On hot summer nights, you can practically hear the barbies sizzling — and dietitian Brooke Longfield has all the meaty advice to make yours a success!
Call it the hunter-gatherer in us, but nothing satisfies the taste buds quite like a juicy, perfectly cooked steak.
The good news is that barbecuing doesn’t need to be a greasy affair of fatty snags and T-bone slabs. Choose the healthiest meat cuts and you’ll be enjoying fantastic flavour without harming your health.
Think about quantity
Most of us — men in particular — are already raising our steak intake above and beyond what we actually need.
According to Australian Dietary Guidelines, a serve of beef is about 100g. This amount refers to raw meat; a cooked serve is roughly 65g — a piece that size should fit in the palm of your hand — but the steaks in supermarkets can weigh up to 300g! Restaurants also plate up supersize portions — a 250g tenderloin or eye fillet is usually the smallest cut on the menu, and some joints offer whopping 1kg steaks!
Ask your butcher to chop your steaks into 100g portions. They may be surprised by your request, but that’s all you need for a balanced meal.
Keep fat in check
Fat does equal flavour. Prime Wagyu beef, for example, is rich and succulent due to its heavy marbling of fat. But trimming back on fat doesn’t mean sacrificing great taste — lean cuts can be just as delicious. Try eye fillet and rump steaks, both of which offer loads of flavour and are well suited to barbecuing. Lamb tenderloin and lean lamb cutlets are also tasty and, unlike chops, they don’t have the extra fat.
Choose meat that has the least amount of visible fat, including any marbling, or trim it to cut the saturated-fat content. Yes, that means removing the thick strip of white fat that runs along the sides. Also, when you are in the meat aisle, look for the Heart Smart label — it points out trimmed cuts as well as premium mince, which usually has only about 5 per cent fat.
To enhance flavour, marinate your meat before cooking. The marinade’s acidity (which is usually thanks to lemon juice or vinegar) helps break down the tough fibres in lean beef and lamb, tenderising meat in the most effortless way. Try these mouth-watering rubs and marinades:
Blackened spice rub
Combine 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper in a small bowl. Coat meat evenly with spice rub before cooking.
Lime, ginger and five spice marinade
Place 1 chopped small red onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon tamari and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar in a blender or small food processor. Blend mixture until smooth. Place meat in a shallow glass or ceramic dish, cover with marinade and turn to coat. Cover dish and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Coriander, mint and chilli rub
Mix 2 tablespoons chopped coriander, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, 1/4–1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon ground coriander and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl. Coat meat evenly on both sides with rub; leave to absorb for 5 minutes before cooking.
Eating well isn’t just about healthy ingredients — the way you cook is equally important.
Barbecuing is one of the healthiest cooking methods, because high heat and a fast cooking time not only maximise flavour, but also retain nutrients. (Just make sure the fat is able to drain away from the meat.)
It is also vital not to overcook meat, as those charred bits are harmful to your health.
Five hot tips
Keep your barbecue hotplate clean and make sure it heats up before cooking.
Cover cooked meat loosely with foil and let it rest for two to three minutes before serving. (The fibres relax away from the heat, so it will be more tender when you serve it.)
Cook cuts only until they’re medium or medium rare. A meat thermometer can help stop you from overcooking meat, for a perfect result every time.
Trim any charred bits from cooked meat.
Marinate meat before cooking for tender mouthfuls.
Our dietitian’s prime barbecue picks
Sirloin (porterhouse, or New York steak)
Sirloin is lean yet rich in flavour because it’s taken from the area along the spine, where the muscles do less work. Remember to trim the visible white fat.
If you’re looking for a healthy choice that’s also budget-friendly, full-flavoured rump is your best bet. Cook it quickly and not beyond medium rare for the most tender results.
This premium fillet is extremely lean — with little or no fat or connective tissue — yet tender and juicy, which is why it costs that little bit more than other varieties.
Considering it’s an inexpensive cut, blade is underappreciated by barbecue aficionados. A tasty marinade is all you need to transform it in to a tender, succulent crowd-pleaser.
Heart Smart mince
Beef mince is versatile, well priced and has only about 5 per cent fat, making it the ideal choice for healthy burger patties, meatballs and koftas.
Peppercorn Food Company Extra Lean Beef Sausages
Snags can still stay on the menu, just give these tasty gluten-free sausages a go. They’ve got less than 3 per cent saturated fat!
Minimal fat and connective tissue make this trim fillet one of the most tender cuts, and it doesn’t take long to cook. To maintain its tenderness, cook it whole then slice afterwards.
This part of the muscular lamb leg is very lean, but it tends to toughen when overdone. For the best result, cook these tasty steaks for just two to three minutes on each side.
This trimmed cutlet is 65 per cent lower in fat than a traditional rib cutlet. Same taste, just better for you — and worth every cent for special occasions!