Whether you call it a braai, shisa nyama, or barbecue, South Africans love to get together around a fire and share delicious food with good company!
What better way to celebrate Heritage Day on 24 September than with a bit of Mzansi braai magic?
With McCain frozen vegetables by your side, or more accurately in your freezer, you are sorted for your next uniquely South African get-together!
Here are five tips for the best braai:
1. Pre-salt the meat
When you season meat immediately before cooking, you end up with an outer layer that has good flavour, but the inside can often be bland. Salting ahead of time ensures the entire cut gets evenly flavoured because the salt has time to penetrate the meat properly. Pre-salting also assists with the caramelisation process during grilling. You can pre-salt meat 2–24 hours before the braai. Place it open in the fridge to air dry and remove it two hours before the braai.
2. It’s all about the heat
Meat like prime cuts of beef benefit from direct heat and a hot fire, but other cuts, such as a deboned leg of lamb or a whole chicken, fair better on indirect heat. If you braai on a kettle braai, like a Weber, this is easily achieved by moving the coals to the side. Fatty meats, like lamb chops and chicken pieces, may cause the fire to flare up, so place the grill higher above the fire until the fat has been rendered.
3. Does it make the cut?
Few things are better than properly grilled meat: smokey, juicy, with a crisp, caramelised crust. Choosing the correct cut of meat for the braai is very important. Prime cuts of beef like rib eye and Picanha, with a good layer of fat, work best for the braai. Grilling meat on the bone adds lots of flavours, so look for cuts like T-bone steaks, spatchcock chickens, or lamb chops on the bone.
4. Add flavour – baste it, rub it or marinade it
Basting or marinating meat ensures that it keeps all the moisture and caramelises to perfection. A marinade can be as simple as a good olive oil combined with chopped garlic and rosemary for beef or adding lemon juice to the oil for chicken or fish. Why not make a delicious sweet potato and honey basting sauce the next time you braai chicken? Combine 1/3 cup McCain Sweet Potato Chunks, 1 cup orange juice and ½ cup water in a small saucepan, season lightly with salt, and cook over low heat until the sweet potato is soft and cooked and the liquid has reduced. Add 5cm freshly grated ginger, 15ml honey, 10ml soy sauce and 10ml sesame seeds. Cook for 3 more minutes, then purée the sauce using a stick blender. Thin the basting sauce out with extra orange juice if it is too thick to brush onto chicken pieces.
5. Let it be
It is important to allow the meat to rest before cutting it. As meat cooks, the muscle fibres start to firm up, and water gets released. When you take the meat off the braai, the moisture needs some time to redistribute back through the meat. If you cut into it right away, the liquid will seep out, and your juicy steak will end up very dry. By letting it rest, the moisture is re-absorbed, and your meat will be tender and juicy.
Fabulous braai sides
Is a braai really a braai without our much-loved braai sides? By adding McCain veggies to your favourite sides, like paptert and salads, you can make it even more nutritious and delicious. When cooking with McCain’s frozen vegetables, you can rest assured that all their produce is harvested at its peak and snap-frozen within hours to maintain freshness and lock in nutrients.
The quintessential South African paptert just got a marvellous makeover! This crowd-pleaser can also feed a crowd, and with the addition of McCain roasted veggies, it is so much more nutritious.
Paptert with McCain Roast Vegetable Mix an balsamic glaze:
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Roast 2 cups of the vegetable mix with balsamic glaze over the vegetables (from frozen) in the oven for 30 minutes. Grease a 20x30cm oven dish and pack layers, starting with 3 cups of cooked mielie pap. Top the pap with 1 cup cooked McCain Sweet Corn, 1 x can (400g) chakalaka and 2 cups of roasted vegetables. Top with 3 cups cooked mielie pap, 1 x tin (400g) braai relish, 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of grated cheddar. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes.
Remember the layered salads from the seventies? Well, it is back and more delicious than ever!
Create interesting flavour and texture combinations by layering all the salad ingredients in a salad bowl.
Make this Mexican layered salad for your next braai:
Cook 2 cups of McCain Mexican Stir Fry Mix, from frozen, according to the instructions on the packaging, and allow to cool. Layer the salad in a deep, glass serving bowl: start with 2 cups crispy lettuce, sliced into ribbons, topped with 1 cup cooked McCain Sweet Corn and 1 cup chopped cocktail tomatoes. Top the sweet corn with the McCain Stir Fry Mix and 1 cup of grated cheddar. Top with 2 cubed avocados and a cup of crispy nachos. Make a quick dressing by combining 45ml olive oil with 30ml lime juice and add 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 chopped jalapeno chilli. Season with salt. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.
Spice it up
Make your own delicious chunky chakalaka and use it on absolutely everything!
Roast 2 cups of McCain Roast Vegetable Mix, from frozen, in a 200˚C oven for 30 minutes. Brown 1 chopped onion in 30ml olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 chopped red chilli and 30ml curry powder. Cook until soft. Add 2 cups of the cooked McCain Roast Vegetable Mix, 1 tin (400g) baked beans and 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes and serve with all your favourite braaied meats.
Do the salsa
Zingy salsas can really lift barbecued meat. Add salsa to your lamb chops or roasted chicken next time you braai and wait for the compliments to roll in!
Zingy sweetcorn and pineapple aalsa:
Combine 1 cup of cooked McCain Sweet Corn with ½ cup cubed pineapple pieces, ½ chopped red onion, ½ cup chopped cocktail tomatoes, 1 chopped jalapeno and a small handful of coriander leaves. Season with salt and drizzle the juice of 1 lime over the salsa before serving it with your favourite braaied chops or chicken.
Dress it up
Take your favourite salads to the next level with delicious homemade salad dressings. This nutritious salad dressing will transform your favourite potato or green salad.
Creamy green salad dressing:
Cook 1 cup McCain Broccoli Florets for 3–5 minutes in the microwave (from frozen) and allow to cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooled broccoli with 1 cup buttermilk, 1 chopped jalapeno chilli, 2 peeled avocados, a small handful of fresh coriander, a small handful of fresh basil, a small handful of fresh mint, grated zest and juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt.