Wherever you are on your braai journey – beginner or master –it always helps to have a checklist of braai hacks and no-nos to keep you on track. To add to our previous braai tips blog, we asked all the South African braai masters we know to share their secrets, then narrowed down their braai tips and tricks to this top list.
1. Preparation Is Everything
Visit your local butcher. The supermarket shelf isn’t an expert on best cuts.
Get into the habit of doing your shopping two days before the braai. This leaves you with an extra day if you’ve missed anything and you avoid the last-minute scramble.
2. Start With a Clean Grid
If don’t have steel brush, rub the grid with a large onion cut in half and/or newspaper.
3. Pay Attention to Temperature
To get juicier, more evenly cooked meat, take the meat out of the fridge and let it sit for 20-30 minutes so it reaches room temperature before braaing.
Bonus Tip: Braai with fat on the meat. Even if you don’t like eating fat, the dripping fat adds flavour. You can cut the fat off afterward.
We don’t recommend freezing meat. But if you have to, don’t use a microwave or boiling water to defrost it. Grab two metal pots and flip one upside down with the meat (wrapped in plastic) on top. Then fill the other with water and place it on top of the meat.
4. Different Meat, Different Heat
Steaks are best cooked at high temperatures, searing the outer layer to lock in the juices and flavour. Low-temperature cooking is better for chicken and fish, so leave the lid on to snuff out the flames. To make sure you get the cooking just right, we recommend our Stainless Steel Meat Thermometer.
Before you add the steaks onto the braai, push all the coals into one spot or turn up the gas on one side to get the perfectly seared steak.
For more tips on braai cooking times, read this.
5. There’s More to a South African Braai Than the Meat
Like wine pairs with food, the right side dish or salad complements your meat. Important to note, braai broodjies go well with everything.
Grilled veggies are a great addition to any braai. Wrap your veggies in tinfoil to avoid them falling through the rack. It requires minimal attention, and they will be more tender and flavourful.
6. Give It a Rest
Once your meat is off the braai, wait at least 5-10 minutes before slicing or serving. This gives the juices a chance to settle back into the meat.
During the resting time, cover the meat with a loose foil tent to help keep it warm and soak up its juices evenly.
7. End As You Started – By Cleaning the Grid
While the braai is still hot, use your steel brush to scrub the grit off of your cooking grates. You’ll thank yourself the next time you braai.
If you don’t have a brush handy, you can use the foil that was used to cover the meat to wipe the grid.
8. Abide By These South African Braai No-Nos
- Never tell the host how to braai.
- Don’t use your hands to handle food. Braai utensils are there for a reason.
- If you’re braaing on wood or charcoal, make sure you have enough. You don’t want to finish the braai in the kitchen.
- Don’t freeze your meat. Fresh cuts are better.
- Bring and braai – drink the drinks and eat the meat you brought.
- Don’t constantly skip the music. Put together a playlist and let it play.
- Make sure you don’t run out of ice, drinks and food. It’s better to have a left-over choppie for brunch the next morning than hungry eyes at the table.
9. Choose Your Fire
Depending on your own needs, the occasion, who will be coming to the braai, what you will be roasting, and what your guests’ dietary requirements are, you might choose to go for charcoal, gas or a smoker. If you really want to experiment, check out our latest and most versatile braai: the Apex Series 6 Burner Gourmet Plus Gas Braai.
10. Good People, Good Vibes
You can ignore all the previous tricks and tips, but if you’re enjoying a braai with your close friends and family, then even the worst braai will be great.
Want more tips? Check out our blog “How to Host the Best Rugby Stream Braai At Home”