(Bookstorm and Pan Macmillan, R250)
“You need to be able to make the perfect braai, without fuss or fanfare. It’s just one of those things that separate the men from the boys,” says Jan Braai, otherwise known as Jan Scannell. Born in Stellenbosch, this chargrilling guru had at least one braai a week when he was growing up and, after a career in finance, decided that making a living from braaiing was a far more savoury pursuit.
Now, with the release of Fireworks, Jan Braai has left no room for real men to make excuses when it comes to mastering the art of the tong and so much more – included in the book are lots of interesting facts and info on the history of braaiing, the ultimate braai kit, braai pantry essentials, grass-fed versus grain-fed and wet-aged versus dry-aged steak, not to mention the stylishly presented pages of recipes that take the term braai to a whole new high.
And with a chapter on tasty veggies, including filled butternuts, chargrilled mielies, aubergines and mushroom burgers, there’s a whole lot more to put on your plate than boerie and rolls…
HOW TO BRAAI THE PERFECT STEAK
To braai the perfect steak at your own home is one of those things you should be able to do with ease. As long as you stick to a few basic guidelines and pay attention to what you are doing, you will master this skill in no time. Once you can comfortably braai an awesome steak at home, this knowledge, skill and experience will be your foundation for doing it anywhere else, in whatever strange braaiing conditions life might throw at you. To braai the perfect steak, the actual steak that you are braaiing has to be of a certain quality. However well you braai it, a bad piece of meat is never going to turn out great. Later on in this book we go into more detail about that but, first things first: the following foundational principles will equip you with a culture of excellent steak braaiing that you can use for the rest of your life.
1. The steak should be at room temperature by the time it goes onto the fire.
2. You need plenty of extremely hot coals.
3. The exact height of your grid is not important. Anything between 5 and 15 centimetres is fine.
4. Steaks should be done medium-rare.
5. Add salt whenever you want to.
6. Take note of the time when the steaks go onto the grid and take them off after about 7 minutes.
7. Use braai tongs, not a fork, to turn the meat. A fork will make holes in the meat, and you might lose some juice.
8. The meat should be dry when it goes onto the fire; do not baste until both sides of the meat have been over the coals for 2 minutes each.
9. If you are using a hinged grid that closes (toeklaprooster) then obviously all the steaks will be turned at the same time. If you are turning the steaks one by one then turn them in the order that they went onto the grid and also remove them from the grid in that order.
10. Meat needs to ‘rest’ a bit after the braai, before you eat it.