How To "Braai" Meat The South African Way

Picture of How To
(Or how to barbeque meat for the rest of us)

To "braai" or barbeque (Bar-B-Q) meat is a South African tradition. We usually do it once or twice a week, probably more. It's a chance to get your friends and/or family together, sip some wine or down a couple of cold ones.
In this Instructable, I am going to show you how, with a little preparation and some scientific genius, you can "braai" like an expert and serve up the most succulent meat.

What you will need:
Some red meat, preferably rump, fillet or sirloin. I got rump.
Some Pineapple juice
Some Balsamic Vinegar
Other Spices

Before starting wash your hands, the work area, the dish and fork. General hygiene rules apply when working with food.

Get everything together and lets start 
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Step 1: Preparing the Meat: Pineapple Juice

Picture of Preparing the Meat: Pineapple Juice
Place the meat in the dish and perforate it with the fork on both sides. Then add 5 to 10 drops of Pineapple juice onto each piece of meat and perforate them again. Do not turn the meat over this time but leave them for 10 to 20 minutes. Turn them over, add the Pineapple juice and perforate again. Wait another 10 to 20 minutes before going on to the next step.


Step 2: Preparing the Meat: Balsamic Vinegar

Picture of Preparing the Meat: Balsamic Vinegar
After the Pineapple juice, do the same with some Balsamic vinegar. This step is not essential but it does add a nice flavor to the meat.

The pineapple juice and balsamic vinegar are slightly acidic and this is what softens and tenderizes the meat. The "acid" helps break down the meat structure. Any acidic fruit juice or liquid will do, even lemon juice works well. Its very natural and makes the meat taste wonderful. Do not leave it on too long or it might even cure the meat. The fork creates the holes for the Pineapple juice and Balsamic vinegar to run into and penetrate deeper into the meat where it is needed the most. I am using Pineapple juice for a specific reason, which we will get to later.

CraigB44 months ago

This is a brilliant instructable, would you mind If I repost on my website ( Im looking to add a Braai related how too section.

You guys sure know how to eat !

Read this for a friend, Who's african + I'm having over for a BBQ tomorrow..
(Didn't want to dissapoint him with out english 'burgers & sausages')

Great Instructable!
Andre Coetzee (author)  stephenniall2 years ago
Try it out! You will love it and want to prepare all your meat like this from now on. You will have people coming back again and again.
I had a braai on Monday, I don't like Pineapple, Or pepper, Or vinegar for that fact. But i loved it, Am going to try your instructable on Vetkoek Next time !
Andre Coetzee (author)  stephenniall2 years ago

Vetkoek is brilliant! You will love it. You can put anything inside depending on your personal preference.
(1) Grated cheese and jam,
(2) Grated cheese and marmite / oxo / bovril,
(3) mince,
(4) Curried Mince,
(5) Honey,
(6) Syrup,
(5) + (6) with cheese, ...

Well anything you can make a sandwich of you can put in a vetkoek. Cut the vetkoek in two and make an interesting burger. Eat it hot with the butter melting inside. Tuna works well as well.

I am very sure you will impress us. Just do it!
I had a braai on Monday, I don't like Pineapple, Or pepper, Or vinegar for that fact. But i loved it, Am going to try your instructable on Vetkoek Next time !
Mutantflame3 years ago
Dang, I miss South Africa. Such great food, and people too


5 stars
Andre Coetzee (author)  Mutantflame3 years ago
Howzit, Mutantflame! Thanks for reading the 'ble now go try it and give me some feedback.
I will do! But I hope to get hold of some borewors and some buck or ostrich to do at the same time. Mind you, Its getting cold here in rainy old England, you guys are lucky with summer pretty much all year round. When I was there in July/August everyone was shivering but it was nearly as hot as summer is here in England.
Andre Coetzee (author)  Mutantflame3 years ago
Yep, boerewors will do the trick. and ostich is mmmmmmmmmm "lekker"! We are big babies in South Africa when it comes to cold weather. We think 5 degrees is very cold. I grew up in the Free State province where the temperature goes below zero. However, when South Africa receives snow its big news.
Ok, I would agree with you that 5 degrees is cold, but when we were there the temperature was hitting 20 most days. I remember when flying from Joberg to East London we saw quite a lot of snow on the Drakensberg (did I spell that right?).

