What the hell are the food safety ‘gurus’ on about in Britain? Can you imagine anyone cooking their food in an oven before throwing it on the braai?
Isn’t the point of having a braai (BBQ) getting outdoors, and cooking like the cavemen did in the past?
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not in any way having a go at people enjoying a BBQ, my goal is to take the braai culture to the world as it’s my passion, but it’s not going to happen if we have regulators tell us to cook in an oven.
I get it, people get food poisoning, but it’s not down to the braai (bbq) it’s down to the person behind the tongs and the equipment that they use.
I’ve come across a few British that can wield the tongs after spending time with us Saffas, so instead of the title reading ‘Barbecue warning: Cook food in oven first, says Food Standards Agency’ shouldn’t it read ‘Barbecue warning: Learn how to braai like a Saffa or risk Food Poisoning’?
I did it for a year in Britain, yes 365 days on the tongs, and not once did I get food poisoning…zero, zilch, not once, and after all that time I think I picked up a bit on how to braai.
So my answer wouldn’t be to cook food in an oven, but to follow some simple guidance on WHAT to braai (BBQ) and then add some simple tips on HOW to braai.
If you are Saffa, pass this onto your British friends, so they don’t have to suffer from food poisoning Also remember this is a beginners guide – so it’s meant to be simple.
Yes, I get it, if you braai once a year so why not pick up a £5 disposable from the petrol station. I’ve used one before; it was one of the worst experiences of my life, possibly second behind closing my fingers in a car door. Get a proper braai for starters. If you’re having a braai at home, invest in a decent kettle or drum braai or if you are having one in the park, get a portable braai like the smokey joe from weber or a piccolino from Landmann. I’ve got a flat portable braai that I brought back from SA and made some mods that works well.
South Africans are passionate about the meat they put on the braai. £1.50 pork bangers, frozen chicken drumsticks and crappy burgers aren’t going to cut it. Get some decent meat, after all summer doesn’t last too long and show your skills. If you are a novice (which I assume everyone who gets food poisoning is) get some good steak, chicken breasts or make some sosaties. Anything with a bone in it is going to take longer, so if you’re only having one braai a year go for the meat above. If you want to braai more often then learn more about cooking times and get it right.
Clean work station
If you aren’t aware of how to handle raw meat, you shouldn’t be doing the meat in the first place – enough said about that.
Temperature and Coals
We’re taught from a very early age of the right temperature to throw the meat on. The difference between high, medium and low heat. Direct and indirect braaing. This post won’t go into it all but I’ve notice the inexperienced just throwing a full bag of charcoal on, leaving it for a few minutes and then throwing the meat on. The outside is burnt to a crisp and the inside is raw.
If you’ve bought some decent wood or charcoal, have patience and wait for coals to turn white. Once that’s happened as a general rule if you can hold your hand above the coal for the following times you’ve got the following heats
5-7 seconds : High heat
7-10 seconds : Medium heat
10-15 seconds : Low heat (this will take a bit longer, so if you’ve got this heat be warned)
15 and over : Throw on some more coals!
But don’t rush it. Decent coals will hold their heat for some time.
I’m assuming that you’ve chosen steak, chicken or sosaties for your braai. So you can refer to my specific recipes for each one. But generally what I’d do is braai the meat for the following times.
Steak: High Heat (6-10 minutes depending on cut and how you like it)
Chicken and sosaties: Medium Heat (10-15 minutes depending on thickness, slice it and check if its done)
So that’s it for a simple braai: “if you don’t do it often enough then do something simple.