It was with a little scepticism that I tried out a braai plank. It is simply a piece of fragrant wood (oak, birch, mapel etc) that you soak in water for a few hours, and then cook your meat or veges on in on the braai or weber. So I decided to try some roasted peppers, chillies and onions, and after using it once I am completely hooked. They were succulent, roasted perfectly and had a wonderful smokey taste.
I have not cooked meat on it yet (the road was cooked next to it on the grid), but that will be done soon. I am completely hooked on the braai plank. It adds a new dimension to cooking on the braai.
The braai is probably one of South Africa’s most traditional meals. It is practised by all cultures in South Africa, and as often as possible! Probably the only thing that will prevent a South African from having a braai is a rugby game, in which case they will probably simply braai before or after the game!
If you drive through any suburb in South Africa on a summer weekend, you will smell the delicious smell of grilling meat.
Braaing is a very casual and social affair, but there it is taken quite seriously by the cook. You simply NEVER interfere with somebody else’s braai without asking them very politely first (even if the meat is burning!)
So, what exactly is a braai?
Very simple really, it is a South African BBQ. However, it is almost always cooked on wood or charcoal – very seldom on gas. A braai will typically consist of one or more of the following:
- lamb cutlets (chops)
- sausage (boere wors – literally farm sausage made from beef)
- traditional pork sausages
- beef steak
- chicken pieces or kebabs
- beef or pork ribs
Let’s get going
You will need a braai (in which to make the fire). Many public picnic sites have brick braai’s available, or a Weber will do. You will also need wood or charcoal – we often buy “brikettes”, which are small round compressed pieces of charcoal.
Blitz, which is a paraffin-based firelighter, helps to get the fire going, but if you are a boy scout, matches and an axe will do!
Put a few pieces of the blitz (firelighter) onto the grid
Light the blitz. and give the coals a few minutes to start burning. Note that with the braai, you will always use “direct heat”.
Lighting the wood fire
Some nice coals starting to burn – it should take about 40 minutes to get good coals.
While waiting for the wood to burn, cook some garlic bread on the fire.
Garlic bread ready to eat – yummy!
From top to bottom – wors (beef sausage), chicken, and chicken kebabs in the front. You can also see some ostrich kebabs at the top on the far right.
Braaing is thirsty work – you will need plenty of liquid refreshments
When you can hold your hand above the grid for three seconds, you are ready to cook. Put the meat onto the grid, turning every few minutes or so.
Looking good – almost ready to eat.
After about two beers (40 minutes or so), you are ready to eat, so dig in!
Ready to eat – looks great, doesn’t it?
After a good braai, the plates will be empty!
One more think, we often have “bring and braai’s”, in which the host supplies the fire, rolls and salads, and the guests all bring their own meat and drinks. Simple and easy.