One essential ingredient of the classic South African braai, is boerewors.
For those who don’t know, boerewors is a type of fresh sausage which originated in South Africa. The name is derived from the Afrikaans words boer (“farmer”) and wors (“sausage”). After all South America has chorizo, France has andouille, Poland has kielbasa, and Germany has their vast selection of “wurst”.
Boerewors is a course-ground sausage, giving it a more chunky and coarse texture. Boerewors seasoning characteristically includes coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice, along with a dark vinegar (malt vinegar). This combination of spices and vinegar creates a unique flavour that is very characteristic of South African cuisine.
How to Braai Boerewors
The key to a truly flavourful and moist boerewors meal, lies within the cooking temperature. Use a low to medium heat when you cook boerewors, as this cooks it evenly inside and out. Be sure to turn frequently.
Make sure you don’t overcook the wors. It needs to be juicy and tasty and the meat needs to be cooked through (not pink). Unlike steak, you will need to turn it a few (3-5) times to achieve perfection. Not enough turning can result in burning or bursting the skin.
When braaing boerewors in a closed grid, turning is no problem.
Turning the Wors
The problems and disaster usually happen when you try to braai a hefty length of boerewors on an open grid.
Most outdoor cooks have experienced what happens when you try to turn a coil of wors on a flat grid – you usually end up with a very uneven cook. Some bits are burned and others are raw and you have juice and bits of mince all over the place.
A hint for those who like their meat well done, don’t overcook boerewors – you will get a much tastier and flavourful bite if you slightly undercook the boerewors.
Then after cooking, remove the boerewors and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Don’t Cut the Coil
Boerewors dries out easily, so leave the bits as long as you can, even when making “boerie rolls”. Cook the wors in the coil and then cut it. The coil shape also allows it to keep the juiciness contained within the sausage for longer.
Cooking with Tongs and Skewers
If you don’t have a closed grid you can make a plan to ensure an even cook and less mess. Coil the wors on your kitchen counter and take two skewers (wood or metal) and piece the wors right through with the skewers at a 90 degree angle to each other.
This way the boerewors is secure and you can cook it on an open grid, turning it with a pair of tongs.
Boerewors Braai Pie
This braai side dish is a favourite of the meat lovers. It is filled with boerewors, braai relish and gooey cheese.
Ingredients for the Boerewors Braai Pie:
500 g (2 rolls) ready-made puff pastry
1 egg, lightly whisked with a fork for brushing pastry or use olive oil
250 ml grated cheddar cheese
400 g cooked (and cooled) boerewors
1 x 410 g can Braai Relish (Rhodes makes a delicious one)
10 ml Paprika
125 ml Feta Cheese
45 ml (¼ C) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Unroll one roll (250 g) of the puff pastry and place it directly on to a clean braai grid.
Brush the pastry with a little of the egg or olive oil
Leaving a 2cm border around the edges of the pastry, sprinkle the cheese over the pastry.
Add the cooked and cooled boerewors in a coil or chopped and evenly spread.
Spoon the Braai Relish over the boerewors.
Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top.
Season with salt, pepper, paprika
Unroll the second roll of puff pastry over the top of the pie.
Fold the edges of the bottom layer of pastry over that of the top layer and press gently with a fork to seal the edges of the pie.
Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining egg or olive oil.
Close the grid and braai the pie over medium coals, turning the grid regularly, for 15 minutes or until the pastry is crispy and cooked through.
Slice with a sharp knife and serve hot.
Boerewors, together with relish and other ingredients like cheese are often served on a bread roll, known as Boerie Rolls.