In this brand new series South African Foodies share their favourite SA flavours and today it’s the turn of the ultimate Ultimate Braai Master duo, Pete Goffe-Wood and Justin Bonello.
Firstly we asked Justin Bonello a few questions about his favourite South African flavours…
What as the origin of your passion for food?
As a young child, I was fortunate enough to have parents who understood the value of taking my sister and I into the great outdoors. Whether it was weekends away on the Breede River, or school holidays on the Wild Coast, and my food journey was closely linked to this. It started off from the necessity of having to know what to do with nature’s bounty. What to do with the fish we caught, the perlemoen we dived, the mussels we harvested, and as a result, this necessity turned into a passion and ultimately is why I became the guy that always cooked for friends…
What is your must-try South African food for visitors to our shores
Really unfair to ask for one item that visitors should try, but here’s my top four. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d suggest Skilpaadjies (lambs liver wrapped in caul fat) cooked over the coals. A West Coast mussel pot (ideally harvested yourself, and cooked on the coast), any Shisanyama joint (Rands in Khayelitsha is great) and last but not least, that everyday ritual of all South Africans, the braai, complete with Karoo Lamb chops, Boerewors, spuds, slaw etc.
What is YOUR favourite South African food / food custom / dish etc
I’m a real fan of old school cooking and love delving into koeksisters, salted ribs, slaphak skentjies, Malva pudding, biltong, bobotie, Cape Malay curries, anything that has a cultural food memory, that makes us who we are, plus, these older traditions around food that were more tied into necessity and what to do with surplus than palette feel and gastronomy have an honesty that’s tied into our cultural psyche.
Having just finished filming season six of Ultimate Braai Master we thought it would be great opportunity to ask them about how to use the favourite South African cooking method – the braai – to prepare for Christmas lunch.
Ultimate Braai Masters on the Ultimate South African Christmas
Cooking a turkey on the braai for Christmas can be the best marriage between local heritage and a traditional Christmas.
“The epitome of the South African Christmas experience can easily be described as family and friends around the fire, screaming kids in the pool, glaring sunshine, ice-cold bubbles and not a care in the world. Swapping out boerewors and lamb chops for a succulent whole turkey on the fire is a wonderful way to to sprinkle traditional Christmas elements onto a ‘lekker’ local celebration.”
According to Goffe-Wood, one of the challenges pitted to the contestants on Ultimate Braai Master, season 6, which launches on e.tv on 3 February 2019 and airs every Sunday at 4pm, was a whole turkey on the braai:
“It was certainly an eventful challenge with some interesting flavors coming through. Turkey can be a difficult ingredient to get right when cooking in a conventional oven. By the time the dark meat is cooked to perfection the breast is dry & tasteless. But by taking the turkey apart and giving the white & dark meat different treatments over the coals – you will be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful a turkey can be. Crisp dark meat with a moist stuffing & smokey succulent breast.”
Sharing his Christmas recipe from his latest book, “A Life Digested”, published by Quivertree, Goffe-Wood said this recipe is best accompanied by a good sparkling wine. “The festive season always seems to be the time for bubbles. In fact, you can drink bubbles all day long irrespective of what you eat, especially if you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by your nearest and dearest. In the words of Paul Simon, ‘these are the days of miracle and wonder’, so bring out your best gear – like the Klein Constantia MCC Brut or the Graham Beck Cuvée Clive. After all, if this is not a special occasion, what is?”
How to cook Turkey on the Weber
- 1 free-range turkey
- 2 litres brine
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 150g streaky bacon (or pancetta)
- 50g butter
- 100g chicken livers
- 500g pork sausage meat
- 1⁄4 loaf white bread
- 3 eggs
- 10g fresh sage
- olive oil
Cut off the turkey’s legs and thighs, remove the skin and bones.
Cut the meat into chunks and feed through a mincer.
Cut out the spine using poultry shears, leaving the breast on the bone.
Remove the wings (freeze the wings and backbone to use for stock in future).
Put the breast into brine and leave in the fridge overnight.
Finely chop the onions and garlic and dice the bacon/ pancetta.
Gently fry them in butter in a saucepan.
When the onions are translucent, remove and allow to cool.
Roughly chop the chicken livers and combine them with the sausage meat and minced turkey.
Blitz the bread, crusts removed, into fresh bread crumbs in a food processor, then add these and the eggs to the meat.
Add the cooled onion mixture and chopped sage to the meat mixture and season to taste.
Shape the mixture into a roll, cover with tin foil and leave in the fridge overnight.
On The Day:
Remove the turkey breast from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper, brush with a little olive oil and season.
Put the breast skin-side up, together with the roll of stuffing, on a Weber over indirect coals.
Close the lid, leaving the top and bottom vents open, and cook for approximately 90 minutes (use a meat thermometer – it’s done when the internal temperature is about 80°C).
When the breast and stuffing are cooked, they need to rest for about 30 minutes.
To keep them warm, wrap the breast in foil and put both in an empty cooler box and close the lid.
Once the bird is well-rested, bring to the table and carve.
Serve with potato salad and mango salsa on the side. (recipes below)
New Potato & Pancetta Salad
Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, add a hefty pinch of salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook until they are just soft. Remove the potatoes from the heat and leave to cool in the water. Slice the red onions and finely chop the garlic. Dice the pancetta and put it in a large frying pan with a drop of olive oil. Fry it until it begins to colour. Add the onions and garlic and fry just until the onions begin to soften. Add the balsamic vinegar and carry on cooking for 2 minutes so the onions can soak up the vinegar.
Remove from the heat and add the olive oil. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, cut them in half and place in a large stainless-steel bowl. Pour over the warm dressing and mix thoroughly. Leave the salad to cool before roughly chopping and then adding the herbs. Season to taste.
Mango & Chilli Salsa
Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Dice the cucumbers and peppers. Peel the mangoes, remove the pip and cut into large dice. Add to the cucumber and peppers. Grate the ginger into the salsa. Chop the chillies and add them. Season with lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper, and sprinkle with roughly chopped coriander.
Salad 2kg new potatoes salt and pepper 2 red onions 2 cloves garlic 200g pancetta 100ml balsamic vinegar 300ml extra virgin olive oil 20g fresh mint 20g flat-leaf parsley
Salsa 1 cucumber 2 red peppers 4 large mangoes 30g ginger 2 red chillies juice of 2 limes 2 tbsp sugar salt and pepper 2 handfuls coriander.