You’re Toast, and not Complaining

South African masterpiece.

What do Marvin Shanken and Johann Rupert have in common? Besides having – as publisher of Wine Spectator and owner of L’Ormarins respectively – a bit of influence on the wine world, that is.

Well believe it or not, but both have a bit of a culinary soft-spot for the South African ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and truly South African ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ item known as a braaibroodjie.

Having braaied (barbecued for those not familiar with or ignorant of local custom) my way around the world, I can say that the braaibroodjie is as South African as triple brandy-and-cokes, tight-butted rugby cheerleaders and politicians using toilets to drive election campaigns. No other barbecue-practising nation makes a braaibroodjie.

Translation is virtually impossible, but “barbecue toastie” is as close as I can get. Because this satisfying side-dish, without which any braai is incomplete, is nothing more than a toasted sandwich prepared in an and iron or steel grid over open coals.

When Shanken spent a week on Rust en Vrede Estate last year he was apparently so obsessed with the braaibroodjie that he photographed an album full of pictures of the toastie in various stages of preparation to show the folks back home. When attending a braai, Rupert spends more time ensuring the braaibroodjie is prepared to perfect personal requirements than any other part of the occasion.

That two men of this stature, who can drink Petrus and DRC at whim and have dined at more three star Michelins to remember are beguiled by such a modest thing as a braaibroodjie speaks volumes for the properties of this golden, hot bread thingy.

So for those who have not embraced the braaibroodjie as a non-negotiable part of outdoor-cooking, get with the programme. After all, you don’t need a cordon bleu to make it.

For one braaibroodjie:

  • ?+¦?????+¦???? Two slices buttered bread, commercial white ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ no organic hand-kneaded ciabatta nonsense
  • ?+¦?????+¦???? Sliced tomato
  • ?+¦?????+¦???? Grated cheese: one half gouda, one half chedder
  • ?+¦?????+¦???? Thinly sliced onion rings
  • ?+¦?????+¦???? Salt and pepper.

Make a sandwich with the above. (If you can’t do this, don’t bother to read further and: shame on you.)

Place the closed sandwhich in a closed steel braai-griddle. It has to be one of those hinged griddles that allows you to enclose the sandwich on both sides. You can’t flip this on a Weber, big guy.

Barbecue the sandwich over the coals as you would a lamb chop. Frequent turning is required to ensure the bread does not blacken. And timing is of the essence. A braaibroodjie with cheese that has not melted should be punishable by death.

Depending on the heat of your coals, three minutes on each side should do it. But like most barbecue-items, practise makes perfect.

I make a perfect braaibroodjie, being a Dutchman and all. And whilst enjoying one this week I washed the crumbs down with a very fine Chardonnay.

It was the Rhebokskloof 2009. What made it so good was the perfect balance between fruit ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ especially citrus and melon ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and a lean, firm acid structure. To me this wine exudes all that is good about SA Chardonnay: sun in the vineyard, clean and fresh on the palate, depth and complexity of the unintimidating kind ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ all leading to perfect varietal characteristic. Wooding is meticulously modest, allowing for structure and balance without the chunk and splinters.

Although the region where Rhebokskloof is situated ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Paardeberg side of Paarl ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ is a Chenin Blanc Holy Grail ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ this Chardonnay shows that the potential of the noble Burgundian whitey in that area must not be underestimated. There are great soils there, and with Chardonnay not being afraid of a bit of heat, this valley could add to the diverse spectrum of South African Chardonnays.

If Shanken came to report on this, I’ll keep him filled with braaibroodjies for some time?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+..

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8 thoughts on “You’re Toast, and not Complaining

  1. And none of those pre-packed doughy rolls with a bit of seasoning in the middle that you buy at the supermarket… Those aren’t real braai breads. There’s got to be that little bit of tomato or onion that slips out when you take a bite and burns you a little on your lips. Mmm.

  2. Something you can add to your recipe – instead of using margerine or butter on the inside, smear the inside of one slice of bread thinly with mayo and the other slice thinly with Mrs Ball’s Chutney. Keep the rest the same. Trust me, it’ll blow your mind.

  3. Hi.Butter on the inside or outside of the toasted samie,as this is often a discussion point around the fire?

  4. Hmm that make me hungry! My English-speaking friend, who is now married to an Afrikaans guy, had her first fight with him over the humble braaibroodjie. She put chilli jam or somesorts on it and he was shocked to the core. Never in his 26 years of living in Robertson had anyone tried this travesty. Needless to say, he survived and they happily make gourmet toasties all the time now.

  5. Emile, I have a piece of burnt toast that looks like the face of Andre Morgenthal. Is it worth offering it on e-bay?

  6. Hennie from Batonage, are you out of your fucking mind! Mayo and Chutney to a braaibroodjie. Why not add seagull shit and snoek semen as well. Here broer, maar daai &Union Pulled Porkies het iets aan jou smaakkliere gedoen.

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