My father in law has an old piece of paper. It contains his mother's hand-written recipe for boerewors. We've been meaning to have a go at it for the last 3 years, ever since Paul took a picture of the recipe while we were in Cape Town.
Over the bank holiday weekend, we seized the opportunity.
We've made sausages before, but not for a long time, so we were very careful to flush the mincer and sausage maker through with copious amounts of boiling water, to make sure it was spanking clean after 2 years packed away in the garage.
We stuck pretty closely to the recipe, because we wanted to see what the balance of flavours was - but with some minor variations.
1.2 kg (trimmed weight) fatty pork. We used a pork belly joint & removed the skin and rib bones before cutting the meat into small cubes
2.3 kg (trimmed weight) lean beef. We used 2 rolled briskets for the beef, and Paul spent a long time trimming off every scrap of sinew and silver-skin.
3 tbs sea salt
2 tbs white pepper corns
1 tbs black pepper corns. We wanted both the clean heat of the white pepper and the fragrance of the black pepper.
3 tsp ground nutmeg. I'm sure freshly grated would have been better but there is no way my fingernails would survive grating 3 tsp worth of nutmegs!
1 tsp ground mace. For one thing we're a bit addicted to mace at the moment, but we also thought that the slightly different nutmeggy flavour would round out the seasonings.
2 tsp ground cloves
4 tbs whole coriander seeds
150g stale bread, soaked in water & wrung out. We used a supermarket sourdough loaf, on the theory that most bread now can sit in the desert for a week and still not get stale.
75 - 100 ml white wine vinegar
Sausage casings. We used natural, salt-preserved sheep casings. In the past we've used hog casings, which are a wider gauge and easier to work with.
Roast the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan, shaking them around a bit, until they darken in colour and begin to crackle and smell really fragrant. Allow them to cool, then put them in a mortar and pestle with the salt, peppercorns, nutmeg, mace and cloves. Grind to a fine powder.
In a large mixing bowl (or, in fact, our largest saucepan, because we don't have a mixing bowl big enough) combine the beef & pork with the spices and moistened stale bread. Get in with your hands and make sure everything is distributed really well. We prefer to do a single pass through the mincer, mincing and stuffing at the same time to keep a coarser texture in the sausage, so this is the point where you are making sure your sausage will have the right amount of meat, bread, fat and seasonings the whole way through.
Sprinkle some white wine vinegar over the meat and again use your hands to combine it. It shouldn't smell too strongly pickled, but there should be a definite tang to the aroma. If you are my husband and of strong constitution, at this stage you stick your finger into the raw meat and taste for seasoning. If you are more delicate (like me) mince a bit of the mixture, fry it and taste it.
Soak lengths of casing in cold water to get the salt off them and run the water through them to make sure they are intact. We find pieces about 75cm long work the best for us, but it isn't very precise. The casings get softer and easier to work with after they have soaked for a few minutes.
Ease a length of casing onto the stuffing attachment and try not to giggle.
I'm sure it is possible to do this by yourself, but we find it to be a 2-person job - 1 to feed the meat into the mincer and turn the handle, the other to regulate the flow of the meat into the casing and form the coils of sausage.
Boerewors isn't separated into links, you always see it as long coils.
Fry coils of sausage in a drop of oil or cook gently on the barbecue (or should I say braai) until they are golden and delicious.
That first night we went the whole ethnic hog and had our fried boerwors with mielie pap (that's polenta to most of us), although it isn't one of Paul's childhood memories.
The sausage texture was excellent, and the flavour was very good. A minor variation - I think next time we'll add maybe 1/2 tsp less of the ground cloves and the same amount more mace. But overall a very successful and very economical batch of sausages. The freezer is looking very well-stocked!