Saturday, September 14, 2013



Culinary-wise, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, the bunny chow is probably the single biggest contribution Durban in KwaZulu-Natal has made to South African society. The bunny chow is essentially curry served in a hollowed-out piece of bread loaf, and I like to use a curry made with boneless meat for it. Although not quite Upington in the middle of summer, this curry is quite hot, so be ready for that. If you want it mild, use less chilli powder and if you’re a hardened Durban curry eater, use more.
WHAT YOU NEED (makes 4 quarter-loaf bunnies)
  • 2 tots oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tot masala (hot curry powder)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 500 g boneless lamb (or mutton, cut into cubes or strips)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed or chopped)
  • 1 tot fresh ginger (finely chopped or grated)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 potatoes (cut into small cubes)
  • 2 carrots (cut into slices)
  • 1/2 tot sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 loaf fresh white bread (you need absolutely stock-standard normal white bread, and you need it unsliced so that it can be cut to specification)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (chopped, to serve)
  • 1 punnet coriander leaves (to serve)
  1. Heat the oil in a potjie over a medium-hot fire and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until it becomes soft. Then add the masala and (optional) chilli powder and fry for 1–2 minutes until the pan becomes sticky. If at any stage during step 1 or 2 you have too much heat in the potjie and things start to burn (in a black way, not a chilli way), add a very little bit of water as a counter-attack – but only do this if it’s really necessary. We need the flavour to develop by means of getting a bit sticky at the bottom of the potjie.
  2. Add the meat, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 1 minute.
  3. Throw in the tinned tomatoes, chopped potatoes and carrots, sugar, salt and pepper, then stir, scraping the bottom of the potjie with your spoon to loosen any and all sticky bits.
  4. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium-low coals for about 30 minutes, stirring now and again so that the bottom of the potjie doesn’t burn. If no amount of stirring is going to stop the dish from burning, it means your potjie is too dry. Add a bit of water to rectify this but go easy. You’re making curry, not soup.
  5. After 30 minutes, take off the lid and stick a fork into the potatoes to make sure they’re cooked through. As soon as the potatoes are soft, the meal is essentially ready. Cook uncovered for a few minutes to allow the sauce to become a thick gravy. As soon as this happens the curry is ready, so take the potjie off the fire. Taste and adjust with a bit of extra salt if it needs it.
  6. Cut the loaf of bread into quarters and then scoop or cut out the centres of each quarter loaf, essentially creating a ‘bowl’ of bread for the curry. You’re basically creating four bowls of bread. Fill the hole of each quarter loaf with the curry and sauce. Serve the scooped out bread centre and a salad of tomato and fresh coriander leaves on the side.
Recipe & photo copyright: JanBraai


It’s a well-recognised fact that braaied steak goes well with red wine. What is further undisputed is that a steak braaied over the coals of an open wood fire has a unique, rather good taste. What we’re doing here is combining these universally accepted truths to create something that is, dare I say it, beautiful!
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 4)
  • 1 kg fillet steak (or slightly bigger)
  • 1 tot butter
  • 1/2 onion (chopped as finely as you can)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped very finely)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tot flour
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 2 tots sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional – to taste)
  1. Light a relatively big fire using your favourite braai wood.
  2. Remove the steak from its packaging. Rinse it under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen towels. Cut it into four equally sized portions and then season them well with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy with the pepper. Cover the steak to keep it safe from flies and proceed to the next step.
  3. Place a medium-sized flameproof pan or potjie over the fire. You want a pretty high heat but it must not be searing hot, so just use some of the burning logs under the potjie, not all of them.
  4. Melt the butter and then fry the onions, garlic and thyme leaves for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and starts to turn brown. If you’re a regular user of this book and are tuned in to the finer things in life, fry the onions first and add the garlic about 1 minute before the next step.
  5. Add the flour and stir well, then immediately add the red wine, stock, sugar and vinegar. Mix well, bring to the boil and then boil over high heat to reduce the liquid by half. Stir often. Depending on the size of your pot and the heat of your fire, this should take 15 minutes, but it could be slightly longer or slightly shorter. While the liquid is reducing, it should thicken and become a rich sauce. Taste the sauce at this point and season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that some beef stocks are already quite salty, so you might not need salt at all. When you’re happy with the texture of the sauce, remove from the fire.
  6. While you’re waiting for the sauce to reduce in step 5, braai the steaks over very high heat for about 8–10 minutes. Braai them on all four or six sides. That’s right, when you slice a 1 kg fillet steak into 4 pieces the shape of the fillet steaks can have four or six sides.
  7. Serve the steaks on warm plates and pour the red wine sauce over them.
The truth of the matter is that you could serve this sauce with any other cut of beautifully braaied steak. Personally, I’m quite attached to serving it with fillet because although fillet is so wonderfully tender, the sauce gives it that little kick of extra flavour it needs.
Recipe & photo copyright: JanBraai



