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MY FIRST FAVOURITE PASTA

My first favourite pastaDuring my formative years of high school, my father expected me to start taking over part of the braai duties, like making the fire. As I progressed in my braai career, I was later even allowed to turn the grid, on his instruction from a chair of course. At that time my mother also started teaching me a few kitchen fundamentals, like how to make a lasagne. During this era of my life, one of our family’s favourite restaurants served a pasta that I absolutely loved. So much so that at that young and inexperienced age I embarked on a research and development project to recreate that dish at home.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4–6)
500 g pasta
1 tot olive oil
1 tot butter
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 packet bacon (250 g, chopped)
1 punnet mushrooms (250 g)
4 chicken breast fillets
salt and pepper
1 cup cream
fresh green herbs (chopped, optional for serving)
lemon wedges (to serve, optional)

WHAT TO DO
1. Place your classic three-legged potjie on the fire and boil the pasta in salted water until 80% done. The trick here is to not boil it all the way, as we’re going to add it back to the meal later for a second round of cooking. Drain the partly cooked pasta from the pot and preserve some of the liquid in a cup.
2. Put the potjie back on the fire and add the oil, butter and chopped onion. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it starts to get a nice colour.
3. Now add the chopped garlic, chopped bacon and mushrooms to the pot. Depending on the size of the mushrooms and how much you like to make extra work for yourself, you can either chop or not chop them. Stir-fry until the bacon and mushrooms are cooked.
4. While the bacon and mushrooms are cooking, scrape some coals from the fire and braai the 4 chicken breast fillets. You can season them with normal salt and pepper or your favourite braai spice. Chicken breast fillets take about 6 to 10 minutes to braai, so this meal is going to come together very nicely at the end!
5. Back to the pot: Once you are happy with the bacon and mushrooms, add the 80% cooked pasta from step 1 back to the pot and add the cream to it. Stir through paying specific attention to the fact that the pot should not run dry and burn. If at any stage the pot looks a bit dry, add some or all of the pasta water you preserved in step 1.
6. Once the chicken breasts are braaied, remove them from the fire and artfully slice them diagonally into strips. Now mix the chicken breast strips into the pasta.
AND…
If you’re so inclined and attuned to the finer details, the meal can be finished with a drizzle of high-quality South African olive oil, fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.

SHERRY BOEREWORS SLIDERS

Sherry Boerewors slidersA ‘slider’ is the culinary term for a miniature hamburger or more accurately, a small piece of meat served on a mini bread roll. Forming and braaing miniature little patties always seemed like far too much hard work to me, as both the preparation and the braaing would be complex. Boerewors was an easy solution to this. My other problem with sliders is that they are sometimes heavy on the bread and light on the meat. Again, this is something we can solve by simply not closing them with another piece of bread, thereby upping our ratio of meat to bread. Sherry, the original Old Brown type, is a very good value-for-money product to braai with, and one of the core ingredients of this recipe. The sweetness of the sherry complements the spiciness of the boerewors perfectly.
WHAT YOU NEED (makes about 30 pieces)
1.2 kg boerewors (medium thick)
2 cups sherry
1 tot olive oil
1 tot butter
3 onions (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 long fresh baguette
skewers

WHAT TO DO
1. Cut the boerewors into pieces of about 6 cm each.
2. Put the pieces of meat into a bowl and pour the sherry over them. Cover the bowl and let the boerewors marinate in a fridge for a few hours.
3. Remove the boerewors pieces from the sherry and skewer them. It doesn’t matter how many skewers you use as it’s not a case of a skewer per person. Do not discard the sherry.
4. When the fire is lit, heat up a fireproof pan or potjie and sauté the chopped onion in the oil and butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
5. Pour all the sherry that the boerewors was swimming in into the pan or potjie with the onion and garlic and bring to the boil. Stir regularly and let this cook and reduce by half.
6. Put the marinated boerewors skewers in a hinged grid, close the grid and braai over hot coals for about 8 minutes until done. Give each side at least two looks at the coals, meaning you need to turn the grid at least three times in total.
7. During the braai, you or one of your braai party members can cut the baguette in thin slices (we want maximum meat-to-bread ratio so keep the slices thin).
8. Arrange the slices of baguette on a platter and give each piece some of the sherry and onion sauce.
9. When the boerewors is ready, take it off the fire, pull out the skewers and place a piece of braaied sherry-infused boerewors on each prepared slice of baguette.

