Bring on the braai

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the patron
and Jan Braai (real named Jan Scannell)
is the founder of Braai 4 Heritage
movement, which urges all South Africans
to take to the braai every Heritage Day.
(Image: Braai 4 Heritage)

This article originally appeared on page
six of South Africa Now, a six-page
supplement to the Washington Post
produced on behalf of Brand South Africa.
(Click to enlarge.)

MEDIA CONTACTS
• Jan Braai
Braai 4 Heritage
jan@braai4heritage.co.za

Nobel peace prize-winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu loves it, and urges all South Africans to do it on September’s Heritage Day holiday. It unites South Africans of all colours, and its rich, smoky smell floats over towns and suburbs across the country every long and lazy Sunday.

It’s the braai, what the rest of the English-speaking world calls a barbeque. But instead of sad little hamburger patties over a damp fire, the South African braai is a sumptuous day-long orgy of cooking and eating, with huge hunks of beef, marinated kebabs, chicken pieces and traditional sausage roasted over the flames, accompanied by a thick corn porridge known as pap, slathered with sauces and accompanied by a range of salads, all made and washed down with lots of local beer.

It’s started a movement called Braai 4 Heritage, of which Tutu is a vocal patron. This year a certain Jan Braai (real name Jan Scannell), head of Braai 4 Heritage, set the Guinness World Record for the longest braai. After 28 hours and 30 minutes, the world record was in South Africa, he said, “where it belongs”.

Central to the braai is boerewors, or farmer’s sausage: long, thick strings of richly spiced meat that brings joy to the hearts of South Africans the world over, even as it terrifies their arteries.

Here’s how to make it.

US recipe

3.5 ounces large pork intestinal casings
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3.5 pounds topside beef
1 pound boneless lamb leg meat
1 pound sheep’s tail fat
5 ounces pork back fat
2.5 tablespoons whole coriander seed
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon powdered cloves
5 tablespoons brown vinegar

Wash casings under cold tap, then soak in bowl of water with lemon juice. Mince or chop very fine the beef, lamb meat, sheep’s tail fat and pork back fat. Combine.

Toast coriander seed in dry pan until aromatic, then grind in pestle and mortar, and sift. Mix with pepper, salt, nutmeg and cloves and sprinkle over meat. Add vinegar, and mix all together with a light touch – the key is not to squash the meat.

Assemble a hand-cranked meat grinder, without the mincing or cutting plate. Pull the mouth of each pork casing as far over and up the output end as possible. Get an assistant to feed the meat into the mincer while you guide the growing sausage with your hands. Don’t overfill, avoid air pockets and, when the casing is full, tie a knot in each end. Braai over hot coals under a sunny sky.

South Africa recipe

100 g large pork intestinal casings
20 ml lemon juice
1.5 kg topside beef
500 g boneless lamb leg meat
500 g sheep’s tail fat
125 g spek, or pork back fat
40 ml whole coriander seed
15 ml ground black pepper
20 ml salt
5 ml nutmeg, freshly grated
5 ml powdered cloves
75 ml brown vinegar

Wash casings under cold tap, then soak in bowl of water with lemon juice. Mince or chop very fine the beef, lamb meat, sheep’s tail fat and pork back fat. Combine.

Toast coriander seed in dry pan until aromatic, then grind in pestle and mortar, and sift. Mix with pepper, salt, nutmeg and cloves and sprinkle over meat. Add vinegar, and mix all together with a light touch – the key is not to squash the meat.

Assemble a hand-wound meat mincer, without the mincing or cutting plate. Pull the mouth of each pork casing as far over and up the output end as possible. Get an assistant to feed the meat into the mincer while you guide the growing wors with your hands. Don’t overfill, avoid air pockets and, when the casing is full, tie a knot in each end. Braai over hot coals under a sunny sky.

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Bring on the braai
All South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.