How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, May 20, 2013

One Bobotie, Hold the Ball's

This Nueva Receta concept must be working: a quick search in this blog on the title Extending the Table reveals about a half-dozen uses of this handy little book so far. For those wishing to diversify their cooking to what real people around the world might be cooking at home, this volume is a great investment.

One of my closest friends and colleagues is a geographer who moved to the United States from South Africa many years ago (he is there on a visit as I write this). Whenever an occasion calls for a potluck contribution, he brings what I always call "South African meat loaf" because I can never remember the name -- bobobtie (boh-BOH-tee). It is sweet, mildly spicy, and just delicious. He does not share the recipe, which is how he keeps getting invited to dinners. (Just kidding!)

I thought that the recipe was some very local specialty, and so had never thought that it might be sitting on our very own cookbook shelf, until I noticed it while browsing for something else in Extending the Table recently.

The recipe calls for curry powder, which we tend to avoid. It also calls for soaking a slice of bread in 3/4 cup of milk and then squeezing the milk out of it -- using the soggy bread and the breadish milk separately.

Essentially, the recipe has three steps, once that bread is soaking and the oven is on 350 or so.:

First, saute a small, diced onion (I will dice it more finely next time) in butter, adding 1 T curry powder, 1t turmeric, 1/2 t sugar, 1/4 t salt, a dash of black pepper (a large dash in our case) and 1 T lemon or vinegar.

Second, mix one pound ground beef or turkey, one beaten egg, the wet bread, and the cooked onion in a bowl, thoroughly until it is a consistent mass. (We used 1.3 pounds organic ground beef.)

Third, put the mixture in a loaf pan or casserole (the recipe says "well-greased," but I did not prepare the dish, since the beef has plenty of fat). Beat together another egg and the breadish milk with a dash of salt and pepper, and pour this mixture over the meat.

The recipe suggests serving this with rice and chutney. I made rice with Persian-lime-infused olive oil, but alas, we have no Mrs. Ball's. For this is what South Africans mean when they say Chutney. And in my experience, they enjoy mentioning the brand name as much as they like to share the Ball's itself.

Verdict? We both loved the flavor, and it went well with the lime-infused basmati. Lacking Ball's, I tried one small serving with no sauce and another with ground red pepper (the kind like relish, served as "hots" in some delis). It was good both ways, though I am hoping to have some Ball's in the kitchen soon.

The texture was not quite as fine as my friend's more expert preparation, and I did not realize until I made it myself that the "stuff" on top is really a kind of custard. His is full of spices, and mine will be too the next time. Still, at least until we perfect this recipe, he will be welcome at all potlucks!

The dish went well with a recently-acquired bottle of 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa by way of Stellar Organics.

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