TGIFOOD

BRAAI DAY

Lamb, fish, salads & braaibroodjies – 10 recipes for Heritage Day

Lamb, fish, salads & braaibroodjies – 10 recipes for Heritage Day
(Photo: Tiaan Nell on Unsplash)

Lamb loin chops done medium rare, how to cook a whole flank on the braai, apricot jam-basted fish roasted over the coals, chimichurri braai bread, ash-baked potatoes, braaibroodjies, and a slew of cool salads. Welcome to your weekend.

The weather is expected to be middling in some parts of the country this weekend, rainy in others, windy here and there, and some of you will be blessed with sunshine. Either way, mere weather doesn’t put many of us off a soul-soothing braai, so here are some ideas of what to plan to cook.

There’s my favourite way with a simple lamb loin chop, marinated for a few hours in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh rosemary and a good whack of garlic. If you have time on your hands, try your hand at a whole lamb flank braaied the way we do it in the Karoo, with braai bread on the side, such as my chimichurri braai loaf.

On the West Coast, they braai whole fish basted with apricot jam. I included fennel and cumin seeds in my recipe. There’s a fennel potato salad too, another with couscous, as well as my Karoo Koleslaw and a salad made with leftover pasta. (Or cook some and cool it.)

Finally, if you’re feeling daring, try my ash-baked potatoes, and if all else fails, just throw together some lovely old-fashioned braaibroodjies.

Lamb chops with rosemary, lemon and garlic

Tony Jackman’s braaied lamb loin chops. They were marinated in lemon, garlic and rosemary. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

8 lamb loin chops

For the marinade:

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp rosemary needles, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Method

Mix the marinade ingredients together and douse the chops in it, then leave for a few hours to marinate.

The chops should be close enough to the coals to cook quickly without burning.

Braai on hot coals for at least 8 but not more than 12 minutes, turning. I’d rather take them off around 8 minutes and certainly not more than 10. But any more than 12 and you’re asking for trouble with a capital T for Tough.

Whole lamb flank on the braai

Tony Jackman’s braaied lamb flank, cooked whole. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Ingredients

1 whole lamb flank/ rib, scored

1 whole head of garlic, baked in foil or roasted

A few rosemary sprigs

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil, as needed

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Prepare plenty of hot coals to one side of a braai, leaving space for the rib stand to be set up alongside but away from direct heat.

Rub the soft garlic pulp all over the surface on both sides and push bits of it into the cuts where the meat was scored. Push small rosemary sprigs into the cuts too.

Squeeze lemon juice all over, then olive oil, rubbing or brushing it in.

Season both sides with salt and black pepper.

Place it in a clean hinged grid and fold it closed. Place it on the rib stand, well away from the heat (at this point you need naked flame), with the bone side facing the flame.

Keep the fire going and let the flank cook at a fair distance for about an hour, turning it occasionally. Let the bone side get more attention for the first 45 minutes or so, then let the fat/skin side find favour with the flame.

Once an hour has gone by, move it closer to the heat, to encourage the fat juices to render away. But continue cooking.

After about 30 minutes, it should be ready for the grid to be taken off the stand and put directly onto hot coals, fat side down. In just a few minutes, if the coals are hot enough, the hard outer skin should have turned golden brown and become perfectly crisp.

These timings are not emphatic, as temperatures and the wind factor will play their part. Judge by your eye and trust your instincts. In cooler weather, it is likely to take a bit longer to cook.

Finally, put the grid containing the rib rack back on the stand for the meat to rest for five minutes.

Jam-basted whole fish on the braai

Butterflied fish on the braai with a jam-based baste inspired by West Coast traditions. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Ingredients

1 whole firm-fleshed fish, butterflied (ask a fishmonger to do this)

250 ml apricot jam

50 ml brown vinegar

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

A handful of fresh fennel fronds, finely chopped

Salt to taste

Cooking oil for basting the fish and oiling the grid

Method

Toast the fennel and cumin seeds lightly and crush them.

In a small saucepan, mix together the apricot jam, vinegar and toasted seeds and heat while stirring until the jam has melted. Let it simmer for a few minutes to reduce and thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped fennel fronds. Let it cool to room temperature.

Salt both sides of the fish and oil the skin side well.

Brush the baste generously over the flesh side of the fish. Leave about half of it for basting again when it is cooked.

Oil the inside (what good would oiling the outside do?) of the grid very well, on both sides. Place the whole fish skin-side down on one side, and fold the other down and fasten it closed.

Braai skin-side down first, for 10 minutes. Turn and be watchful while the other side cooks, no more than 10 minutes, probably a little less. Brush the rest of the baste all over the flesh side. Don’t be reticent about eating it. It could get messy.

Chimichurri braai bread

Tony Jackman’s chimichurri braai bread. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

For the chimichurri:

Ingredients

1 cup parsley, very finely chopped

4 fat cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, picked from their stems and finely chopped (or use 2 tsp dried oregano)

2 red chillies, finely chopped

Half a cup extra virgin olive oil

Coarse salt, a generous amount, to taste

Pepper to taste

Olive oil

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jug and stir. Do not blend.

For the dough:

Ingredients

1 kg white bread wheat flour or cake flour

10 g instant dried yeast

4 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 cups lukewarm water (a little more if necessary)

1 cup chimichurri made without vinegar (see above)

Olive oil for brushing the dough before cooking

Method

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and stir very well with a wooden spoon. Only stir in the salt after this so that it does not neutralise the yeast. 

Add lukewarm water a little at a time, while kneading the dough, until it is all combined.

Continue folding and kneading until it is a nice plump ball of dough and not too sticky. Work a little more flour in if it’s too sticky; a little more water if too dry.

Leave the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with a slightly damp tea towel, and put it in a warm place for 20 minutes. It was a hot day so I put it on a chair in the yard.

Make a fire so that you’ll have coals when needed.

Once the dough has had its first rise, knead the dough again for a minute or two, folding and turning. Flatten it out a little and spoon the chimichurri over it. Spread it around with the back of a spoon. Fold and knead again until combined, folding this way and that. You’ll see the colour of the chimichurri spreading through the dough. Place back in the bowl, cover, and let it have a second rise for 40 minutes, again in a warm place and covered with a damp towel.

Grease a braai pot. Slide the dough in.

Check that you have braai coals. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil. Place hot coals all around the base of the pot, and a few more on top. Keep replenishing the coals at the base and on the lid for 60 to 70 minutes.

After 55 minutes, remove the lid. If half of the top is more golden brown than the other, turn the less-done side towards the greater heat. After 5 to 15 minutes more, brush the coals away so it will cease cooking, or move the pot to a cool spot. 

Serve with a hearty meaty potjie, such as this lamb’s neck and shoulder potjie with lavender and orange, or this pork and beans potjie.

Fennel potato salad

Tony Jackman’s potato salad with fennel, celery, red pepper and chives. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

8 potatoes, cut into eighths once steamed or boiled

4 garlic chives, snipped

Half a red pepper, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

A handful of fennel fronds, finely chopped

Toasted fennel seeds, 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

⅔ cup mayonnaise

Method

Peel the potatoes and boil them until just tender but not so soft that they risk falling apart. Leave them to cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice each potato first in half, then into quarters, then into eighths.

Prepare the vegetables and herbs, toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan, and stir everything into the mayonnaise in a bowl. Toss the potatoes through the mayo using two wooden spoons, carefully. Best not to overwork it.

Couscous salad

Tony Jackman’s couscous salad with tomatoes, cucumber and red peppers, with an Asian dressing. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Ingredients

½ cup couscous

½ cup hot water

2 celery stalks, diced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 small red pepper, core and veins removed, and diced

3 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped

A 10-cm length of cucumber, diced

Olive oil

Rice wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper

Method

Make the couscous according to the packet instructions. Fluff with a fork, then leave to cool.

Put all the chopped goodies into a bowl, add olive oil and rice wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Karoo Koleslaw

Tony Jackman’s Karoo ‘koleslaw’. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

(Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish)

Ingredients

1 baby red cabbage, shredded finely

1 large carrot, finely grated

3 heaped Tbsp mayonnaise (best shop-bought you can afford)

2 heaped Tbsp Sense of the Karoo sweet mustard sauce or similar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp galangal powder

½ tsp white pepper

Salt

Method

Wash and dry the cabbage, removing any unpleasant parts of the outer leaves. Shred it as finely as you can with a very sharp knife.

Top and tail the carrots and peel them. Grate finely.

In a small bowl, stir the sweet mustard sauce into the mayonnaise and stir in the galangal (or ginger), garlic powder and white pepper, and season with a little salt. Stir well.

Put the shredded cabbage and grated carrot in a big enough bowl, make a well in the centre, and spoon in the mayonnaise mixture.

Use two wooden spoons to mix it by drawing it from the bottom and outside inwards, and mixing until the sauce is distributed throughout evenly.

Leftover pasta salad

Tony Jackman’s simple pasta salad. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Ingredients

Leftover pasta such as farfalle, spirals, penne, macaroni, etc

Crisp, fresh salad ingredients such as cucumber, green and red bell peppers, spring onions, chillies, small Roma tomatoes, red onion, celery

Avocado or olive oil

Lemon or lime juice

A splash of soy sauce

A little prepared mustard

Fresh garlic and/or ginger, finely grated or chopped

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Method

Cook pasta till al dente, drain, and toss in a little oil (avocado or olive). Refrigerate.

Chop all your chosen ingredients finely. Pour oil and lemon or lime juice into a salad bowl, stir in soy sauce and mustard, add chopped garlic, ginger and chilli if using, season and stir.

Add all the vegetables, toss for the dressing to coat everything, and finally, toss through the chilled pasta.

The traditional braaibroodjie

Braaibroodjies over the coals. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

(Makes 2 toasted sandwiches)

Ingredients

4 slices of white bread, the old-fashioned variety

Butter, just enough to spread thinly (please not marge)

Mrs H.S. Ball’s chutney, about 1 Tbsp per slice

Cheddar cheese, either 4 slices or grated

1 tomato, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

Salt and black pepper

Method

Prepare hot coals.

Butter the bread on one side.

Put them buttered-side down on a clean grid, and spread chutney on the inside.

Place a few rounds of onion on top, followed by slices of fresh tomato.

Sprinkle with black pepper and salt.

Place a slice of Cheddar cheese on top to fit the bread edge to edge, or put a fairly generous amount of grated cheese on top of the onion and tomato.

Close it by placing the second slice of bread on top, buttered side up.

Close the grid and braai until golden brown and crunchy on both sides, turning once.

Ash-baked potatoes

Tony Jackman’s ash-baked potatoes, cooked naked in hot coals. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Ingredients

Large potatoes

Salt to taste

Butter, as needed

Plenty of hot coals

No foil

Method

Make a massive fire and marinate whatever meat you’re also planning to cook. Once the coals are ready, make a thick bed of them, pack on the potatoes, and pile plenty more coals on top of them, so that the potatoes are no longer visible.

You can place the grid above there now and cook your meat while the coals do their magic on the spuds. For nice fat potatoes, they should take 50 minutes to an hour.

To test for doneness, insert a skewer. They should push through to the centre easily, indicating that they are perfectly soft inside.

Remove from the coals, slice in half, add butter and salt and tuck in. No problem if you choose to discard the blackened shells. But some of us do eat them. DM

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

Some of these dishes are photographed on wares by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.

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