The braai. Aaah yes, that institution of South African social life, practised and beloved by all of us, whether abroad or at home. So revered, in fact, that South Africans even created a day to celebrate the braai. Officially, 24 September every year is Heritage Day, the day when we celebrate South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. But as interesting as what makes us diverse, is what makes us the same: we all love a good braai. So a couple of years ago, we also started celebrating a cheeky unofficial holiday on 24 September: National Braai Day. This year, as in the past 2 years (see the 2010 and the 2011 round-ups), I am celebrating by hosting a braai/barbecue themed event called Braai, the Beloved Country on this blog – scroll to the bottom of this post to see how to participate and what you can WIN by participating!
The other day I was curious to see what my dear friend Google thought would constitute a good braai, so I asked, and here are the answers I got:
A good braai needs…
… good braai meat
… the right wine
… to be a decent size
… lots of food and lots of fun and laughter
… good company
Nowhere does it say that a good braai needs to be in South Africa, needs to comprise only South African guests, or even has to stick with traditional South African dishes! Which is how we managed to have a Very Good Braai Indeed earlier this summer with two South Africans, one Brit, one Brazilian and one Brazilian-Japanese; and an entirely Italian menu.
Allow me to explain: we had invited the lovely Luiz, Gerald and Rosana over for lunch and we knew we wanted to braai, but I wanted to do something different to the usual chops & boerewors affair. I already had a few bottles of Bisol prosecco left over from the recentPlate to Page Somerset workshop, as well as a jar of oustanding Barbieri & Co clementine mostarda, so the choice to make it Italian seemed obvious. The weather played along and we spent the afternoon in the garden, tasting in quick succession the Bisol Jeio, Bisol Crede and finally the wonderful Bisol Cartizze. We started with spectacular fresh tomato, olive & basil bruschette; and we finished with an Italian cheeseboard served with the clementine mostarda. And in between all this, Nick braaied something rather special: an adaptation of rosa di Parma.
Traditionally, rosa di Parma is a beef fillet stuffed with parmiggiano, prosciutto and sage, but because pork fillet (loin) is far easier to source in the wilds of E16, I decided to go with pork instead of beef. Preparation is really simple, other than the fact that you have to securely tie or sew up the fillet before cooking and try to keep it cut side up diring cooking. To enhance the flavour further, Nick lightly smoked the meat in our Weber grill – an adaptation that I highly recommend if you have the equipment. Make sure you buy the best prosciutto and parmiggiano that you can afford – there is nowhere for substandard ingredients to hide and you really do taste the difference. The end result is nothing short of spectacular – smoky pork, umami-rich prosciutto, and gooey parmiggiano, balanced by the slightly bitter pungency of the fresh sage. Fantastic. I served mine with sautéed kale (or use cavolo nero) with parmiggiano and creamy mashed potatoes – and a big side order of laughter, friendship and fun. Everything a braai should be, really.
ROSA DI PARMA (serves 6-8)
2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 pork loins (also called pork fillet or pork tenderloin), about 1-1.2 kg each
4 thin slices Italian Prosciutto di Parma ham
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the sage, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Lay the meat on a chopping board and make a long horizontal cut along the length of each of the the pork loins, making a pocket in the meat and taking care not to cut all the way through. Use the heel of your hand to flatten the meat gently.
Cover each butterflied loin with 2 of the ham slices, roughly torn, then spread 1/2 of the parmiggiano over the ham in each loin. Roll or squeeze the loins closed so that the filling is mostly not visible and then tie the loins securely at 5cm intervals with kitchen string.
Lightly brush the roasts all over with the olive oil and rub with the reserved herb mixture.
Prepare an indirect fire* in your Weber charcoal gril (or similar kettle barbecue). Soak your wood chips for smoking (if using). When the coals are ready, place the meat in the middle of the grid, over a drip-pan and sprinkle the drained wood chips over the hot coals. Close the lid and cook for 35-45 mins, depending on degree of doneness desired. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then carve and serve.
* This is an idea pioneered by Weber and is discussed in most cookbooks featuring Weber recipes, but in case you don’t possess such a book, here’s how. Make a fire using 16 charcoal briquettes and light them all in a pile on one side of the barbecue kettle. Once the briquettes have had time to ash over (about 40 minutes), transfer half of them to the other side of the barbecue. Position a foil drip tray between the two piles to keep them apart. Place the grill on the barbecue and voila, you are ready to cook.
And now, on to how you can enter Braai the Beloved Country 2012! I would love for you to share your favourite braai or BBQ recipes with me – it can be meat, fish, vegetables, breads, stews – in fact anything that you can cook over an outdoor fire or grill, South African inspired or not.
Here’s what to do:
1. Post a braai/barbecue recipe between now and 23 September. Your choice of recipes is really broad – meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, breads - as long as you cooked it over coals or an outdoor grill.
2. You must link to this announcement in your post.
3. Multiple recipes and recipes submitted to other events are permitted.
4. Recipes from your archives can be accepted but you MUST re-post them in a new post dated between 28 August and 23 September 2012 and link to this announcement.
5. Use of the Braai, the Beloved Country logo is optional but would be nice. Ask me if you want code for a badge in your sidebar.
6. A photo is preferred, but not essential.
7. Send me an e-mail (the address is emailcooksister AT gmail DOT com) with BRAAI in the subject line and containing: your name; your blog name; the recipe title; and the URL of the post that the recipe appeared in. Attach a photo if you can.
I will post a roundup of all the recipes on 24 September to coincide with National Braai Day.Two lucky entrants also each stand to win a copy of Wines of South Africa’s Braai Masters of the Cape Winelands. The first winner will simply be my favourite recipe chosen from all entries submitted. For an extra chance to win, existing entrants can also like mynew Cooksister Facebook page: a second book winner will be drawn at random from people who have liked the page between now and 23 September. Please leave me a comment here once you have liked the page so that I can keep track of entries.
I can’t wait to see what you have been serving up this summer!