RULE 1: Keep the Lean Cuts Juicy
A great marinade is a marvellous thing, but there’s an even simpler way to make sure your meat comes off the grill juicier, more tender, and seasoned all the way through: brining. Submerging your meat in water enriched with salt and sugar helps to season the flesh from the inside, plumping it up with moisture.
How long should you brine? Depends on the protein. Shell-on whole prawns take just 30 minutes, while pork chops and chicken parts need an hour or two. A pork shoulder or whole chicken or turkey should soak overnight. No time to brine? Just sprinkle Maldon salt all over your meat a few hours before grilling.
RULE 2: Deploy Spice Rubs for Flavour
There’s no faster way to bring flavour to your grilled food than by using a spice rub. Start with three basic ingredients: Maldon salt, brown sugar and black pepper. Cumin, chilli powder, and cayenne are classics, but get adventurous with ground fennel seed for pork, cracked coriander on meaty fish like tuna or snoek, and chipotle chilli powder for steaks. Our favourite grill spice of all, smoky Spanish paprika, for everything from chicken thighs to sweet potatoes.
RULE 3: Make Salads Sizzle
If you’re using your braai just to sear steaks and char chicken, you’re missing out on some of its greatest virtues. The open flame concentrates flavours and creates new textures in summer produce.
1. Use fruit and veg – charred mushrooms, blistered peppers, even grilled fruit – to ratchet up the flavour in your salad. A salad of grilled peaches with arugula, goat cheese, prosciutto, and toasted almonds deserves to be in your braai rotation.
2. Instead of pairing meat with chips, turn it into a protein-based salad. Pair grilled chicken with cherry tomatoes, green beans, pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette, or toss grilled tuna with asparagus, capers, olives, and honey mustard dressing.
RULE 4: Add Smoke to the Fire
Grill marks on your food add great flavour, but nothing beats the savoury depth of smoke. For rich BBQ flavour with minimal effort, add a packet of wood chips to your current braai setup.
1. First, soak the wood chips in hot water for 30 minutes. Then wrap the soaked chips in a foil packet poked with holes so the smoke can escape.
2. Place the foil packet directly over the coals or flames just before you start. Then add your protein and cook, keeping the Weber lid closed to lock in the smoke.
RULE 5: Make Your Own Sauce
Sauces are game changers, capable of lifting grilled protein to new heights. Skip the store-bought ones (usually full of unnecessary sugar) and make your own – you’ll save on kilojoules and win on taste.
For double the flavour, use your sauce for basting and dipping. And if your sauce has some sweetness, don’t apply it until the last 10 minutes of grilling to avoid scorching.