How to Braai Steak
Braai is a South African word that means barbecue, so to braai a steak is similar to barbecuing one. In South Africa, a braai is a festive event that brings together friends, family, and neighbors, who come together to eat, drink, and celebrate occasions like birthdays, holidays, and other special events. When using this type of grill, it’s traditional to use wood or charcoal, so gas grills won’t work to braai a steak.
Makes one serving
1 T-bone steak, cut to 1½ inches (3.8 cm)
1 tablespoon (19 g) coarse salt
½ tablespoon (13 g) brown sugar
½ tablespoon (3 g) coriander seeds
¼ tablespoon (2 g) black peppercorns
¼ tablespoon (1 g) paprika
¼ tablespoon (2 g) garlic powder
¼ tablespoon (2 g) onion powder
¼ tablespoon (1 g) dried thyme
Marinating the Steak
Make the spice rub.Combine the salt, coriander, peppercorns, and thyme in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Grind the spices to a fine powder. Transfer the ground spices to a small bowl and add in the sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Use a spoon or your finger to mix all the spices together until combined.
Season the steak.Pour half the spice mix over the top of the steak and use your fingers to spread the spices around and massage them into the meat. Flip the steak over and repeat on the other side.
- Transfer the steak to a plate and put it in the refrigerator to marinate in the spice mix for three to four hours.
Remove the steak from the fridge before cooking.Once the steak has been marinating for two to three hours, you can start preparing the grill. While the charcoal or wood is heating up, take the steak out of the fridge and let it warm up on the counter.
- Once the grill is ready, the steak will be at room temperature and ready to go on the grill immediately.
Heating the Braai
Clean the grill.Use a wire brush to scrub the grill clean to remove old food particles that have been burned on. Once you’ve removed the larger pieces, go over each part of the grill with a grill brush and give the grill a good scrubbing. Empty out old ashes from the bottom of the bowl.
- When you're finished cleaning the grill, remove it from the braai and set it aside so you can light the fire.
Light the fire.Stuff the bottom of the chimney starter with a piece of newspaper. Fill the chimney starter with as much wood or charcoal as you can fit. A braai needs a good, hot, large fire, so you need to start with a lot of fuel.When the chimney starter is full, use a barbecue lighter to light the newspaper in the bottom of the starter. Light it in multiple places around the starter.
- Once the fire is started, it will begin to spread and the charcoal or wood will burn down.
- Continue burning the fire in the chimney starter until the wood turns to embers or the charcoal turns gray.
Spread out the coals.When the wood or charcoal is ready, pour the embers into the bowl and spread them out evenly with charcoal tongs. This will ensure that there aren't any cool spots, and that the steak cooks evenly on the grill.
- Concentrate the coals in the center of the bowl so the heat will be directly below where the steak is cooking.
Preheat the grill.Carefully place the grill back into the bowl of the barbecue. If your grill has multiple racks, place the grill on the lowest one, nearest to the fire. Let the grill sit over the coals for 10 to 20 minutes to preheat. This will ensure the steak starts cooking as soon as you lay it on the grill.
- Ideally, you want the grill to be 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm) from the bed of embers.
- When the grill is good and hot, use the wire brush again to give it a final scrub.
Cooking and Serving the Steak
Cook the steak on each side.As soon as the grill is ready, use a pair of long-handled tongs to transfer the steak to the center of the grill. Don’t use a fork to move the steak around, or you'll pierce the meat and release the juices.
- Cook the steak for three to five minutes on the first side. After three minutes, start checking the underside for browning.
- When the first side is browned, flip the steak with tongs and cook for another three to five minutes on the other side.
Cook the steak to medium rare.A braai steak is traditionally only cooked to medium rare. This will take about seven to 10 minutes in total. If you have a meat thermometer, the ideal temperature for the steak is 120 to 125 F (49 to 52 C).
- If you don’t have a meat thermometer, gently press the steak with your finger when you think it’s done. If the meat provides little resistance and gives easily to your push, then it’s ready.
Rest the meat.As soon as the meat is cooked, remove it from the grill with the tongs. Place the meat on a fresh plate or wooden board. Set the meat aside to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Resting meat makes for a juicier steak because it prevents the juices from spilling out when the meat is cut.
Video: How to Braai the perfect Steak
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