The only problem with ostrich here is it is really expensive. However it is really really mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm so it is well worth it... And don't get me started on ostrich biltong!

We are lucky, though, to have a South African butcher near to where I live, which means that we can get these great meats and boerewors. Not quite the buck boerewors that my uncle makes, but it is still delecious.

I am now very hungry.
Andre Coetzee (author)  Mutantflame3 years ago
Sorry, Mutantflame, that came out wrong. I meant that we do not get as cold as the UK. Here are the average minimum and maximum temperatures during summer and winter for some cities as supplied by the weather service.

City Summer:Max Min Winter:Max Min
Cape Town 26 16 18 7
Bloemfontein 31 15 17 -2
Johannesburg 26 15 17 4
Pretoria 29 18 20 5
Durban 28 21 23 11
Pietersburg 28 17 20 4

We do get snow on the Drakenberg mountain nearly all year round. It is however not easy to get there. (Draken - meaning dragon and berg meaning mountain(s), so Dragon mountains or Mountains of the Dragon(s) would be a correct translation.

Getting back to food, ostrich is very tasty, very healthy and unbeatable when it comes to impressing your friends. It is poultry but the cuts look and taste like fillet if prepared correctly. It absolutely just melts in your mouth. I think I will make an instructable on that.
takeoza, I think those temperatures are about right for what is was when I was there last.

I never knew that the Drakenberg mountains were named after dragons- but then again I never really looked into it. You learn something new every day, I suppose! We considered driving up there to see some relatives, but after hearing it was hard to get to we drove all the way from East London to Plettenberg bay, Knysna, Ooutswaren and some other towns like that instead. Basically we went from East London to almost all the way to Cape town and back.

I think I would agree with you on that- It is delecious and apparently it is something like 40% more lean than beef or something. I personally think that it tastes better than beef. Unlike most birds it is red meat, which surprised me at first.

In one day, if I recall correctly, we had ostrich fillet for lunch (yum), rode on an ostrich at one of those tourist farms (awesome), ate ostrich biltong on the way back to where we were staying, and had ostrich burger and something-wors for supper (yumyum).

If you are making an instructable on ostrich, make sure to send me the leftovers (if there is any)!

shteef3 years ago
Just did my best to duplicate the recipe, didn't have any pineapple juice so used lime juice, I have to say it worked perfectly, absolutely wonderful.
I will never bar-be-que again, it's Braais all the way from now on!!
Andre Coetzee (author)  shteef3 years ago
shteef, buddy, thats the way to do it! Improvise, it what cooking is all about. Lime / lemon juice work just as well, I have used it a few times. The day you find some pineapple juice, get some. It makes the meat just a little bit sweeter.
Chefs Secret Tip: When you use lemon/lime juice sprinkle some brown sugar on the meat as well, that also provides that "sweetness".
epicrey3 years ago
What a fantastic instuctable.
i read this yesterday and bought and cooked a nice bit of rump on the "braai" today and it was fantastic!
A very handy trick with the hand too. that will be very useful in future :)
Thanks a bunch.
Andre Coetzee (author)  epicrey3 years ago
Hi epicrey, you're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read the Instructable and trying it out yourself because thats what its all about. Now go out there and impress you friend and family with your new found cooking skills. They will be thrilled not to say impressed! Jamie Oliver here we come! ;-)
rimar20003 years ago
Interesting instructable, especially your fingers method, thanks for sharing.

Here in Argentina we roast the meat over embers, not flame. Coal must be totally red, otherwise it produces carbon monoxide that permeates the meat and after eating causes headache.

Generally we turn the meat only one time. The moment for turning is when you feel a bit warm the upper raw meat, touching it with the back of the hand. If the piece is thick, obviously the cooking time increases. As sauce we use almost exclusively "chimichurri", or merely table salt if failing. Chimichurri has many different but similar recipes.
Andre Coetzee (author)  rimar20003 years ago
We also use coals. We only use flame for the first 10 to 30 seconds on each side the first time you put the meat on. I also advise only turning once but it all depends on how you like your meat, rare, medium or well done. There is a fast food chain in South Africa called Steers and Nando's that pride themselves on flame grilling their meat and chicken. They claim it makes their food taste better.
Here, all tourist sites have "parrilla" (grill) restaurants where you can see lambs, piggies and/or ribs cooking at open fire. But at home that is rare, people roasts using coal. The "parrillas" use open fire because it is much more visually attractive.

