We had the pleasure of staying at River Cottage for a weekend. No electricity. No cell phone reception. It wasn’t warm enough to swim in the river, but it was all very restful and pretty. I lay sprawled in the grass reading my novel in my underpants.
We decided to try and have a braai. I say ‘try’ because braaing is not something we do all that often, especially unaccompanied by ‘real men’ (braais are still often sexist affairs). We are more on the scrabble end of the entertainment spectrum. Braais are quintessentially South African, but generally we are at braais where other people are in charge. We may throw on a Frys veggie sausage or two, but generally end up indulging in more of the dop than the dead things. So I think this was something like our second unassisted braai in 10 years.
Being ‘in the family way’ (I am collecting pregnancy myths and phrases if you have any), and unable to drink beers and eat as an afterthought, I decided to make some parcels of things to put on the fire. They were pretty simple concoctions.
Baby potato parcels
- 8 baby potatoes (4/parcel)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 green chillies
- butter and/or a dash of olive oil
- salt and pepper
I was only making parcels for 2 of us, so each parcel contained 4 baby potatoes, 2 whole cloves of garlic, and 1 chilli. Wrap these in tin foil with butter and a dash of olive oil (for vegan version leave out the butter) and a heavy handed grind of salt and pepper. Roast in the fire until the potatoes have browned. The garlic is the best! Mushing it all over the potatoes is amazing.
Baby tomato and olive parcels
- Baby tomatoes
- Packet of calamata olives
- Finely chopped garlic
- Chopped herbs (in this case I had dhanya, but parsely would work really well as well)
- Dash of balsamic vinegar
Double the tin foil up so the juices don’t spill. We had also doubled up the tinfoil on the potatoes, but it is less important than for this parcel as this one gets really juicy. Pop all the ingredients together and roast on the grill or at the edge of the fire so it doesn’t burn. The tomatoes should start popping open. One of my favourite dishes at South African braais is stiff pap (mielie/corn meal) doused in tomato relish. These parcels would be delicious with pap. I still have to learn how to make really good stiff pap.
The best thing about braais is you can take relatively simple ingredients, and the smokey fire flavour makes them seriously delicious. Another thing we love doing is just putting a whole onion in the fire to roast. They go all soft and squishy and sweet and smokey.