UK BBQ Mag Summer 2016 - Page 89


Braai Time

The true meaning of a ‘Braai’

A braai is a social occasion that has specific traditions. In South African culture, women rarely cook meat at a social gathering, as this is normally the preserve of men. The men gather round the braai (the grill) outdoors and cook the meat, while women prepare the salads, desserts, and vegetables in the kitchen.

The meal is subsequently eaten outside by the braai, since these gatherings are normally hosted during the long summer months. The cooking of the meat is not the prerogative of all the men attending, as one person is normally in charge. He will attend to the fire, check that the coals are ready, and cook the meat.

Etiquette holds that others are not permitted to interfere with the braai operator's duties, except if expressly asked to help. Other men may assist in the cooking, but generally only partake in fireside conversations while having a drink in hand.

Mopane Chicken

The flavours of the Braai smoke are all important, so much so that Braai wood is imported from South Africa so others in the U.K. can get a true taste of Braai smoke. I wanted to cook with these flavours to see how they compared to more traditional BBQ smoke flavours.

I spatchcocked a chicken and rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In the meantime I made my braai, I used a few chunks of lumpwood to get things going. Then placed a few logs of Mopane wood to burn down to red hot embers. I cooked the chicken infirect with the lid on, on a weber kettle at 160c for an hour and a half, until the internal temperature in the deepest part of the thigh had reached 74c


The legs were closest to the heat for most of the cook, so that they reached temperature, without overcooking the breast meat. It's little tricks like this, understanding of fire and meat, that makes cooking outdoors such an art.

I was really impressed with the lovely smoke from the Mopane wood, it wasn't overpowering at all, musky and very campfire like, with a shade of spice and really savoury. It worked perfectly with the chicken like this.