Unfortunately I can not give you a chimichurri recipe, because I actually bought it. You can find many recipes on the Web, and translate them with Google Translate.
Andre Coetzee (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Muchas gracias, voy a encontrar la receta en línea. Estar bien.
The problems I have with flame grilling is that your basting/marinade/sauce must be made for flame grilling so that it does not burn (adding oil++), and getting the right moisture content in your cooked meat is quite tricky, especially if someone wants their meat "well done" (read: well ruined).

I know charcoal is the most repeatable method of preparing a good braai, but there is no replacement for the heat and smell of Namibian hardwood. I prefer "Kameeldoring" [translates to Camel Thorn] is a hardwood like Mesquite a wood praised by American BBQ enthusiasts.
Andre Coetzee (author)  80$man3 years ago
Yep, you are right about the sauce or marinade burning. I just use spices and because I normally do not have a lot of time to braai, I use charcoal which turns into coals much quicker. Most avid "braaiers" use "Kameeldoring" or "Harde Kool" (hard coal) which are both types of hardwood, as you suggested, but it is not always freely available. The wood "braais" are the best for hanging around the fire, sipping a drink, talking nonsense with your friend and just relaxing. More and more "braais" are becoming gas or electrical. Its just not the same. I was at braai which used gas and from lighting the burners until the meat was well done was 20 minutes. No time for "kuier" visiting which takes away part of the appeal of a "braai".
Andre Coetzee (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Hey rimar2000, that "chimichurri" seasoning looks delicious! You should put up an Instructable on how to make the stuff so I can try it out here in South Africa! I hear you guys have the best beef. A pity you can't Fedex me a few kg. ;-)
mguer1333 years ago
Thank you for sharing this very accurate definition of meat cooking (medium, rare etc).
I did not know of the finger tips and the right temperatures either.

Does the finger tip works for other types of meat (veal, duck, game)?

Andre Coetzee (author)  mguer1333 years ago
Hi mguer133, the fingertip test does work for all forms of red meat (beef, pork, lamb, sheep, game, etc) I am not sure about poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc).
80$man3 years ago
South Africans Unite! Braai Pappa Braai!
Nothing beats a good braai! Well done on preparing the meat for the fire, nice combination of ingredients, I prefer waiting for the flames to die down thought.
I am working of a basting sauce for pork ribs using molasses, will post in Dec.
Andre Coetzee (author)  80$man3 years ago
"Ja, boet" :-), I also wait for the flames to die down before I start to braai, but you need that quick flare up of flames that the olive oil (or any cooking oil really) creates to chase the temperature up above 150°C (302°F) briefly to get old Mr Maillard to do his pork. I can not wait to check out your basting sauce "tjomma". Keep it coming!
nachobobs3 years ago
Great instructable! Like the idea of pineapple juice to aid the Maillard reaction.

Just a little pointer - the steak you cooked is actually medium-well. True definition of medium-well is pink but no blood, medium should have a little blood in it but no translucency.

Anyway, great job, going to give this a try on the next sunny day down here in Melbourne!!
Andre Coetzee (author)  nachobobs3 years ago
Thanks for that nachobobs I just did not have a finger left ;-) I will add a verbal description to the Instructable for those that are interested in it.
sunshiine3 years ago
Very good Instructable! Thanks for sharing and have a super Monday! I tried to rank but there is not an option. I will check again later.
Andre Coetzee (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
Thanks, sunshiine! It's always nice to hear from you.
You welcome and thanks! Have a super Tuesday!
fegundez13 years ago
nice marbling on the meat, what exactly would that cut be though, rump as in rump roast? If so that is some serious tenderizer you have!
Andre Coetzee (author)  fegundez13 years ago
Nope, not rump roast. It seems what we call rump in South Africa, is called something else in the US. I have uploaded a picture in step 1 identifying the cut, maybe you can put a name to it?
zurichko3 years ago
Thank you for the "handy" (lame pun) meat tip!
Andre Coetzee (author)  zurichko3 years ago
Its a pleasure! Now go and enjoy some wonderfully prepared red meat!