HOW TO BRAAI PERFECTLY
Try these tips to up your braai game
SELECTING LAMB CHOPS
Chops should be 2-2,5 cm thick, otherwise the meat dries out. The best cuts are rib and loin.
STEP BY STEP
For chops that are about 2,5 cm thick.
1 Score the fat rind of the chops to prevent curling. If preferred, the fat can be removed entirely – it’s healthier and will prevent the coals from flaming up.
2 Place the grid 5-15 cm above the coals. 3 Arrange the chops in a row, fat side up,
The ideal steak is about 3 cm thick. Rump and sirloin have the most flavour and fillet the least.
STEP BY STEP
1 Bring the steaks to room temperature.
Salt and let rest for at least an hour (it should rest for an hour at room temperature for every 2,5 cm of thickness after salt is added). Salt initially draws moisture out of the meat. So if you add salt just before you braai, the steak will be dry and the salt won’t penetrate the meat. If you season in advance and let it rest first the salt dissolves in the drawn-out moisture and the liquid is reabsorbed into the meat. If you add herbs or spices to the salt, it will be drawn into the meat in the same way.
2 Place the grid 5-15 cm above very hot coals.
3 Char the meat well on one side before and thread a skewer under the fat strip to hold them together.
4 Braai the fat side over hot coals until crisp. 5 Remove the skewer and braai on the meat side for about 8 minutes over moderate coals for medium-rare chops.
Whole legs and shoulders taste best if matured. Choose cuts with a thinnish fat layer, rub with a cloth soaked in vinegar and leave in the fridge, uncovered, for 2-5 days. Braai 1½ hours for 1,7-2,7 kg.
turning it for the first time. Turn the steak every 2 minutes with tongs, not a fork.
4 After braaiing, let the steak rest for 10 minutes.
Braai times (for a 3 cm-thick steak)
Rare 5-6 minutes
Rare to medium-rare 7-8 minutes Medium-done 8-10 minutes
Medium- to well-done 10-11 minutes Well-done Steer clear! Steak should preferably not be well-done.
Boneless whole cuts (fillet, rump or sirloin) can be braaied whole. Seal the outside well over very hot coals. Move the grid higher or scrape aside some of the coals to continue cooking at a slower heat.
Rare 15 minutes per 500 g meat + 15 minutes extra.
Medium-rare 20 minutes per 500 g meat + 20 minutes extra.
SELECTING PORK CUTS
Chops and ribs are best for a braai. Spare ribs from the belly are the best; they’re firmer than baby back ribs. It’s no longer necessary to overcook pork for hygienic reasons.
STEP BY STEP
1 Rub salt into the rind of large cuts to ensure a crisp braai.
2 Marinate the meat beforehand to ensure succulence. Pork is a lot leaner than it used to be so it can dry out easily over the coals.
3 Ribs can be precooked in stock until half done to reduce the braaiing time. Marinades tend to burn easily and a shorter braai time also means the sauce will not burn as much. 4 Place the grid 5-15 cm above the coals.
Whole chicken works best on the spit, boned breasts in a kettle braai, and deboned breasts and wings are good on the fire. Deboned fillets are ideal for kebabs.
STEP BY STEP
1 Make a few deep incisions in the flesh to ensure even cooking.
2 Marinate the chicken if preferred. Fillets and wings tend to dry out easily so they benefit from being marinated well in sauce. 3 If you’ve chosen a wet marinade, pat the chicken dry before you put it over the coals to prevent the marinade from burning.
4 Place the grid 10-15 cm above the coals.
5 Braai the chicken over moderate coals. Turn often. Baste with marinade five minutes before the end of the braai process.
Many fish species are on the endangered list so it’s best to choose fish on the green list of the World Wildlife Fund. These include hake, kingklip, monkfish, angelfish and snoek. If you’re unsure whether a type of fish is on the green list, SMS its name to 079-499-8795 and you’ll receive an immediate reply.
STEP BY STEP
1 If you’re going to marinate, don’t leave the fish in the sauce for more than a few hours as its muscle texture breaks down more easily than that of meat.
2 Brush a folding grid with oil and heat it over the coals. 5 Braai on moderate coals. Pork isn’t seared on the outside and left rare on the inside.
It’s cooked fairly evenly. The inside should change from dark pink to light pink – grey porkisovercooked.
Chops 12-14 minutes for 2-cm thick
Ribs If precooked: 10-15 minutes. If not:
Whole cuts Braai for 1¾ hours (1,5-2,5 kg), or braai about an hour, slice and quickly sear slices.
