Braai, The Beloved Country
South Africa celebrates its National Braai Day on September 24. To celebrate, Cook Sister is hosting Braai, The Beloved Country. As a South African I could not pass up this opportunity since I had recently experienced quite a few braai’s whilst back in the motherland. A braai or BBQ is a proud South African tradition where enough meat is grilled on an outdoor fire to feed a small, hungry army or in our case nine people on this particular day. A braai is always a social occasion. It’s so much more than just grilling meat. It is a cultural phenomenon. It’s intrinsic to the South African way of life. You cannot be South African and not love a good braai!
The braai is usually accompanied by pap, a traditional staple from maize. Imagine a white, fluffy version of polenta. Pap is usually accompanied by a gravy made from tomatoes and onions. Each family usually have their own secret gravy ingredients. My mom’s version includes tomatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic and a touch of chilli. This is then simmered into a sauce and served with pap and of course whichever part of the beast you happen to enjoy, be it boerewors ( a traditional South African sausage), lamb or pork chops, steak or a bit of ribbetjie (lamb or pork rib).
Many braaiers (those who braai or bbq), have their own sauces and marinades that they rub, dip and massage into the meat to get that perfect flavour. I follow the school of less is more cooking, so I keep things simple. Mostly because I believe that the quality of ingredients should speak for themselves. Meat should be free range, grass fed and preferably free of nasty additives.
We visited the most wonderful butcher in George for the meat you see in the photograph above. Boerewors (loosely translated as Farmer’s Sausage), is a traditional South African sausage, which comes in a variety or flavours such as Grabouw, Rooikrans, Farmstyle and Weskus Plaaswors to name a few. Each has its own combination of herbs and spices to give its unique flavour. Traditionally it is flavoured with coriander, cumin, cloves and nutmeg. On this particular day we found Rooikrans and the most delicious fig and blue cheese Boerewors. It was heavenly! The meat is loose inside the sausage membrane, similar in texture to Italian sausages. Boerewors made by a good butcher, usually with a combination of pork and beef, is free of additives and full of natural flavour. We couldn’t resist a rack of pork ribs, an all time favourite of ours and of course some wonderful Karoo Lamb chops (shame poor little lambs).
Of course you do nothing to the Boerewors apart from putting it on the fire, but the chops need a little something extra just to add that extra dimension to the goodness that nature already created. We have the most beautiful, robust rosemary bush in the herb garden, and of course rosemary and lamb are a perfect match! I simply rub the finely chopped rosemary and some olive oil into the lamb chops and let them rest to take on the flavour of the rosemary for at least an hour before they are put onto the braai. They are simply delicious. No fancy ingredients or combinations, just finely chopped rosemary leaves and a touch of olive oil. If you have fantastic, high quality meat, you really need nothing else. The flavour is already there.
Happy Braai Day South Africa.
Rosemary Rub for Lamb Chops.
Several large handfuls of fresh rosemary
Pull the rosemary leaves off the stalks.
Using a mezzaluna (what else?) or sharp chef’s knife chop the rosemary leaves finely.
Rub the chops with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the rosemary liberally onto the meat and pat onto the meat.
Allow the meat to rest and take on the flavour of the rosemary.
Braai until preferred “doneness”. I like mine still pink inside.