Braais are a favourite South African pastime, which is perhaps why we manage to do it so well. It also makes ideal entertaining for just about any occasion. Hilary Biller offers some braai-time ideas in her book, Fuss-free Braais, published by Random House Struik. If it’s a bird you are wanting this Christmas, we’ve selected two of the fabulous meat dish recipes from the book, along with some interesting salads and dessert ideas
DUCK BREAST WITH GRIDDLED ORANGE SLICES
The combination of duck and orange is a culinary marriage made in heaven. Quick to cook, duck breast is delicious and makes a stylish meal with very little fuss. Serves 4.
* Gas braai
* Kettle braai direct
* Wood or charcoal fire
4 duck breasts, salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oranges, unpeeled and ends cut off, cut into 6 thick round slices
Using a sharp knife, cut a crisscross pattern across the skin side of the duck breasts without cutting through to the flesh. Season generously.
Cook the breasts over the fire, starting skin side down, for 4-5 minutes on each side, if you like it rare, and 6-8 minutes on each side, if you like it more well done. In the last couple of minutes of cooking time, place the orange slices directly on the braai grid and cook on both sides, pressing down to leave the griddle marks on the fruit. Serve with the duck, along with boiled new potatoes and parsley, or a French salad.
TURKEY ON THE BBQ
There’s a delicious smokiness and succulence to a turkey on the braai. And, of course, cooking outdoors is part of the charm of a South African lifestyle. Serves 6 to 7.
* Gas braai – ensure the turkey will fit with the lid closed, or spatchcock the bird
* Kettle braai indirect
5 naartjies (or use 4 oranges), halved
8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
small handful black peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
750ml bottle white wine
250ml (1 cup) white port
5-6kg turkey, defrosted
125g butter, softened slightly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 whole cloves
Make the marinade by squeezing the juice from the naartjies and combine it with the rest of the marinade ingredient. Reserve the naartjie halves.
Place the turkey in an extra-large zip-lock bag or extra-large plastic bag. Pour over the marinade and marinade in the refrigerator overnight. Turn from time to time.
The next day, remove the turkey from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and pat the skin dry with paper towel. Using your fingers, carefully lift the skin from the breast without breaking the skin, and do the same from the neck side of the bird.
Combine the butter, juniper berries and seasoning. Spread on the breast meat under the skin and do the same from the neck side. Divide the cloves between the naartjie halves and pack the halves in the turkey cavity.
Place the turkey on a metal baking tray or in a foil container and place on the fire. For the kettle braai, the turkey is ideally placed on the special roast holder, with the foil drip tray underneath to catch the juices.
Cook for 21/2 to 3 hours, basting frequently with the marinade. Use the pan juice and left-over marinade to make the gravy. To keep the temperature constant in the kettle braai, replenish the coal at least once halfway through the cooking time. Leave the turkey to stand for 15 minutes for easy carving.
With a dash of heat and spice, fresh pineapple can be turned into a delicious dessert served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.
2 pineapples, peeled and halved lengthways
5ml (1tsp) cayenne pepper
15ml (1tbs) grated root ginger
125ml (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
4 vanilla pods
Combine the pepper and ginger, and rub the rounded side of each pineapple with the mixture.
Place the pineapple halves flat side down on four individual sheets of foil big enough to cover the fruit. Sprinkle with the brown sugar. Break each vanilla pod into pieces and stud each pineapple half with vanilla.
Without covering the pineapples completely, bring up the sides of the foil to cover each pineapple half.
Place on the fire for 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat, until soft and fragrant.
Open the package. Baste the fruit with the juice in the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or cream.
HONEY CHEESE BAKE
Almost like a cheesecake, but without the base or the fuss when it comes to making it. Serves 6 to 7.
2 extra-large eggs
60ml (4tbs) sugar
30ml (2tbs) cake flour
100ml runny honey, plus extra for drizzling
15ml (1tbs) lemon juice
15ml (1tbs) brandy
500g ricotta cheese or full-cream cream cheese
5ml (1tsp) ground cinnamon mixed with 15ml (1tbs) sugar, or icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together.
Beat in the flour and add the honey, lemon juice and brandy.
Fold in the cheese and whisk until thick and creamy.
Pour the mixture into a 1 litre glass baking dish or baking tin and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly before drizzling over a little runny honey and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar, or dusting with icing sugar.
Serve warm or cold with a selection of fresh fruit or berries.
CARROT AND ORANGE SALAD WITH OLIVES
Bright orange in colour, this is an unusual combination that really works. The sweetness of the carrots and oranges is offset by the olives’ saltiness. Serves 6 to 8.
500g carrots, washed
6 oranges, peeled and sliced horizontally
250ml (1 cup) mixed olives
75ml (5tbs) olive oil
25ml (5tsp) white wine, vinegar, Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5ml (1tsp) sugar
5ml (1tsp) paprika
15ml (1tbs) curry paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch chilli powder, or more to taste
1 bay leaf
Juice and zest of 1 large orange
Start off with the dressing by combining all the ingredient in a glass screw-top jar. Shake well to mix.
Peel the carrots and, using a vegetable peeler, slice down the carrots to create ribbons.
Combine the carrot ribbons and orange slices on a large serving platter (it looks good on white) and top with the olives. Shake the dressing well and pour over the salad.
Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes before serving to absorb the flavours. - The Mercury