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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.

BENCHMARK MAlVA PUDDING IN A POTJIE

Malva puddingSome time in the late 1970s food guru Michael Olivier, who was responsible for the Boschendal Restaurant, asked his friend Maggie Pepler to come and teach them how to make the original malva pudding. Ever since, it’s been a permanent fixture on their buffet menu. My malva pudding recipe is based on that original recipe and is published with Michael’s blessing. The single biggest adjustment from the original recipe is that I bake the pudding in a no. 10 flat-bottomed baking potjie on the fire, and not in a conventional oven.

WHAT YOU NEED (serves 6)

For the batter:
1 cup flour
½ 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:
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
1 cup sugar
½ cup hot water
½ cup butter

WHAT TO DO
1. 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 flatbottomed baking potjie. You can see a picture of this kind of potjie on page13.
2. 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).
3. In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg very well. Now add the jam, vinegar, butter and milk, whisking well after adding each ingredient.
4. Add the wet ingredients of step 3 to the dry ingredients of step 2 and mix well.
5. 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.
6. 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. If you want a (slightly) less sweet pudding, use half a cup of sugar and a full cup of hot water for the sauce, instead of the other way round as per the ingredients list.
7. 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.
8. 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.
AND …
In the original recipe, the tot measures of apricot jam, butter and vinegar as well as the half tot of
bicarbonate of soda are all given as 1 tablespoon each. These minor changes won’t affect the outcome of the dessert but for the sake of accurately recording history, I think it’s important that we note it.

THE BRAAI CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

JanBraai Chicken TikkaChicken tikka masala is one of the most famous meals to come from a tandoori oven, which is a cylindrical clay oven heated by a fire, almost like a braai. Tikka means ‘pieces’ but chicken tikka refers to a specific meal of chicken pieces marinated in a masala spice and yoghurt, skewered and cooked in a tandoori (or, in this case, braaied). Chicken tikka masala is one of my all-time favourite curries – and sure to be one of your’s once you’ve nailed this recipe.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)

The chicken:

  • 600 g deboned, skinless chicken meat (a pack of 4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 tots chicken tikka masala spice (or tandoori masala or any good masala mix that is red in colour that you can find at your local spice market)
  • 1 tot lemon juice
  • about 6 skewers

The sauce:

  • 1 tot garlic
  • 1 tot ginger
  • oil or butter
  • 400 g can tomato purée (or chopped tomatoes)
  • 2–3 tots tomato paste
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tsp garam masala (This tastes different from and is slightly hotter than normal masala as it contains different ingredients and ratios of ingredients. You need to trust me that this is the masala you need for the dish so go find it at a spice market.)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional, can be less or more)
  • 2 tots ground almonds
  • salt
  • honey
  • 2 tots chopped coriander leaves (dhania)

WHAT TO DO

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and mix in a marinating bowl with the yoghurt, masala spice and lemon juice. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Skewer the chicken pieces (make sosaties) and braai over hot coals until done. Don’t worry about the odd black spot of caramelised chicken appearing.
  3. In a cast-iron pot or fireproof pan lightly fry the garlic and ginger in a bit of oil or butter. If there is any leftover marinade, also add this.
  4. After 2 minutes add all the other ingredients except for the salt, honey and coriander leaves. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes. While it is simmering, look at the sauce and taste it. If you want to, make the following adjustments:
    • Add salt if it needs more.
    • Make the sauce hotter by adding more chilli powder and/or sweeter by adding honey.
    • To make the colour of the sauce redder add extra paprika or to make it more yellow or orange add extra turmeric.
  5. When the sauce is to your liking, starts to thicken, and the chicken is braaied, remove the skewers and add the sauce to the chicken pieces. Stir in the dhania or coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice.

AND

If you reckon you can multitask then you can obviously braai the chicken and cook the sauce concurrently.

