99 and 109).

And here’s an idea for later in the week. Cook an extra couple of steaks and be ready to whip up a Thai Beef Salad in less than 10 minutes.
Summer Table Courtesy of Summer TABLE – available from Sussan, Dymocks, Collins Bookstores, Mozi, independent bookstores across Australia and online at>

Director at |

After years working as a Company Director in the Finance industry, starting a family and moving half way around the world, Jodie Blight discovered her passion – creating healthy, easy and delicious family meals. “A fist pump from the kids is as good as a Michelin star in my books.”
Living in a small village in The Netherlands, with no family support, limited shopping hours and no takeaway food shops, Jodie was forced to creatively plan and prepare her meals. And so began her new love of food. Back in her native Melbourne, Jodie was encouraged to take her growing pile of recipes and create Summer TABLE, fulfilling her ambition to share her love of food and address the dilemma we are all familiar with ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’