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How to braai the perfect steak

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Comprehensive step by step instruction and recipe on how to braai perfect steak – by Jan Braai.

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MOUSSAKA POTJIE

moussakaI used to make moussaka in layers, similar to lasagne, which was complicated to do in a potjie on the fire. Then during a visit to Turkey I discovered there is actually a much easier way to go about it, and one that fits perfectly in the Democratic Republic of Braai.

WHAT YOU NEED(feeds 4–6)

600–700 g aubergines
(chopped into chunky cubes)
3 tots salt (on the aubergines, not into the potjie)
500 g beef mince
3 tots olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 onion (sliced)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1?2 cup white wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin cherry or chopped tomatoes (400 g)
2 tots tomato paste (or a 50 g sachet)
1 tot fresh parsley (chopped) FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
1 tot butter 1 tot flour
1 cup stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
1 cup milk
1?2 cup grated cheese (I prefer mature Cheddar)
salt and freshly ground pepper

WHAT TO DO

1. Aubergines are also called eggplants or brinjals. So when you go shopping, it might be labelled under any of those names. You need about 600–700 g of aubergine but as they are not always the same size, you will have to buy by weight and you will probably need two or three.
Go home, rinse the aubergines and chop them into chunks. Place the aubergine chunks on a flat surface like a cutting board, sprinkle the 3 tots of salt over them, and leave to stand for 20 minutes. The salt will draw out liquid from the aubergine and make it less bitter. This will also lead to the correct consistency of the final meal. After 20 minutes, place them in a colander and rinse well. It’s important to rinse the salt off, as the extra salt will make your dish too salty.
2. Position your potjie over flames or hot coals and then fry the beef mince in 1 tot of olive oil in the potjie. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. When the meat starts to brown, remove all of it from the potjie and keep in a safe place away from flies, dogs and hyenas.
3. Now add the remaining 2 tots of olive oil to the potjie and fry the onion and the prepared aubergine pieces from step 1. Fry all of this for as long as it takes to get the aubergine pieces to drop their attitude and soften up. The exact time will depend on the shape of your potjie and the heat of your fire but let’s say in the region of 6 minutes.
4. Now add the garlic, stir that through and then also add the fried mince back into the pot and stir through.
5. Next you throw in all the remaining ingredients (but not the sauce ingredients), which means you add the wine, cinnamon, oregano, tomatoes, tomato paste and parsley. Put the lid on the potjie and let it simmer very gently for 20 minutes. At this stage you want coals, but not flames, under the potjie.
6. During this time, make the sauce by melting the butter in a pot and wait until it starts to bubble. Add the flour and mix well. Add the stock a little bit at a time, and stir continuously. Once all the stock is in, add the milk in the same way until you have used all of it, stirring continuously. Stir in all the cheese and your sauce is now ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Use your wooden spoon to slightly even out and flatten the aubergine pieces and their other friends in the potjie. Pour over the white sauce and put the lid on the potjie.
8. Bake for 30 minutes with coals under the potjie and by placing coals on the lid of the potjie. There is a fair margin for error here and the meal will in all likelihood be ready when you think that it is ready.

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MY FIRST FAVOURITE PASTA

My first favourite pastaDuring my formative years of high school, my father expected me to start taking over part of the braai duties, like making the fire. As I progressed in my braai career, I was later even allowed to turn the grid, on his instruction from a chair of course. At that time my mother also started teaching me a few kitchen fundamentals, like how to make a lasagne. During this era of my life, one of our family’s favourite restaurants served a pasta that I absolutely loved. So much so that at that young and inexperienced age I embarked on a research and development project to recreate that dish at home.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4–6)
500 g pasta
1 tot olive oil
1 tot butter
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 packet bacon (250 g, chopped)
1 punnet mushrooms (250 g)
4 chicken breast fillets
salt and pepper
1 cup cream
fresh green herbs (chopped, optional for serving)
lemon wedges (to serve, optional)

WHAT TO DO
1. Place your classic three-legged potjie on the fire and boil the pasta in salted water until 80% done. The trick here is to not boil it all the way, as we’re going to add it back to the meal later for a second round of cooking. Drain the partly cooked pasta from the pot and preserve some of the liquid in a cup.
2. Put the potjie back on the fire and add the oil, butter and chopped onion. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it starts to get a nice colour.
3. Now add the chopped garlic, chopped bacon and mushrooms to the pot. Depending on the size of the mushrooms and how much you like to make extra work for yourself, you can either chop or not chop them. Stir-fry until the bacon and mushrooms are cooked.
4. While the bacon and mushrooms are cooking, scrape some coals from the fire and braai the 4 chicken breast fillets. You can season them with normal salt and pepper or your favourite braai spice. Chicken breast fillets take about 6 to 10 minutes to braai, so this meal is going to come together very nicely at the end!
5. Back to the pot: Once you are happy with the bacon and mushrooms, add the 80% cooked pasta from step 1 back to the pot and add the cream to it. Stir through paying specific attention to the fact that the pot should not run dry and burn. If at any stage the pot looks a bit dry, add some or all of the pasta water you preserved in step 1.
6. Once the chicken breasts are braaied, remove them from the fire and artfully slice them diagonally into strips. Now mix the chicken breast strips into the pasta.
AND…
If you’re so inclined and attuned to the finer details, the meal can be finished with a drizzle of high-quality South African olive oil, fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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SHERRY BOEREWORS SLIDERS

