Lockdown can become stressful especially because of the sameness of every day. So why not do something different – organise a Lockdown Braai?
You can either just have the lockdown braai for your own family, or you can organise a neighbourhood braai (each in their own home/yard), but together in common purpose. Or you can braai with family and friends remotely, connecting with Zoom or Google Hangouts or even via WhatsApp.
Across the World, the coronavirus is keeping us apart, separating us from friends and loved ones. But a lockdown braai is a great way to get together, especially if the braai is real and only the communication is virtual.
Planning a Lockdown Braai
Two essential ingredients for a good lockdown braai are food and people.
First of all the food – what do you and your home family want to eat at your braai? You are either going to make a trip to the shops for ingredients or raid the fridge/freezer.
Are you going to make a fire, or grill the meat in the oven? Have you got all the wood and charcoal or whatever you need to make the fire. You know it doesn’t have to be an expensive affair, you can make boerie rolls, which usually keep the whole family happy.
What side dishes are you going to make – salads, garlic bread, baked potatoes or a “braaibroodjie” like they make in the Cape? A favourite is garlic mushrooms – those big brown mushrooms seasoned and wrapped in foil in the coals- don’t forget the cheese.
Vegetarians don’t need to be left out, there are plenty of delicious veggie dishes on can make on a fire.
Selection of Meat for the Braai
Here in South Africa, the art of the barbeque, or braai, is a kind of religion rather than a pastime and arguments and discussions about exactly how to braai; what marinades to use and whether it is better to braai with gas, electricity or wood are debated endlessly. So let’s look at a few classic braai meat options:
- Lamb chops
Tools and Accessories for a Braai
(As our Household Plastic stores are closed for now, you will not be able to shop but remember we do stock a great range of braai equipment).
You need a good pair of tongs – wise braaiers says with a good pair of tongs, good meat and good company you can pretty much wing it the rest of the way.
The braai structure will either be a standalone or built in braai. For lucky ones a kettle braai like a Weber is part of the deal.
Cooking the Meat
The key thing is obviously to turn the meat before it blackens. As a general rule though, less is more – flip it less to avoid losing the juices to evaporation (the exception is boerewors, which cooks more evenly if you turn it more).
For a steak, the best is to put it on the fire and let it braai on one side, then flip it over after a few seconds and let it braai on the other, then turn it over a third time and wait for the juices to seep to the surface. This is an indication to turn it again, so flip it for a fourth time, wait for the juices to come through again and then take it off the fire.
Chicken is generally ready when the juices run clear, and boerewors is done when you can snap it easily with the tongs.
Choose your Company
So now that we have the actual braai part planned, how about the people part? Can you see your neighbours from you house or yard? Do you want to braai over the fence with them?
Being apart from the people you love and enjoy can suck. Even without the current need for social distancing, sometimes ordinary life can keep you away from your social circle, so make a plan and make contact.
What App is Best for Virtual Dinner Parties or Lockdown Braais?
Why not get together, each in their own apartment on your balconies or gardens? If you are willing to experiment, you can use video chatting to have virtual dinners with friends and relatives.
Do you want to get connected with friends or relatives on Zoom or Skype of Face Time or another video app to share the lockdown braai?
A good free service that everyone’s likely to have access to already is Facebook Messenger‘s video chat, which allows you to see up to six people in a video call (the upper limit is 50 people in a video call).
Another good option is HouseParty. This is the app that allows you to start video chats with multiple people — the name sort of gives it away. You just let your friends know you’re available to chat, and you can join each other on a lockdown braai together.
It might feel a bit awkward at first, but if you have a tablet or phone you can prop in front of you set up the laptop with a webcam. You may eventually find it’s not much different from an actual group dinner or braai.
If you are a bit low on data, how about sending video files and images on WhatsApp to those who are joining you?
All you need to do is set a day and a time to meet, virtually and to fire up and braai.
Other Lockdown Braai Activities
- How about sharing marinade recipes or even making a lockdown braai music playlist?
- You can either spend the whole time together or just the communal eating time.
- Some braaiers, like getting out the old jaffel irons and making jaffels and waffles on the fire
- Of course, if you have a braai mat, everything can be done differently – you can even braai meat and veggies on the same grill without mixing the juices or flavours.
Humans Need to Connect
So much of the anxiety in this COVID-19 crisis has centered around food. Restaurants have closed supermarket shelves are often a little empty, and so many of our questions are about sustenance: Have we filled our cupboards with the right things, and what do we make for dinner tonight?
Humans are social creatures we need to connect with each other. What better way to do it, and enjoy some really great food, than with a lockdown braai?