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Comprehensive step by step instruction and recipe on how to braai perfect steak – by Jan Braai.
The Irish have their own version of National Braai Day, called St Patrick’s Day – the day their country comes to a standstill and has one big party. I’ve been to some St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin as part of my ongoing research and development of National Braai Day. Every single pub in Ireland serves a fantastic pie made with steak and stout. I’ve adapted their recipe to suit our local braai conditions. You make the pie filling in a potjie and you braai the pastry on a grid over the coals. Alternatively, just serve the awesome contents of your potjie on a bed of mash or with a piece of baguette bread!
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 6)
- 2 tots olive oil
- 1 kg steak (chuck is best, other- wise rump; cut into blocks of 2 cm × 2 cm)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tot cake flour
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 carrot (peeled and finely chopped)
- 2 sticks celery (finely chopped)
- 1 tot chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley; or use 1?2 tot dried mixed herbs)
- 1 can or bottle stout (about 400 ml)
- 250 g button mushrooms (halved)
- 1 packet puff pastry (400 g, completely thawed)
WHAT TO DO
- Heat the olive oil in a large flat-bottomed potjie over a hot fire. Add the steak cubes, salt and pepper and stir. Shake in the flour, and then stir well to distribute the flour evenly over everything. The bottom of the pot will seem a bit dry, but don’t worry too much about it. Fry for about 5 minutes until the pieces of flour-coated meat turn golden brown.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery and herbs, then fry for another 5 minutes.
- Now pour in the stout. Stir to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom of the pot, and then bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, cover the pot, and then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. It is very important to keep the heat low. ‘Low heat’ means a few coals, and no flames of any significance under the pot.
- When the pie filling in the potjie is nearly ready (after about 1 hour of total cooking time), unroll the puff pastry from the packet. Now you have two options: either cut the pastry into the shape of the bowls you’re going to serve the pies in, or cut it into squares that you will put on top of the filling on plates or in bowls. Braai the pastry shapes in an oiled, closed hinged grid for about 20 minutes over very mild coals. Turn the grid often until the pastry is golden brown and crispy. Don’t braai them too fast, as there is a good chance they will burn if you do. The pastry will look like it is starting to ‘melt’ at first; don’t worry, it will soon firm up and become easier to handle if you just carefully turn it quite often. This part is optional, you can also just serve the filling on a bed of mash potatoes or with pieces of baguette bread.
- When the filling is ready, take the potjie off the fire and stir well. The liquid should be thick and glossy. If not, cook uncovered for a few minutes to let it reduce and thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve by dishing up the filling into bowls or onto plates and then put the braaied pieces of pastry on top of each of them. You could also serve the pies with mashed potatoes if you like.
AND … Although Guinness is the internationally famous example of stout, it’s by no means the only one. You can make this recipe just as effectively with a local favourite like Castle Milk Stout.
This recipe is a adaption of my original malva pudding potjie recipe that appears in my 2nd book, Jan Braai – RedHot (Afrikaans edition called Jan Braai – Vuurwarm). The dough and baked part is identical to the original recipe but I’ve added some freshly squeezed satsuma juice (you can use satsuma, orange, naartjie or any of their family members) for a new take on the old classic.
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 6)
For the batter:
- 1 cup flour
- 1?2 tot bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tot apricot jam
- 1 tot vinegar
- 1 tot melted butter
- 1 cup milk
For the sauce:
- 1?2 cup cream
- 1?2 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1?2 cup freshly squeezed juice
- 1?2 cup butter
WHAT TO DO
- Light the fire. You need fewer coals than when braaing steak, but you’ll need a steady supply of coals once the pudding is baking. Now use butter to grease your no. 10 flat- bottomed baking potjie. You can see a picture of this kind of potjie in the photo collage above.
- Sift the flour and the bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar (you don’t need to sift the sugar).
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg very well. Now add the jam, vinegar, butter and milk, whisking well after adding each ingredient.
- Add the wet ingredients of step 3 to the dry ingredients of step 2 and mix well.
