I always thought camping was the absolute worst. But that’s because I wasn’t doing it right. After spending a few nights at a beautiful spot called Trouthaven near Rawsonville in the Western Cape, I discovered that the secret to a great rustic getaway is eating well. All you need is firewood or briquettes and some easy-to-get ingredients.
Here are four fuss-free things to braai while camping
1. Steak and fire-baked potatoes with grilled veggies
The first rule of braai club is to always keep the meat cold until you’re ready to braai. Food safety is king when camping. Buy any cut of steak you fancy and keep it in the fridge before you pack it in your cooler bag the next morning. Put lots of ice packs in the cooler bag and keep it as cold as possible. This will be the first thing you cook when you get ready to eat at your campsite. Just as you start the fire, put the potatoes (individually wrapped in foil) in the middle of the hot coals for about twenty to thirty minutes before you put the steak on.
Marinate: While the potatoes are doing their thing, salt and pepper your steak. Then put it into a Ziploc bag with whole peeled garlic, tomato sauce, hot English mustard, barbecue sauce, brown vinegar and hot sauce. The spiciness can be toned down or revved up according to your preference. Then, grab a refreshing drink and wait until the potatoes are almost ready. Keep the fire as hot as possible. I like my meat medium rare so that means a nice crust on the outside and reddish pink on the inside. To get this I needed a sizzling hot fire. When the coals turn white hot, place the meat on the grill. At this point move your fresh veggies to the cooler part of the grid and let them get those lovely black grill marks. Courgettes, tomatoes, baby carrots or aubergine are best for this.
When you braai steak it’s important to have a cut with a nice fat cap on it and some good marbling throughout it. Place the steak down onto the grid and don’t move it until it releases easily, then flip once. Make sure the fat becomes nice and crispy. The thicker the piece of meat, the longer you need to leave it on the grid, but about two minutes a side should be good. While the steak rests for about 5-10 minutes, drizzle your veggies and potatoes with olive oil and season with flaky salt.
2. Marinated crispy chicken wings with golden mielies
Biting into a fire-grilled, crispy chicken wing is one of the best things in life and it’s even better when you’re enjoying it in the great outdoors.If you’re planning on having the wings on the second day of your camping trip, pop them in the freezer the night before you leave for your trip. This will keep them that little bit colder in the cooler box until you’re ready to cook them. The first thing to do is light a very hot fire. While that gets going, grab your mielies and wrap them in foil. Be careful not to encase them too much otherwise they’ll take ages to cook. Don’t remove the husk, just yet. Throw them into the fire for about 15 minutes.
Marinate: Next take your chicken wings out of the cooler box and season them with salt and pepper. Then put them into a Ziploc bag, add some chicken spice, lime juice, garlic, fruit chutney, a sprinkle of pepper flakes and a pinch of medium curry powder. Once the mielies are almost done and the coals are starting to turn white, put the wings onto the braai for about 25-30 minutes. After the chicken wings have been cooking for 20 minutes, take the mielies out of the fire and unwrap them, removing the husk. Then place them onto the grill. Once the chicken wings are cooked through and the mielies are golden and starting to char, you’re good to go so have your plates and napkins ready!
3. Braaibroodjies with chilli apple jelly
Braaibroodjies are a South African favourite and easy to make. They’re made even better with the addition of chilli apple jelly. Buy a fresh loaf of white farm bread and a jar of chilli apple jelly (or any preserve that you like) on the way to your campsite. When you’re about ready to eat, cut your bread into thick slices and layer them with pieces of any semi-hard cheese. Then slather the top slice with as much jelly as you like. Drizzle olive oil on the outside and pop it onto the grill. Flip it until each side has dark grill marks and the cheese melts.These are so good; you’ll never want to go back to a regular grilled cheese sandwich.
4. Boerie rolls with onion bombs
Just like braaibroodjies, boerie rolls are a South African Heritage Day classic and adding an onion bomb or two will take them to the next level.As soon as your fire is lit, wrap your onions individually in foil (with the skin on) and place them right in the centre. The longer they are allowed to cook, the better. Somewhere between 20-30 minutes should be perfect. You should be able to smell a sweet onion smell when they’re just about ready. Now, it’s time to put the boerewors on the grill. Quickly pop your rolls onto the grill and allow them to get nice and crispy. When they’re a little bit blackened (but not burnt!) put any condiments on them that you enjoy (I like hot sauce) and place the boerie into the bun. Next, unwrap the foil-wrapped onions until you get to the soft and cooked part. Put a spoonful of onion onto your roll and enjoy the perfect mix between salty, soft, crunchy, sweet and spicy.