Every South African loves a good braai and this summer, it’s all about smaller get-togethers and keeping things closer to home. But that doesn’t mean get-togethers can’t be equally memorable. Getting everybody in the family involved in the preparation and the cooking process helps create great memories. Smaller groups are also easier to manage, especially when catering to different dietary preferences, said one of South Africa’s most-loved culinary masters, celebrity Chef Benny Masekwameng.
With his personal cooking experience, his time on Ultimate Braai Master, and his BIC® Lighters and Firelighters ambassador role, Chef Benny sure knows his way around a braai! Here are his top tips for making sure that your festive season is “lit”.
“Summer is the time for braaing in South Africa. A time where families get together around a fire to laugh, eat, share stories, and have a good time.” says Chef Benny. However, he suggests keeping things light, simple, and healthy this year. “Use a combination of fresh, ready-to-eat uncooked dishes, cold cooked salads with different textures, sauces and relishes, and a protein selection with different seasonings and flavours.”
He adds, “My advice to make sure things go off without a hitch is to pay attention to your fire. I use South Africa’s favourite braai buddy – my BIC® Lighter and Firelighters. To help ensure the perfect temperature of the coals, I divide them up so that on one side of the braai there are hot coals for quick browning and the other side for quick cooking.” He continues, “Another handy tip is to take your braai meat out of the fridge an hour or two before braaing. If it’s at room temperature, it cooks quicker!”
To ensure that everyone is happy and satisfied without breaking the bank, Chef Benny advises to look out for bulk specials this festive season. “I always buy my braai cuts in bulk. This is great for portioning, allowing you to freeze for the future instead of having to buy each time you braai. Cheaper cuts like chuck are also great for braaing, not just prime cuts like rump and rib eye. In my opinion, chuck is the best cut of meat. You can throw it on the braai or pop it in the oven – it works well for any occasion.”
Chef Benny also insists that anyone can add some finesse to their dishes this summer. “This summer is going to be hot, so light meals are going to be a favourite. Individual portions do it for me – think skewered seafood, chicken, vegetable or worsfor a quick dish-up and presentation. It’s the small things you do that can create a truly great meal with minimal effort.”
He continues, “Presentation is as important as flavour for me and how you choose, cut, and prepare ingredients for your braai plays a big role in how the final product is going to look and taste. Use different colours, flavours, and textures to enhance your offering.”
While the summer season is all about family and memories, Chef Benny reminds us that it is also important to take the necessary precautions when handling the heat. “I use gas for a fast braai or when I have large batches of meat to cook as it’s easier to control. But like any proud South African, I prefer a wood or charcoal braai when I have time. Not only is this the true South African way to braai, but it adds a delicious, smoky flavour to steaks and bigger joints that will have your family members coming back for more,” he concludes.
For more braai inspiration as well as a chance to win incredible prizes, head to @BICLightersSA on Facebook, @bic_sa on Instagram or @chef_bennym. Join the conversation using #BICxChefBenny #LightUpYourMoment.