Shoprite’s Master Butchers share their expert tips for Braai Day 2021

Braai Heritage Day 2021
L-R: Songezo Basela, Khusela Dindili and Coenraad Vermaak. Image credit: Shoprite

South Africans will mark Braai Day, more commonly known as Heritage Day, on Friday, 24 September 2021. It’s a special occasion for families and friends to gather and fire up some of the country’s finest cuts of meat.

As you ponder how to showcase your braai skills this Friday, Shoprite’s Master Butchers have volunteered some expert advice for you to try out.

Fun fact: a Master Butcher is a specialist in meat processing practices from farm to fork. There are only five certified Master Butchers in South Africa – and all of them work for the Shoprite Group. It takes three years to achieve this coveted status.

Tips for Braai Day 2021/Heritage Day

Songezo Basela 

“I usually choose to braai rump steak. If you’re looking for the best rump to braai, pick out a steak that has good fat content – marbled fat inside the meat will always add flavour to a rump steak,” says Basela. 

“Braaing rump is also relatively easy to do because it’s a soft steak. I suggest you rub it with olive oil, pepper, and salt on both sides. Cook it to medium-rare. I usually aim for four minutes on each side. After it’s cooked, pour on a cheese sauce and serve with a good side salad. And if you want to retain some of the heat, consider using rock coals.”

Khusela Dindili

“I’m a big fan of beef on the braai, and in particular I like beef brisket. The fat on top brings amazing flavour to the meat. I add a few spices, place it over light coals and cook it very slowly,” Dindili says. “I also love to braai a good ribeye steak. Similar to the beef brisket, a ribeye has great fat inside the meat which also brings amazing flavour to your steak.”

Coenraad Vermaak 

Vermaak explains his preference, “When I braai, I like to go for a Picanha cut of beef. The Picanha has a nice layer of fat on top, and I usually recommend adding some salt and pepper.

“Braai it for about seven or eight minutes a side, and slice it as thin as you can. If you have a thick slab of meat, you can also consider cooking it on a salt plate – it takes a bit longer but adds a great salty flavour.

“If you’re keen to cook chicken this Braai Day, my colleague John Rae also taught me a great recipe. Use a deboned whole chicken, add sun-dried tomato, basil pesto, a layer of bacon, and a good quality cheese that melts nicely. Season it, roll it up into tinfoil, and then put that over the coals. When you cut it, you get great layers of all the flavours.”

Tony de Sousa

“I love making a nice espetada with pieces of good quality rump, on a braai over hot coals. Look for a nice piece of rump with a good covering of fat. You only need to add minimal flavouring – there’s no need to add marinades and other sauces,” de Sousa advises.

“Just add a bit of salt, pepper, garlic and bay leaves, rub it on, and that’s all you need – it’s a basic recipe, but that way, you’re tasting the quality of the meat. I usually add a bit of olive oil so that when it hits the coals, it seals it nicely, keeping the juices in. Rare to medium rare is perfect on that rump.”

John Rae

Rae adds, “A whole Picanha roast is a favourite of mine, particularly if you’re entertaining other people. Marinade it with a bit of balsamic vinegar for an hour before cooking. And then, add a bit of salt and pepper, and put it straight onto the braai. That’s it! 

“Make sure you cook the fat nice and crispy. How long you cook it depends on how well people like their steak – but the triangular shape of a Picanha means it’s an excellent option for entertaining because everyone likes their steaks cooked a little bit differently. This way, you can have some well-done meat and some that’s closer to medium.”

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