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Comprehensive step by step instruction and recipe on how to braai perfect steak – by Jan Braai.
What is Chisa Nyama? What is Chesa Nyama? What is Shisa Nyama?
For many years, the Caesar has been one of the world’s classic salads. But as a chicken burger on the braai, we are giving this flavour combination the chance to reach its full potential. First, a braaied chicken breast fillet is superior to any other version of that meat, and secondly, a roll toasted on the coals of a wood fire is clearly going to trump any crouton prepared in a kitchen. The sauce is very easy to make but to do it properly you need a pestle and mortar. If you still don’t have this piece of essential culinary equipment, buy it now. You will use it to work the garlic, capers and anchovy fillets into a smooth paste which forms the cornerstone of flavours for the sauce.
WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)
- 4 chicken breast fillets
- 4 crisp hamburger rolls
- 3 tots olive oil (for coating the chicken and spreading on the rolls)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 tsp capers (drained)
- ½ cup mayonnaise (I prefer French-style)
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
- 1 head romaine lettuce (also known as cos lettuce – torn apart and washed; if you can’t find one, use normal lettuce)
- 3 tots Parmesan cheese (grated or shaved)
WHAT TO DO:
- Make the sauce: Put the garlic, anchovies and capers in your pestle and mortar and grind into a smooth paste. Now add the mayonnaise, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well until everything is properly combined.
- Prepare and braai the chicken breast fillets: Place each chicken breast fillet flat on a chopping board and lightly pound the thick side with a meat mallet, wine bottle, rolling pin, side of a meat cleaver or any other item of sufficient weight and size. You want the whole fillet more uniform in thickness and this step will make the meat easier to braai, better looking on your burger and softer to bite. Spice each chicken fillet with salt and pepper or your favourite braai salt. Either brush each one with oil or simply pour a bit of oil onto them and toss the fillets around until all are coated. Now braai the meat for about 6 to 10 minutes until it is done. The nice thing about chicken breast fillets is that you can actually see the meat colour changing from raw to ready on the braai.
- Prepare and braai the rolls: Neatly slice each roll in half with a bread knife and paint or spread or drip all 8 insides with olive oil. During the final few minutes of the chicken braai, toast the insides of the rolls on your grid over the coals. The attentive braaier will correctly guess that these rolls are taking the place of croutons in the version of Caesar salad served by restaurant-type establishments.
- Assemble the burgers: Bottom half of fire-toasted roll, lettuce, braaied chicken breast, sauce, Parmesan shavings, top half of fire-toasted roll.
Döner also known elsewhere in the world as shawarma, kebab or pita bread is the most popular street food in the German capital city Berlin. It consists of a flat pita bread filled with various trimmings but the main and star ingredient is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The seasoned meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element. The outer layer is sliced vertically into thin shavings as it cooks. Well, that is how they generally do it in Berlin anyhow. BUT: There is an easier way to make your own, that will be quicker, look cooler and also taste better. And that my friends is of course is that we braai the rump steak instead of it dancing on a pole all day. You still get the same flavours but only more, because have have the additional world class flavour of the braai!
WHAT YOU NEED: (Feeds 4)
- 2 carrots
- 2 small baby cabbages or 2 quarters from big ones (Use 1 green and 1 red)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tot brown sugar
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- ½ cucumber
- 2 sweet red pepper, red and yellow, thinly sliced,
- Full cream yogurt
- Pita Bread
- Rump Steak
WHAT TO DO:
- Use your grater to grate the cabbage and carrots together in a bowl. Add the thinly sliced onion. Pour the sugar, salt, vinegar, cumin seeds and thyme into the bowl and mix well. Let this mixture sit aside and start to pickle as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Slice the red pepper, yellow pepper, radishes and cucumber into thin slices and keep them aside, ready to use when you assemble the pita.
- Prepare your steak by salting your steaks with coarse sea salt. Do not panic that this will be too salty, most of the salt will fall off during the braai.
- Braai your steak over hot coals for 8 minutes until medium rare. Feel free to add some extra spice to your steak, when the craving speaks to me I just use a bottle of peri peri sauce that’s in the kitchen. Let the steak rest for a few minutes and then carve it into very thin slivers at a 45° angle.
- Give the pitas some time on the coals and toast them lightly before you start to assemble your meal.
- Now build your shawarma: Halve the toasted pitas and spread with a layer of hummus on the inside. Add a bit of the pickled salad and the rest of the salad ingredients. Top it off with slices of rump steak and finish it with some yogurt on top.
Schweinshaxe is a German dish, famous the world over. You start off by cooking pork hocks or eisbein until they are very tender. Then you braai them over hot coals to give them a great flavour and make them crispy. This tastes far superior to the classic German version where you just grill them in an oven to finish them off. If your butcher or supermarket only has smoked pork hocks or smoked eisbein, don’t worry; it works just as well and obviously your meal will have an even deeper smoky flavour.
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 4)
- 4 small pork hocks or eisbeins (regular or smoked)
- 2 bottles apple cider (like Hunters or Savanna)
- 2 cups water
WHAT TO DO:
- Put everything into a large potjie. The liquid should just cover the pork, so add extra water if necessary.
- Put the potjie over a hot fire, then cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Simmer (it mustn’t boil rapidly) for 2½–3 hours, then take it off the fire. You want the meat nice and soft but not falling off the bone. You should check on the meat during this time as it might be ready sooner; this is not an exact science.
- Use braai tongs to lift the cooked pork hocks out of the potjie, shake off the liquid and then generously salt them (smoked hocks will generally be very salty already, and will not need any extra salt).
- Now for the braai: You’ll need an open grid as a hinged grid won’t close over the hocks. Braai for about 20 minutes in total over hot coals until they are nicely browned on all sides. Remember, the meat is already cooked so you just want to give it some crunch, colour and flavour.