WHAT YOU NEED (serves 6)
For the cheese sauce:
  • 2 tots butter
  • 2 tots cake flour
  • 2 cups milk (full cream, obviously)
  • 1 tot Dijon mustard
  • at least 1 cup grated mature cheese (1 cup of grated cheese is
  • about 100 g, but err on the side of extravagance – I use a mixture of
  • Cheddar, Parmesan and whatever else happens to be in my fridge)
  • salt and black pepper to taste (not all cheese has the same salt content)
For the burgers:
  • 1 kg good-quality beef mince
  • 1 tot olive oil
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • 1 packet smoked streaky bacon (200–250 g)
  • 6 hamburger rolls (sliced open and buttered on the insides)
  • lettuce leaves (washed and drained)
  • 2 large tomatoes (sliced)
Make the cheese sauce:
  1. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat and then add the flour. Stir until the flour is mixed smoothly with the butter, and then cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time.
  2. Pour in the milk bit by bit while stirring vigorously to incorporate it completely and make a smooth sauce. A wooden spoon should work fine, but if you struggle, use a metal hand whisk. Never leave the sauce unattended; believe me, I speak from experience. If at any time you feel you’re losing control, decrease the amount of heat reaching the pot and first fully combine everything already in the pot before adding more milk.
  3. As soon as all the milk has been incorporated, toss in the mustard and cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted.
  4. Take the pot off the heat and test for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if the sauce needs it. Some cheeses are very salty already and the sauce will only need a decent grinding of black pepper. Keep the sauce aside until the burgers are ready. Reheat and stir just before pouring it over the burgers – and don’t worry about that ‘skin’ forming on top of the sauce, for it stirs away. Alternatively, make the sauce while braaing the patties.
Make the burgers:
  1. Divide the mince into 6 balls, then use your clean wet hands to shape them into patties. Always flatten them a little more than you think, because they will shrink and thicken in the middle during the braai. Brush them with olive oil on both sides.
  2. Put the patties on an open grid and season the top with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, then carefully (yet confidently) flip them over with a metal spatula. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 5 minutes on the other side – 10 minutes in total. To be clear, you only turn the patties once on the braai. Every time you turn them, there is a risk of breaking them. Don’t fiddle with the patties while they are on the braai, because it only makes you look like a beginner.
  3. While you’re braaing the patties, also braai the bacon until crispy. You can do this in a pan, or you can lay the rashers out on the braai grid, and also only turn them once. Take care not to drop any bacon through the grid onto the coals.
  4. Put the sliced rolls buttered side down on the grid, then toast until they are golden brown. Take them off the fire. Don’t burn the rolls; it happens easily.
  5. To assemble the burgers: Put a piece of lettuce and 2 slices of tomato on the bottom half of the roll. The strips of crispy bacon go on next, then the braaied patty. Top it off with a generous helping of warm cheese sauce.

Pork Spare Ribs

There are three reasons why pork spare ribs taste so great. First, their relatively high fat content which bastes and flavours the meat as it braais; secondly, the high bone-to-meat ratio which means that the bones impart further flavour to the meat as they heat up during the braai; thirdly, that sweet and sticky sauce we usually enjoy with them. But marinades and sauces that contain sugar burn easily, so there are two things that can go wrong when you braai spare ribs:
  1. You remove them from the fire when you think the marinade is starting to burn, but then find the insides still raw.
  2. You braai them until the inside is done, but by that stage the marinade is burnt.
There is a very easy way to get around these two problems, which is to braai first and marinade later. Don’t marinade or baste the ribs, just braai them and remove them from the fire about 5 minutes before they are ready. Generously smother them in the sauce, then return them to the fire and complete the braai. The ribs will be properly cooked inside and your sauce will be nicely glazed without being burnt.
What you need (feeds 4)
  • 1.5 kg pork spare ribs
  • ½ cup honey (or golden syrup)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tot apple juice
  • ½ tot soy sauce
  • ½ tot paprika
 What to do
  1. Prepare the sauce: Mix all the ingredients (except for the ribs) together in a bowl. If there is anything else you wish to add to the sauce, do so.
  2. Braai the whole spare ribs over medium heat for 30 minutes until almost done.
  3. Remove the ribs from the fire and place on a cutting board. Cut into single ribs.
  4. Toss the ribs into the sauce bowl and coat them well. Use a spoon and/or shake the bowl around. Leave for a minute or three so that the exposed, meaty parts of the ribs can bond with and absorb the sauce.
  5. Braai the now generously basted ribs for between 2 and 10 minutes until all the sauce is warm and glazed. If during the cutting you saw that the ribs are basically done and will start to dry out, just braai them for a minute or two until the sauce is glazed, but if you saw they still have a way to go, make it closer to 10 minutes or even longer, also exposing the two recently cut sides of each rib to heat by letting them face the coals.
Honey adds a unique flavour to this recipe but you could also substitute golden syrup.
© Jan Braai (photo & recipe)

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Lets start with some very easy to make appetizers.

Braai'd or Smoked Chicken Wings make the Perfect Appetizer, Snack or Meal

Braaing: As difficult as it might sound, braaing is about the best way to cook  wings. Braaing allows the fat to drain away and gives you a nice, crispy wing without a lot of excess fat. Of course the real challenge in braaing chicken wings (beside them falling into the fire) is flare-ups and burning. To resolve this keep a medium heat. You don't want too high of a temperature. You will also need to turn the wings frequently to avoid burning. It will mean standing by the braai, but you can cook a lot of chicken wings in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Basting: Since you will need to pay some extra attention to you wings while they braai you can afford to use sauces or bastes that could normally cause burning. When it comes to chicken wings it's best to apply the sauce before or early in the cooking time. Marinades don't add a lot to wings. When braaing chicken wings you will want to turn the wings every 3 to 4 minutes. It is also a good idea to keep a portion of the grid clear in case of a flare-up that requires you evacuate your chicken wings to another location.

Finishing Up: A large batch of wings should be on the grid for about 15 to 20 minutes. As always with poultry overcook, never undercook. Test your chicken wings when they are getting close by removing one and cutting it open. There should be no pink inside and any juices should run clear. Wings are best served hot from the grid so plan everything ahead to get it done on time.

I'd suggest a nice dry white wine to compliment the sweetness of the wings. But you can not go wrong with the bitterness from a lovely cold beer!