- Pour the batter into the potjie, put on the lid and bake for 50 minutes by placing some coals underneath the potjie and some coals on top of the lid. Don’t add too much heat, as burning is a big danger. There is no particular risk in having too little heat and taking up to 1 hour to get the baking done, so rather go too slow than too fast. During this time, you can add a few fresh hot coals to the bottom and top of the potjie whenever you feel the pudding is losing steam.
- When the pudding has been baking for about 40 minutes (about 10 minutes before it’s done), heat all the sauce ingredients in a small potjie over medium coals. Keep stirring to ensure that the butter is melted and the sugar is completely dissolved, but don’t let it boil.
- After about 50 minutes of baking, insert a skewer into the middle of the pudding to test whether it’s done. If the skewer comes out clean, it’s ready.
- Take the pudding off the fire and pour the sauce evenly over it. Believe me, it will absorb all the sauce – you just need to leave it standing for a few minutes. Serve the malva pudding warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, a dollop of fresh cream or a puddle of vanilla custard. A good way to keep it hot is to put it near the fire, but not too close – after doing everything right, we don’t want it to burn now.
Marina Braai Salt, the original braai salt of South Africa will be the official braai salt of the National Braai Tour. The tour takes place from 13 – 20 September 2014 and will see participants travel through South Africa on a eight day celebration of South African heritage around camp fires, doing what we do best, braaing! With the iconic orange Marina Braai Salt bottle a regular face at many a braai throughout South Africa, it was decided to include Marina in the official line-up of associated brands for the tour. The tour is about celebrating heritage around a fire, and Marina is part of that braai heritage.
With South Africa’s premium supplier of high quality beef products (and most importantly steak!) Sparta Beef being the main sponsor of the tour, all participants will braai premium quality steak every day; and on some days more than once. Due to the fact that the natural taste of the steak is what we want the focus on, it was fitting to have a condiment sponsor for the tour that focuses on a natural product like salt. We do not want to mask the fantastic flavour of Sparta steaks with cheap sauces and artificial flavourings. Just add a bit of high quality salt, to bring out the flavour.
For more information and to enter the National Braai Tour 2014, click here.
It was in a restaurant in Plettenberg Bay, after finishing a delicious a plate of calamari that I enquired of the waiter if she could please ask the chef for the recipe. The waiter came back a few minutes later and said no, it’s a secret. And so I set out to research recipes and secrets for grilled salt & pepper calamari, and I delved into the story behind the perfect sesame seed calamari. What follows below is not a replication of any specific recipe or technique, but rather the culmination and compilation of lots of little bits of information that was discovered.
What you need
- Good quality calamari. During my research a very famous South African chef told me that there is no secret to making great calamari that he knows of, the trick is simply to buy good quality in the first place. I have no pointers on this. Go to a fishmonger that you consider to be good and buy there. If it turns out rubbish, go to a different high end fishmonger the next time. The calamari I used was fresh, as in not frozen. As with most seafood I think fresh is alway better than frozen.
- Cake Flour (1 cup)
- Sesami Seeds – Black and White (3 tots i.e 75ml)
- 5ml Salt
- 5ml Pepper
- 5ml Chilli Flakes
What to do
- Put the calamari in a bowl and add milk to just cover the calamari. Many sources claim that leaving calamari in milk prior to cooking it will tenderise the calamari, and make it less tough on the byte. I have no idea if this is true, but there is absolutely no harm in doing it, so on the off chance that it makes a difference, my advice is, if you have the time, let the calamari swim in milk for an hour. Then drain it and proceed to the next step.
- Mix the flour (one cup should be sufficient for the quantities of calamari you will make at home) with the sesame seeds, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. If you are the type of person that orders lemon and herb chicken at Portuguese restaurants, go easy on the chilli.
- Now toss pieces of calamari into a plastic bag with some of the seasoned flour and shake. This will give each piece of calamari a light dusting and cover of flavoured flour.
- Now you braai the calamari in oil in a pan over hot coals. It really only takes a minute of two for the calamari to be done, and you only need to turn each piece once.
- Serve with lemon wedges and wasabi mayonaise. To make wasabi mayonaise you mix mayonaise with a bit of wasabi.