CINNABUNS

GBP_9624WHAT YOU NEED:

For the dough:
500 g cake flour
1 tot sugar
1 packet (10 g) instant yeast
Pinch of salt
1 cup lukewarm water

For the filling:
1/2 cup tots soft Butter
2 tots Cinnamon
2 tots Soft brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 tots honey

For the sauce
:
1 tub (250 g) cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (depending on how you like the sauce to be)
1 cup icing sugar


What to do:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and yeast together. Pour the lukewarm water over the flour and start to knead the mixture until you have a soft elastic ball of dough.
  2. Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise to double the size.
  3. Dust a clean surface with flour and knock down the dough for the 2nd time. Use your rolling pin or any heavy object and roll out the dough into a big rectangle.
  4. Spread the butter over the dough, followed the cinnamon, sugar, nuts, raisins and finally drizzling some honey all over.
  5. Use your hands and neatly roll op the rectangle, making sure to keep all the stuffing inside.
  6. Cut the long log into smaller rounds, and place into your potjie that has been prepared with butter,oil or non stick spray.
  7. Bake on the fire o medium hear with coals at the bottom and on top for about 30 – 40 minutes. until cooked inside.
  8. Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce , and drip over the cinnabns.

BRAAI FREEDOM FIGHTER

Freedom FighterThe Braai Freedom Fighter does not play games. It’s a robust burger with little interest in debate and it dominates your plate. You use 100% pure red meat (steak) to make the burger patties, and the sauce is made with the finest red ingredients known to braai kind – significant figureheads like red onions, red bell peppers, paprika, cayenne pepper and tomato. Even the stock we use to bring it all together is beef stock, stock from a red-blooded 100% red meat animal. If the ferocity of the Braai Freedom Fighter scares you, enjoy it with a dollop of fresh sour cream, as the two complement each other very well.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)

1 kg steak mince
4 hamburger rolls (buttered)
1 tot olive oil
2 red onions (sliced or chopped)
2 red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped)
1 tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
2 tots paprika
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 tot tomato paste
½ cup beef stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black
pepper sour cream (for serving; a 250 ml tub is more than enough)
parsley (to garnish)
WHAT TO DO
1. Heat the oil in a potjie and fry the onions and peppers for about 4 minutes until they start to soften, then throw in the garlic. Onions take longer to cook than garlic, so always fry onions before adding the garlic. This is general advice and is not only applicable to this recipe.
2. Add the chilli powder and paprika and toss to release their flavours. Then also add the tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock, and mix to combine them all. Bring to the boil, close the lid and simmer until you start to braai the patties. Basically you want to let it simmer so that the flavour can develop while the fire burns down and you can start to braai. Check every now and then to stir the potjie and make sure it doesn’t cook dry. You want the sauce to thicken but you don’t want it to burn.
3. Making and braaing 100% beef patties is comprehensively described for hand-chopped burgers (page 28). In the case of the Braai Freedom Fighter I usually go for homemade machine-minced meat. It’s a little less effort than hand-chopped mince but the Braai Freedom Fighter sauce is so dominant that you will barely notice the difference. Otherwise get good mince from your butcher.
4. Form the 1 kg of fantastic mince into four patties using your recently washed hands and braai over very hot coals for 8 minutes, turning only once. Grind or sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on both sides just before, or during the braai. The patties get no other binding ingredients or seasoning.
5. When you start braaing the patties, take the lid off the sauce and let it reduce to your liking, adding extra heat under the potjie if necessary to get it reducing more rapidly.
6. During the final minutes of the braai, toast the insides of the cut and buttered rolls on the grid over the coals for bonus points.
7. Assemble the burgers: Roll, patty, Braai Freedom Fighter sauce, dollop sour cream, chopped parsley.

ITALIAN BRAAI BRUCHETTA

GBP_9669Serve this Italian inspired meal as a snack before you start to braai your main course. This recipe is super easy, but looks very impressive. Friends and family will all be impressed and asking you for the recipe.

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the olive oil spread:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly
Few sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tots Olive oil

For the tomato salad
500g cherry tomatoes chopped roughly
1 tot Olive oil
1 tot Balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bunch of fresh basil

For the tomato skewers:
500 g tomatoes
Skewers

French Baguette bread
2 wheels (200 g) feta cheese

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Place the garlic, thyme and salt into you mortar and use the pestle to make a smooth paste. Add the olive oil and mix well. I you don’t have a mortar and pestle, chop everything together as finely as possible and add to the olive oil.
  2. Spread the bread slices with garlic olive oil and lightly toast the bread slices on a grid over hot coals with the oiled side down.
  3. Place the mixed tomatoes on the skewers and braai over hot coals until roasted and charred.
  4. Make the tomato salad by chopping up the tomatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Build your braai bruchetta’s by starting with the toasted bread, top with tomato salad, feta cheese en the roasted tomatoes

 

THE SMASH BURGER

GBP_9641This burger is going to be your favourite hamburger recipe, even if you don’t know it yet. The smash burger method is the secret to crispy edges and a juicy burger.

