Bring on the braai

iStockphoto/Martin Wahlborg
Date:26 November 2012 Tags:, , ,

If you’re an authentic South African with the requisite genes and neural pathways (no pressure; if you’re a foreign national, feel free to wave the appropriate flag), you have probably begun to celebrate the arrival of summer 2012 with a few braais. Good for you.

Now we have a question: were you cooking those steaks and chicken wings on a grungy grid? If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably put off cleaning it until a more convenient time (you know, like next year), and it has since accumulated a whole season’s worth of baked-on fat, marinades and assorted spices. This is neither aesthetically pleasing nor healthy.

Here’s what to do about it. If your braai employs a couple of bricks and one of those unpretentious mild- or stainless-steel grids, it’s a no-brainer: simply pick up a soft wire brush – such as the one you use to scrape the grid before each braai – and scrape off the accumulated grime in a shallow dish, using hot water and washing-up liquid.

If you habitually cook with gas (what’s wrong with you?!) and the grid is made of powder-coated steel, use a hard-bristle brush and scrub it with dishwashing soap, then rinse well. If it’s made of cast iron, rather use a wire brush and hot water. Next, wire-brush the burners, cleaning out the gas emission holes with a piece of thin wire or a pin.

Okay, you’re almost ready to rock. Reinstall the grid, light the gas and close the lid to allow the heat to build up. When everything is nice and hot, give the grid a final scrape, then rub with wodges of paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, coating them thoroughly. That accomplished, it’s time to crack open something cold and give fervent thanks for your omnivorous heritage.

Footnote: There’s something unaccountably creepy about gas-powered braais fitted with lids and temperature gauges. If you can’t see the meat and argue about the state of the coals, what’s the point?