There’s no denying that braaing is second nature for most South Africans. And why wouldn’t it be? A social occasion, braaing over charcoal grills, means spending deliberate quality time with friends and family. It’s a time to catch up, to celebrate. And a time to just be in the company of those you hold near and dear. And as much as wood or gas are great options for braaing (or barbecuing here in the US), charcoal grills, are still a firm favorite for ‘Saffas’ (South African slang for South Africans) when it comes to lighting up their favorite braai time pastime!
The matter of charcoal or briquettes
If you’re new to the world of charcoal grills, then it may be surprising to know that briquettes are also charcoal grill-friendly. Expert braai masters will often use a combination of the two, with charcoal being the firelighter of choice. However, briquettes still have their place at a South African braai, keeping the fire (and braai time festivities) lasting for longer.
But if you HAD to choose…
While some braai masters can and do use charcoal and briquettes together, others prefer either or, depending on the situation or occasion. So, if you had to choose, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each.
Interestingly enough, charcoal or lump charcoal is the by-product of burnt wood. This makes it all-natural and a popular option for experienced grillers (or braai masters). Another advantage of lump charcoal is that it ignites reasonably quickly. And when it burns out is less messy.
As such, it is probably the better option should the family pop round unexpectedly for Sunday dinner because you’ll be able to whip up a fire in no time! You’ll also have better control over the temperature (which helps with consistent cooking). However, if it’s a long-lasting barbecue you’re after, lump charcoal will likely disappoint as you’ll have to keep topping up to keep that heat constant.
Planning on barbecuing the day away? Then briquettes should keep the barbecue up and running for some time. Which will leave you with plenty of time to entertain your guests. Or to kick your feet up and enjoy the scenery.
Briquettes are also cheaper and plentiful if you are looking for a quick fix to fire up the grill. Also a by-product of wood, briquettes can contain chemicals and other additives that can give off a synthetic odor (which can be off-putting if you’re only expecting deliciously smoky aromas). Using briquettes rather than charcoal is also likely to leave your shiny grill worse for the wear as a result of its residual (and unsightly) ash deposits.
Charcoal VS Wood
In South Africa, a braai just wouldn’t be a braai without charcoal or wood. Wood is also, therefore, a popular option, especially when campfire grillings are involved. There’s nothing quite like using wood as a base to light a fire to feel like you’re sitting right at nature’s doorstep. And if the crackle and pop of burning wood weren’t enough to ignite the senses, there are other advantages of using wood in your barbecue, too. Such as the delicious smokiness that infuses your meat with intense, long-lasting flavor. Other benefits of a wood-based fire are that it’s even longer lasting than charcoal, catches fire easier, and is a 100% natural alternative to other types of charcoal that may have chemical additives in them. There’s also a wonderful comforting ambiance about a wood fire (which is why it’s so popular in South Africa).
Bring on the food!
South Africans are known for loving their braai – and their food. And while there are many types of meat that can be grilled on a charcoal grill, there are distinct South African favorites and flavors that are specifically reserved for the charcoal grill. Items like:
- ‘Boerewors’ (ground beef sometimes combined with pork or lamb and a mixture of toasted spices) not to be confused with ‘braai wors’ ( which is a combination of other more peculiar ingredients).
- Aged rump steak – a tender, chunkier cut of meat for the meat-lovers.
- Lamb chops – rich, tender meat that you can nibble right off the bone.
- Snoek – tasty, Cape fresh fish that is succulent and meaty.
A charcoal grill inspired by South Africa
It’s no secret that the KUDU grill is inspired by the uniqueness of the South African braai culture. So, if you want a taste of what makes braai culture so celebrated in this part of the world, the KUDU grill can show you how.
Contact us today for more information about this authentically inspired charcoal grill.