Steak is a unique animal that needs to be braaied on extremely hot coals to sear the outside while keeping the inside medium rare and juicy. This poses a problem when you’re braaing a variety of meat, as the steak needs to go on first when the coals are still in a furious state of heat. By the time everything else is braaied the steak will be completely cold, or worse, someone might have put it in a covered bowl and steamed it on low heat until it became a grey and soggy piece of rubber. I solve this problem by sometimes braaing the steaks at the perfect time, just after the fire has burned out and the coals are at their hottest, and then serving them as a starter.
Ingredients (per person)
50–100 g steak (this is a snack)
salt and pepper
1 roll or tube of garlic butter (yes, you’re allowed to buy those ready-made rolls at the shop)
1. Make a very hot fire.
2. Take the steak out the fridge and bring it to room temperature 20 minutes before the braai. If there’s a lot of blood or juice in the packaging when you remove the steak, wash the meat under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel.
3. There is no need for any spice or marinade before you put the meat onto the fire.
4. Braai the steaks on very hot coals for 6-8 minutes in total. Turn the meat between one and three times in total, and make sure both sides have faced downwards roughly the same length of time. Use a watch to time this.
5. Remove the steaks from the grid and place them on the cutting board.
6. Let them rest for a few minutes and then slice into strips. Try to slice at a 45-degree angle as this allows you to cut across the grain of the meat an additional time.
7. Pile the strips on a serving platter or in a mixing bowl and grind salt and pepper over the meat to taste.
8. Drop teaspoon-sized pieces of butter all over the meat. The butter will melt into the meat and add to the taste.
9. Serve immediately to everyone standing around the fire.
■ If you are the fancy type that doesn’t buy commercial garlic butter then prepare your own by mixing soft butter, crushed garlic, your favourite herbs, salt and pepper.
■ This recipe works equally well with fillet, sirloin and rib-eye steak. If you’re not making starters but a main meal then allow 250 g of meat per person.
This recipe is from Jan Braai’s new cookbook, Fireworks. The author’s real name is Jan Scannell and he started the National Braai Day initiative in 2007. His aim is to create a national celebration of the one activity all South Africans have in common, regardless of race, language, gender or wealth, cooking over a fire.