STEAK AU POIVRE

@janbraai Steak au PoivreIn the recent past France has taken a lot of our best rugby players who play for the French teams on French fields. Here we are simply returning the favour by taking their favourite way of preparing steak and using the recipe in a braai way, around the braai fire! To braai steaks medium rare over very hot coals should take you about 8 minutes and to make this sauce should also take you about the same time, so if you have a big enough fire with flames and coals, the two acts can be performed simultaneously. Alternatively, make the sauce, keep it warm and then braai the steaks. I know the name of this recipe is unpronounceably difficult so you are welcome to just call it a ‘French-style pepper steak’.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 4)

  • 4 sirloin or porterhouse steaks (off the bone, about 350 g each)
  • 2 tots black peppercorns (or rainbow peppercorns)
  • coarse sea salt (in a grinder)
  • 2 tots butter
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 onion (grated or very finely chopped)
  • ½ cup beef stock (or any other stock or water)
  • 2 tots Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • fresh parsley or chives (finely chopped, to serve)

WHAT TO DO

BRAAI THE STEAKS

  1. Make a proper big fire.
  2. Crush all the peppercorns by placing them on a cutting board and using a bottle of wine to roll over and press them a few times.
  3. Take the steaks out of their packaging, wash them under cold running water, pat them dry with kitchen towel and use a sharp knife to trim away all excess sinew and fat.
  4. Just before the braai, grind salt onto both sides of each steak. Aim to get salt on the edges of the steaks instead of the centres. This way you will still hit the centres, but the sides will be properly salted as well.
  5. Now spread the crushed pepper out on the cutting board and press both sides of each steak into the pepper. If you run out of pepper before you’re done with all the steaks don’t panic, simply crush additional pepper.
  6. Braai the steaks over very hot coals for about 4 minutes on each side until medium rare. When the steaks are ready remove from the fire.

MAKE THE SAUCE

  1. Prepare the sauce by starting to melt the butter in a pan over flames.
  2. Now for the step that has an element of actual danger so be a bit prudent here and get kids to stand well back. Add the brandy to the pan. If it does not spontaneously catch fire from the fire, set it alight. Half a cup of brandy does not explode in the way petrol explodes, but for a few seconds there will be quite a bit of flame so keep your eyebrows out of the way and make sure you have space to retreat and stand back once you have set it alight. Let the alcohol burn off, and as soon as the flames die down, proceed to the next step.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and sauté for a minute or three until it starts to change colour. Now stir in the beef stock, mustard and crème fraîche.
  4. Taste the sauce and add a bit of salt if you feel so inclined but remember that there is also salt on the steaks.

SERVE

Let the steaks rest for a few minutes and then carve all of them into slices using your favourite, biggest and sharpest knife. Put all the meat and sauce on a platter, sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives, and place this awesome feast on the table with pride.

Monkeygland Boerewors Rolls

JBT_3072The world has a few famous sauces to serve with braaied meat and monkeygland sauce is one of them. What makes monkeygland sauce special is that it’s a South African invention. As is boerewors. For special-occasion boerewors rolls, I suggest you skip the normal options of chutney or tomato sauce and go for a home-made monkeygland sauce. You will not look back and neither will your guests.

WHAT YOU NEED (feeds 6)

  • about 1.2 kg high-quality boerewors
  • 6 hotdog rolls

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tot butter
  • 1 tot olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chutney
  • ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tot brown sugar
  • 1 tot vinegar
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • water (have some on standby in case your potjie runs dry)

WHAT TO DO

  1. In a fireproof pot or pan on the fire, fry the onion in the butter and oil for a few minutes until you like the look of it.
  2. Add all the other ingredients for the sauce, except for the water, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring fairly often to make sure it doesn’t burn. If the pot runs dry and the sauce is too thick for your liking or starts to burn, add a little bit of water.
  3. After 15 minutes of simmering, the sauce is ready to serve. You can now keep it warm or on a very gentle simmer until the boerewors is braaied and ready.
  4. Now it’s time to braai the wors. The aim is to break or pierce it as little as you can and have as juicy an end-product as possible.
    • Do not pre-cut the wors as its juices will get lost. Keep it long and coil it, or position it on the grid running back and forth like people in an airport queue.
    • The easiest method is to braai the boerewors in a hinged grid so that it can be turned without breaking. Failing that, coil it and, while it is on a flat surface, press two skewers all the way through the wors at a 90° angle to each other, effectively putting the boerewors in a little skewer cross. In this way, you can braai and turn the boerewors easily on an open grid without it breaking apart and losing juices.
    • Boerewors can be braaied on any type of heat – the braai times will just differ. I prefer fairly hot coals so the skin is crisp and snaps under your teeth while the insides are still nice and juicy. Depending on heat and wors thickness, braai time should be somewhere around 8 minutes, and you should turn it between one and five times. On pathetic third-round coals (when you are last in line at the bring-and-braai), braai time can be 20 minutes and the boerewors will still taste fine, but this should be the exception and not the norm.
    • Do not ‘pop’ the wors and let those bubbles of juice escape. If you feel that your boerewors is too fatty, then buy better boerewors in future. At the time of writing this post, the best boerewors on the market is Jan Braai Boerewors!
    • Do not overbraai it – 71 °C is perfect. If you braai it too long, it will become dry and you will kill some of the flavour. I have never been served boerewors that I thought would have benefited from being braaied longer. More often than not, people overbraai boerewors.
  5. When the boerewors is ready, the skin will be brown in most parts and grey in some.
  6. Place a piece or two of boerewors in each hotdog roll and top with a few spoons of monkeygland sauce.

