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!!

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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!!

Lamb Cutlets in Cider and Apple Marinade

OK… before you shout at me… cutlets, that’s what we used to call leg of lamb chops back in the old country… well, that’s what I think we used to call them. So, if you do a Big G search for lamb cutlets you see the images of the cuts with the ribs sticking out. Rather search “leg of lamb chops” to see what I’m really on about… or, be patient and read on. OK… back to the tale.

I think you’ll have to agree with me when I say lamb on the braai is special. Yep, so special that we often enjoy lamb ribs done on the coals. There’s an extra fun element to the ribs… well, as my GLW usually adds… it may be a little barbaric. And therein lies a wee problem. My GLW doesn’t enjoy the primeval. This got me thinking… why not ask Esquire Ryan, our main meat man, to mutilate a leg of lamb? Cut it into chops? He looked at me as if I sported at least four heads… one pig, one sheep, one bull and maybe even one snake.

The good man was heard to be mumbling something along the lines of sacrebleu as he went noisily about ransacking his cold-room! I have to qualify one thing… JR is a purest! He doesn’t have one of those “meat master” band-saw type of machines in his shop… all knife and saw, our JR. Maybe that’s why he’s not prone to selling leg of lamb all cut up but then, he shouldn’t be all cut up because I wanted a leg cut up… or should he?

Phew… writing recipes is hard work. I’ve not managed to progress past the butcher’s and I’ve already managed almost 300 words! Imagine if I was paid per word. OK, I’m not… so let me get on with proceedings. As I said in the distant past when this post began, I wanted the good lady and grand dad to enjoy their lamb as well… in a more sophisticated manner. However, I wanted the best possible cut… minimum bone, maximum flavour and succulence.That’s why I asked Esq JR to do his mutilation.

Right, the recipe. As is my norm, a bit of Big G searching usually gets me pointed in some sort of direction. I searched “apple and lamb” and was soon rewarded with this recipe. It needed tweaking, I decided. Why, well… I don’t like curry but I like spicy. Secondly, there was no mention of garlic… tragic in any man’s culinary world… well, some ladies are fond of the herb as well. One such lady is the GLW, so garlic is a must.

I wasn’t sure about the sugar but thought I have nothing to lose. I wasn’t sure about anything really but if you’ve been visiting this blog you’ll know I’m never too shy or sanctimonious to try something new. A few other things the recipe doesn’t mention… apples and cider. Yep, I have looooong believed that if the two go so well with me then they must go well with lamb. Something like steak and a splosh of good red grape cordial.

My recipe?

  • One red onion, chopped finely
  • Garlic, as much as you desire, remembering not to overpower the lamb
  • One chopped hot chilli… or two if you so feel
  • Two smallish Granny Smith apples, quartered and grated
  • My mix of spice (coriander, black pepper, cloves)
  • Dry powder ginger (I didn’t have fresh stuff on hand)
  • One cup apple juice
  • One cup cider… apple cider, not that other imitation stuff
  • Half cup olive oil
  • Dry herbs of your choice and to your taste… thyme, rosemary, the stuff that goes with lamb
  • Rock salt ground, to taste
  • Half cup soft brown sugar
  • Two lemons, one squeezed into the marinade, the other for using while you braai
  • A bit of time and effort… not forgetting a slurp or three of cider

Tip: Leave the skin on the apple, you can actually grate the flesh out of the peel without managing to make messy red stains all over the apples!

Gosh, that’s now taken the word count well over 650 and I’ve not showed you a photo yet! Let’s remedy that…

Some of the staples...

Mind you, I’m prone to forget adding things when I take the photos… usually I’m so engrossed in supping the refreshments… sorry, preparing the ingredients that I snap without too much thought.

Grand… now you can at least get an idea of what goes in… sans lemons and sugar. You’ll have to look carefully to spot the cider, but then… this is a family show so we shouldn’t lead the youngsters astray.

At some point the fire needs lighting. Usually Junior Son takes care of that aspect so when he was away playing a Friday evening game of cricket I had to multi-task. As mentioned, I miss adding ingredients when modeling the photos and so do I miss showing all the stages so, now you’re going to see what it looked like once the chops were snugly soothed by the completed marinade…

Lovingly prepared... ok, enthusiastically prepared!

… yes, I know what you’re thinking… surely nothing good can arise from that concoction! Wrong!

Eventually, we arrive at the point of truth… the braai. At this juncture I’ll suggest you scroll down to the photo in the previous post where you see the large green thing providing shelter… yes, seemingly the Celtic weather fairies were not too pleased that I was at my favorite pastime again. Just look-see at this sky… you’d have to agree.

Angry sky? More likely confused sky!

I purposely used the roof and chimney as reference when I took the photo because otherwise folk may think this image is CG! No, it’s not!

Right… now will follow very few words and a sequence… oh, make that a wee gallery, of the braai…

After all those words… here’s a look at the end result! Soon we’ll have to get our hands on those large, elongated restaurant plates…

Better, BETTER! Flipping great!

If you’re wondering about the very pale potato salad… shop special as this whole process happened on a Friday evening after work… we ate after nine… yep, I was still standing in the butchers at about five.

So, the moral of the story?

  • The marinade is great, do try and make it the evening before and get the flavours to really infuse! (Gosh, I’m starting to sound as pompous as that Oliver fella…)
  • How about a de-boned leg of lamb?
  • The original recipe suggests using the left over marinade to make a sauce… yep, that’s happening next time!
  • Don’t be too holy about the cut… it will all be good, even in the oven, me thinks! Slow roast in the darkest days of winter? Yep!!
  • No, the ribs got a separate treatment… but more of that later…

Finally, as I occasionally use Hemingway#s wise words when writing on the other blog… why not leave you with the thoughts of another of my hero’s… the inimitable Sir Keith Floyd,

“I apparently said that celebrity cooks are so up their own bottoms that they do not realise that food should be fun, not a station waiting for a train to arrive to take them to a destination to learn how to cook”

For a great Floyd read… do click here!

Rules of Engagement?

Continuing from the first post… where does one begin to tell the story? Conversely put… how does one eat an elephant? That’s easy as you all know… you eat the beast little by little… bit by bit. That’s how I’ll relating the tale here at BB&B.

Tradition is a strong reminder and binder. It reminds us of home and binds us to what was once that home. I am as South African as you will ever find. So many generation back that even the Portuguese sea captains and French Huguenots come into the equation. Maybe that’s why I love the ideas of France and Portugal so much. OK, enough history.

Tradition can also become a way of life. Tradition can translate to others as well. My Good Lady Wife wasn’t born on the African continent yet braaiing is absolutely normal for her and the rest of the family. I dare you… ask the good lady what she wants for Christmas fare and you’ll soon be put right… the roasts on the braai! Yes, I kid you not!

I’ll take it a step further… picture this. Our 5-year-old grandson, born and bred here in Ireland… has never set foot on any portion of Africa, never-mind South Africa, yet… when the other day he accidentally overheard mention of ‘braai’ his ears pricked up and he enthusiastically asked…

“Are we having a braai?”

No, he didn’t ask if we were having a bbq… he asked if it would be a braai! Even the very little ones know and appreciate the great tastes associated with braaiing.

OK… I’ve waffled on enough for today. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite braai photos… yes, Christmas in the snow… a labour of love. Read more about it here. Until next time… may the coals be just right and the lamb tender!

Braai time... Christmas Day 2010, Kilcock, Ireland. Santi in the snow!!