Coenraad Vermaak. Picture: Supplied
Coenraad Vermaak. Picture: Supplied

A master butcher's top tips for the best braai ever this Heritage Day

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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With Heritage Day just around the corner, we are starting to get excited for one of our favourite South African traditions, dubbed ‘Braai Day’. It’s a festive occasion, where we call on our loved ones and invite them to share our wonderful South African heritage, by having a braai in the sun (we hope).

That said, if you are planning to get in touch with your inner South African, brave the weather and braai on Heritage Day, below Shoprite’s master butchers share their top braai tips for cooking on fire this Heritage Day.

Songezo Basela

Basela says he usually chooses braai rump steak. He says if you’re looking for the best rump to braai, pick out a steak that has good fat content – marbled fat inside the meat will always add flavour to a rump steak.

“Braaing rump is also relatively easy to do because it’s a soft steak. I suggest you rub it with olive oil, pepper, and salt on both sides. Cook it to medium-rare. I usually aim for four minutes on each side. After it’s cooked, pour on a cheese sauce and serve with a good side salad. And if you want to retain some of the heat, consider using rock coals,” says Basela.

Khuselo Dindili

Dindili is a big fan of beef on the braai, and in particular, he likes beef brisket.

“The fat on top brings amazing flavour to the meat. I add a few spices, place it over light coals and cook it very slowly. I also love to braai a good rib-eye steak. Similar to the beef brisket, a rib-eye has great fat inside the meat which also brings amazing flavour to your steak,” he says.

Coenraad Vermaak

Vermaak says when he braais, he likes to go for a cut of beef known as the picanha. He says it has a nice layer of fat on top, and he usually recommends adding some salt and pepper. “Braai it for about seven or eight minutes aside, and slice it as thin as you can. If you have a thick slab of meat, you can also consider cooking it on a salt plate – it takes a bit longer but adds a great salty flavour. If you’re keen to cook chicken this braai day, my colleague John Rae also taught me a great recipe. Use a deboned whole chicken, add sun-dried tomato, basil pesto, a layer of bacon, and a good quality cheese that melts nicely. Season it, roll it up into tinfoil, and then put that over the coals. When you cut it, you get great layers of all the flavours.”

Tony de Sousa

De Sousa loves making a nice espetada with pieces of good quality rump, on a braai over hot coals.

“Look for a nice piece of rump with a good covering of fat. You only need to add minimal flavouring – there’s no need to add marinades and other sauces. Just add a bit of salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves, rub it on, and that’s all you need – it’s a basic recipe, but that way, you’re tasting the quality of the meat. I usually add a bit of olive oil so that when it hits the coals, it seals it nicely, keeping the juices in. Rare to medium rare is perfect on that rump,” he says.

John Rae

“A whole picanha roast is a favourite of mine, particularly if you’re entertaining other people. Marinade it with a bit of balsamic vinegar for an hour before cooking. And then, add a bit of salt and pepper, and put it straight onto the braai. That’s it! Make sure you cook the fat nice and crispy. How long you cook it depends on how well people like their steak – but the triangular shape of a picanha means it’s an excellent option for entertaining because everyone likes their steaks cooked a little bit differently. This way, you can have some well-done meat and some that are closer to medium,” says Rae.

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