In Africa braai is a favourite pastime...
Whether you in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia or Zimbabwe, a braai is a braai and all Africans enjoy a chop on the coals.
Tips, advice and recipes for an authentic African braai
Any African worth their (braai) salt will tell you that boerewors, rugby and sunny skies are the essentials of a proudly African braai. Add tangy potato salad, a couple of juicy steaks and a group of friends to share it with, and you've got a recipe for an irresistibly delicious, fun-filled feast!
Think you've got the perfect African braai down pat? Before you slap the sausage on the coals, make sure you've got all the right ingredients for an authentic African braai. Continue reading to discover top braai tips and advice for a delicious summertime spread, or wow your guests with inspired African braai recipes.
Top 10 African braai tips for perfectly prepared meat
Have you mastered the art of braaiing? For some, this traditional African cooking method takes years to perfect ' but thanks to the braai tips offered below, you'll be able to hone your braaiing skills in no time at all, and impress your guests with a couple of nifty culinary tricks!
- Buy the best quality meat you can find, and ensure that it is aged before being braaied. Ripen beef in your fridge for one week prior to braaiing, and lamb for five days. Ageing your meat not only tenderises it, but also greatly enhances its flavour.
- For the tastiest, most tender fare, marinate your meat overnight. This will allow the meat to become infused with the rich flavour of the marinade. If you're unable to marinate overnight, allow the meat to soak in the mixture for as long as possible prior to braaiing. Always store meat (marinated or not) in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
- If you're braaiing with wood or coal, use fuel that produces long-lasting coals. Begin braaiing your meat only once the flames have died down and the embers are white-hot in colour. The grid, preferably non-stick or coated in non-stick spray, must be hot before the meat is placed onto it, and should be positioned roughly 10 centimetres above the coals.
- Here's an easy test to check whether the coals are ready for braaiing: Hold your hand above the embers for the count of 10. If you have to pull your hand away before you reach 10, the coals are still too hot. If you can comfortably hold your hand over the coals for much longer than the count of 10, the embers are too cool. In this case, lower the grid, or add more coal or fire to create fresh, hotter embers.
- Make cooking chicken a cinch! For juicy, tender chicken, microwave or boil the meat (preferably marinated) for 10 to 20 minutes prior to braaiing. Once you place it on the fire, cover it with a lid and allow to simmer, turning occasionally so that the meat remains soft while the skin becomes crispy.
- Want perfectly succulent cuts? Don't turn the meat too often whilst braaiing. Seal the meat, then allow one side to become golden brown in colour before flipping it over to brown the other side.
- Never add salt to meat prior to cooking as it results in toughness. Rather, sprinkle braai salt over your meat after it has been cooked, or just before it is done.
- Braais are not just for cooking meat! You can also prepare mielies, potatoes, braai bread or bread rolls and other delicious goodies over the coals. Ensure that when you cover these items with tin foil, the shiny side is facing inwards. Use thick, heavyweight foil to prevent food from burning.
Fish Braai ideas and tips
One of the best things in life is fish cooked on the braai, that awesome smokey flavour, and for the luckier amongst us, that satisfaction is greater if you actually caught the fish.
Some ideas, hints and tips for fish braaing ' but no real recipe. Fish has an undeserved reputation for being difficult to cook ' probably because of how easily it can be overcooked.
Starting with the fish:
- choose fresh fish ' and preferably cook it on the day it was bought/caught ' look for firm flesh and bright, clear, bulging eyes
- rinse if necessary and season inside the cavity if cooking whole fish
- take care not to overcook ' judge done-ness by texture ' how easily the fish comes away from the bone, and, for filleted fish, that tell-tale white liquid which cooked fish oozes; fish needs slow, gentle medium to low heat generally
- choose the cut of fish and method of braaing ' whole, or filleted, on a hinged braai-grid (so that it can be turned), or in foil parcels directly on the coals
- whole fish should be scored with a few diagonal cuts on either side to allow the heat to penetrate better
- oil the fish on both sides to prevent sticking to the grid
- baste constantly, especially if you're not cooking in foil, use some fresh herbs tied into a 'brush' for extra flavour
Now some ideas for flavouring and ideas for preparation:
- it is apparently possible to influence the flavour through wood choice ' don't use pine on fish however, but do consider shavings/sawdust for flavouring
- marinating can be done with a standard acid (lemon juice, white wine), oil (olive or other vegetable oil) and flavourings like herbs, onion, garlic, ginger etc
- consider using firm-fleshed fish on kebabs, with soaked (possibly in booze) dried fruit or vegetables (peppers and onions)
- consider wrapping the fish in banana leaves (and then optionally in foil) and cooked directly on the coals for 10 ' 20 mins depending on size and thickness
- several layers of newspaper on whole fish with scales and skin, then moistened before cooking on the coals results in the skin and scales coming away completely, leaving moist, ready to eat fish
- Weber braais, as you know if you have one, enhance the smokey favour and reduce the cooking time
- Use almost any combination of lemon leaves, flat-leaf parsley, lemon slices, spring onions, lemon grass, fennel, thyme, garlic and dill for stuffing whole fish before cooking
- Bastings can be made using lemon juice, butter and other flavourings like Cajun, pesto, Thai sweet chilli sauce, apricot jam (possibly the vanilla and Jack Daniels one we made earlier this year) and tapenade
Consider fish like:
snoek, kingklip, red roman (like the one in the picture), pilchards (available frozen), yellowtail, fresh tuna etc in addition to more traditional favourites.
