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A taste of home

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On a recent trip back from visiting my family in South Africa, with the in-flight entertainment system broken, 11.5 hours gave me a lot of time to think about food.

Many years ago an Italian group of chefs started the Slow Food movement, in direct opposition to the opening of McDonald's, which was the first fast-food restaurant in Milan.

Another name for slow food would be heritage food -- the food we used to eat before TV dinners, pizza delivered to the door, frozen everything and preservative-laden processed foods. It is the simple combination of fresh ingredients with just the basic herbs or spices to complement their flavours.

I am sharing one of those heritage foods with you this week. While I have used ground bison to give it a Manitoba slant, pretty much any ground meat can be used, even fish.

The origin of Bobotie comes from the wonderful melting pot of what is the cuisine of the area around Cape Town. Malaysian and Indonesian cooks in the farm kitchens of the wineries adapted a similar Indonesian dish called Bobotok to use up the leftover roasted meat from Sunday lunch. The meat was ground together, mixed with onions and spices and covered with an egg custard to prevent it from drying out.

Bison Bobotie

6 servings

30 ml (2 tbsp) oil

7.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) butter

500 g (1 lb) ground bison

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

250 ml (1 cup) grated carrots

SPICES:

10 ml (2 tsp) curry powder

5 ml (1 tsp) coriander

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ginger

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) dried or 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh mixed herbs

5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon

5 ml (1 tsp) sugar

Pinch red chilli or cayenne pepper

SEASONINGS:

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

1 ml (º tsp) pepper

15 ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

2 slices white bread, soaked in water, lightly squeezed and mashed with a fork

2 bay leaves or lemon leaves

TOPPING:

(this is the secret -- the topping)

250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

pinch pepper

2 eggs

DIRECTIONS

óè Sauté the ground bison in the oil and butter until loose and crumbly and smash it using a fork.

óè Add the chopped onion and stir-fry until translucent and glazed.

óè Add the garlic, grated carrot and spices. Continue cooking very briefly to develop all flavours.

óè Season with salt, pepper and add the vinegar.

óè Add softened mashed bread.

óè Spread the mixture into a flat buttered ovenproof dish. Tuck the bay leaves into the mixture.

óè Beat together all the ingredients for the topping with a fork.

óè Pour the topping over the bobotie and bake uncovered at 190 C (375 F) for 35 minutes until the custard topping is firmand golden-brown.

Serve with saffron rice, chutney and diced bananas.

Pairs perfectly with a rosé wine.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 D14

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