Don’t feel bad if you can’t get to the World Cup soccer matches in South Africa this summer. Tickets have been sold out for months and there’s nothing more comfortable than your living room couch—that is, except for your backyard lounge chair. So grab your BBQ tongs, TIVO the games (because of time zone differences), chill some South African wines and head outside for a Braai.
Corresponding roughly to what we would call a “mixed grill”, the South African braai (translates as “grill” in Afrikaans) typically features different types of meat and sausage as well as seafood like grilled shrimp and prawns. A centuries-old custom, it’s traditionally the province of the men in the family—they light the grill, tend to the flame, and cook the meat to perfection—and the man in charge of cooking is known as the braaier or tong-master.
Today the backyard barbecue is every bit as popular in South Africa as soccer. You probably won’t find some of the more popular types of game such as ostrich or impala at your local butcher—but don’t let that stop you from carrying on the braai tradition at home. Seafood from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans is found on restaurant menus, as are thick juicy cuts of beef, pork and lamb. And it’s often more about the seasoning. With its position at the southern tip of the African continent, South Africa held an important position on the Spice Route between Europe and the Asian Sub-Continent, and its rich culinary history is a blend of Native Tribal, Dutch, English, French, Indian and Indonesian influences. Currently, there’s a farm-to-table movement sweeping the Cape so simple grilled vegetables and green salads are all the accompaniments you will need.
The natural pairing with all your braai meats are South African wines, now considered among the best in the world. You will want to have some bubbly on hand to greet your guests with or celebrate the victory of your favorite team. J.C. Le Roux Cap Classique La Vallee with its effervescent notes of green apple and tropical melon is ideal for either situation. Crisp whites wines such as creamy Bellingham Citrus Grove Chenin Blanc 2009 or deliciously vegetal Boschendal Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2009 will stand up to the spice in South African cuisine. Pretend you’re sitting in the stadium while drinking a crisp, herbaceous Nederburg FIFA Sauvignon Blanc 2010, one of the official World Cup wines. Their full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 pairs well with barbequed meats and the fruit forward, floral Nederburg Rose’ 2010 is easily quaffed as an aperitif or while watching the game.
Pinotage and Pinotage blends go well with all sorts of grilled meats. Try Durbanville Hills Pinotage 2008 or a classic Cape blend, Kanonkop Kadette 2008 paired with the Barbequed Pork Belly, a specialty of Chef Philip Carmichael of Gordon Ramsay’s maze (sic) at the One and Only Cape Town Resort. The black fruit and raspberry notes of these excellent wines complement this rich and savory dish. Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate supplied us with the Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb recipe; his Vilafonte Series M 2006, a voluptuous Bordeaux-style blend, crafted by his managing winemaker and partner, Zelma Long, is a perfect match.
After dinner, enjoy Amarula, the official liquor of FIFA World Cup: It’s delicious, different and refreshing. Try it on the rocks, or better yet, mix it with Kahlua and vanilla ice cream in your blender to enjoy one of our cocktail creations: the Table Mountain Mudslide. If dessert wine is more your style, celebrate your favorite team’s victory with Klein Constantia’s iconic Vin de Constance 2005.
Mix it up a little—try some different pairings and experiment with South African food and wine. With its varied culture, heritage and history—there’s more than one way to celebrate South Africa.
Braai Recipes: Barbecued Belly of Pork, Butterflied Leg of Lamb and Table Mountain Mudslide
Barbecued Belly of Pork
Recipe courtesy of Chef Philip Carmichael, maze (sic) Restaurant, One and Only Resort, Cape Town
1 de-boned pork belly, about 4 pounds, rind scored
1 quantity of pork brine (see below)
Place the pork belly into the cold brine the day before you want to cook it. This will impart an amazing flavor into the meat, and will keep the meat juicy and succulent throughout the cooking process. Before cooking you will need to rinse the pork in cold water for about twenty minutes to remove the surface salt. Light the braai and wait until the embers are white and the heat medium, then place the pork belly on. It will take about 2-3 hours to get the meat tender so you will have to be careful it doesn’t burn or get too dark. If using a gas grill, turn the heat to medium, and place the pork belly on the top rack. Sounds a long time but the results will be worth it, juicy, tender, flavorful pork belly! Lekker! (Enjoy!) Serves 10 – 12.
For the pork brine:
1/2 cup honey
12 bay leaves
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
I small bunch parsley
6 cloves garlic, skins removed
2 tbsp black peppercorn, crushed
1/3 cup salt
5 cups water
Place all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt, allow to cool completely before adding the pork belly. See cooking directions above.
Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Recipe courtesy of Mike Ratcliffe, Warwick Estate and Vilafonte’
1 leg of lamb, deboned & butterflied
(A 6 pound leg of lamb will yield 4-5 pounds trimmed meat)
For the marinade:
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/4 cup dry Sherry
2 cloves garlic, skins removed
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and marinade for up to 24 hours. Take out of fridge at least 2 hours before cooking. Once at room temperature cook on braai for 45 minutes for rare, or 50-60 minutes for medium. Once cooked, rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 10 – 12.
Table Mountain Mud Slide
Recipe by Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
8 oz. Amarula Cream Liquor
4 oz. Kahlua Coffee Liquor
4 scoops premium vanilla ice cream
10-12 ice cubes
First, get out the extension cord and run it into the back yard. In a blender, combine vanilla ice cream, Amarula and Kahlua. Whirl it around until it’s nice and smooth, add ice cubes to get a slightly slushy consistency. Pour into chilled martini glasses, top with whipped cream and cocoa powder, and serve. Enjoy!! Serves 4.
A Cape Town destination report (for those lucky enough to attend this year’s games)
A video interview with Adam Mason, winemaker at South Africa’s acclaimed Klein Constantia winery, whose Vin de Constance was a favorite of Jane Austen, Napoleon and Charles Dickens.
A Cape Malay-inspired recipe for bobotie-spiced ostrich fan fillet