How to Barbecue Chicken Without Burning It
Keep the heat low, and brush on the sauce at the last minute.
In my experience-not as a barbecue champ or a cooking instructor but as a dinner guest-the food I see most abused when I go to a cookout is chicken. The combination of fatty skin, sweet barbecue sauce, and high heat results in what often looks like chunks of cinder. You can try scraping off that bitter, black coating, but its flavour and aroma-what I call "eau d'ashtray"-flavours the meat.
The secret to great barbecued chicken, one with moist, tender meat and sticky, pleasantly smoky skin, is to lower the heat of the fire and leave the sauce off until the last minutes of cooking. Most of the flavour comes from a spice rub that's been on the bird from the get-go and from the smoke of the fire, both of which fully permeate the meat during the long, slow cooking.
My method may take longer than most recipes for barbecued chicken, but there's less work involved. Because you're cooking over a low fire, and because the sauce (the real culprit behind cinder-chicken) doesn't go on until late in the game, you don't have to stand vigil, moving chicken pieces around a hot fire and trying in vain to stave off the inevitable flare-ups.
The chicken is seasoned, but not sauced, for most of the cooking
Maintain a temperature between 230Â° and 250Â°F, opening or closing the vents and adding charcoal as needed.
I usually buy whole broiler-fryers and cut them up myself. You save a little money buying a whole chicken, and you can use the neck, back, and wing tips to make broth. But chicken that's already cut up is very convenient, so go ahead and buy your favourite parts for the grill.
The spice rub and the sauce recipes make enough for at least eight pounds of chicken, more than you may even be able to fit on a single grill. You can save any extra spice mix in an airtight container for a couple of months. Any extra sauce can go right in the freezer. Just keep the sauce that you plan to save separate from the sauce you plan to brush onto the chicken so that it doesn't get contaminated.
You can pretty much ignore the chicken as it cooks. The chicken will take 2-1/2 to 3 hours to cook. You'll need to check the fire, adding coals now and then to keep the temperature of the grill between 230Â° and 250Â°F, but that's only about every 30 to 45 minutes. I also baste the chicken at least once with apple juice, but you don't even have to do that. At first, you won't believe that the fire is hot enough to cook the chicken, and you'll wonder if anything is happening at all. But just give it time.
Wait until the chicken is cooked through before basting with the sauce. Give it a couple of minutes on the fire for the sauce to glaze the meat.
Slather on the sauce when the chicken is cooked. The sauce needs only five minutes to adhere nicely to the chicken. Since the fire isn't really hot, the chicken won't get that charred look, just a nice shine. But this is the time to be vigilant; if the fire has gotten hot, it can make the sauce burn even at this late juncture. Be armed with tongs to remove the chicken at the first sign of charring.
Just because you're vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean you have to be limited at barbeques to the lettuce leaves and sliced tomato in the tossed salad.
Veggos and vegans can have a huge variety of delicious food, with much of it being similar to that at a traditional barbeque, with the added benefit of it being lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. So you really don't have to miss out at all.
Makes 4 kebabs
Fry's Vegetarian Braai Flavour Country Herb Sausages
Red onion, peeled and cut into blocks
Yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into blocks
Red pepper, deseeded and cut into blocks
Baby marrows, topped and tailed, cut into rounds
Portabellini mushrooms, cubed
1) Slice the Braai Sausages into 4-5 pieces per sausage.
2) Skewer the Braai Sausages and vegetables onto the kebab stick in any order you prefer.
3) Fry the kebabs with a little olive oil to give them some colour.
4) Add Chunky Strips back to wok and serve immediately.
5) To make the basting sauce, combine syrup and wholegrain mustard. Pour sauce over skewers.
6) Bake or grill skewers in the oven for 10 minutes at 180Â°C or place on the braai (barbecue) for 10-15 minutes.
7) Serve with a summer salad or baked potato.
Something savoury, something sweet ' once you've cooked the meat, treat your guests to a sweet, indulgent delight! Take a couple of bananas and slit the peel along the inner curve. Fill with thin slices of Bar One chocolate and, if you like, a dash of liqueur. Wrap the bananas tightly in tin foil and place on the braai until the peel is dark brown in colour. Unwrap the fruit carefully and serve with ice-cream. Enjoy!
No one likes cleaning up ' but you can simplify the process of cleaning your grill by rubbing half a raw onion or half a lemon on it while the grill is still hot. This helps to lift dirt from the grill while adding delicious flavour to the next batch of meat. Less elbow-grease, more enjoyment!