It is Saturday afternoon, the kids are in the pool, the sun is high in the sky and a smoky haze of savoury aromas settles like a blanket over your neighbourhood. It’s time to get the coals ready and have the braai master in your home sear a delicious cut of meat and place it before family and friends as a token of affection. Sounds idyllic right?
To live this dream, you need to know the ins and outs of braaiing. To become the ultimate braai master takes skill, experience and perhaps a little help from Robertsons. Proudly spicing South African braais since 1924, we at Robertsons believe we have insider braai tips that will equip you with the expertise you need to seal your reputation as a braai master. Let’s look at some of the braai tips and tricks we have discovered over the years.
Top Tips and Tricks for the Ultimate Braai
Here are six areas to explore in your quest to become the ultimate braai master:
1. Braai tools every braai master needs
2. Wood fires and why they work best
3. Planning your braai
4. Knowing when the fire is ready
5. Presentation is key
6. Don’t forget the side dishes
1. Braai Tools Every Braai Master Needs
Before you can show off your culinary braai skills, you need the right equipment. Here is a list of the items every South African braai master needs:
• Braai tongs. For the braai master, a pair of good tongs is an extension of the arm. It is an unspoken rule that whoever holds the tongs controls the braai. Braai tongs have come a long way – you can even find tongs with a built-in torch to light up the braai at a campsite or any area with low lighting.
• Height adjustable grid Whether you’re braaiing on a built-in braai or stand-alone braai, a stainless-steel, height-adjustable grid helps control the heat.
Top Tip: Make sure to clean your braai grid thoroughly before using it. A coarse scrubbing brush and old newspapers work best for cleaning a grid.
• Ash pan Every braai needs a pan at the bottom to collect ash and simplify the cleaning process.
2. Wood Fires and Why they Work Best
While many South Africans love the convenience of charcoal, wood is a popular alternative. But getting the temperature of a wood fire perfect can be tricky. A wood fire is also harder to control than gas, charcoal, or briquettes. However, wood fires allow meat to retain heat better than any of the alternatives and a wood fire is also more environmentally friendly. The most important quality of a wood fire is that it better retains the moisture and flavour of your meat, leading to aromatic, succulent, and flavourful meals.
Top Tip: What wood works best? Select hardwood like mopane, kameeldoring and rooikrans as they burn hotter and for longer. Make sure your wood is completely dried out as wet wood produces volumes of smoke and does not heat efficiently.
3. Planning your Braai
Anyone who has tried to defrost a pack of boerewors in a hurry can testify to the fact that planning is essential in becoming the ultimate braai master. Take out your meat the night before the braai and allow it to defrost at room temperature.
Decide on the spice combinations that will work best with your beef, pork, chicken or seafood. For more on this check out: 5 Secret Spice Combinations for the Perfect Braai . To really lift your braai game, Robertsons Braai & Grill All-in-One is exactly what it promises to be. With perfectly balanced flavours from coriander, paprika, celery and thyme, you’ll be doing your red meat a favour with this one.
Another hot contender is Robertsons Braai & Grill Spicy BBQ with its layers of smoky paprika, onion, garlic and cumin It’ll transform shortribs into a tender, sticky feast, complemented by a delicious side of pap and chakalaka. . And if it’s a buttery and spicy steak you’re after, look no further than our sensational grilled ribeye recipe.
Make sure that you have enough of the essentials: wood or charcoal, firelighters and old newspapers. With a little planning you will be a step ahead of the rest.
4. Knowing When the Fire is Ready
A wood fire is ready when there is the wood has burnt away leaving red hot coals. Knowing the perfect temperature to put your meat on the grid comes with experience – a good excuse to braai more often! A good rule of thumb is to hold your hand over the grid to feel the heat:
• If you can keep it there for five seconds, your wood fire is ready for steak.
• If you can keep it there for seven seconds, it is time for the boerewors to go on.
• For chicken you need a cooler fire so if your hand can survive ten seconds, you can put the chicken on the grid.
5. Presentation is Key
If you want to impress your buddies with your braai craft, artful presentation is important. A large wooden board – rectangular or round – is ideal, with enough space to house a spice dip, relish or sauce. Try basil pesto steak sauce, mint pesto on lamb chops and Chimichurri Sauce on T-bone steaks.
6. Don’t Forget the Side Dishes
Mouth-watering meat, served alongside appetising side dishes made from fresh ingredients is the braai master’s pride and joy. Most South Africans have a favourite side dish recipe that they love to serve to friends. We at Robertsons have our personal favourites too:
• Braai Toasties are the South African version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Featuring Robertsons Braai & Grill All-in-One Spice and white cheddar cheese, these indulgent triangles have a way of upstaging the steak.
• Suzelle DIY is not the only person who can make a braai pie – you can too. Try this Cheesy Braai Pie recipe that is simple to prepare and serves eight people.
• Looking for a “steak” with a difference? Try our Mushroom
Steaks for a deeply flavourful, and intensely savoury, vegetarian grill.
• The last side dish we recommend is this Potato, Garlic and Herb Braai Bake. The potatoes are cooked in a creamy sauce and infused with fresh herbs. Delicious!
The most important element to the perfect braai is the company you keep and the memories you create. We hope these braai tips and tricks will serve you well next weekend when the craving strikes. Lekker braai!