Bredie, both the word and the stew, is of Malay origin. A bredie is a thick fully flavoured meat stew, usually made from a fattier cut of lamb and named for the vegetable, which is the other main ingredient, the sauce usually thickened by potato. Green or dried Beans, tomatoes, pumpkin and even quinces (click here), cabbage (click here) or cauliflower are regular ingredients. Waterblommetjies [Aponogeton distachyos] found in ponds and dams in the Cape in early Spring, make a delicious bredie (click here), and is usually flavoured with wild sorrel juice, tangy and rich in Vitamin C. Wild sorrel leaves [containing oxalic acid] were also used for cleaning brass from which measuring and jam boiling utensils were made.
C Louis Leipoldt in his book Kos vir die Kenner gives the recipe for Tomato Bredie in his usual sketchy way where measurements, temperature, and cooking times are not important. He says, [and I roughly translate] “take a piece of sheep rib weighing about 2 pounds. Cut it in pieces and chop through the bones. Wash and Dry. Take care that there are no little pieces of bone, and that each piece of meat has a bone attached. Put the meat and onions in an iron pot with a spoonful of sheep’s tail fat. Braise slowly for an hour. 8 large tomatoes, a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of fine salt, a pinch of white pepper and one green chili, bruised. Allow everything to braise slowly. Stir well so that it does not burn, and spoon the fat of the top.”
My Tomato Bredie
What you’ll need
1.5 kg Lamb [1/3 thick rib bone in, 2/3 boned shoulder]
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
a 2cm piece of fresh green ginger, peeled & finely chopped
1 Tbs sunflower oil
2 cardamom seeds
4 coriander seeds
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp fresh, crushed, thyme
1 tsp fresh, chopped, marjoram
2 small chilis red or green, seeded & chopped
salt, freshly milled black pepper & fresh-grated nutmeg to taste
500ml demi glace, or rich brown beef stock
2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
500g medium potatoes, peeled & quartered
1 Tbs mild fruit chutney
1 Tbs soft brown sugar
What you’ll do
In a casserole, on top of the stove, brown all the meat, a few pieces at a time in the oil over medium heat. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Fry the onions very slowly in the oil for a while, then add garlic and ginger and fry until golden. Add a little more oil though only if necessary. Just before they are done, add the cardamom, coriander, peppercorns, fennel, thyme, marjoram and chili. Stir-fry for a short while.
Return the meat to the casserole and season lightly with salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Add the demi glace or stock and the tomato juice from the cans and cover. Braise gently over low heat on a heat diffuser, checking for burning or in a 180C oven for an hour and a half.
Remove from the oven. If you have the time, cool quickly and refrigerate overnight – this is a step to mature the flavours. It gives you the opportunity to remove the cold solidified fat on the top and helps to tenderise the meat and makes it cook faster the next day.
Next day, reheat the casserole gently in a 180C oven before adding the roughly chopped tomatoes and potatoes. You may want to add another can of tomatoes, chopped. Simmer gently for one and a half hours or until the meat is tender.
Stir gently to mix through well. Add the chutney and brown sugar, re-season with salt and freshly milled black pepper if necessary. Serve with steamed white rice and a green vegetable.
Serves 6 people.
To see Mike Robinson’s work – CLICK HERE