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The perfect side of Beef – a feeding for 12

How to entertain a dozen people with a perfect BBQ Beef

by Gordon

One of the things that I absolutely love doing is having a bunch of people round for a relaxed meal and good red wine. For many, the idea of cooking for a dozen people is pretty intimidating, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a piece of cake. All you have to do is break it into little bite size chunks and then it’s really not too OTT.

 Apologies up front for all of the vegos, vegans and pescatarians who may not be able to partake…I will make it up to you with a whole fish dish for the pescos, and a vego feast for the vegos…Vegans, well….. I got nothing.
 First things first, you need a slab of beef 2.5kg-3kg (5-7 pound). I have a real preference for whole scotch fillet.
 Start at least 1.5 days ahead of when you want to eat.
 Now is a good time to list what you’ll need:
2.8 kilograms (about 6 pounds, 3 ounces) scotch fillet
3 onions
2 bunches parsley
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons peppercorns
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
olive oil
handful of good sea salt, and ground pepper
Start off by dressing (removing sinew and some of the fat from) the meat. The idea, isn’t to get all of the fat off completely, but to remove the sinewy muscle layer that sometimes sits right on top of the meat. When cooking, this can cause the meat to fold and bend if not dressed properly.
Finely dice onions, place in a bowl with the diced parsley and Worcestershire sauce. Crush the garlic in a press (yes all of it). Bring in garlic peeling recruits if need be… Take a mortar and pestle and crush your peppercorns, mustard seeds and fennel seeds to a rough powder. Combine everything together and toss and then place an even layer (just less than half) on the bottom of a dish that will fit in the fridge and place meat on top. Cover with the remaining marinade and place in the fridge overnight. Next morning, take out of the fridge and turn the meat and re-cover. Remove from the fridge 1.5-2 hours before cooking to allow to return to room temp.
Get your BBQ absolutely smoking hot. Clean it, make sure it’s had at least 15 -20 minutes getting hot. The times listed below here are guides, as everyone’s BBQ is different. Some have hoods, some don’t, so we’ll work with feel as the measurement.
Take your meat, run your hands over it to remove the majority of the marinade. Then take a handful of salt and rub over all sides of the fillet. Drop it onto the BBQ to sear all the sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Move to a less heated spot and and if you’ve got a hood on the BBQ, pull it down (also turn the burners down to half). When I’ve got the hood down, I’ll generally cook for about 15 minutes and then turn the meat and give it another 15 or so before resting it.
 If you’re working on an open top, turn the heat down on the burners (you don’t want to scorch the meat) and cook slowly for another 10-12 minutes on each side. Check intermittently for how firm the meat is. The way to do this is to prod with your index finger. If the meat still feels very pliant/soft it’s on the very rare side. If it feels very firm it’s well done the whole way through.
  • Quick trick to give you an idea of what I mean by soft and firm, hold your left hand face up and put your thumb to touch the bottom of your little finger, press near the base of the fold in your hand and that’s rare. Medium is half way up, and the top ridge is well done. Please do not go to well done, it just kills the meat and all your lovely prep will be in vain. You want it still a little pink at ‘medium well’ at worst.
 Once the meat is cooked, get some aluminum foil and cover it in two layers on a plate and stand to the side. Leave to rest for at least 10 – 15 minutes (not in a cold place) then carve and serve.
 You can do lots of things on the side, salads, baked potatoes…my personal favourite is BBQ corn. Take your corn, strip and clean it. Place a sheet of aluminium foil on the bench, wedge of butter in the middle. Place corn on top of butter, drizzle with olive oil, grind of cracked pepper and wrap tightly. Drop on the BBQ when the meat is about half way done and turn every couple of minutes, or when flames erupt ( a regular occurrence due to butter and oil seeping out) should be done after 10-12 minutes.
For the leftover marinade, I often throw it in a slow cook beef or lamb dish to save throwing it out.
Let me know how you go and send a photo or two..

About Gordon Eckel

Gordon Eckel, a foodie and (rock) wall climber extraordinaire. He worked in some of Sydney’s top restaurants, but decided that he liked cooking for his friends more, so ran away and joined the circus (aka managing Sydney nightclubs). Six years ago and after a few too many creamy pastas he weighed 105 kg with a ridiculously high cholesterol. He changed his eating ways, wore out a treadmill and dropped 25 kilos in three months. Now he is renown for cooking deceptively healthy food and for proselytizing about the marvels of the great Australian red.

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