Here are some basic guidelines to follow when making your smash burger:

  • You need something to smash the burgers with. A heavy spatula made from metal will do the job.
  • The less you handle or touch the meat, the better. You want loose ground beef. The more you mold it, the more packed it will become and that is not what you want to achieve. You want the edges of the burger to be edgy and crispy.
  • All you need to add to the beef mince is salt and pepper, nothing else.
  • Use good quality beef mince, with a good percentage of fat, as the fat adds flavour to the burger.
  • Use a cast iron grill pan that you can place directly on the fire. You need a flat surface, that can handle very high heat.
  • Use good quality cheddar cheese and soft burger buns and make the special burger sauce in the recipe below.

WHAT YOU NEED: (feeds 4)

1kg good quality beef mince
Salt and pepper
4 soft hamburger buns
8 slices of good quality cheddar cheese

For the sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise  (French style)
1 tot tomato sauce
1 tot Dijon mustard
1 gherkin (normal-sized, chopped)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper

WHAT TO DO:
  1. Prepare your sauce first: Add all the ingredients to a bowl and blend with your stick blender, or strong arm and whisk, until smooth. Alternatively add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. And then your last resort will just be to chop everything really finely and mix together.
  2. Divide your mince into 8 heaps, do not handle the meat too much. Use your recently washed hands and lightly form the meat into a ball and remember to keep the edges of the meat edgy and loose.
  3. Place your cast iron grill pan directly onto the flames to get a nice hot surface. Pour a little bit of olive oil on the pan.
  4. Place your 8 balls of meat on the hot surface and smash them with some pressure with your metal spatula, just once, making sure they are nice and flat and the same all over.. Season with salt and pepper..
  5. Flip the patties over using your spatula to scrape it loose from the grill pan and season the other side with salt and pepper.
  6. Braai the other side for 3 or more minutes, place a slice of cheese on top of each patty in the last minute of the braa and take it off from the pan to prevent over cooking.
  7. Prepare your burgers by placing sauce at the bottom of the bun, then a cheese patty on top of the sauce, followed then by another cheese patty, and then more sauce if you want. Serve immediately

MACARONI AND CHEESE POTJIE

Macaroni and cheese

People refer to certain meals as ‘comfort food’, which is strange because I find eating most foods comforting. Nonetheless, some foods are more comforting than others, with a macaroni and cheese potjie right up there. You can either serve this as a main course, or as a very impressive side dish to braaied meat like steak, lamb or chicken. If you’re serving it as a side to meat, add a crisp green salad to complete the meal.

WHAT YOU NEED (serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course)
500 g macaroni pasta
water and salt (to boil the pasta)
a bit of olive oil
2 tots butter
2 tots cake flour
1 litre milk (4 cups)
400 g mature Cheddar cheese (grated)
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
a little bit of ground nutmeg (optional)

WHAT TO DO
1. In a big enough potjie over a hot fire, bring 5 litres of water with about half a tot of salt to boiling point. Add all of the macaroni to the bubbling water and cook for exactly 7 minutes. The noodles will still be slightly undercooked, but they will continue cooking later when baking in the sauce. Drain off all water immediately and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to prevent the macaroni from sticking together.
2. Return the empty potjie to the fire (not too hot), then add butter and wait until it melts. Add the flour and stir for about 1 minute.
3. Now add the milk bit by bit, stirring continuously. You will notice how the butter and flour mixture first grows and absorbs all the milk you add, and how this thick paste then starts turning into a sauce as you add more and more milk. If you add the milk too quickly, lumps will form. If at any time you notice lumps forming, first stir them vigorously into the rest of the mixture before adding more milk.
4. When all the milk is in, bring the sauce to a slow simmer and add the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper (and nutmeg), and stir well.
5. Now add the cooked macaroni to the sauce, stir to coat the pasta well, then remove the potjie from the fire and cover with a lid until serving time. As the pot will keep its heat for a few minutes, you will be able to quickly braai some steak over very hot coals in this time. Just before serving the pasta, give it another quick toss.
6. If you have cheese left over, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the meal in the potjie, close the lid and let the cheese melt by placing some coals on top of the lid.

