Heritage Day has become synonymous with a good braai. And while a crispy wors and chop are standard fare for the coals, one thing many South Africans often get wrong is chicken. Here is your chicken braai cheat sheet.
General Manager of Granny Mouse Country House & Spa in KwaZulu-Natal, Sean Granger, has some tips to make your chicken a hot favourite on any day.
Cook the chicken slowly and steadily over medium coals for about 30-40 minutes. If your coals are too hot, they will just burn the outside of the bird before the inside is cooked through. Start by holding the palm of your right hand above the grid for 5 seconds. If you can manage that safely, it’s time to get cooking. If you have sufficient space on the grid, keep the main fire going on one side of the braai so that you can top up the coals as you braai.
Make sure the chicken is at room temperature to ensure even cooking. If the inside is still ice-cold, the outside will be done while the inside stays raw.
If marinating, make sure this is done overnight. Brush off excess marinade before braaiing so that the skin can crisp up nicely. Don’t cut slits into the meat to “speed up” cooking. This will just dry it out. Use tongs to turn portions – a fork pierces the skin and dries out the meat, or enclose portions in a braai grid for easy turning.
Crispy chicken wings
These are quick-cooking – perfect for grilling over high heat, which ensures the crispiest skin. You can braai these first while waiting for the heat of the coals to die down to cook the larger cuts of chicken. If you can hold your hand above the grid for no more than 2-3 seconds, the coals are ready.
For more braai recipes
As chicken fillets are thicker on one side than the other, they should always be flattened to ensure even cooking on the braai. These are great in burgers or salads. This cut doesn’t have moisture from skin or bones, so be sure to cook over a high heat so the fillet does not dry out.
The culinary team at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa recommends this recipe for garlic and herb braai chicken wings.
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning, dried
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 lemon, zested (no juice, zest only)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 kg chicken wings, party style
- Minced parsley, for garnish
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and whisk together.
2. Add the chicken wings and toss well to coat. Cover the bowl or transfer the wings and marinade to a large ziplock bag and chill for at least four hours, or overnight.
3. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade and pat lightly. Medium heat and lay the wings in a single layer on the grid.
4. Close the braai and cook for 15 – 20 mins, turning occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium/low midway through cooking.
5. Serve garnished with minced parsley, if desired.