Braaivleis is an Afrikaans word meaning “meat grill”, and most often is abbreviated as Braai (rhymes with “dry”). South African Braai is a very popular way of preparing food in this country. In addition to their love of all kinds of seafoods, South Africans love meat: red meat, poultry, pork, lamb, goat, and they have a love of cooking meals over an open fire.
So grilling meats over an open fire, which is really all that braai is, comes naturally to them as a favored kind of meal preparation.
And they like to share in the fun. Having a Braai is an immensely social occasion, one in which family and friends gather to enjoy good company (and drink lots of beer!) before and during the grilling, and of course sharing in the tasty grilled meat and side dishes once the braai is done. Also, although it is traditionally the women who do the cooking, having a braai is the most likely time you will find a South African man doing the grilling.
Anything can be grilled for a braai, even seafood, but traditionally the meal will consist of mammoth slabs of racks of lamb, lamb cutlets, beef steaks, pork ribs, and the South African specialty sausage, boerewors.
For the side dishes, an assortment of vegetables, most often quartered onions, cubed butternut squash and potatoes are seasoned with salt and pepper, perhaps some braai herb seasoning, are wrapped up tight in a couple layers of aluminum foil. Also in the fold they will add some garlicky herb butter, to not only prevent food from sticking to the foil, but to add even more flavor. The packages are then placed in the smoldering embers to cook during the meat grilling.
You ready for your South African Braai?
Good. Me too. Just reading this next recipe has The Old Silly quite hungry!
T-Bone Steak Braai with Mustard and
Sun-Dried Tomato Garlic Butter
For the steak-
- T-bone steaks, thick cut (1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ thick) and with a generous amount of meat on the fillet side of the bone
- Beef braai marinade
- Braai spice mixed herbs
- freshly ground course sea salt and black peppercorns
For the Flavored Butter-
- Store-bought garlic and herbs butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
For the Flavored butter:
Combine the ingredients to form a paste.
Refrigerate until needed.
For the Steak-
- Using a resealable plastic bag, put the steaks inside and pour in enough marinade to cover them well. Shake and turn the steaks several times, then refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours. Turn the bag over a few times during the marinating time, to make sure all steaks are equally marinated on all sides.
- Get your coal good and hot, then Braai the steaks for 3 to 5 minutes each side, depending on desired doneness. Turn them over just one time.
- Use the braai spice to season them during the grilling. When you turn the steaks over, plop on top a generous portion of the flavored butter – enough so it oozes all over the surfaces and even drizzles a little down the sides.
- Take them off the grill, and allow to stand for 3 or 4 minutes, then serve.
And remember, a real South African Braai is a big deal social event, so braai lots of steaks, have a keg of beer on ice, and invite family and good friends over. You want to have a grand time, like this example of a true South African Braai.
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