Ribs First braai ribs without sauce until the meat is done on the inside (marinades tend to burn easily), then baste and braai for last 5 minutes for that delicious stickiness.
6 The chicken is cooked if the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the meat. A whole chicken is cooked if the drumsticks move freely when wiggled.
Chicken on the spit 45-50 minutes Butterflied chicken 30-40 minutes Deboned fillets 10 minutes
Boned pieces in the kettle braai:
Whole chicken in the kettle braai: 1 hour
Chicken wings taste best when cooked with a sticky sauce. First braai the wings without sauce for about 20 minutes or until almost done. Mix well with the sauce then braai for a further 5 minutes until crisp and sticky.
3 Baste the fish with oil and place it in the hot grid.
4 The grid should be 15-20 cm above moderate coals.
5 Braai the skin side of the fish until the fish is nearly done, turn and flash-braai the meaty side. Turn the fish only once. The more you turn, the greater the risk that the fish will stick to the grid.
Whole fish 15-20 minutes for 500 g and 30-45 minutes for 1,5 kg
Fillets 3½ minutes for 1 cm thick.
Replace sea fish with a freshwater fish such as trout or bream.
SELECTING THE INGREDIENTS
Kebabs rely on a marinade for a lot of their flavour. So choose the marinade carefully, particularly if you’re using a shop-bought variety.
STEP BY STEP
1 Soak wooden skewers in water beforehand – it prevents them from catching alight.
2 Thread the meat and vegetables loosely on the skewers so the heat can penetrate between the cuts and cook the meat evenly. 3 Place the grid about 15 cm above moderate coals.
4 Turn often. Chicken kebabs have to braai for 20 minutes and red-meat kebabs for 15 minutes.
SELECTING THE SAUSAGE
Rather buy boerewors than braaiwors. Boerewors contains at least 90 percent meat, not more than 30 percent fat and consists of beef to which pork and/or lamb has been added. It can also not contain any other ingredients except cereal, vinegar, spices and allowed food additives. Braaiwors is cheaper but it contains less quality meat.
STEP BY STEP
Boerewors should be cooked until medium-done – still juicy but not pink inside. Turn often to ensure it cooks evenly.
1 Coil the sausage and place on a cool grid.
2 Braai on moderate coals and turn three to five times to prevent the skin from bursting or searing. If preferred, first
SELECTING THE MEAT
Beef burgers are the most popular, but you can make a burger from any kind of meat, even from lentils.
STEP BY STEP
1 If making your own patties, make a slight indentation in the middle of each patty as the meat tends to bulge while cooking. Don’t overmix the mixture because then your patties will be tough. Make sure the mixture contains a little fat to prevent it drying out while cooking, this also helps to stop it bulging.
2 Place the grid 15 cm above the coals.
3 First seal the outside for a minute or so
Braai fruit kebabs for dessert. Braai over moderate coals until just soft and serve with a chocolate sauce for dipping.
braai the sausage on the moderate part of the fire until half-done, then cook through on the hotter part of the braai.
3 Turn the sausage with wide tongs (or even an egg lifter) and not a fork to prevent the juices from running out. For the same reason you should not prick or cut the sausage to see if it’s cooked.
4 A thin sausage should not braai for longer than 8 minutes, and thick sausage for 9-10 minutes. When in doubt, braai for a shorter time rather than longer.
5 The sausage is ready when the skin is brown all over.
6 Rest the sausage for 7 minutes so the juices can be absorbed, otherwise they run out as soon as you cut it.
All fresh types of sausage can be braaied on coals.
on each side over very hot coals, otherwise the patties will stick to the grid.
4 Continue braaiing the patties over moderate coals. Be gentle with the patties and don’t move them about on the grid to loosen them. As the meat seals, the patties will automatically come away from the grid.
5 Braai the patties for 8-10 minutes, depending on their thickness. They should be caramelised on the outside and juicy and slightly pink inside.
Lightly toast the burger bun on the grid while your burgers are cooking.
You decide on the cut of meat you want to braai and which rub or marinade should be used for extra flavour – but there are three vital ingredients for a successful braai: smoke, heat and time. Once you’ve perfected these three things, your braai simply can’t go wrong.
Follow our guidelines in this article and you’ll become that unruffled person who relaxes next to the fire, nonchalantly nursing something cold, while the meat seems to braai itself.