- Serve immediately with mashed potatoes that you flavour with cream, wholegrain mustard, salt and pepper.AND …
If your pork is cooked before you’re ready to braai, take the potjie off the coals and let the hocks rest in the water – an hour or two of resting in lukewarm water will just result in more tender pork.
I’m a big fan of mushrooms, onions, garlic and cream as individuals. Together they create an exquisite taste, or as Aristotle used to say, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. It’s a nice starter or side dish and is also known to be very popular around the late-night ‘atmosfire’, as a second braai of the evening.
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 4–6 as a snack)
- 2 tots butter
- 1 tot olive oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed or chopped)
- 500 g whole mushrooms (brown, button or any mixture of these or others sold commercially for culinary consumption)
- 1 sprig thyme (stalk removed)
- 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 cup cream (250 ml tub)
- slices of bread (toasted on the fire – to serve)
- 1 tot finely chopped parsley (optional – to serve)
WHAT TO DO
- Heat the oil and butter in a potjie or flameproof pan over a hot fire, add the chopped onion and fry until they become very soft and begin to turn light brown on the edges. Depending on your heat, this will take about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme, then fry until the mushrooms soften and start to brown (your pan needs to be very hot so don’t be shy about having a few flames under it). Initially, the mushrooms might struggle to fit into the pan, but they will shrink as they cook.
- Season with salt and pepper, then pour over the cream and bring to the boil. Simmer the cream for a few minutes, stirring often, until it reduces and forms a thick sauce (it’ll darken slightly and turn a shade of grey, like the mushrooms). Timing is pretty important. You need to remove the potjie or pan from the fire when the sauce is thick, but before it has reduced too much and all the sauce is gone. If you don’t have time to reduce the whole cup of cream, just use half a cup, but be aware that the meal won’t taste quite as awesome.
- Use a large spoon to scoop the creamy mushrooms onto the toasted bread and serve immediately, topped with finely chopped parsley.
The quality of bread used has a direct impact on the end result and your enjoyment of the meal. These days we have a wide variety of great breads available in South Africa and, compared with meat, special breads are relatively cheap so buy the best available. When you walk into an artisan bakery and you feel a bit unsure of yourself, just ask for a sourdough bread. When serving braaied food with a slice of bread, you want to butter the bread on one side and toast it over medium coals for the final few minutes of your braai until golden brown. The idea is to have it ready with the rest of the meal. For any braaied meal that I suggest you serve with bread, you get bonus points if you serve it with freshly braaied roosterkoek.
With this burger we are not going to beat about the garlic plantation. It is our explicit intention to have the recognisable flavour of garlic ever present. Let’s clear something up – there is no such thing as ‘breath that stinks of garlic’. What these counter-garlic revolutionaries are actually trying to say is ‘you carry the pleasant smell of garlic, I am jealous of the great meal you had’. Garlic is very healthy for you and has been used by humans to flavour food for over 7 000 years. If you have friends who frown upon the abundant culinary use of garlic, my suggestion is that you simply cut them from your circle of trust. Alternatively, give them a fair warning not to attend your garlic burger braai!
WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)
FOR THE BURGERS
- 1 kg beef mince
- 4 hamburger rolls
- 1 roll or slab of garlic and herb butter
- 1 tot olive oil
- salt and pepper (freshly ground)
- salad leaves
- 2 tomatoes (sliced)
FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 tot butter
- 6 garlic cloves (crushed and finely chopped – this is enough if the cloves are a decent size; otherwise use more because you want the sauce to have a strong taste of garlic)
- 1 tot flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup cheese (aged white Cheddar, grated)
- 1 tsp salt
WHAT TO DO:
- Make the patties: Cut four disks of about 1 cm thick from the roll or slab of garlic butter. Use your wet hands, recently washed with soap and then rinsed with cold water, to divide the mince into 4 evenly sized balls and then form the patties around the disks of butter. The idea is to have firm patties with the butter disks at the centre. In practice you put a disk of butter on a ball of mince, push it right to the middle of the mince with one of your thumbs and then form the patty around it. To flatten and neaten them I like to put them on a flat surface, press down on the patty with the palm of one hand and pat them all around the side with the other hand. Put the patties on a plate and refrigerate until you’re ready to braai them.
- Make the creamy garlic sauce: Melt the butter in a pot and add the garlic. Let the garlic fry for about 30 seconds and then add the flour and mix well. Add a little bit of milk at a time and stir continuously. Keep on adding the milk and once it is all in, gradually add the cream and stir until all of that is in as well. Now let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Add the cheese, stir that in and season to taste with salt. You could theoretically perform this step while you braai the patties but I like to do it beforehand and then to reheat and wake up the sauce just as it’s about to be served.
- Braai the patties: The biggest challenge is keeping the patties in one piece by ensuring that they don’t stick to the grid. Put the patties down very gently, do not press on them, do not handle them any more than is necessary, and when you turn them do it with extreme care. Start on very high heat to seal them quickly, hopefully before they have the chance to ‘sink’ into the grid and get stuck. Braai the patty for about 8 to 10 minutes in total. Once on each side will do the trick so you will need to turn them only once. Don’t fiddle with the patties to check whether they are sticking. As the meat starts to cook, it releases fat and juices and usually loosens itself from the grid. If you always have a big problem with patties sticking to the grid then brush them with oil on both sides before the braai.
- For bonus points: If you have the time and enough space on your braai grid, toast the insides of the rolls after you’ve buttered them during the final stages of your braai.
- Assemble your burgers: Place lettuce and tomato at the bottom of the bun, followed by your braaied garlic-stuffed patty and a generous helping of the creamy garlic and cheese sauce. Finish with salt and pepper.