Sherry Boerewors slidersA ‘slider’ is the culinary term for a miniature hamburger or more accurately, a small piece of meat served on a mini bread roll. Forming and braaing miniature little patties always seemed like far too much hard work to me, as both the preparation and the braaing would be complex. Boerewors was an easy solution to this. My other problem with sliders is that they are sometimes heavy on the bread and light on the meat. Again, this is something we can solve by simply not closing them with another piece of bread, thereby upping our ratio of meat to bread. Sherry, the original Old Brown type, is a very good value-for-money product to braai with, and one of the core ingredients of this recipe. The sweetness of the sherry complements the spiciness of the boerewors perfectly.
WHAT YOU NEED (makes about 30 pieces)
1.2 kg boerewors (medium thick)
2 cups sherry
1 tot olive oil
1 tot butter
3 onions (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 long fresh baguette
skewers

WHAT TO DO
1. Cut the boerewors into pieces of about 6 cm each.
2. Put the pieces of meat into a bowl and pour the sherry over them. Cover the bowl and let the boerewors marinate in a fridge for a few hours.
3. Remove the boerewors pieces from the sherry and skewer them. It doesn’t matter how many skewers you use as it’s not a case of a skewer per person. Do not discard the sherry.
4. When the fire is lit, heat up a fireproof pan or potjie and sauté the chopped onion in the oil and butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
5. Pour all the sherry that the boerewors was swimming in into the pan or potjie with the onion and garlic and bring to the boil. Stir regularly and let this cook and reduce by half.
6. Put the marinated boerewors skewers in a hinged grid, close the grid and braai over hot coals for about 8 minutes until done. Give each side at least two looks at the coals, meaning you need to turn the grid at least three times in total.
7. During the braai, you or one of your braai party members can cut the baguette in thin slices (we want maximum meat-to-bread ratio so keep the slices thin).
8. Arrange the slices of baguette on a platter and give each piece some of the sherry and onion sauce.
9. When the boerewors is ready, take it off the fire, pull out the skewers and place a piece of braaied sherry-infused boerewors on each prepared slice of baguette.

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CINNABUNS

GBP_9624WHAT YOU NEED:

For the dough:
500 g cake flour
1 tot sugar
1 packet (10 g) instant yeast
Pinch of salt
1 cup lukewarm water

For the filling:
1/2 cup tots soft Butter
2 tots Cinnamon
2 tots Soft brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 tots honey

For the sauce
:
1 tub (250 g) cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (depending on how you like the sauce to be)
1 cup icing sugar


What to do:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and yeast together. Pour the lukewarm water over the flour and start to knead the mixture until you have a soft elastic ball of dough.
  2. Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise to double the size.
  3. Dust a clean surface with flour and knock down the dough for the 2nd time. Use your rolling pin or any heavy object and roll out the dough into a big rectangle.
  4. Spread the butter over the dough, followed the cinnamon, sugar, nuts, raisins and finally drizzling some honey all over.
  5. Use your hands and neatly roll op the rectangle, making sure to keep all the stuffing inside.
  6. Cut the long log into smaller rounds, and place into your potjie that has been prepared with butter,oil or non stick spray.
  7. Bake on the fire o medium hear with coals at the bottom and on top for about 30 – 40 minutes. until cooked inside.
  8. Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce , and drip over the cinnabns.
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BRAAI FREEDOM FIGHTER

Freedom FighterThe Braai Freedom Fighter does not play games. It’s a robust burger with little interest in debate and it dominates your plate. You use 100% pure red meat (steak) to make the burger patties, and the sauce is made with the finest red ingredients known to braai kind – significant figureheads like red onions, red bell peppers, paprika, cayenne pepper and tomato. Even the stock we use to bring it all together is beef stock, stock from a red-blooded 100% red meat animal. If the ferocity of the Braai Freedom Fighter scares you, enjoy it with a dollop of fresh sour cream, as the two complement each other very well.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)

1 kg steak mince
4 hamburger rolls (buttered)
1 tot olive oil
2 red onions (sliced or chopped)
2 red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped)
1 tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
2 tots paprika
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 tot tomato paste
½ cup beef stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black
pepper sour cream (for serving; a 250 ml tub is more than enough)
parsley (to garnish)
WHAT TO DO
1. Heat the oil in a potjie and fry the onions and peppers for about 4 minutes until they start to soften, then throw in the garlic. Onions take longer to cook than garlic, so always fry onions before adding the garlic. This is general advice and is not only applicable to this recipe.
2. Add the chilli powder and paprika and toss to release their flavours. Then also add the tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock, and mix to combine them all. Bring to the boil, close the lid and simmer until you start to braai the patties. Basically you want to let it simmer so that the flavour can develop while the fire burns down and you can start to braai. Check every now and then to stir the potjie and make sure it doesn’t cook dry. You want the sauce to thicken but you don’t want it to burn.
3. Making and braaing 100% beef patties is comprehensively described for hand-chopped burgers (page 28). In the case of the Braai Freedom Fighter I usually go for homemade machine-minced meat. It’s a little less effort than hand-chopped mince but the Braai Freedom Fighter sauce is so dominant that you will barely notice the difference. Otherwise get good mince from your butcher.
4. Form the 1 kg of fantastic mince into four patties using your recently washed hands and braai over very hot coals for 8 minutes, turning only once. Grind or sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on both sides just before, or during the braai. The patties get no other binding ingredients or seasoning.
5. When you start braaing the patties, take the lid off the sauce and let it reduce to your liking, adding extra heat under the potjie if necessary to get it reducing more rapidly.
6. During the final minutes of the braai, toast the insides of the cut and buttered rolls on the grid over the coals for bonus points.
7. Assemble the burgers: Roll, patty, Braai Freedom Fighter sauce, dollop sour cream, chopped parsley.

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