Watch me make braaibroodjies by clicking here
Will the real Braaibroodjies please stand up? Everyone in South Africa loves braaibroodjies. They are just one of those “must haves” at any braai. However, despite the boastings of the braaimaster ( usually male with lager in hand) … these normally end up being:
C: tomato + onion = not cooked
D: cheese = not melted
E: all of the above.
So how do we ensure that these traditional toasties are:
A: not burnt
C: cooked tomato + onion
D: with melted cheese
E: all of the above?
Well I have a few sneaky tricks up my sleeve – use them or lose them as they say but do so at your own peril … but I can assure you that if you follow these tips you will have the perfect braaibroodjies every single time … And put any gloating braaimaster in awe of you for life …
1. Butter one side very lightly (not both sides).
2. Cut the onion into thin big round slices – keep the circles whole and pack on the one buttered side of one slice.
3. Then add the thinly sliced tomato circles – sprinkle with salt and pepper. You will note that I place the tomatoes in the centre of the sandwich filling – this prevents the broodtjie from becoming soggy.
4. Grate strong cheddar and generously sprinkle over the tomato and cover with the other slice of bread. Make sure you cover all of the tomato slices with cheese.
5. Put a griddle rack on a baking tray and put the sandwiches on top of that – then while the rest of the braai is on the go place the sandwiches in the oven at 100°C to bake for +- 1 hour – it will crisp the bread up and it will cook everything slowly.
6. Then after everyone has braaied and the coals are low – pop them onto a braai grid and allow to toast until they are browned on both sides! Depending on how hot your fire or coals are you will need to watch these carefully as they can toast quickly enough.
Some people like to add all sorts of other condiments like chutney etc to their broodjies … for me some things need to be kept simple like it was in the old days of braaivleis, sunny skies and Chevrolets.
Salt and pepper
A slice of toasted bread with tomato … a sophisticated Spanish breakfast? This might surprise you but this is a very popular breakfast for millions of Spaniards… just plain and simple … bread and tomato. Pan tumaca is a recipe invented in Catalonia but according to the www it was probably brought there by Andalusian emigrants. There is just something about the Spanish, the Italians and the Greeks … they have a unique gift of turning the mundane into the fabulous and the dull into something truly delicious.
You see my very good friend chef Louis now lives in Spain – I was heartbroken when he moved to Castellón de la Plana near Valencia a few years ago – it felt like a part of me has gone with him. This past December we had the chance to meet up and spend a few magical days together. Just catching up again with him and his adventures was the most wonderful gift – to laugh, talk and cook together just like in the old days. Spain is now Lu’s new home and he gave me such insights about the real Spanish traditions and their infective passion for food.
The first breakfast of our holiday was this traditional Spanish breakfast – a slice of toasted bread + grated tomato + the best olive oil + maldon salt. No butter – just that. I was a little taken aback as Louis and I, given our collective South African heritage are kinda used to the big breakfasts… you know greasy fry-ups and perhaps even a mixed grill of sorts from the braai the night before… but after my first bite of this tapas-style-pan-tumaca, my anticipation for a sumptuous breakfast dissipated into complete contentment … I was converted! There was bliss to be found in its simplicity and the rudimentary sophistication of this dish.
However, with everything in life, Lu reminded me that there were a few good rules to follow …
• You can toast the bread if you like, but it is not compulsory
• The tomatoes must be red-ripe + fresh + plump
• Grate the tomatoes [that is what we did] – but the traditional way is to take the tomato and rub it over the one side of the slice of bread
• Use the best olive oil you can find or afford and drizzle over the tomato
• Use Maldon salt to finish the dish
• Some people like to rub garlic before adding the tomato to the bread
• And …Always cook with passion and love – no matter how basic the dish
… And there you have it. Olé!