Heritage Day – National Braai Day September 24
September 24 is both Heritage Day and National Braai Day, a day to celebrate our unique culture and South Africa’s favourite pastime: the braai. Is your butchery ready to ensure customers can find everything they need to make this National Braai Day perfect?
All that is required in order to participate is to braai with family and friends, and, to consider while enjoying the braai, our diverse heritage that makes us a truly unified South Africa.
The question then is whether your butchery is ready to support National Braai Day and to provide customers with everything they need, and a little more than expected, for this important cultural phenomenon.
Millions of South Africans, in cities and in small towns, will need very little prompting to indulge in their favourite pastime. But what they will need are the bare essentials for a braai: a grill, wood or charcoal and some meat. But butchers can offer their customers so much more than just the essentials.
On the meat side, your butchery should offer a wide range of meat cuts perfect for braaing. Since the meat is the main event, offer your customers the best quality meat for their braais and ensure it is aged before it is sold. Ageing the meat not only tenderises it, but also greatly enhances its flavour. Beef should be ripened in the fridge for one week prior to braaing, and lamb for five days.
This means you will have to start ordering the right quantities now to ensure you can meet the demand and offer your customers perfectly aged meat they can braai immediately. For the best results, marinated meat should be left in the marinade at least overnight to allow the meat to be infused with the marinade flavours.
Boerewors is absolutely essential, but is your boerewors the very best? Offer some braaiwors as a cost-effective alternative, or a range of wors options with interesting twists on the traditional boerewors concept, for example, thin lamb wors, chakalaka wors, chilli wors or sosatie wors. (See the July edition of The Butcher for some great ideas.)
Lamb chops are also an absolute must, although pork chops are also perfect for the braai. Steaks are excellent for the braai, whether rump, sirloin or T-bone. Add value by cutting the steaks into ready-to-eat portions, marinating the steaks in a range of marinade flavours, or seasoning the meat so it’s ready to braai. (See our feature on marinades and rubs elsewhere in this edition for inspiration.)
Sosaties are also ideal for braaing and butchers can prepare beef, pork, lamb and chicken sosaties. By marinating these in an array of marinade flavours, your butchery can offer braai fanatics a wide choice to cater for every taste. You could even make veggie sosaties for the vegetarians joining the festivities.
Spareribs are a popular choice, particularly if marinated in a finger-licking delicious marinade. Add a little extra oil to the marinade to prevent burning on the open fire. Another favourite is chicken pieces, seasoned or marinated.
A great way to add value to your customers is to create braai packs in various sizes and configurations. So, for example, you could have braai packs for one, two or 10 people, and different variants with say steak and chops, or boerewors and sosaties, or a chicken and wors combination. These are ideal for picnics and for bring-and-braai parties.
And since it is much easier for a butcher to judge quantities than for the braaier, you could add great value to your customers by allowing them to order by the number of people rather than by kilo, selecting a certain combination of meats, and pricing this by person rather than by kilo.
Since making the fire is part of the fun, and not many braais are made on gas fires, your customers will also need charcoal or wood, as well as firelighters, and it certainly is a great value add if they can pick it up along with the meat. Different types of wood are used and some of the more popular types that are used are Rooikrans, Sekelbos,Kameeldoring, Bluegum and Black Wattle . Not just any wood should be used as some woods could be toxic. Charcoal and briquettes are easy to use and could be the more effective option, as well as safer.
And of course, braaiers will need a braai and many butcheries have seen the value in making these available on the premises. The disposable braais are super convenient and easy to use – especially for picnics, braais on the beach or in the park, or simply for those who don’t want to clean their grills before getting into the festivities. While you are adding value in this way, why not stock some tongs, aprons, seasonings and spices, marinades – especially the convenient spray bottle marinades, prepacked braai breads, some instant pap and perhaps a few bottles or cans of tomato and onion sauce, monkeygland sauce or the more spicy chakalaka to go with the pap. Add some sliced and packed biltong and droewors to snack on while waiting for the fire and your butchery could become the one-stop shop on National Braai Day.
You could add even more value by providing some excellent advice regarding the braaing of your tasty meat cuts. Print these on A5 sheets (don’t forget your logo and contact details) and pop it into the bags before your customers leave. You could even print your weekly specials at the back for some excellent marketing and branding.
Top tips for best braais
• Never use petrol to start your fire! Use firelighters (available at the till).
• The fire is ready once the flames have died away, the coals are white-hot, and you can hold your hand above the coals comfortably for about 5 seconds. The grill should be 10cm above the goals.
• If frozen, thaw the meat in the fridge overnight before cooking. Remove the meat from the fridge a half hour before braaing.
• If you are marinating your meat, leave it in the marinade for as long as possible, but preferable overnight. Leave the meat in the fridge while marinating.
• Cook chicken in the microwave or boil before braaing.
• Brush the meat or the grill with oil to prevent sticking.
• Cook the chicken first since it takes longer. Sausages can be kept warm, so cook them before the steaks which should be grilled last since they dry out if not served immediately.
• Braai steaks as quickly as possible without burning. Sosaties and sausages should be grilled slowly.
• Don’t add salt to the meat before or while cooking, since it dries out the meat. Season just before you take it off the coals.
• Use tongs to turn the meat – a fork will drain juices from the meat.
• Don’t turn the meat too often. Seal quickly on both sides, then allow one side to cook before turning over.
• After braaing, while the grail is still hot, rub it with half a lemon or onion to make cleaning much easier.
Happy Braai Day ……