AND …
For bonus points, you can braai strips of bacon on a grid over the coals (yes, this is possible) or in a pan. Chop them up when they are nice and crispy and mix into the potjie with the pasta during step 5.
The quality and taste of the cheese used will influence the end product. For a recipe like this, I would suggest using Cheddar that was aged for at least 3 months. Using more mature Cheddar or even a variety of mature cheeses like Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Gruyere and blue cheese will increase the depth of flavour.

JAN BRAAI FAMILY MUSTARD

family mustard

This is a real family recipe, from my own family. My grandfather used to make this mustard, which we had with any and all braaied meat, but to my mind it goes best with steak and pork chops or pork ribs, be they spare ribs or baby back ribs. I have fond memories of summer holiday braaied ribs and putu pap for breakfast with a generous helping of this mustard. The other thing it goes very well with is any leftover braaied meat in a sandwich the next day. My grandfather taught the recipe to my father, who taught it to me. For some inexplicable reason, I’ve never included this recipe in any of my prior books but here it is now, probably fitting to sit in this book, which really is a collection of family recipes from all across South Africa.

WHAT YOU NEED (makes 1 jar)
1 cup smooth apricot jam
1 tin (50 g) or ¾ cup hot English mustard powder
1 tot oil
1 tot grape vinegar
1 tsp salt

WHAT TO DO
1. Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and mix everything well. The mustard powder, as well as the apricot jam, has a tendency to make small lumps. You need to stir and press on all the lumps till they are gone.

2. Put the mustard into a glass jar with a sealable lid and let it rest in a cool place for a few days. You can start using the mustard with braaied meat on the same day, but it’s better after a few days.

AND …
No one in my family has any idea how long the shelf life of this mustard is. In three generations, we’ve never made a batch that wasn’t finished before it went off.

ROCKET SIRLOIN WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Rocket sirloin with balsamic

Serving steak exactly like this was not my idea. It was during a ski holiday in Austria, with a snowstorm raging outside making the actual act of trying to ski completely impossible, that I took refuge in a wooden hut with a nice warm fireplace. It turned out that this hut had more than one fireplace, and the cook used one of them to prepare food or more accurately, to braai steak. This is how that steak was served.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)
4 sirloin steaks (about 300 g each)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
2 tots honey
coarse sea salt
1 punnet fresh rocket leaves (80 g)

WHAT TO DO
1. Prepare the steaks: If they were in vacuum packs, remove, wash under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen towel. Now put them flat on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to trim the steaks of all excess fat and sinews. You just want the actual pieces of meat. Now taking extreme care, butterfly each steak. That means cut them open exactly as you would do with a hotdog roll, almost all the way without breaking through at the other side. Now open the steaks and press on their ‘spines’ so that they are stretched open on the cutting board. Effectively they should now be double their original size and half their original width. Use your meat mallet and give the steaks a once over. Be firm, but not too aggressive.

2. Make the sauce: In a small pot or pan, mix together the vinegar, wine and honey. Heat and bring to the boil. Now let this mixture boil and reduce until it starts to thicken. Do not leave the sauce unattended as it can burn easily, so you need to keep stirring and checking while it simmers. Remove from the heat when you are happy with the consistency. The more you reduce it, the thicker and more syrupy it will become but the less sauce you will have. Make the call and pull the plug around the halfway mark between starting the reduction and a dry burnt pan. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, try adding more honey next time.

3. Braai the steaks: Just before braaing them, toss some coarse sea salt on the steaks. Now braai over very hot coals for about 6 minutes in total. You only need to turn them once, so go 3 minutes on the ‘insides’ and 3 minutes on the ‘outsides’. Remove from the fire and let them relax and rest a bit. 4. Build the work of art: Pour some sauce on the ‘inside’ of each steak, pile on a generous helping of fresh rocket leaves, and then close them back to their original form. Drizzle with the remaining sauce on top

MIELIEPAP WRAPS

Mieliepap wrapsThese mieliepap wraps are very easy to make and you can fill them up with anything you feel like straight from the braai. We stuffed them with braaied steak and a coleslaw.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1/2 cup maize meal
  • 1.5 cups cake flour
  • 1 tot olive
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water

WHAT TO DO

  1. Mix all the ingredients together with your wooden spoon and make sure all is combined.
  2. Make a long sausage type roll. Divide the roll into equal parts with a sharp knife.
  3. Make little balls, prepare a surface with flour and roll out the balls until round and flat like a pancake.
  4. Heat your pan on the fire, toast the wraps on each side for 10-15 seconds until lightly browned and cooked.
  5. Braai your steak to your preference and serve the steak topped with coleslaw inside the freshly baked wraps.

MIELIEPAP CHICKEN SCHNITZEL

Mieliepap schnitzlesHere is a great idea to spice up your usual chicken braai, the mieliepap adds a great taste and texture to the chicken.

WHAT YOU NEED:
4 chicken breasts
Cling film
2 tots olive oil
2 tots Chicken spice of your choice
1 cup Maize meal
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 cup french style mayonnaise

WHAT TO DO:
  1. Place the chicken breast fillets on a flat surface and cover with clingfilm. Use a heavy object like a rolling pin, bottle of wine or any heavy object to flatten the fillets and tenderise, so that they are the same all over.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the fillets on both sides making sure they are covered all over.
  3. Season with chicken spice and then dust with maize meal all over to cover the fillets.
  4. Braai the chicken over medium hot coals for 10 – 15 minutes until cooked on the inside and crispy and golden brown on the outside.
  5. Mix the Dijon mustard, wholegrain mustard and mayonnaise together and serve with your mieliepap schnitzels.

Mielie pap chips

Mielie pap chipsMaize meal is super versatile and you can transform your ordinary pap into this amazing snack or starter for your guests at your next braai.

WHAT YOU NEED:
3 cups water
1 cup maize meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tot butter
Black pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup cheese, grated
For the Sauce:
1 cup french style mayonnaise
1 tot paprika
1 teaspoon chili flakes

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Stir the maize meal and water together in a pot to mix well. Add the salt and let it simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes until cooked.
  2. Add the butter, black pepper, thyme and cheese and mix well into the cooked pap
  3. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray or olive oil and place the cooked pap mixture into the baking sheet. Press it down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon or your recently washed hands, to cover the pan. Leave to set for about 20 -30 minutes.
  4. Once the pap in the baking sheet has set, tip it over onto a surface and slice into strips.
  5. Place the pap strips onto your closed hinged grid and braai over warm coals until golden, crispy and brown.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce and serve with the pap chips

lEG Of VENISON IN PORT

Leg of venison in Port

Venison goes very well with sweeter ingredients like dried fruit and port. Instead of trying to choose between the two, I like to just add both. This creates a truly legendary dish with a cut of meat that can otherwise be difficult to cook and which can easily end up dry.

WHAT YOU NEED (serves 8)
Stage 1:
2 kg leg of venison (bone in – make sure it will fit into your potjie, otherwise ask your butcher to cut it into two pieces)
½ tot ground coriander
1 tot chopped rosemary
5 whole cloves
1 whole cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 bottle port
about 10–12 garlic cloves (whole)

Stage 2:
2 tots oil
2 onions (chopped)
1 packet bacon (chopped)
3 carrots (peeled and sliced)
250 g mixed dried fruit (apricots, apples, prunes, etc.)
2 tots lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

WHAT TO DO
Stage 1:
1. Mix the coriander, rosemary, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, port and garlic in a bowl.
2. Now let the meat and marinade join forces either in a large marinating bowl (plastic, glass or ceramic) or a plastic bag. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and let it marinate in a fridge for 2 days. Turn the meat roughly every 8–12 hours.
Stage 2:
1. Take the meat out of the fridge an hour before you start cooking.
2. While the potjie heats up over your fire, take the meat out of the marinade and quickly ‘flame-grill’ it over very hot flames for about
3 minutes a side to give it a nice colour (don’t throw the marinade away; keep it for later). Take the meat off the fire and keep it out the way of hyenas, dogs, etc. 3. Over a hot fire, heat the oil in the potjie and fry the onions and bacon for a few minutes until the onions are soft and start to brown.
4. Put the browned meat inside the potjie, and then add all the marinade left in your marinating bowl or bag. Heat up till the sauce starts simmering, then cover with the lid and cook over a low fire for 2 hours. It should just be a slow simmer.
5. If prunes are one of the dried fruits you want to add, now is the time to pit them if they don’t come that way in the packet. Otherwise it’s a broken tooth waiting to happen and that’s no fun when you’re camping in the bush.
6. After 2 hours of simmering, add the carrots, dried fruit, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and then simmer for a further 1 hour (covered). Keep the temperature low and steady. Add a bit of water only if the pot looks too dry.
7. By now the meat should be really tender. Lift the meat out of the pot onto a wooden carving board and slice into thick chunks – it should just about fall apart by itself.
8. Put the meat chunks back in the pot and stir them carefully into the sauce. Add more salt if necessary. Serve with mashed potatoes. It will be great – end of story.

