When it comes to the serious business of braaiing food and then washing it down, nothing serves so well as a glass or two of wine. Is it mere coincidence that all the great barbecuing nations also happen to be great wine producers?
They just don’t get it, the Brits. Barbequing may have become something of a national summer pastime for them, but as far as I could tell during my five years over there, it entails huddling under umbrellas while cooking, then scurrying indoors to warm up, dry off and pick edible morsels out of the charcoaled crusts of burgers, bangers or – for the really adventurous – skinless, de-boned chicken breasts.
I like to think I taught a few of them that there’s much more to cooking over fire than the vast opportunities it provides to ruin good food. For starters, there’s the smell of the fire and the mesmerising effect of the flames, never mind the sound of meat sizzling over coals. And even before you light up (and no you do not need chemical accelerants), there’s the rigmarole of what type of wood or coal to use, what to cook, what to put in the marinade…
The barbeque is a social event like no other culinary affair. For the North Americans, it entails slow-cooking large cuts of tough meat over wood coals for several hours to attain tenderness, while the South Americans have perfected the art of the asado (spit roast). The Aussies, meanwhile, are world famous for their outdoor “barbie” culture, so it came as a great disappointment to me while camper-vanning through the country that their “braai” units were mostly plug-in affairs, consisting of a solid sheet of stainless steel over an element.
Frying rather than braaiing, if you ask me…
Which leaves South Africans as the undisputed champions of cooking over coals – and nowhere is the multi-cultural nature of our cuisine more apparent than at a typical braai, with its boerewors, Malay-introduced sosaties and the African staple of pap en sous. Above all, though, braaiing is “gesellig” – that Afrikaans word that best describes the happy mood that settles on a group when hospitality, good company, wine and food are brought together.
BRAAI WINE TIPS
GREAT BRAAI IDEAS
SPANISH ROLLED CHICKEN
De-bone chicken legs and thighs. Rub with NOMU Spanish Rub inside & out,
and lightly dust with smoked paprika for extra zing.
Cut roasted and peeled peppers into strips. Roll up the chicken (skin outside),
with peppers inside, and secure with string (will look like sausages). Braai
over moderate heat, bearing in mind that flames will be an inevitable consequence
as fat begins to drip. It’s therefore advisable to cook these on a rooster that
can be removed when this happens. Cooking on a covered kettle grill will speed
up cooking time. Ideally they should be golden brown, with crispy skin.
When cooked through, remove string and slice onto a salad of:
Roasted or braaied butternut (cut into batons)
Roasted cashew nuts
Roasted red peppers (skinless, cut into strips)
(also a great marinade for chicken or beef)
50ml soy sauce
20ml dry sherry
Chopped fresh garlic (one clove should do it, unless you’re concerned about
One chopped chilli (or less, if your capsaicin tolerance is limited)
One tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
One teaspoon of honey
Mix basting ingredients well. Cook mushrooms over gentle heat, turning regularly
to avoid burning them. Baste frequently to build up the glaze.
Slice butternut into wheels (about 10-15mm thick) – no need to peel first. Baste
with olive oil, salt and fresh thyme. Grill both sides until browned. Place
all the pieces in a roasting tray, cover with foil and keep over moderate heat
to carry on cooking gently while the rest of the meal is being prepared. The
butternut should be slightly caramelised on the outside and soft on the inside.
If it is cooked in foil from the beginning the result is more like being steamed
CHERMOULA LAMB CUTLETS
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
cup fresh coriander, chopped
cup flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
8 Tbsp olive oil
tsp orange zest
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whiz together until smooth. Will
keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or can be frozen for up to three months.
To braai chops
Cutlets should be at least 25mm thick. The first step is to cook the fat side,
so re-constitute the saddle, securing the chops by means of skewer running all
the way through. Put this whole lot over moderate heat (one needs to cook the
fat all the way through without burning the outside). Then remove the chops
from the skewer and cook individually over intense heat. Chermoula chops are
delicious with couscous, barbequed mushrooms and sliced butternut.
GRILLED PEARS AND VANILLA MASCARPONE CRME
Select a pear variety that remains crisp when ripe. Slice in half and de-core.
Dip cut side into NoMU Sweet Rub. Using a kettle grill (moderate heat), put
face down onto a well-cleaned grid. Cover. When coloured (not blackened!), turn
over, and put the cover back on until the pears are cooked through. If you’re
concerned about burning them, you could put them into a baking tray at this
point and re-cover the kettle grill. If you’re using an open braai, cover the
baking tray with foil until the pears are cooked through. Serve with white chocolate
biscotti and vanilla mascarpone crme
Vanilla Mascarpone Crme
1 tsp vanilla paste
Stir together gently.
Article written by Joanne Simon