There’s nothing more South African than cooking on the fire, so we chatted to three chefs who’ve made it a habit to harness the flame.

Grilled to Perfection
Heinz Brunner | Local Grill & Weber Grill Academy

  • With the challenges of load shedding the braai is the answer – whether you use briquettes or gas, it’ll work.
  • Do your homework before investing in a braai – buy the piece of equipment which is best suited to you and your operation. Make sure you get the right kind of fire, and also remember that you can’t speed up a braai – it takes time.
  • Never braai before the briquettes have reached their ultimate heat and if you’re braaiing with a Weber, leave the lid off so that it can reach that heat.
  • I love the Weber Mountain Cooker/Smoker – it makes an awesome piece of smoked leg of lamb. Himalayan Rock Salt is also great to cook a well-aged steak on.

Beach Braai
Charlotte Turner | Muisbosskerm

  • In 1986 my late father Edward Turner built a cooking shelter with ‘muisbos’ right on the beach, near his favourite crayfish and fishing spot. He made a fire-pit to braai on and a clay oven to bake bread in. The reason behind it was to entertain family and friends. From these humble beginnings, the Muisbosskerm grew into the successful restaurant it is today. Keeping it simple; cooking on fire, in the open air, is the essence of our success.
  • We cook fish on stainless steel grids on the braai, in a wood-fired smoker and in a custom made ‘skottel braai’ that goes onto an open fire. We cook paella, sweet potato and stews in flat-bottom cast iron pots on the fire, and bake bread in a wood-fired clay oven.
  • We use wood, not charcoal – use the best and driest wood you can find. Never leave your grid or pot unattended on the fire, turn regularly. Keep a close eye on the temperature of your fire and coals, and do not overcook seafood.
  • Cooking on a fire in the open creates an unbeatable atmosphere. It gives a delicious flavour to food and it’s health, energy-saving – and best of all, we’re not affected by load shedding.

Smoke it up
PJ Vadas | Hog House Brewery

  • We cook on two traditional Texas-style barrel smokers – one is on a trailer for private events at the BBQ restaurant while the other is stationary. Our restaurant’s smoking style is modelled on a Texas BBQ
  • As we’re based in an industrial space and at a brewery, BBQ and beer is a perfect match – also, you can only smoke for the length of time we do in an industrial area.
  • The amount of time we smoke depends on the meat and cut: brisket and pork shoulder are smoked for 16 hours, lamb shoulder for 9 hours, pork belly for 6 hours and pork ribs for 5 hours.
  • Smoking becomes an ingredient, so we plan our menu according to this.

Be the Ultimate Braai Master
Hints & Tips from Justin Bonello

“First things first: always have two fires – one to cook on and one to kuier around – very important. Make sure that your wood is dry and that you’re not fighting a losing battle with wet wood. Different types of wood also impart subtle flavours onto whatever you’re cooking – apple, orange, cherry, oak – they all infuse your food with that braai essence that we all love so much and if you haven’t tried smoking on an open fire – both hot and cold, give it a bash because you’ll be amazed at what you can do with it. If, however, you’re not going to use wood, make sure you use charcoal and not briquettes. Strangely enough, gas is a new favourite of mine – I like the mind set of click, cook, and serve without having to wait – especially when I come home after a long days graft.”

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