As you well know, Heritage day is coming up and South Africans are celebrating our Heritage Day with good old fashioned braais, friends and family. During the month of September, My Chef are running a competition where you could stand the chance to win a gourmet braai for you and ten of your friends, catered by the My Chef team.
To enter, all you have to do is write a post on the My Chef Facebook page tellingus what your ideal Heritage Month meal would be using #MyChefHeritage. Competition closes on September 22, when we will announce who the lucky braai victor will be.
For those who enjoy a good braai; do you find yourself bored with the standard braai options, if so, don’t stress as My Chef has put together a whole new category of meal options for braai month. To find out more go to www.mychef.co.za
We have also put together some really fabulous tips to help you to make the perfect braai, from starting the fire, to how to cook various types of cuts and meats, and of course what to do with the left over’s; and more.
Tip 1: My Chef tips for the perfect braai starts with how to make the perfect fire – when cooking on a weber- be sure to let in the air, prepare firelighters, and then make a pyramid out of charcoal briquettes, then light the firelighters, arrange coals. After 25 minutes or so, the coals should have turned grey, spread the briquettes. Warm up the grid and then get cooking. Another little tip, when cooking on an indirect heat, put the lid on and let it cook.
Tip 2: The perfect marinade
- It’s important to get a few things right; top of the list is the seasoning. With seasoning your marinade could be bland or too salty, so do a taste test to check.
- Use fresh herbs instead of dried.
- Matching the herbs up with the correct protein is not always necessary. You would usually use mint and rosemary with lamb, although this combination also goes perfectly with pork or chicken. Be careful with adding ingredients like honey, as this can burn quickly and leave your meat bitter and burnt on the outside, yet undercooked in the center.
- You need to add an acid to your marinade, such as, vinegar or any type of citrus – lemon juice being the most popular. The acid will help the marinade to flavour and tenderise your meat, so be sure to leave your protein submerged in the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes. Better yet, leave it overnight.
- Fat content in the marinade is also important, you can infuse oils with chilli, herbs or spices by heating them up slightly, then adding your flavouring, letting them cool and storing them. The flavour will intensify day by day. It’s important to add your fat, olive oil, sunflower oil, butter etc, to the acid to help the marinade form an even coating to the meat as well as to help with the heat distribution. Score your meat where possible to help the marinade penetrate deeper. Ensure you have a balance between acid and fat. The usual measurement would be double fat to acid. This will help prevent the acid from over tenderising the meat.
Tip 3: How to cook fish on the braai in tinfoil – dressing fish.
- Firstly, some prefer to fillet the fish to remove bones.
- Fish can be one of the best proteins cooked on the braai if done correctly.
- When selecting a fish – be sure to have a decent sized fish to start off with; something like Snoek, Yellowtail, Tuna, or a good size Shad, make sure they are in season and SASSI friendly.
- Ensure that the fire is really hot – white coals “Peeps”.
- With some fish, try and keep the skin on, as it protects the flesh from overcooking.
- Be sure to score the skin, this will help prevent the fish from curling up. Have something to baste the fish, whether it is marinade, flavoured butter, mayonnaise, or some sort of dried rub sprinkled over.
- The best combination is something simple like freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned well and basted over the fish last minute, as this helps bring out the true flavour.
- Brush a little oil or spray on a large piece of heavy duty tinfoil large enough to handle your fish, making sure the shiniest side is facing up.
- Place the foil flat on the braai, place the fish in the center, skin side down, press it down flat with a spatula for a minute, you will see the protein starting to cook from the bottom up – turning a pale colour. Baste and season at this point and keep an eye on the colour as it will continue to change through the meat. Then when ready, flip it over with a spatula. Cook it for a mere 30 seconds on this side before removing it – it doesn’t take long to cook at all.
- When ready, sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or coriander; give a squeeze of citrus such as lime orange or lemon juice. Fish best done is simple – don’t overcook, and relish the flavours.
Tip 4: Valuable tips to braaing and cooking your meat perfectly
- When Braaing meat, the common mistake for most people is that their braai is normally full of different types of meat from family and friends. All types of cuts and marinades are presented to the braai master, usually leaving him or her muddled.
- First tip is to get a good wing man or woman – someone to take over the reins when you need to step away from the braai due to the calling of nature. The “Golden Rule” is to never leave a braai unattended. Your wing man can also serve as your refreshment provider, which you will need lots of.
