Shisa Nyama Nation – Choosing the right braai

With the warmer months finally upon us, many might be in the market for a new braai and it is worth-while to consider all the options before you buy. We look at the various options available for the perfect braai to help you make an informed decision:

 

Which type of braai to buy?

Each person has their own favourite, and depending on the occasion and what needs to be cooked, will be the deciding factor of which braai is better to use.

 

Standard Wood Braai

These are for honest-to-goodness braaiers, who just need hot coals and good meat. The most important feature is that it has a sturdy height-adjustable metal grid to control the heat, and an ash tray underneath for easy clean-ups. You’ll find all shapes and sizes, from portable units that are ideal for suburban balconies or picnic outings, to the elaborate built-in models.

Pros:

  • Meat has that smoky flavour
  • Ambience
  • Cheap and convenient

Cons:

  • Messy to clean
  • No temperature control
  • Open fire can be dangerous depending on the environment you in

 

Kettle braai / Weber

Kettle braais have become a popular choice, the sizes range from those suitable for cosy meals for two to much bigger models. When making your choice, look for good, thick metal and enamelling and check that the lid fits snugly. The golden rule is to resist the temptation to lift the lid to prod the meat at all costs. The vents in the lid and in the bowl help to control the heat. These braais are a good choice if you like doing big chunks of meat, or whole chickens, as they distribute the heat more evenly. There’s also a wide range of accessories available, such as smokers, rotisseries and griddles, which allow you to be more adventurous.

Pros:

  • Perfect for outdoor convection cooking
  • 2 cooking methods available (Direct and Indirect)
  • Lid controls fire flare-ups

Cons:

  • Many feel that it does not give the same ambiance as a traditional braai

 

Gas braai

This range continues to win converts because of its versatility of various cooking methods. They have plenty of accessories to choose from and are made from cast-aluminium; a sturdy construction should be a major consideration in making your selection. Gas grills have domed lids to ensure heat distribution, and thermostats which allow you to cook different dishes, at the same time, at different temperatures.

Pros:

  • Faster and convenient
  • Temperature control on various levels
  • Have a far greater amount of add-ons/accessories

Cons:

  • Can’t achieve that original smoky braai flavour
  • Supply and demand  – Gas is not always available
  • Price of Gas – notoriously more expensive than wood/charcoal

 

Before making a decision to use either charcoal, wood or gas, one needs to answer these 4 simple questions:  

  1. How much time do you have?
  2. How much meat, etc. must you braai?
  3. How many variations of meat/sides do you have to cook at various temperatures?
  4. How good you are at working with wood and charcoal/how much effort are you willing to put in?