“Ek is lus vir ‘n stukkie boerie” (roughly translated “I really am wanting a piece of South African Farmers’ Sausage”), is a sentiment of some South Africans friends after a few sips of the local Luberon brew.
As often happens, this idea got legs, in fact it grew a few tails as well. The end-result, much research, a flurry of dusting off granny’s recipe books, a trip to Metro for purchasing sausage skins (two lengths are available – 75m or 150m!), a visit to the Menerbes mobile butcher for fat, and a few trips to find the best cuts of meat. A sausage stuffing attachment for the Kitchen Aid was purchased and we were ready to go.
But what is boerewors?
The Mail and Guardian (South Africa) wrote at length about the delicacy. Here is an edited extract:
No sport event, arts festival, theme park, carnival, or really any gathering of the public in South Africa is complete without the boerewors roll.
Boerewors is popular from the tshisa nyama shop to the agricultural fair; the ‘boerie’, as it is colloquially known, is quintessential South African fast food.
From Nairobi to New York, wherever South Africans have gone boerewors has followed. It has even made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.
South Africa holds the Guinness World Record for braaing the longest boerewors (it was 514.5m); we talk of the boerewors curtain and boerewors westerns, and there is no end to its use for sexual innuendo. But what makes it boerewors; when does sausage become boerewors?
According to eminent historian and philosopher, C Louis Leipoldt, writing in 1942, the closest relative to boerewors could be found south of the Ardour River in France, where the sausage is made with goat’s meat, flavoured with spices, and improved with sweet Jurançon wine. Crucially, it contains cubes of pork (about 7mm in dimension) that allow it to be grilled over the coals without drying out.
By 1951, Leipoldt lamented that boerewors “is now a thing of the past, although it often appears on the table — a travesty of what it should be and a disgrace.”
He complained that boerewors had become stuffed with far too many breadcrumbs and made from poor-quality meat deemed not fit for anything else. There should never be gristle, sinews or membranes in boerewors.
For Leipoldt, the essential ingredients for filling the casings were minced beef and mutton with little squares of pork, equal parts vinegar and wine, some brandy, coriander, pepper, a pinch of ground ginger, sage rubbed in, bruised rosemary, and a suspicion of garlic. To this can be added mace, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, thyme, and even mint.
Before grinding machines, the meat was pounded and then finely chopped — a time-consuming task that required a strong arm.
The completed product should have a blotchy pink complexion. Another hallmark is that it comes in a long, continuous coil and is cooked uncut. Once made, it is best left to mature for a few days.
Most old recipe books, such as Hildagonda Duckitt’s 19th-century collection, simplify the recipe, but generally accord with Leipoldt. Victory, the South African Women’s Auxiliary Services cookery book, has it down to beef and pork in a 10:2 ratio, coriander, vinegar, cloves, salt and pepper, and tail fat. Then again, there was a war on.
Later recipes sometimes add Worcestershire sauce. There are regional varieties too, with Grabouw favouring pork meat, and Karoo wors using mostly lamb.
Ideally, wrote Leipoldt, boerewors should be grilled “over a rhinoceros-bush fire”. Don’t do that today; renosterbos is endangered. If a braai is not possible, it can be fried in a cast-iron pan, but add as little oil or fat as possible. When cooked it should be crispy, almost crackling outside, and still juicy inside. Whatever you do, never prick it with a fork while braaing.
Lannice Snyman (Rainbow Cuisine; 1998) believes boerewors probably originated with the German settlers, who knew most about sausages. Others claim it comes from the Limburg Dutch verse worst, a pork sausage.
Our Provençal version – the current prototype – is done three ways as we taste and taste to perfect the right outcome.
One day soon, we will publish the new recipe – at the moment, the Kitchen Aid is grinding here art the Bastide and also across the way on Route de Lumieres.
Watch this space – maybe we’ll be making Boerie rolls, right here in the Luberon!
After the torturous choice making process, you settle down and wait for your meal. No alcohol, only fresh fruit juices. Along with eating mainly salad, you’re patting yourself on he back already.
You know that the radars are on full volume when both Madame and Catherine get quiet, the pace quickens and you leave the Nottinghill tube station and head directly towards an unremarkable white building, simply called Otto Lenghi.
One of three retail outlets owned by the Israeli/Palestinian food guru and ‘now’ person, Otto Lenghi, the Nottinghill shop windows give a hint of the pleasures and ‘wow’ factor inside. Small, cramped and a ‘restaurant of 10 chairs, the staff are friendly, knowledgable and the food displays and tastes – virtually indescribable. Otto Lenghi has got it RIGHT. Completely.
If you’re wanting to have one of his salads for lunch, get there early. We did – 11h45 to be exact. It takes about 30 minutes to decide what you want because you basically want to eat the whole shop.
We always nejoy a trip to Fortnum and Mason. A little disappointing this time but the windows were superb, cocking a hat at the movie Les Miserables.
And, just across the road from Books for Cooks – The Spice Shop. Nottinghill at its best.
Our road trip was short – very short. Go over, quick visit, go back. Back to work!
We’ll cover this part of our lives with some snapshots and descriptive captions. Then, it’s back to Provence. Which is what everyone wants to read about , anyway. However, indulge for a few days!