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The Art of the Great Kiwi ‘Barbie’

by Michelle Villamin | Jan 04, 2017

We’re not talking about the Barbie doll here, but instead one of our favourite casual dining pastimes that epitomises summer in New Zealand – the barbecue or BBQ.

Kiwis love this hassle-free way to cook outdoors. Even more so when we're out on campervan NZ trips. We’re sharing our tips and favourite recipes that have been passed down and refined through generations of cooking over charcoal fires and gas grills.

Sausages getting grilled on a BBQ
© Hellers

Traditionally the Kiwi barbie centres around bangers (sausages) and burgers, served with esteemed Kiwi favourite Wattie’s Tomato Sauce and bread. Throw in a seasonal summer salad alongside grilled meat or seafood plus a pot of new potatoes and you have a standard Kiwi barbie – and a fresh, healthy and tasty way to nourish you while on your motorhome holiday.

For those starting out, be sure to school up on these tricks for the perfect Kiwi barbie:

  • Preheat the BBQ grill well before attempting to cook
  • Check the heat by counting how long you can hold your hand just over the grill (be careful of the heat when you do this): 10+ seconds for low heat, six to eight seconds for medium heat, two to four seconds for high heat
  • Meat should be at room temperature before cooking
  • Trim extra fat from meat to cut down on flare-ups and avoid sugary sauces
  • Pre-cook chicken before finishing on the grill
  • Turn steak and chops once, but sausages need constant rotation.

A cold beer is the traditional liquid accompaniment to a Kiwi barbie, but New Zealand wines – like a lightly chilled Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or an Otago Pinot Noir – won’t go wrong either.

Once you have perfected cooking meat alfresco you can add some flair to your BBQ repertoire with our recipes below.

It all begins with a roll of tinfoil (also known as aluminium foil) to make a food parcel. It’s like a Westernised version of the hāngi, a Māori tradition of cooking food in underground pits, where the ingredients are cooked together by being wrapped in a tinfoil parcel and placed on the BBQ. This technique allows the natural juices to steam through the entire ensemble, and it’s incredibly fuss-free as the food practically cooks itself.

Wrapping everything up in one parcel reduces the need to clean dishes and delivers a big flavour punch from each ingredient used. Below we have three combinations to satisfy your taste buds. All feature much-loved New Zealand ingredients easy to come by at the fruit and vegetable stalls you’ll find dotted along the road during summer.

Two men having a BBQ next to their Wilderness motorhome in NZ

Ingredients
(Quantities dependent on numbers)

Vegetables:

Fresh sweet corn
Kumara (sweet potato)
Red capsicum (bell pepper)
Courgette (zucchini)
White onion
Garlic

Meat:
Pre-cooked sausages (NZ brand Hellers is a high quality and inexpensive brand available at your nearest Countdown store)

Condiments:
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried mixed herbs
Olive oil
New Zealand butter
Grated cheese
Smoked paprika

Things you’ll need
1. BBQ
 grill
2. Tinfoil (aluminium foil)
3. Knife and tongs

Preparation

Parcel 1: Summer Veggie Delight

Ingredients: Sweet corn, sliced courgettes, grated cheese, smoked paprika and
 salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cut sweet corn into manageable pieces, about three fingers in width
2. Cut the top and bottom ends off the courgettes and slice medium-width pieces (around 0.5mm thickness)
3. Arrange corn and courgettes on tinfoil sheet with about a quarter of a teaspoon of butter per mini corn cob. Add a pinch of salt and pepper

4. Lay out a double layer of tinfoil, large enough to fit ingredients with space on all sides
5. Fold tinfoil to create a parcel. 
Make sure there is a reasonable space between the ingredients and where the foil joins together. Roll and pinch the long sides of the foil to seal any gaps where steam may be able to escape
6. Place on BBQ on medium heat and cook with the grill covered for 15 - 20 minutes
7. Five minutes before removing from the BBQ, open the parcel and sprinkle smoked paprika and cheese on top, close parcel again and cook for a further five minutes to melt cheese.

Parcel 2: The Karma Kiwi

Ingredients: Diced kumara, diced potato, chopped white onion, chopped garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cut kumara and potato into bite size cubes
2. Chop onion and garlic roughly
3. Evenly distribute kumara, potato, onion and garlic over double-layered tinfoil sheet and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. Mix so that every piece has a light coating of oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper

4. Fold tinfoil to create a parcel. Make sure there is a reasonable gap between the ingredients and where the foil joins together. Roll and pinch the long sides of the foil to seal any gaps
5. Place on BBQ set on medium heat and cook with the grill covered for 20 minutes, turning ingredients with 
tongs at ten minutes.

Parcel 3: Meat Lovers

Ingredients: Sausages, red capsicum, chopped
 white onion, diced garlic, olive oil
 and dried mixed herbs.

1. Slice sausages into bite size pieces
2. Roughly chop capsicum and onion
3. Dice garlic
4. Evenly distribute ingredients onto double-layered tinfoil sheet and lightly drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with dried mixed herbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Fold tinfoil to create a parcel. Make sure there is a reasonable gap between the ingredients and where the foil joins together. Roll and pinch the long sides of the foil to seal any gaps

6. Place on BBQ set on medium heat and cook with the grill covered for 15 - 20 minutes.

There you have it – tinfoil (or aluminium foil) barbecuing at its finest. Open the parcels on a table so your diners can help themselves with tongs. No mess, no rush, delicious food straight from your motorhome.

BBQs are commonly available at campsites across New Zealand for communal use, as well as many public parks and beaches. We also have portable gas BBQs for hire as part of your Wilderness motorhome adventure, contact us to find out more.

  • Travelling in New Zealand
  • NZ Travel Tips
  • Motorhome Rental Tips
  • Cooking in a Motorhome

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