“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.

 

Pic: Mail and Guardian

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.

All ready to go: the meat is ground, spices added and it has settled over night.

 

The sausage skins have been cleaned and pulled over the stuffer spout.

 

 

After manufacture, it is necessary to allow the sausage to settle a bit – in the sunshine to dry off any excess blood. Not for long, the fire is waiting!

 

On the coals. We used a mixture of old vine stems and charcoal.

 

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!

 

Comments

One Response to “Strange but True : Boerewors in Provence”

  1. Simply Provence – Boerewors : Living Stylishly Well on March 10th, 2013 5:01 am

    […] are some more pictures of the boerewors making episode. Read more here for the whole story. The mince is […]

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