Video: The Backyard Cook’s best barbecue tips and charred broccolini

Temperatures are rising and summer is officially in full swing, so it’s time to fire up the barbecue and enjoy dining al fresco.
Loading the player...

Videographer: Melissa Tapper

With new ideas on what’s hot, we’ve asked Marty Shanahan, a.k.a. The Backyard Cook, to inspire us with delicious ways to cook on the barbecue. Find out his tips and tricks for creating flavoursome food over the flames, and try his mouth-watering charred broccolini for a vibrant vegetable dish that the whole family will enjoy.

Why are you known as ‘The Backyard Cook’?

One night, my wife and I were out having a few wines with an old friend who’s a right laugh, not to mention a creative genius. It wasn’t long after sprucing up our back garden and putting in a pizza oven and I was thinking of leaving my job and pursuing my passion – which is food. After a few glasses of red wine and some healthy banter, we decided that I’d call myself ‘The Backyard Cook’ and just get out there and do it. We scribbled it down on a piece of paper (which I still have tucked away) and that night I got home, set up a Facebook, Instagram and website and, as they say, the rest is history. Moral of the story: “Alcohol, because no great story ever started with a salad.”

Is barbecuing all about meat?

If I was going to teach you one thing, it would be that vegetables and seafood are just as at home on a BBQ as meat, if not more so. Don’t think of a BBQ as just a meat-cooking tool, but as a source of heat that can be applied to whatever it is you want to cook.

Fire, heat and smoke can add colour, texture and flavour to all manner of ingredients. Using the flames, fire and heat to transform the ingredients and take them from zero to hero is what it’s all about. Take my charred broccolini with lemon pepper mayo for example; yes you can boil or steam broccolini, but char them up on the BBQ and I’m telling you, it’s next level. You have to give it a crack!

Or just take your favourite vegetable, get it onto your BBQ, cook it how you like it and try telling me it’s not delicious!

Marty’s saké, miso and butter basted steak, served with charred broccolini

What are your tips and tricks for cooking on a barbecue?

The most important thing is to learn to control and understand the heat. Don’t just crank it up to eleven, throw the food on and hope for the best. That works ten percent of the time, but if you can control and understand the fire (gas or charcoal), then you can cook things lower and slower, or hard and fast. For example, when cooking pork and chicken you need to be a little more delicate so they will turn out juicier and more tender.

Marty’s top tips for the BBQ:

  • Season, season, season! Salt loves food and food loves salt. Season your veggies, season your meats; it will make your food tastier, more tender and ultimately more delicious.

  • Bring everything to room temperature before cooking – meat, fish and veggies. If you put cold ingredients onto a heat source they will cook unevenly.

  • Give it a rest. The late great Anthony Bourdain once said, “Cook a steak, get it off the grill and let it rest. Don’t wrap it in foil, don’t cover it, don’t poke or prod it, don’t even look at it, just let it rest there, leave it alone for 5-7 minutes and you will be rewarded”. Wise words.

  • Embrace the BBQ and prepare to fail. You’re not going to get it right all the time. I don’t always get it right, but the more you do something the better you’ll get; and the better you get, the more delicious your life will be.

Are there any food safety issues we should consider when barbecuing?

Just be smart about it.

  • Make sure your food is cooked all the way through, especially chicken.

  • Keep your BBQ clean – if it’s dirty and covered in cooking fat, flare-ups and fires are inevitable.

  • If you marinate something, don’t pour the marinating juices or marinade used in the raw food over the cooked food afterwards. You’re just asking for trouble.

  • Don’t walk away from a BBQ when cooking something on a high heat for any length of time, especially if the hood is down – that’s how fires start. Speaking from experience here – see, I told you I’ve made mistakes!

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: cook what you love for people you love. Whether it’s cooked on a BBQ, in an oven or underground, food is just a conduit for getting together with friends and family. Food made with love for those you love is the best kind of food!

For more of Marty’s tips, tricks and recipes visit his website, The Backyard Cook. Keep scrolling to find his irresistibly easy recipe for charred broccolini with lemon pepper mayo!

Charred Broccolini with Lemon Pepper Mayo

This might sound a ridiculously simple recipe, and it is, but trust me – the combo of charred tender stem broccolini with the lemon pepper mayo is a seriously good one. And besides, the best things in life are usually the simplest.

Happy cooking, Marty.




1.To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, then set aside.
2.Preheat your barbecue or a griddle pan to a very high heat. The secret to the flavour here is charring the broccolini, so an open flame is best.
3.Once your cooking surface is hot enough, drizzle the broccolini with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
4.Cook the broccolini for 2-3 minutes, turning until nicely charred and cooked through.
5.Remove, give them a good squeeze of lemon juice, then season and serve immediately drizzled with the lemon pepper mayo.
6.For a final exotic flourish, I like to shower mine with a little dukkah for extra flavour.

To see how Marty creates his charred broccolini dish, watch the video at the top of the page!


Related stories