Braaing / Barbecuing Beef Steak 101

A lekker steak on the bbq!
What we really ate a lot of in SA was beef. It is one of the few countries in the world that hang their beef long enough to make it so tender you could actually eat it with a butter knife. Jessica and Grant, South African friends of ours in France, are going to hang beef in France for something like 60 days – tell us when you’re ready Jess!

Living in France is wonderful, but they just can’t do beef. The reason it gets served so raw that it’s still basically mooing at you, is that if you cook it any more, it becomes tough as old boots. And old boots are hard to cut even with a steak knife, but are even harder to chew.

In South Africa the meat gets hung for at least 2 weeks, but more often than not, even longer. Beef used to be cheaper in SA, but the prices have gone up in the last 7 years since I was there last. It is still much cheaper than beef (and especially hung beef) in Europe, so we spoiled ourselves and had it quite often. Can’t imagine why I am fat with all the good food I chose to eat!


We chose not to go with heavy marinades as we wanted to taste the meat and not the sauce. We often ate it with mango achar, an Indian pickle, which is spicy and soooo deelicious. But the meat itself we did very little with.

MARINADE per steak
1 steak, about 2,5cm thick or more
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Marinade the meat in the olive oil for a couple of hours or overnight. Sprinkle with salt and pepper just before braaing. I am less concerned about the salt drawing the juices out of the meat when I use oil to marinade, but it is perhaps best to err on the side of caution and add it at the end.

Try to buy your steak as thick as possible because if it’s too thin it could dry out – the thicker the better is the rule here! Rib-eye is a great cut as it is nicely marbled, but we mostly braai rump or T-bone in SA.

Get your coals nice and hot. You want to be able to hold your hand about 15cm above the coals for about 3 seconds before it’s too hot and you have to move off. DO NOT touch the coals or you will burn yourself! A hot fire is better than a cold one as you want to cook the meat quickly and not stew it.
Have the steak at room temperature (or bbq it a minute or so longer if it is fridge cold).
Put it on the clean grill and grill for 2-4 minutes then turn and grill for 2-4 minutes (for medium rare). Now it gets tricky.
How would you like your steak done? There is a rule of thumb (quite literally!) for this.

Put your thumb and forefinger together and press the ball of your thumb with the other hands forefinger. This is the way the meat feels for RARE.
Repeat with the middle finger to thumb and this is the “feeling” for MEDIUM.
Ring finger to thumb WELL DONE.
Little finger to thumb WELL AND TRULY DEAD.

Depending on a) the heat of your fire, b) if there is wind, c) the thickness of your steak, your steak could a few minutes more to cook one day than the next.
Take it off the fire when you think it’s ready and let it sit there and rest for a few minutes. This will keep the meaty juices in the meat whereas if you cut immediately they will flow out. Once it’s rested, cut the thickest bit and see if it’s done enough for you, If not, just whack it back on again for a couple of minutes.

BBQing your steak perfectly takes some practice, so don’t give up, but Stay Calm and Braai Again and Again!

Share this
Post new comment
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <div>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may use [inline:xx] tags to display uploaded files or images inline.

More information about formatting options