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The ultimate braai

Let’s be honest. We don’t need it to be September. Or Heritage Month. Or even a Sunday. We’re a nation of braaiers. Cheers to that!

Light the fire. It’s time to braai. And to help you along, get your red hot hands on the newest book from Weber … Weber’s Ultimate Braai Book. Crammed with Jamie Purviance’s innovative recipes and imaginative ingredients, with step-by-step instructions and photography, it’s just a wealth of sound advice for novice cooks and experienced braai-masters. For new braaiers, the book gives tips on everything from how to handle the four Ts (temperature, time, technique and tools) to the mysteries of direct and indirect heat, to how to use a smoker. Never mind the borewors rolls … think pizzas done to perfection, burgers with attitude, succulent ribs, Texas-style brisket, spatchcocked chicken and even roast turkey. R390 from Exclusive Books and takealot.com

Smashed burger with special sauce
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A tiny bit of sugar in this seasoning salt goes a long way towards browning the top and bottom of the burgers. This recipe is an exception to the rule never to smash the patties with a spatula. Here, the hotplate captures the juices and uses them to flavour the meat.

You’ll need:

• Special sauce … 1/2 cup mayonnaise

• 3 tablespoons tomato sauce

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle

• 1tablespoon spicy American mustard

• l/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco

• Special sauce … 1teaspoon sea salt

• 1/2 teaspoon sugar

• l/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

• l/4 teaspoon onion powder

Burgers …

• 680 g beef mince

• Canola or sunflower oil

• 4 sesame hamburger rolls, split

• 4 slices white onion, each 3mm thick

• 4 slices ripe tomato, each about 5 mm thick

• 4 large iceberg or cos lettuce leaves, torn to fit rolls

To make:

In a medium bowl, stir together all the sauce ingredients. In a smaller bowl, stir together all the seasoning salt ingredients. Prepare  the braai for direct cooking over medium-high heat (200°-260°C). Brush the cooking grates clean. Place a cast-iron hotplate over direct heat, close the lid and preheat until very hot (5 to 10 minutes).

Shape the beef into four balls of equal size. Using your hands, press each patty firmly and evenly to flatten it into a 10-cm round patty, about 1 mm thick. Season both sides evenly with the seasoning salt.

Lightly brush the hotplate with oil. Place the patties on the hot plate, spacing them well apart so you can turn them easily later. Using a spatula, smash each patty to flatten it to about 8 mm thick. This will help create a deliciously browned crust. Cook over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Using a clean spatula, scrape the patties from the hotplate, keeping the browned crust on the underside as intact as possible, and flip them over. Cook, with the lid closed, until the second side is browned and the patties are cooked to medium – 3 to 4 minutes.

During the final minute of grilling time, toast the rolls, cut side down, on the area around the hotplate. To build the burgers, spread the bottom half of each roll with some sauce, top with a patty, then add an onion slice, a tomato slice and lettuce. Spread the top half of the roll with more sauce and close the burger. Serve at once.

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