The secret’s in the sauce

This magnificent sauce requires one very serious kitchen skill: patience. The reduction process near the end is a slow one, but worth the wait. Begin by crushing and finely chopping the garlic, peel and thinly slice the onion and macerate the fresh chillies into a pulp, pips and all.

Select a heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and bring up to medium heat on the hob. Add the macerated chillies, garlic and onions and let these sweat until the onions are soft and golden. Give them a stir from time to time to avoid burning.In a mixing bowl combine the paprika, salt, tomato sauce, syrup, brown sugar, vinegar and the can of tomatoes.

Pulp the tomatoes with a large fork or a ball whisk and combine the ingredients with a few moments of intense, focused stirring.Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the cooked garlic, onion and chillies. Stir well to evenly distribute the ingredients and prevent consequent burning, bring the mass to the boil. Then bring the hob temperature to a slow simmer and let it cook uncovered. This is where patience comes into the story. Stir from time to time as the hours pass – two should be enough.

The goal here is a thick sauce, full of flavour and sharp aroma.Once thickened, allow the contents of the saucepan to cool. Then pour into a large food processor or blender and reduce to a puree. Carefully bottled this sauce should enjoy a long and happy life under refrigeration. Be careful to sterilise the bottle or bottles before decanting the thickened sauce. You can either boil the bottles and their lids, using clean braai tongs to remove them from the sterilising container, or you can leave them in the oven at 120ºC for 15 minutes, using the braai tongs once again as retrieving agent.

This braai sauce has two applications. You can use it as a baste prior to cooking, by liberally spreading it over the raw steaks. Alternatively, use it as a condiment for the cooked meat, exactly how the diner wishes.And finally, don’t forget the moral bit about patience. Far better to spend more time reducing the final liquid, than to have a sauce too thin to stick to the meat.

To make the braai sauce all steak lovers dream of,  you will need:

  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 big red chillies
  • 1 onion
  • ½ tablespoon ground paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 150ml tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 120ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

There are some heavy rightwing braai mechanics who will tell you very loudly that the only sauce a steak needs is a little beer during the firing process. Others, despite their undying love for the savour of grilled meat know deep in their hearts that even the best steak can be improved by a good sauce. Well – what do you know – here’s the good braai sauce all steak lovers dream of.