There are a few things the average South African man is capable of. Lying about his golfing prowess. Pretending to be interested in what the geriatric inebriate at the local pub has to say about politics. And in terms of cooking, we can braai. The kitchen is a place that many men seem to think is suitable only for holding beers. I’ll be honest with you – I used to be like that. If it wasn’t a large hunk of meat that could be cooked over a large fire or meal that could heated up in the microwave I wouldn’t attempt it.
Over the years I’ve come to enjoy cooking and even more than that, inviting people over and forcing them to try my concoctions. I’ve even gone so far as to purchase cookbooks. This is a turn-around from my varsity days when I would have considered a pizza with all slices having the same amount of cheese as being a balanced meal.
Along the way I’ve collected some useful items that make cooking for the inept an easier task. Here is a quick look at the pots, pans and utensils that every South African guy should have in his home.
If you are pressed for time or like the average Johannesburg resident, always in a rush, pressure cookers are ideal as they can shave off up to 70% of cooking time. These pots have lids that lock, allowing you to trap steam and cook liquids at a much higher temperatures. Hot steam allows food to be heated rapidly upon contact without burning the food. The downside of a pressure cooker is that you need to stick to the recipe or at very least, have a guide handy to see how long it takes for food items to heat. Different foods cook at different rates so it is not always possible to throw everything in the pot and leave it. You also need to follow safety hints to the letter. A few years back some silly clods decided that they could use these pots as pressurised deep fryers. Needless to say that many homes in the US soon lacked a roof when rapidly heating oil caused the pot to explode. T-fal produce a decent pressure cooker that is available online and in most homeware stores.
Wraps and stir fried food must be among the easiest meals to make, most difficult to mess up and some of the cheapest to produce. Electric woks heat rapidly and evenly, ensuring that you don’t slave over a stove for hours, losing out on valuable beer-drinking time. You can also throw caution to the wind and toss some of your favourite vegetables or cuts of meat in without worrying too much about adhering to the recipe. Models such as this one by Kenwood come with a tray for steaming.
If you can braai, you can make a potjie. Like most cookware a potjie pot may require some treating upfront. This usually involves heating a liquid in the pot and allowing it to cool before washing it. Aside from that, a potijie pot allows you to make the most delicious stews imaginable and gives you the freedom to concoct any recipe your heart desires. Another major benefit is that you will more often than not cook foods over a longer periods with little need for stirring, giving you more than enough time to enjoy your beer. Pots come in a number of sizes and there are a few variations including flat-bottomed or tripod pots. A tripod pot will work well on most braais whereas a flat bottomed pot can also be used on a stove. Best Duty has a decent range of durable pots.