Waterblommetjiebredie

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Recipe by Allahu Snackbar Wikified by Drimble Wedge

I recently had some company over at my new house for a crazy nerd gathering. One of my friends has traveled damn-near across the globe, but she's originally from South Africa, and we often talk about one of my favorite subjects, which is South African food. I've dabbled in a few things in the past, like old favorites Bobotie as well as my favorite drunk food Bunny Chow. We collaborated on a few of her favorites like Periperi Chicken too. Prior to her visit, I had been browsing over a South African cookbook I bought a while back, and thinking of anything hard to find over here that I could ask for.

The first was Elephant Biltong, which not surprisingly, is near-impossible to get. I did get Springbok Biltong, which was awesome though. It's similar to venison jerky, but imagine a little clove, allspice, or garam masala on it. No real reason for this other than sating a round of post-drinking munchies.

The second thing on my list was Waterblommetjies.

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I like typing the word, I like saying the word. Afrikaans is a hilariously awesome language. It translates into "water flower" which is a polite way of saying that it's something that long ago some Voorstrekker spotted growing in a stagnant ditch full of water and decided it would taste delicious with his freshly-killed Springbok. All it would take would be a little stewing, and it just so happens that the word for stew in Afrikaans is bredie. Hence, waterblommetjiebredie.

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Stuff you'll want:

  • 2 1/2 pounds of roasting meat (ideally, lamb, mutton, or game, but I used beef short ribs to great effect too.
  • 2 pounds waxy potatoes (ie, don't go makin no damn mashed potatoes son), diced
  • 1 giganto onion (or, 2-3 smaller ones), diced
  • About 2 pounds of waterblommetjies (you can get em on Amazon if you can't hop on the dakadak to Pretoria)
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp periperi (african bird's eye chili powder, again, Amazon) or cayenne pepper (at minimum you weenie. You want to add more, I know you do)
  • 1 tsp black pepper

You'll want your dutch oven for this. Crank up the stovetop to about medium-high heat. While you're doing this, towel off your short ribs and rub them down with a bit of salt. Start to brown them on each side. All we want is the look and the smell really. They'll get cooked fully later.

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Once each piece is browned all over, remove from heat.

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In the juices left in the dutch oven, add your butter and then your onions & salt, and turn the heat down to low. Cover and sweat those for a good 20 minutes, then return your meat to the fray.

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Add the water & wine. Put your lid on, preheat your oven to 350, slap it in there for 2 hours, and forget it exists till your time's up. Remove again to the stovetop. Your meat should be getting tender enough to come apart a bit, and you can shred it with your spatula or spoon as you go.

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My picture of the stupid shredded apple survived, but not my picture of the waterblommetjies themselves. They look somewhere between swamp thing and a leopard, and smell like a wonderful cross between good olives and asparagus.

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Thanks, Google image search! Mine looked pretty much like that, yeah!

Too bad I didn't get a snap, because after that, I tossed the apple, potato, and waterblommetjies into the melange.

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To this hearty mash, I added my nutmeg, pepper, bay leaves, and periperi. I tasted it, and added more periperi still. When my particular heat affinity was reached, I simmered for another 30 minutes with the cover on, killed the heat, then tossed in my raw garlic at the end.

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I topped the "stew" over another Afrikaner dish - funeral rice, which is basically a pot of rice fried into some butter, turmeric, cinnamon, onions, shredded carrot, and raisins.

What I love about South African food is that it's completely unsophisticated stuff that seems very familiar to any of us who have or had a grandmother who liked to cook. So much of it is old timey and homey, but it's also coupled with a few exotic flavors to remind you that you're eating something just a little different.