In Argentina, one snack rules them all when standing, or sitting, around the fire waiting for the meat to be ready – the empanada, a distant cousin of the samoosa or cocktail-sized pie. With the most popular cut of meat, the beef short rib, taking half a day to get ready, you can understand why there needs to be a few snacks to keep the braaier and assistants going. Now, the empanada can have various fillings, traditionally based on region but in my experience, simply on preference, with my favourite being the corn and cheese. At the time of writing this book, Argentina is the fourth largest corn producer in the world and I think this is thus a fitting filling for a braaibroodjie paying homage to their asado culture.
The empanada braaibroodjie can stand as a meal in its own right but how I really think you play this one is: braai the mielies golden brown on some side coals whilst you’re doing some multi-hour meal like a potjie or lamb spit. Build the braaibroodjies, braai them perfectly and serve in halves around the fire.
Ingredients (makes 6)
- 12 bread slices
- butter or olive oil
- 2 mielies
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 punnet fresh coriander (chopped)
- 1 red onion (sliced)
- 240 g Cheddar cheese (sliced or grated)
- Braai the mielies on a braai grid over hot coals, and toast on all sides. Braaied mielies have significantly more flavour than non-braaied mielies. Once charred a bit, remove from the fire and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels of the cob and place into a mixing bowl.
- Season the charred mielie kernels with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and mix well so that all the corn is seasoned. Chop the coriander finely and mix into the seasoned mielies.
- Build the braaibroodjies: Spread butter or olive oil on one side of each slice of bread (these sides will be outward-facing in the assembled braaibroodjie). Pack half these slices buttered-side down and layer with the corn mixture and then red onions slices. Cover with Cheddar cheese. Close the braaibroodjies with the remaining bread slices, buttered sides facing upwards.
- ‘Braaibroodjies is draaibroodjies’. Braaibroodjies should be turned often and are braaied in a closed, hinged grid. If you don’t have one, buy one – preferably with adjustable heights to compress each unit perfectly. You want medium-paced, gentle heat and the grid should be relatively high. Your aim is for the cheese to be melted and all other fillings to be completely heated by the time the outsides are golden brown. Slightly opening and closing your hinged grid a few times after the first few turns of the braai process helps the braaibroodjies not to get stuck to the grid.
- Once done, slice each braaibroodjie in half. Generally, I believe that the correct way to slice braaibroodjies is diagonally and the correct time to serve is immediately.
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