The weather is warming up and spring is in the air. It’s time to bring out the braai and celebrate! From chargrilled T-bones to buttery aubergine steaks, we all know – it’s better over the coals. Local braai guru and outdoor enthusiast Alec Blair gives us his top tips on this traditional pastime.

Lighting the perfect fire
Always use dry wood. Wet or newly cut won’t burn well. Then, place two pieces of wood parallel to each other. Place your firelighters in the middle of them. Stack another two pieces on top of the bottom ones at 90 degrees. Continue packing your wood like this until you have used at least 10 pieces. Now light your firelighters. Once your fire is going, leave it alone! The fire will take about 45 minutes until the coals are ready to be cooked on.

Warm your meat up
Getting it out the fridge and letting your meat sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before you pop it on the grill allows the fibre to warm up and relax a little. It also prevents the slight drop in grill temperature when you place cold meat on it, making for faster cooking time and juicer meat.

Meat so succulent
If you want your meat succulent, avoid turning it too many times. This allows the meat to seal in all the juices.

Add some flavour
Sage is the perfect herb to bring to your braai. It goes particularly well with fatty meats. But beware, it’s a strong flavour – especially when it’s dried – so use sparingly. Rosemary’s lemon-pine flavour pairs well with lamb and pork. Be bold with it when you’re braaiing those chops. And if it’s fish on the braai, thyme is your best option with its subtle, earthy taste.

Stop the meat from drying out
Place your meat in an open container with fried onions inside. They will add flavour and moisture to the meat.

Veggie-licious
Wrap veggies in tin foil and nestle them among the coals. This works especially well for potatoes, beetroot, onion, sweet potato and butternut.

Avoid sticky fish
Many people shy away from fish because they think it will stick to the grill and fall apart. These fears also lead to cooking the fish on a delicate heat, when, in fact cooking quickly on a high heat prevents sticking.

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