Food & Drink

How to prepare the perfect South African braai

Before you slap the sausage on the skottel, make sure you’ve got all the right ingredients for a suiwer South African braai. Continue reading to discover top braai tips and advice for a delicious summertime spread.

South African braai

By Expatica

Updated 16-1-2024

Any South African worth their (braai) salt will tell you that boerewors, rugby, and sunny skies are the essentials of a proudly African braai. Add tangy potato salad, a couple of juicy steaks and a group of friends to share it with, and you’ve got a recipe for an irresistibly delicious, fun-filled feast!

Think you’ve got the perfect South African braai down pat? Before you slap the sausage on the skottel, make sure you’ve got all the right ingredients for a suiwer South African braai. Continue reading to discover top braai tips and advice for a delicious summertime spread.

Top 10 South African braai tips for perfectly prepared meat

Have you mastered the art of braaiing? For some, this traditional South African cooking method takes years to perfect. But thanks to the braai tips offered below, you’ll be able to hone your braaiing skills in no time. Impress your guests with a couple of nifty culinary tricks!

  • Buy the best quality meat you can find, and ensure that it is aged before being braaied. Ripen beef in your fridge for one week prior to braaiing, and lamb for five days. Ageing your meat not only tenderises it, but also greatly enhances its flavour.
  • For the tastiest, most tender fare, marinate your meat overnight. This will allow the meat to become infused with the rich flavour of the marinade. If you’re unable to marinate overnight, allow the meat to soak in the mixture for as long as possible prior to braaiing. Always store meat (marinated or not) in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
  • If you’re braaiing with wood or coal, use fuel that produces long-lasting coals. Begin braaiing your meat only once the flames have died down and the embers are white-hot in colour. The grid, preferably non-stick or coated in non-stick spray, must be hot before the meat is placed onto it, and should be positioned roughly 10 centimetres above the coals.
  • Here’s an easy test to check whether the coals are ready for braaiing: hold your hand above the embers for the count of 10. If you have to pull your hand away before you reach 10, the coals are still too hot. If you can comfortably hold your hand over the coals for much longer, the embers are too cool. In this case, lower the grid, or add more coal or fire to create fresh, hotter embers.
  • Make cooking chicken a cinch! For juicy, tender chicken, microwave or boil the meat (preferably marinated) for 10 to 20 minutes prior to braaiing. Once you place it on the fire, cover it with a lid and allow to simmer, turning occasionally so that the meat remains soft while the skin becomes crispy.
  • Want perfectly succulent cuts? Don’t turn the meat too often whilst braaiing. Seal the meat, then allow one side to become golden brown in colour before flipping it over to brown the other side.
  • Never add salt to meat prior to cooking as it results in toughness. Rather, sprinkle braai salt over your meat after it has been cooked, or just before it is done.
  • Braais are not just for cooking meat! You can also prepare mielies, potatoes, braai broodjies and other delicious goodies over the coals. Ensure that when you cover these items with tin foil, the shiny side is facing inwards. Use thick, heavyweight foil to prevent food from burning.
  • No one likes cleaning up – but you can simplify the process of cleaning your grill by rubbing half a raw onion or half a lemon on it while the grill is still hot. This helps to lift dirt from the grill while adding delicious flavour to the next batch of meat. Less elbow-grease, more enjoyment!
  • Something savoury, something sweet – once you’ve cooked the meat, treat your guests to a sweet, indulgent delight! Take a couple of bananas and slit the peel along the inner curve. Fill with thin slices of Bar One chocolate and, if you like, a dash of liqueur. Wrap the bananas tightly in tin foil and place on the braai until the peel is dark brown in colour. Unwrap the fruit carefully and serve with ice-cream. Lekker!

Bernd Klingenberg is a braai devotee and runs a hugely popular braii community blog with advice, ideas, tips, recipes and anything else connected to a braai.