Namibian Chimichurri Steak

Namibian ChimichurriDuring a braai excursion to our neighbouring country, Namibia, we spent a night at Op My Stoep Lodge in Oranjemund. The owner, Fanie is originally from Argentina and gave me his chimichurri sauce recipe after my very nice meal. According to him, this sauce gets better with a day or two in the fridge for the flavours to marry properly, and this is true. But truth be told, I have never waited that long.

WHAT YOU NEED

(feeds 4)
rump steak for 4 people
salt and pepper

FOR THE SAUCE

4 long red chillies (deseeded and chopped)
4 long green chillies (deseeded and chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
½ tot dried oregano
½ tot course salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tot white wine vinegar
2 tots olive oil
½ cup flat leaf parsley

WHAT TO DO

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and place in a food processor or blender. Blend until everything is smooth and has a good, even consistency. In theory, you should put the sauce in a closed container and let it rest in a fridge for at least 2 days. In reality, you might consume it on the same day.
  2. Light a massive wood fire and season the rump steak with salt and pepper on both sides just before the braai.
  3. Braai over very hot coals for about 8 minutes in total until medium rare.
  4. Let the steak rest for a few minutes then cut into strips, hitting the steak with the knife blade at a 45° angle.
  5. \Drizzle the chimichurri sauce over the steak strips and serve.

Biltong-crusted Fillet Steak with Burnt Butter Sauce

Biltong crusted steakThis biltong-crusted steak recipe is from Willie, a professional chef who was kind enough to share one of his top trade secrets with me. The only unconventional ingredient for this recipe is what I call ‘biltong powder’. Many butcheries and supermarkets sell it but if you cannot find it, simply make your own using dry biltong and a blender.

WHAT YOU NEED
(feeds 4)

1 kg beef fillet
½ cup Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 cup biltong powder
2 tots olive oil
mix of vegetables for 4 people (stuff like carrots, onions, baby marrow, mushrooms and bell peppers)
½ cup butter
clingwrap

WHAT TO DO

  1. Spread Dijon mustard all over the fillet steak. Use your recently washed hands or a knife or spoon to do this.
  2. Now season the steak with salt and pepper.
  3. If you couldn’t find biltong powder and your biltong is still intact, chop it and then use a blender to process it into a fine form.
  4. Throw all of the powdered biltong onto the steak. Roll and toss and press until the mustard-coated outer surface of the fillet steak is completely encrusted in biltong.
  5. Now roll the steak tightly into clingwrap and put it in a fridge.
  6. When you are ready to braai a few hours or a day later, unwrap the steak and cut it into four equally sized portions.
  7. Put your fireproof pan or wok onto the fire and add the olive oil and all of the vegetables to it. Stir-fry the vegetables until charred but still crisp.
  8. Also braai the steak medallions on a grid over very hot coals for about 8–10 minutes, making sure all four sides of each steak face the coals to get some colour.
  9. Plate the steak and the vegetables and now add half a cup of butter to the pan you used to fry the vegetables. Make sure there is intense heat under the pan so the butter melts and starts to bubble. As soon as the butter starts to brown, remove the pan from the fire and drizzle the steaks and the vegetables with the burnt butter.

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