AND …
If you want more sauce in your pot after carving the meat into chunks (before adding the meat back into the pot), just add a cup of beef stock to the sauce in the pot and bring it to the boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, then thicken slightly with some dissolved cornflour if necessary (mix half a tot each of cornflour and water, see instructions at the bottm of page 124). Stir and bring to a simmer, then add the meat to the sauce and serve.

MONTAGU CHICKEN POTJIE

Montegu3This is a fantastic potjie recipe for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it yields a great, rich and exotic meal but equally important is the fact that you can find every single ingredient in almost any supermarket in South African cities, suburbs and the platteland. In Montagu, the picturesque town in the Klein Karoo, you can find all the core ingredients on every streetcorner. There is absolutely no preparation necessary here and once you’ve lit your fire, the food can be served within one and a half hours.

WHAT YOU NEED
(feeds 4)
8 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks, preferably without skin)
2 tots olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
fresh ginger, equal in volume to the garlic (grated)
1 tot ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup orange juice
1 cup soft dried prunes (stones removed)
½ cup dried apricots

TO SERVE
2 cups couscous
2 cups boiling water
2 tots butter
1 tsp salt
2 spring onions (chopped)
1 tot mint (freshly chopped)
1 cup almonds

WHAT TO DO
1. Make a big fire and position your potjie on the flames.
2. Dry-roast the cup of almonds for about 1 minute. Pay lots of attention – they will burn quickly. Remove from the potjie and set aside for much later. At some stage during the party, you need to roughly chop these roasted almonds. 3. It really makes the potjie nicer if you take some or all of the skins off the chicken pieces. This is a simple process: use clean hands and pull the skin off the chicken. Now add the olive oil, chicken pieces and chopped onion to the potjie. 4. Then sprinkle the salt and pepper over the stuff in the potjie, which needs to be on the fire. Use your wooden spoon to toss things around, then fry for a few minutes until the chicken starts to brown and the onions are soft.
5. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon and fry for 1 minute to unlock the flavours of the spices. Rapidly proceed to the next step before the spices burn.
6. Add the stock and orange juice and use the liquid to scrape loose anything from the bottom of the potjie that is trying to get stuck and burn.
7. Also add the prunes and apricots. Toss everything, put the lid on the potjie and let it gently simmer for 45 minutes with some coals or the odd flame under the potjie.
8. During the 45 minutes of cooking the potjie, prepare the couscous. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour the boiling water onto that. Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes and then add the butter to it. Now use a fork to flake the couscous and stir in the salt, chopped spring onion, mint and chopped almonds.
9. After 45 minutes, remove the potjie lid and gently stir so as not to break the chicken. Now let the potjie simmer uncovered for a good while until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce. Total cooking time from frying the chicken and onions should not be more than 90 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken but don’t let it completely cook away. You want the thickened sauce to drench the couscous – that’s part of the appeal of the meal.
10. Serve the chicken on a generous bed of couscous.

Mieliepaptert

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 5.14.31 PMIn a world of uncertainty, I have never been disappointed by mieliepaptert. It’s an almost foolproof dish. You start off by making mieliepap, already a great meal on its own. Then you just add some bells and whistles to make it even better – almost like buying a great new car and then adding all the optional extras. Assembling the mieliepaptert in layers is essentially like making a lasagne, just with entirely different ingredients.

WHAT YOU NEED (serves 8)

For the stywepap:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups maize meal

For the mieliepaptert:

  • 2 tots olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 packet (200–250 g) smoked streaky bacon (sliced into chunks)
  • 400–500 g mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1?2 tsp salt (the bacon is already salty)
  • 1?2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 can creamed sweet corn
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (about 200 g)
  • 2 cups cream (2 × 250 ml tubs)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

WHAT TO DO

Make the stywepap:

  1. Add the water and the salt to a pot and get the water boiling over a hot fire (or stove).
  2. When the water in the pot boils, stir in the maize meal using a wooden spoon. It should take you between 1 and 2 minutes to mix it in properly.
  3. Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 25 minutes on very low heat. On a fire, this means removing the pot from the flames and placing it on a few coals.
  4. You can check on the porridge (or pap) once or twice during this time to make sure it’s simmering (boiling is too hot; standing still is too cold), but don’t lift the lid too often as too much water will then escape in the form of steam. After 25 minutes the porridge will be ready.
  5. You can now enjoy the porridge as is, but to use it in mieliepaptert you need to take it off the fire and let it cool down in the pot – we’re looking for a solid piece of pap that we can slice.