- Spread the coals evenly and group your proteins, so chicken together, steaks together etc., this will help with your timing and braai consistency. Throw on any items that take the longest first, so any thick lamb chops, boerewors or chicken on the bone. Beef steaks like rump, fillet or sirloin should be cooked medium rare so they can go on at a later stage.
- Try not to turn the meat too regularly, 3 times on each side maximum, seasoning with each turn. Don’t poke your wors or any other meat during the braai process, you will lose important juices and be left sacrificing your cold brew to put out the flames. When the meat is done, place it in a closed braai dish in a warm, but not too hot area, you don’t want the meat to keep cooking in the dish. Allow the meat to rest before serving, period of at least 10 minutes. Be sure to tell your wingman to put the garlic bread in the oven 20 minutes before go time.
- Most importantly – Stay hydrated.
Tip 5: How to cook various types of meat
- Boerewors: twist and cut your wors into sausages this will make it easier to turn on the braai and prevent it from breaking during the flip. It also sets out even portions to ensure no one goes without.
- Chicken on the bone: Season or marinade the pieces overnight, microwave in a closed dish for 5-8 minutes before braaing, this will ensure the inside is cooked after it’s been flashed on the coals. We have all faced undercooked braai’d chicken, not good or as chef likes to say NOT SEXY!
- Steaks: Turn as little as possible, season well just before placing on the coals, during and after braaing, let them rest for 5-10minutes before slicing, don’t overcook or poke.
- Be sure to own a decent pair of tongs, and never try turn the meat with a fork you will poke it!
Tip 6: Ideas for vegetarian braai meals
- Black mushrooms stuffed with pesto and cheese, wrapped in foil and flashed on the braai.
- Sliced Brinjal, cooked over hot coals then dressed with some olive oil, wholegrain mustard and herbs. Halve then hollow out a butternut with the skin on, stuff it with ricotta, spinach and mushrooms.
- Anything vegetarian, wrap it in foil and leave it to bake on the side of the coals, turning regularly.
Tip 7: What to do with the left over braai meat
Preheat oven to 190 degrees, Chop leftover meat into small pieces, fry with a little olive oil and onion in a non-stick ovenproof pan, mix together some eggs with a dash of milk or cream (2 eggs to 2 tablespoons milk or cream), season well, add a tablespoon of butter to the meat mixture, once melted, add the egg mixture give it a stir and cook for 2 minutes, top with grated gouda or cheddar cheese, place in preheated oven for 5 minutes until cheese is melted, remove from pan and serve as pizza slices.
Tip 8: Super easy tasty salads.
Sliced celery, shredded red cabbage, grated apple, coat with mayonnaise and crumbled blue cheese, top with some chopped pecan nuts.
Lightly poached then cooled green beans with cherry tomatoes, crushed garlic and calamata olives, leave overnight coated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Tip 9: Garlic bread with a difference JJ
Buy a ciabatta loaf from the shop or preferably an artisanal bakery, slice it through horizontally, mix together, grated cheddar, mozzarella, feta cheese and herbs, add some dried chilli for a bite, butter each half liberally with garlic butter, fill with the cheese mixture, foil it up, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes on 190degrees.
Some braai-icious items on the My Chef menu to choose from in the month of September
- 3 Cheese and Herb Ciabatta – invite the neighbours to the party or they should invite themselves for this. Delicious, let the wife know 15 minutes before the meat is ready.
- Italian salad for 6 – Leafy Italian style salad, contains seasonal mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, red onion, and pesto dressing. Comes packed in a convenient container that serves 6.
- Ruby Coleslaw for 6 – Crunchy red cabbage and carrot with sweet dried cranberries, coated in My Chef’s secret sauce.
- Barbecued marinated pork spare ribs – lip smacking and finger licking, mouth-watering, juicy ribs. Ready to baste on the braai, or oven roast to perfection. 700g per portion.
- Chicken Flatti Party Pack for 6 – 2 Full flavoured marinated chicken flatties, lemon and herb, periperi, and 6 soft floured Portuguese rolls.
- Farm style boerewors – 500g of My Chefs selected premium boerewors.
- Sweet and sticky marinated Chicken thighs – 3 x farm fresh chicken thighs marinated in a tangy, sweet and sticky sauce, just braai or bake.
- Rump Espetada – 300g Portuguese marinated rump kebab, with onion and peppers.
- 6 extra thick beef patties – 6 x 150g real beef mince patties with no additives flavourants or preservatives, served with a tangy tomato and onion relish. Build your perfect burger.
- Cream and Garlic tender chicken fillets – Creamy and tender chicken, a simple combination – now that will get your vote.
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