Blurb: We love braai’s but they can become bland….the same old, same old. Add herbs (to everything) for the best braai on the block
Herb marinades and rubs
Rosemary – two tablespoons of fresh rosemary or two large sprigs, half a cup of lemon juice, an eighth of a cup of olive oil and one lemon sliced. Use for chicken, lamb or pork. Let the meat marinade overnight.
Lavender – In a small spice or coffee grinder, coarsely grind the black peppercorns, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, thyme, and lavender flowers; rub mixture all over the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight (preferably). Use for steak or beef fillet.
Sweet basil – mix ⅓ of a cup of olive oil, ¼ of a cup lemon juice, one tbs chopped fresh basil, two teaspoons chopped lemon thyme, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, two cloves of garlic finely chopped. Use for fish or chicken. Marinade overnight and use the marinade to baste during grilling.
Upright growing Tuscan rosemary produces straight stems that can be stripped and used as skewers for kebabs with meat and vegetables, or melon and strawberries. The flavour of rosemary from the sticks infuses subtly into the meat and veggies.
Where there is smoke…..
Cut a few sprigs of rosemary and lay them over the chicken or lamb being grilled or roasted. The flavour will infuse into the meat. Rosemary sprigs can also be added to the fire and the heat releases the aroma and adds a smoky rosemary taste the meat. .
Herb dips and spreads
The best part of the braai is socializing around the fire, waiting for the coals to develop. Keep the hunger pangs muted with herb dips served with savoury biscuits and vegetable crudités.
Using plain cottage or cream cheese as a base, add finely chopped herbs such as chives, spring onions, basil, lemon thyme, and tarragon. Season with salt and black pepper, add a squeeze of lemon juice, dollop of mayonnaise and even a dash of chilli. Make the dip in advance so that the flavours have time to develop.
Herb or garlic bread is almost always on the menu. Buy a French loaf, slice it thickly (but not all the way through) and spread with homemade herb butter. Wrap it in foil and heat in the oven.
Although meat or fish are the stars of the show, no braai is complete without fresh, crunchy salads. The most popular herbs for salad are sweet basil, mint, rocket, dill or fennel and chives or garlic chives.
Lesser known herbs that also add colour and flavour to salads include salad burnet, par-cel (looks like parsley, tastes like celery), horseradish, Vietnamese coriander which is otherwise known as hot mint, lemon balm, bloody sorrel, and the mushroom plant.
Herbs with tough or strongly flavoured leaves, like thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary, are not really suitable for salads but are delicious when used in salad dressings such as herbal vinaigrettes. Allow the flavor of the herbs to develop by letting the dressing stand for at least 15 minutes before use.
Finish off the braai with a light, cool desert like fresh mint ice cream. Finely chop seven or eight sprigs of mint, put in a food blender and blend in 5 tbs caster sugar and when well mixed stir in 375ml mint leaves crème fraîche. Whisk the 3 egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture. If you have an ice cream maker, transfer the mixture into that and proceed according to instructions.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker put the mixture in a tub in the freezer and beat it with a fork every 30 minutes to break up the ice crystals. As a variation grate chocolate or use chocolate chips to make an even more exotic ice cream.
Herb project -Plant up a herb braai pot
This looks like a herb filled terracotta pot but is also a braai. It’s great for an intimate braai for two or for flat or duplex dwellers that don’t have much space. Black and Blum’s Hot-Pot bbq is a mini braai that looks good even when not in use.
It consists of a planter for the herbs that fits on top of a pot with inner steel basket for the coals, a stainless steel cooking surface and tongs. It all comes apart easily for cleaning.
All you need is some herb potting soil (from the garden centre), and three to four compact growing herbs like parsley, thyme, rocket and oregano (that don’t have deep roots).
Place in an area that receives morning sun or good light all day and is sheltered from wind. Because the pot is shallow, the herbs should be watered daily or every second day, because the soil will dry out quickly.
Feed once a week with a liquid feed such as Nitrosol or Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger.