It’s no surprise we love braaiing. Many years ago in this, the very Cradle of Humankind, our ancestors discovered the ritual of transforming raw meat into a dish that would shape mankind forever. One can only imagine what that first juicy bite of cooked beast must have tasted like. And it’s an art that is handed down from generation to generation; and below are some top tips to make sure each braai is a lip-smacking feast.
BUY PROPER MEAT
From a proper butcher. Get some fillet if you have to, else you can’t go wrong with a thick, dry aged ribeye steak. Try to always buy the best grade meat you can afford – it’s worth the extra R20. Then - you want to grab some boerewors, and maybe some lamb loin chops. Sorted.
Any braai structure is fine, but preferably one with adjustable grill heights. Webers are cool, but you better get your grill times right.
A good set of tongs, and a bucket of cold beers.
With wood, yes. That thing with the gas is not braaiing. Take your hamburger patties, and chuck back to ‘merica. Braaiing with wood creates beautiful flavours and aromas for your meat. My favourites are kameeldoring or rooikrans.
It’s important to make one big fire, rather than a small fire and then constantly adding wood. Your coals will only really be as good as the last batch of wood, and won’t last very long. Use firelighters if you must; I prefer good old kindling. It’s also a good idea to make a small fire on the side to provide extra coals if you find yourself running out.
Your meat should be at room temperature by the time it goes onto the fire. So if it was in a fridge, take it out in advance. I don’t like to spice or marinate the meat too much; some good (Maldon) salt and pepper does the trick.
The order of the meat depends on your vibe. I like to slap some thin boerewors on first, and serve as wors d'oeuvres (aka nibbles) to the kind spectators who have been fetching me cold beers.
If you want all the meat ready simultaneously, throw the chicken on first over some medium coals. Then you can put on the boerewors and chops, leaving the steak for last – over the hottest coals in the middle.
As a rule – flip as little as possible; to avoid losing the meat’s precious juices. The exception is boerewors, which cooks more evenly if you turn it more.
Don’t be the fool that brings a whole chicken to a braai; you’re stealing prime steak real estate. Go for chicken pieces rather – they’ll be ready when the juices run clear. 10-15minutes.
As mentioned before, wors cooks more evenly if you turn it more. So flip every two minutes. Boerewors is done when you can snap it easily with the tongs. 10 minutes.
Only Karoo lamb loin chops will do. Rub in olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and then rosemary. 5 minutes on both sides, then braai fat-side down for 2 minutes.
I use a simple timeline for 1-inch steaks. After 3 minutes turn steaks. Another 3 minutes – turn. After 2 minutes, turn. And then a final 2 mins. Rest for 5 minutes.
That’s it! The steak should be left to rest for about 5 minutes, to allow its juices to redistribute (and continue cooking a bit). Everything else can be eaten straight off the braai. Enjoy!