Cook, Cook and Braai!!

Gosh, this blog has been dormant for so long that I’ve almost forgotten it exists. However, Ailsa’s challenge this week is “cook“… and her photos reminded me that she missed the South African angle. So, I’ll throw in a wee gallery to assist… past braais, past pleasure… great memories!!

Happy 2016!!

As is the norm… as a Saffer, how about throwing a few bits of pork belly/ rib on the coals?? I mean… surely one can’t begin a new year without a decent feed? So… from me and mine, may your year be filled with pleasant eating experiences!!

Happy New Year!! May 2016 bring only joy and happiness!!

2016 New Year's day braai... why not? Even in Ireland!!

Outdoors!!

Who could deny that an outdoors braai is way better than an indoors oven roast? Well, some may say you’d better do it outdoors otherwise you’ll burn the house down and to be honest, there’s most certainly a grain of truth in that line of thought. However, apart from protecting the roof over one’s head the food just tastes about 327.3975% better!
BRAAI!! One of the best outdoor persuits mankind has ever developed!! FUN!!

Happy St Patrick’s Day! (With an Irish/ South African Twist!)

South African friend Rider wished me a Happy St Patrick’s day… and suggested he’d be getting himself a few cans of Guinness to join the celebrations… from a distance. Not long after my reply to his comment he responded by saying he’d managed to secure the last two cans of Guinness at his local provider.

You have to remember… he’s sitting about 10 thousand miles from the source so even getting two cans is a win-win! So, I meekly pointed out that he could celebrate in good SA tradition… with a good Pinotage!

Rider liked the idea so I agreed to take up the challenge myself… as they say in the classics… another Irish South African tradition is born!

Don’t get me wrong… I’m sure Rider enjoyed a good Pinotage… I just had to make do with the best I could find in Ireland at short notice… 2014 screw-cap… aaah well, it’s red and the label says South Africa!

Happy St Patrick's Day... Irish Saffer style... !!

Chicken Like Nando’s?

I’ve had a craving for Nando’s for a while now. We do have a franchise a few miles away but I’m never there so my craving remains… until you find a recipe to make your own. So, the internet’s box of tricks again came up with the goods. Do click here to see the recipe I based my makings on.

I had a bright moment and part cooked the chicken on the braai in the foil tubs (covered with foil). This meant the pieces were evenly cooked through so they didn’t need too much fiddling on the hot coals!!

Lessons Learned?

  • when I do this recipe again I’ll have the pieces smaller and won’t part cook them quite as long at this time
  • I’ll make the hot mix hotter… there was too little Tabasco and chilly in this mix!
  • as always… try and marinade the meat as long as possible… in this case 24 hours would have been better than the 15 I had at my disposal…

The 21st Braai!

Well, actually we had 2 braai’s… one on Friday night and one on Saturday evening for the family that couldn’t make it on Friday. As it’s always a bit of an issue when one braai’s for many folk, who bring their own meat, it’s difficult to get the evening synchronised. So, to get the ball rolling, we did chicken wings and cocktail sausages for starters. The birthday boy requested steak and marinated pork belly ribs so that followed the starters. Fortunately, most folk brought steak and chicken so it made life easier. I do notice that there’s no photo of the ribs… believe me, they went a long way to filling the grid on their own!

Later in the evening the lad had to blow out the candles!! 

Blow lad... blow!!

On Saturday evening the main course was pork chops, another of the birthday boy’s favourites. The pic shows some of the mix and match again… the ever popular spicy wings and porkies for snacks along with beef burgers for the kids. To the right of the picture are 2 beef kebabs… for birthday boy’s expecting sister. Just to the left of the kebabs are 3 large chicken breasts marinated in a Caribbean sauce, specially for birthday boy’s sister’s partner. Then some of the pork chops in their initial stages of browning…

Another wonderfully laden grid!!

Believe me when I say we all enjoyed the fun! Thanks to everyone for a very memorable weekend! Thanks too the GLW for all her help!!

PS – No, we ate balanced meals… veggies, potato bake, bread, salad… even cake for dessert! We’re more Paleo that carnivore, that I promise!

Pork Belly – Braaied and Smoked

Father’s Day is just one of those days… another Sunday… one of the 52 we’re allocated annually.