Make the mieliepaptert:

  1. Take the cooled stywepap out of the pot in one piece, and cut into 1 cm-thick slices, as you would do with bread.
  2. Put the pot back on the fire. Add the oil, onion, bacon and mushrooms. Fry for about 10 minutes until the onion turns a golden brown colour. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take the pot o the heat and pour the contents into a bowl. In the empty pot, start layering the paptert with a layer of sliced pap (place a few slices of pap loosely next to each other, but not too tightly). Follow with a layer of onion/bacon/mushrooms, a few spoonfuls of sweet corn and some grated Cheddar. Then another layer of pap, and so on. You should have about 2–3 layers (but this is not an exact science) of each, finishing with some cheese.
  4. Pour the cream over the top layer (it will sink in), and finish with some thyme leaves.
  5. Put the lid back on. Put the pot over some coals (not too hot) and also put some hot coals on top of the lid. Cook for 30 minutes until the meal is simmering and the cheese is nice and brown. The cream sauce will thicken on standing, so leave it to rest for 10–15 minutes before serving.

BREAKFAST PIZZA

breakfastpizza2Looks like a pizza, made on a wood fire, more of a frittata and a real breakfast winner! This is not really a pizza and probably closer to an Italian frittata, but the name is catchy and from a distance it looks like a pizza. The quantities here make both shopping and execution of the recipe easy. As you might imagine, when you’ve done it once, this is a recipe you can use as a baseline for your own further experimentation with ingredients.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 6)

  • 1 packet (200 g) bacon (chopped)
  • 2 bell peppers (any combination of green, yellow or red, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 large tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tot chutney
  • 6 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tot milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • roughly 200 g Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • fire-toasted bread or roosterkoek (to serve)

WHAT TO DO

  1. In a pan on the fire, fry the bacon pieces for a few minutes and then add the chopped bell peppers and onion. Fry all of these together on high heat until things start to brown. Add some oil or butter if things look like they might burn before they get to the golden-brown goal.
  2. Now add the tomatoes and chutney and toss everything around for another few minutes until your mixture is well and truly stir-fried.
  3. In rapid succession, add all of the eggs and milk, as well as the salt, pepper and oregano to the pan. Mix everything together so the egg mixture can fill the gaps between the rest of the ingredients and form a nice layer on top.
  4. When things are evened out to your liking, top the eggs with all of the cheese and then close the pan with tight-fitting tinfoil. Let the pan stand over gentle heat for a few minutes until the egg is cooked and the cheese melted.
  5. Serve with fire-toasted bread or freshly baked roosterkoek.

AND …
The bacon can be swapped or supplemented with finely chopped leftover braai meat. On the cheesy side, the Cheddar cheese can be supplemented or swapped with crumbled feta cheese.

CURRIED SWEET POTATO AND CARROT SOUP

Sweet potato&Curry soupA potjie and a fire do a great job when it comes to cooking soup. This fail-safe recipe results in a soup that works very well as an impressive starter to a three-course braaied meal. The special piece of equipment I have to make this recipe particularly successful is a cordless stick blender. Once all the contents of the potjie are cooked, you use the blender to transform the lumps into a smooth soup right there on the fire. Alternatively, just use a traditional potato masher for a soup with a slightly different texture but equally great taste.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 8)

  • 2 tots olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tot ginger (piece of about 5 cm, freshly grated)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tot medium curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into blocks)
  • 4 large carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1 tot fresh coriander (chopped)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tub sour cream (or crème fraîche)

WHAT TO DO
1. Heat the oil in a potjie on the fire and fry the onion for 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.
2. Add all the spices and fry for about 1 minute until it starts smelling amazing.
3. Now stir in the sweet potato and carrot, making sure everything is mixed well with the spices.
4. Add the stock and water, bring to a gentle boil, and close the lid of the potjie. Simmer for about 45 minutes until everything is cooked and completely soft. You can check up on the potjie now and then just to make sure it’s not running dry but this is very unlikely. As usual, if it does happen, add more water.
5. Once everything is cooked through and soft, remove the lid and use your stick blender or masher to transform the contents of the potjie into a soup of uniform consistency. If the soup is too thick, add some water.
6. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
7. Dish up with a big dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche in each bowl and serve with fresh bread toasted on the fire.

