Last year a road trip took my sister and myself through Meiringspoort to Prins Albert. A planned one night stay turned into a weeklong relax in this gorgeous town.
I’m a couple of days away from going back to Prins Albert. This time it’s for work, as I will be working on Kyknet’s Kokkedoor. The Afrikaans reality cooking competition, where people compete with food remembered from their childhood. I’ll be running the behind the scenes kitchen for the competition with the Francois Ferreira academy.
In-between my lists (I love those) and preparing and packing, it got me thinking of the Karoo. It is challenging to be away from home for such a long time, but the winning ingredient is that I’m going to be in the Karoo. I was born in the Karoo and it will always stay one of my favourite places. If you’ve only driven through the Karoo, you might think it’s just kilometres of open spaces. But if you stop somewhere quiet, off the road and the beaten track and you simply listen and ‘feel’, you’ll experience the real Karoo. There is a silence that is almost noisy and an energy that rejuvenates you like you cannot believe. I swear by it that the red earth and Karoo vegetation carries an amazing energy that you simply can’t find anywhere else. And above that, the people are still real people. There’s a sense of truth and honesty us jaded city people have long forgotten or perhaps, sadly, never known.
And in thinking of the Karoo, it brought me to one of my absolute favourite meats, ostrich. Whenever I’m in the area, I always make a point of eating ostrich if served on a menu. That’s why I want to share this simple, but delicious ostrich recipes: an ostrich burger. It’s not just a normal ostrich burgers though, it’s my burger where I add a velouté and some finely chopped mushrooms to the patty. The velouté adds just a touch richness, followed with a slightly musty mushroom taste.
To top it all, we also received some beautiful sultana grapes from friends. Sultana grapes are very small grapes (think of dried sultanas or raisins for the size) and very sweet with no pips. When I grew up in Oudtshoorn, we use to buy boxes of these grapes. As children we devoured them bunch by bunch, which had us ending up with very sticky faces and hands. With this stash of grapes arriving, it was just so apt that I use this for the sauce, rather than the standard barbecue sauce. It will add a touch of sweetness to the burger and is after all produce from the same area.
Believe me you’ll want to make this again and again.
I have no idea what my posts will entail when I’m in the Karoo. You might get a recipe from me or I might tell you about the people of the town or even the gorgeous produce that I come across. It’s a mystery to me too. Let’s see what happens.
Ostrich burger with sultana grape sauce
Makes 4 burgers
(Naturally, I also added a nice slab of mozzarella, just for a bit of cheese.)
I would suggest that you make the velouté first, so it can cool down sufficiently to add to the burger patty.
Velouté (simply a white sauce, made with stock rather than milk)
You probably have your own way of making it, if so you will need about 125 ml of finished velouté for the burgers. NOTE: you want a rather sticky, gluteny velouté, one that’s still needs a touch of stock to finally make it a sauce. If you don’t, here’s mine:
20 ml butter
30 ml cake flour
145-160 ml chicken stock (it will vary)
Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan.
Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir vigorously with a whisk, until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Place back on the heat and cook the mixture over a medium heat.
Remove from the heat and add the stock, bit by bit. Start off with only adding ½ of the stock. Keep on whisking until it’s smooth. Then return to heat and let it cook until it thickens. If it is too thick, remove from the heat, add more of the stock, whisk till smooth and place back on the heat to cook.
When it’s got the consistency of sauce that is slightly too thick , let it cook through and remove from the heat and let cool.
For the patty
500 g ostrich mince
½ onion, finely diced
50 g brown mushrooms, very finely minced in a food processor
2.5 ml (½ tsp) nutmeg, ground
6.25 ml (1¼ tsp) coriander, ground
4 ml salt
125 ml velouté * (see above recipe if you’re unsure)
250 ml (2 slices of bread) fine breadcrumbs
150 g mozzarella, sliced
Oil for brushing
For assembling the burger
4 burger buns, toast them in the hot pan before you brown the patties
250 ml cabbage, very finely shredded and tossed with olive oil and a bit of vinegar
For the sultana grape sauce
15 ml olive oil
140 g sultana grapes (you can use any sweet, seedless white grape)
¼ onion, finely diced
5 ml (1 tsp) cake flour
10 ml sherry
150 ml chicken stock
To make the burger patty mixture
Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix it with a spoon.
Then get your hands in there and make sure it’s completely mixed.
Shape into desired size patties and place on a plate (spray the plate with some non-stick spray or lightly brush with some oil) and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. (While the patties are resting, make the sauce and keep it warm.)
To make the sauce
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan. Add the sultana grapes to the pot and let it sauté. Squash the grapes to make some of them crack and break open and let the juice come out.
Add the onions and let it cook until these start to become soft.
Add the flour and make sure everything is coated with the flour.
Add the sherry, stir and add the stock.
Keep on stirring, while you cook the sauce for 15-20 minutes or until the flour is cooked through.
To cook the patties
Before you heat the pan, rub it with the lemon half, to get a nice citrusy flavour when you brown the patties.
Lightly brush the patties with some oil and heat the pan to very hot. Brown the patties on both sides.
Place in a baking tray that’s been lightly oiled so they don’t stick and finish them off in the oven that’s been pre-heated to 180 °C. Cook for 15 minutes or until done as desired.
Remove from the oven, and top each patty with the mozzarella slices.
Put back in the oven under a hot grill and let it grill until the cheese just starts to melt.
Assembling the burgers
Remove the patties with the melted mozzarella and assemble the burgers. Place the cabbage on the bottom bun, top with the burger patty and drizzle some of the sauce over the burger. You can also place the sauce in a separate little dish to accompany the burger.
You will end up eating it with your hands, getting this nice sweet taste from the sauce with the rather crumbly and rich burger patty.
And when you eat it, think of the Karoo. And if you haven’t been there, make a plan!
NOTE ON THE DACHSHUNDS: These two will not be able to go with me. The ‘grandparents’ will do the babysitting. They will therefore be spoiled rotten, meaning I’ll miss them more than they will miss me.