Not!!

Father’s Day is a day for me to have fun and fun for me is to braai… or take photos… or spend with my family… or to pinch my good lady’s posterior… or to sample a good bit of red stuff… or to blog a bit… or not to think of work at all… or to watch a bit of test cricket on TV… or to chat with distant daughters and sons closer… and relax.

So, I ask, why not do all in one? I decided earlier in the week to try something different. Pork bell/ rib. John, our friendly village meat master had the perfect answer. A whole slab of belly pork with half still on the bone. I did a bit of reading… the usual suspects, Hugh, BBC food, even Master Oliver… how to best do the roast. Only difference, I wasn’t going to do this bit of pork in any oven… I was most certainly going to braai the slab.

I mean… if I can get the Christmas pork roast to crackle on the braai in the middle of winter then I stand half a chance to get this baby just right!

Saying all of that, let’s get the preparation just right. Basically, the Stanley Knife I keep in the kitchen for the express reason of preparing ribs was the first tool to be used. Score the skin, trying not to cut into the meat. Next, place the joint over the sink and pour a whole kettle of boiling water over the skin. I’ve done this before with a pork roast so I wasn’t too afraid of giving it a go.

Yes, I hear some of you shouting at the screen… “No!! You’ve got to keep the skin dry!!”

Yes, that’s where the salt comes in… rub salt into the wounds… rub hard. Then rest a wee while. You’ll see how the salt draws out the moisture. Then use fresh paper towel to remove all the water. Next I put more salt on the skin… no, don’t rub it in again, you don’t want to end up with salt pork. Wait a few minutes and dry off the skin again. I repeated this step 3 times.

Before I go too far, let’s take a few steps back. After the scoring and initial salt rubbing onto the skin I flipped the slab over and doctored the underside. Sorry, the muti is my secret , never to be shared. I wish. Just dry herbs and spices bashed up in the mortar. Oh, don’t forget the olive oil.

Phew… this write-up is turning into a bit of a marathon. I’ll say, part of the preparation was doctoring some lamb ribs, for those in the house who can’t let an opportunity by to enjoy a few.

After all the salting and drying I rubbed in my muti… then began the next part of the drying process. Here’s something you may not read in the manuals. I used the back of a knife to clear off any moisture from the skin. I kept doing this every few minutes for an hour or two. (Time spent writing the first part of this post.)

Begin by clicking in the top left corner… I’ve included the times so you know how long to wait between steps… if you should ever want to try this at home.

The last photo in the sequence above was taken at 13h32. I kept at the drying process until the coals were hot enough and the braai suitably toasty to slap on the slab. That was just after 16h00. The plan was to eat by 18h30 or so… giving a good 2 hours for braaiing and smoking and the 20 minutes for the slab to rest before carving

Slab on.... just after 16h00

The first signs of colour and crisping… all seems in order at this point.

Colour at last... maybe I should have realised I was in for difficulty at 16h44...

Throw on the lamb ribs to get them coloured up as well…

Throw on the lamb ribs to get their colour going... also 16h44

I’m not convinced that the crackling is getting there! Add more charcoal as well as the smoking medium. (Apple grated into the oak sawdust moistened with cider)

The final attempt at getting the crackling crisp was after Junior Son walked out and suggested I turn the slab over… directly onto the grid for more direct exposure to the coals. It sure worked, one could hear the skin crackling and popping. Only thing, we lost the golden brown richness…

A bit scorched? Maybe that plan didn't work as planned!

The proof was in the carving… tasty and crisp!

Eventually... carving at 19h30... the meat was juicy, tastey and tender... even though the outsides didn't look too appealing!

Lessons learned. 

  • Don’t put the meat on foil. At one point the trapped fat caught fire… this leaving a very black underside.
  • Find a large enough stainless roasting dish… place the meat on a rack and keep moist for at least the first half of the braai
  • Make a deflector plate to place over the meat, this will concentrate the heat and make the crackling happen without having to turn the meat over.
  • Put the smoking medium in sooner… on a larger tray for better results.

What more can I say? An experiment that didn’t quite work as planned. Will I try t again? Yes, after incorporating all of the lessons learned. Simple!