It’s time to go to the garage and dig up the braai kit you threw out this winter, because it’s that time of the year where friends will be inviting themselves over for a braai. But don’t give them the ordinary pap and vleis, get a little bit fancy and stand out as the hostess with the mostess.
The meat is basically what your guests came for. What makes good braai meat is the perfect rub and marinade. When making a homemade rub, be mindful of the spices you put in. They have to complement each other. The right base for any rub is the salt and pepper. For lamb chops, I usually mix together salt, pepper, steak and chops spice, a pinch of sugar, olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. The reason I don’t over-complicate the rub is because I don’t want to take away the lovely natural flavour of the lamb chop.
To marinade or not to marinade? A lot of my friends have complained that the marinade burns in the fire before the meat is even cooked inside. I usually use the marinade as basting instead. I season my meat with a good rub, place it on fire and as I toss and turn it from one side to the other, I use my basting brush to baste the meat.
Chicken? I usually braai chicken wings and baste them with a peri-peri marinade. Another way of preparing chicken for a braai is to butterfly full chicken, by removing the back of the chicken. If you’re making lemon and herb chicken, it’s also best to braai an actual lemon as well. Cut it open and place it in the heat.
Fish braais in foil are wonderful too. They’re exotic and fancy. What makes a delicious braaied fish for me is definitely the choice of herbs. Season the fish with normal fish spice and coarse salt and add herbs of your choice. Dill usually works really great! Adding 3 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter usually gives a yummy twist to the fish; and then of course, lemon slices to top things off.
Okay, so you love pap and can’t imagine a braai without pap? That’s okay, but how about deep frying the pap? Yes, deep fried crumbed pap. You basically cook the pap the normal way. Once it’s cooked and cools down, shape the pap into balls and flatten out into a fish cake-like shape. Dip the pap in flour, an egg wash, bread crumbs and fry.
If you’re still doing the whole buns or hotdog rolls for braais, stop, now! Substitute that with garlic baguettes or better yet, try roosterkoek bread. It’s amazing for braais. It's delicious and soft, plus it will look good on your plate.
Where to begin? There are so many salads to prepare for braais but my personal favourites are:
1. Skin on potato salad
2. Red cabbage coleslaw
3. Rocket salad with Braaied nectarine slices (especially for fish braais)
5. Beetroot and cottage cheese salad
6. Carrot and bean salad
The list is endless. But what about Chakalaka you ask? Blend the Chakalaka into a puree and turn it into a dip for tortilla chips instead.
Mint sauce for the braaied lamb chops/steak
Tomato relish to accompany the deep fried pap.
Tartar sauce for the fish.
Now you’re ready to call your friends over for a braai. Have fun!