Obatzda Cheese Spread and Roosterkoek

obatzda

Obatzda is a Bavarian cheese delicacy and best served with freshly baked roosterkoek from the fire.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 block of Brie or Camembert cheese
  • 2 tots soft butter
  • 1 tub (250 g) plain cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 of an onion very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tots beer
  • 1 tot freshly chopped chives

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Cut off most of the hard edges of the Brie or Camembert cheese and chop into small pieces and mash finely with a fork.
  2. Add the butter, cream cheese, paprika, chopped onion and cumin and mix well.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, add the beer and mix again until a smooth mixture.
  4. Add the fresh chives and serve with freshly baked roosterkoek, or any other fresh baked bread.

RED CURRIED BLACK MUSSELS

rcbmRed is usually not a colour we like to associate with black mussels, mostly because when there is red tide in the sea, it means we cannot catch black mussels. Thai red curry, on the other hand, is a flavour that goes well with mussels. This is the type of recipe that will add a lot of value to some lives as you realise that a great-tasting mussel potjie is pretty straightforward to prepare on the fire.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)

  • 1 kg half-shelled frozen black mussels
  • 1 tot olive oil or butter 2 onions (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (green, red or yellow, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 fresh chilli (seeds removed if you prefer, chopped)
  • 1 tot red curry paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 400 ml tin coconut cream
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • baguette (to serve)

WHAT TO DO

  1. Rinse the mussels under cold, running water.
  2. Add the oil or butter, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chilli and curry paste to the potjie and sauté until stuff starts to brown.
  3. Add the white wine and coconut cream, and use your wooden spoon to ensure no bits of sautéed stuff are sticking to the bottom of the potjie.
  4. Now add the mussels, stir and toss them with the rest of the ingredients and close the lid of the potjie. Keep enough heat under the potjie to let the liquid in the pot boil so that the mussels steam for about 15 minutes until done. Then remove the lid and toss everything once more.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve in bowls, scooping mussels, as well as sauce into each bowl. Serve with pieces of fresh baguette to mop up the sauce. The sauce is part of the meal. For bonus points, you can lightly toast the slices of baguette on a grid over coals before serving, as this will allow for extra flavour and improved appearance.

AND …

Not all red curry pastes are created equal. You might have to use more or less to fine-tune the amount of kick in your meal! You can obviously use fresh mussels for this recipe as well, but red curry paste is quite robust in flavour, perhaps even overkill – hence my suggestion is that you save this recipe for those days when the craving for a mussel pot speaks strongly to you, and the only mussels you can find are those half-shelled frozen ones. Once the onion and his friends are browned and you’ve added and stirred in the white wine, you can also opt to use a stick blender to transform everything in the potjie into one smooth sauce before adding the cream and the mussels and proceeding with the rest of the process.

SATAY SAUCE WITH CHICKEN SOSATIES

Satay sauce with chicken sosaties Technically speaking this peanut-based sauce forms part of Asian cuisine, but I think of it as Dutch. Everyone I know in the Netherlands loves this stuff and if a piece of meat even so much as threatens that it was braaied, they dip it in or smother it with satay sauce. My view is that it goes best with braaied chicken sosaties.

WHAT YOU NEED (makes about 1½ cups of sauce)

  • 1 tot vegetable oil
  • 1 onion (very finely chopped or even grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped or crushed)
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (or 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped)
  • 1 tot brown sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 1 tot soy sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk

MAKE THE SAUCE

  1. Heat the oil in a small to medium-sized potjie or pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli until soft.
  2. Next you add the brown sugar and fry until the sugar starts to caramelise.
  3. Add the peanut butter and soy sauce, and stir well. Now add the coconut milk and bring to the boil while stirring until it forms a smooth sauce. Reduce the heat by dragging away some of the coals under the potjie and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. The satay sauce in now ready to be served with braaied chicken sosaties.

HOW TO MAKE AND BRAAI CHICKEN SOSATIES

  1. Buy deboned chicken thighs or breasts and cut them into bite-sized chunks. Rub the meat with your favourite tailor-made braai salt and then skewer the meat. Cover the sosaties and leave them in your fridge until you braai them.
  2. Alternatively, just buy chicken sosaties at your favourite butchery or supermarket.
  3. Chicken sosaties made from thigh meat are juicier than those made from breast meat, so look out for those.
  4. Chicken sosaties braai in about 10 minutes over medium-hot coals and you can see the meat change in colour as it cooks.

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