Heritage Day? Don’t you mean National Braai Day? Ant Ellis shares his three best sides to impress family and friends.
Firstly, let me nail my colours to the mast of this particular interlocution by stating that diminishing the celebration of the magnificent cultural diversity of our nation to a day-off-work braai is utterly insane. Hearteningly however, we can agree that there is quite possibly no better way for us to find common ground – whether as families, communities or as a nation – than together, around a blazing fire. Beverage in hand, tongs at the ready, we can dream of peace and harmony, looking back at our roots and ahead to even better, gloriously sunshiny days. Then, no matter what we believe, it’s time to eat.
I’ve actually said this before: I wouldn’t dare tell anyone how to braai meat – you’re all the best braaiers ever. Instead, I offer you three amazingly simple recipes for sides that will raise your Heritage Day game. In fact, these fuss-free game-changers are every bit as good as your burnt offerings to the gods of protein, guaranteed.
My Mexican Street Corn-inspired Mielies
- 6 to 8 ears sweetcorn, husks removed
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, from 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest, from 1 lime
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- Lime wedges
In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, half the coriander, garlic, lime zest and lime juice. Taste, add a touch of salt if needed. Braai mielies directly on the grill until golden brown and slightly charred, turning until evenly cooked. Using a brush, coat each mielie evenly with the creamy mixture. Sprinkle with feta, a delicate shake of cayenne pepper and the rest of the coriander. Serve hot with extra lime wedges.
For my vegetarian brethren, these can be cooked in foil if preferred to avoid contact with the grill. Brush the mielies with the creamy sauce and wrap tightly in two layers of foil. Once cooked, unwrap and finish with cheese, cayenne pepper and the coriander.
Grilled Spring Asparagus Wrapped In Bacon
- Fresh asparagus stalks
- Streaky, rindless bacon
- Olive oil (garlic infused olive oil rules, make your own)
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 180ºC with the rack in the top half, and lightly oil a baking tray. Remove the thickest, woody end of the asparagus stalks (the theory is they’ll snap in just the right place). Wrap a piece of bacon around as much of the length of the stalk as you prefer and lay out on the baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil and roast in oven for 15 minutes, turning once so the bacon will crisp. Serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a twist of cracked black pepper. Optionally, finish with finely grated lemon zest and/or Parmesan shavings.
Chunky Roasted Potato Wedges
- 1 potato per person, washed and cut lengthways into wedges
- Sunflower oil
- Cracked black pepper
- Red wine vinegar
- Fresh rosemary twigs
Heat oven to 200ºC. Par-cook wedges in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes – do not overcook. Drain and allow to steam dry. Toss in a light coating of sunflower oil and arrange on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven for about an hour, turning as necessary. Garnish with rosemary and a sprinkle of vinegar.
Until next time: Whatever your heritage, I’m pretty sure you’ll connect with it best around a fire – and then at the family table. Whatever you do, find someone to share it with. *
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