The 24th September is National Braai Day – and this is a time when many South African’s unite under one flame as they spend their day outdoors braaing with friends and family. Think you’ve got the perfect South African braai down pat? Before you light up those coals, make sure you’ve got all the right ingredients to make ‘the perfect braai’ you can be proud of!

Spread the word

The first step in planning the perfect braai is deciding on how many guests you will be inviting. This will not only help you define a setting, but will help for catering purposes as well. A small garden braai might suit a small group of people, however, if the number of guests increases well past your property’s capabilities then perhaps consider having a braai at one of your local braai spots. Before picking a braai spot make sure you check with your municipality if fires are allowed in the area.

The second step is deciding on the perfect time. Braais usually take place in the afternoon or early evening, but the specific timing of your event will probably depend on what the weather is like and what time your guests are able to arrive. Usually most South Africans plan the braai time around the time the rugby is on. Now that you have chosen your guest list, location and time, you can continue with the next step.

Make a list of all the supplies you will need. Plates, serviettes, cutlery, condiments, ice and firewood are all among the essentials for a perfect braai. Once these are accounted for, you can plan which side dishes to serve with your perfectly char-grilled braai meat.

Bring and braai

The lists of side dishes are endless; potato salad, pasta salad, green salad, coleslaw, braaibroodjies, sweet corn and garlic bread. These all complete the ideal South African braai. A braai is often a relaxed affair where you can delegate guests to contribute certain dishes which makes the task of catering a breeze.

Which side dish can you not do without at a braai?

Potato salad came out tops in our latest facebook poll with a whopping 38%, followed by garlic bread at 20% and a green salad variety at 8%.

Once all the initial planning has been completed you can step outside and take the last few ‘braai master’ steps. Make sure your braai and entertainment area is in tip top condition and ready to take on all your guests. If your garden still looks like winter, then sweep up the leaves, cut the grass and give everything a good clean. The patio furniture, outdoor bin and braai should all be washed down, and most important make sure there are plenty of seats, indoors and out.

Seating tip: If you don’t have enough chairs, ask your guests to each bring one camping/fold-up chair of their own. This way you can ensure that no one goes without a seat.

Now comes the good part!

Preparing your braai meat is the easy part, yet is the most vital if you want to ensure a tasty outcome. Buy the best quality meat you can find, and marinate overnight as this will ensure the meat becomes infused with the rich flavour of the marinade.

So what meat will you be throwing onto the flames?

According to our facebook poll, 27% of our fans choose to braai chops over any other meat. This is followed closely by 25% devouring boerewors and another 20% sinking their teeth into a juicy steak. 10% of our fans chose chicken and only 7% chose a vegetarian option.

Warm up your meat

 According to Weber® South Africa, “letting your meat sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before you pop it on the grill will help allow the fibres to warm up and relax a little, making for faster cooking and juicier meat!”

Ready, set, braai!

There are different types of braais on the market, which all affect the method of cooking. The way you braai usually comes down to personal choice, although many South Africans will opt to cook over warm embers, using the usual grill braai way.

We asked our facebook fans which braai method they preferred, and the results were not surprising!

85.12% Prefer a grill braai

Followed by a gas braai at 2% and a skottel at a meagre 0,5%.

If you have chosen the good old fire and coal method, you will need to use a fuel which produces long-lasting coals. Once the flames have died down and the coals are white-hot in colour, only then should you start cooking your meat. The grid positioned roughly 10 centimetres above the coals, must be hot before the meat is placed onto it.

Only turn your meat once or twice. Many aspiring braai masters will make the mistake of turning their meat too often. If the heat is right, most foods only need to be turned once or maybe twice during cooking. This process guarantees a tastier outcome, as the longer your meat stays in one place the more flavours it will soak up.

Scared of over cooking your meat?

Weber® South Africa has a great cooking times chart, which if followed, will ensure perfectly done meat. Click here to view the chart.

Now you are all set to host the perfect braai. Before you go take note of the following important braai tips:

  1. Always keep a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies.
  2. Ensure your braai area is well lit, should it get darker while braaing.
  3. Don’t leave the braai unattended.
  4. Keep all raw food separate and keep it wrapped and refrigerated until it is ready to be cooked.
  5. Never add salt to meat prior to cooking as the salt will draw more moisture resulting in a tough meat. Rather, sprinkle braai salt over your meat after it has been cooked, or just before it is done.

Credit : Property24