We found and tested the only five braai items you’ll ever need for cooking on coals. And it only costs R1254.
1. Enamel Roaster Pot
This classic white 2L enamel pot is handy for marinating your food or using as a serving container to keep the steaks warm while the potatoes finish off in the coals. It may chip with rough use, but I reckon this only adds character – use wooden utensils when scraping or stirring to prevent this, and give it a light coating of oil before use for easier cleaning. It comes in a bigger size but this 20cm one (small) is perfect for keeping four chops and a roll of wors warm.
2. Camp Cover Braai Grid Cover (large)
Most grids can stand a knock but it’s better to protect yours with a canvas bag (it also keeps food grit from dirtying other items). This one has loops that fit the tongs we recommend and keep them securely in place. There’s also a pocket to stash a small box of firelighters. The heavy-duty ripstop canvas wears well and can be washed down easily by hand, plus the Velcro fasteners are more durable than zippers.
3. LK’s Big Box Grid with Sliding Handle
Your most important piece of equipment is the grid, which is why I recommend high-quality stainless steel – it won’t rust and if looked after properly should last a lifetime. The LK has slightly thicker stainless-steel rods than other grids (less likely to burn away over time) and the sliding handle makes it perfect for packing: it fits snugly into a traditional ammo box (51 x 40 x 25 cm). Steel rings keep the upper grid firmly secured to the base grid and make for a sturdy hinge, and the handle is easy to turn because it fits neatly into your palm (although it does get hot, so pack a dishcloth or pot holder). Raised edges keep boerie from rolling off if you’re using the grid in the folded-out position, and the 2cm depth makes it ideal for braaibroodjies as it doesn’t squash the bread. It’s also dishwasher safe (if you can fit it in!)
4. BBQ Tongs 46cm
After testing flimsy scissor tongs and small nylon-ended ones, these classics from Pick n Pay are still my favourite because of the scalloped edges, which properly grip anything from mielies to chicken pieces without piercing or tearing them. The wooden handle is comfy, and the tongs are long enough to keep your hands from burning but short enough to still give you control. The spring has just the right amount of give, and they’re cheap enough to get two – one for coals and one for food.
5. Fireside Folding Braai Tripod
This sturdy tripod is a camping necessity: it balances the grid easily, is essential for boiling water over the fire, and will lift a potjie pot off the coals for a gentler simmer. It’s relatively light and flattens to pack easily into a kitchen box or the grid cover featured above.
Tip I always pack an emergency bag of two-minute pap. Perfect for potjies or an easy pap- and-wors meal, White Star Quick Par-Cooked Maize Meal cooks fast and is a super-tasty basic to keep in the braai kit. R12,95 for 1kg, woolworths.co.za
Four ‘flavour makers’ that caught our eye
My Butchers Block Smoking Planks
R149 for two, mybutchersblock.co.za
Of the four options available (cherry, oak, cedar and maple), the maple plank had the strongest flavour. That said, the taste wasn’t showstopping when I braaied chicken breast. However, when I used one (pre-soaked in water) to cook large mushrooms with garlic and butter, it worked a treat – the shrooms were beautifully steamed.
Trail Reusable Braai Mat
I was surprised by this mat, which conducted heat amazingly and even the meat cooked on it was browned. It works exceptionally well for foods such as kebabs because they can cook in the marinade that would usually drip through the grid. It was also a breeze to wipe clean.
Outset Cedar Grilling Papers
Of all the items tested here, I found these papers added the most flavour and also retained more moisture because the thin sheets wrap around each piece of meat (I used chicken). Not very cost effective, though, at R48 a sheet.
My Butchers Block Smoke Shavings
R49 per packet, mybutchersblock.co.za
Available in four flavours (oak, maple, cedar and cherry), these chips are an affordable way to add a smoky essence (albeit subtle) to your meal. Simply sprinkle them over coals to add flavour to food. I used half the bag and it smoked relatively well, but you need a closed Weber for best results, not an open-pit braai.