When I say it's South Africa's 'secret' meat, what I mean is I'd never heard of it before Saturday night, when we headed over for a dinner party with some friends.
We'd been planning to do dinner for several weeks and, wanting to ensure that the wine matched with the dinner being cooked, I asked for a sneak preview of our main course. As our hosts originiate from South Africa, and they wanted to give us an authentic taste of their homeland, the answer to my question was they'd decided to make Boerwors.
Boerwors - eh?
Yup, I had never heard of it before either. In pronounciation, it sounded like Bierwurst, of german sausage fame, and as it turns out the concept behind it was fairly similar.
So what's in it?
I had to ask. How do you pair a wine with a sausage when you don't know what meat and spices are added - a simple pork sausage would go well with a zinfandel or something similarly medium-bodied, a hot and spanish-y sausage would go great with a Rioja. As it happens, boerwors is made up of beef and pork mince, mixed up with coriander, cloves, nutmeg, salt and pepper, the twist for this meal is it was to be turned into burgers, rather than wrapped in sausage casing, as was traditional. My obvious choice was a rosé, and I also decided to test a blended Shiraz/Cab Sauv./Merlot - which gave juicy notes, alongside a touch of oak and mint.
Boerwors is classically cooked on a South African Braai (BBQ).
How was it?
Obviously these had to be cooked medium, the pork not being a great rare meat, but despite slightly more cooking than I would like, they were actually pretty good! The nutmeg and cloves gave them nice depth, while the coriander added a touch of spice to the beef/pork mix. We topped them with mixed leaves, tomato, cucumber, grated mature cheddar and a homemade chutney, wrapped in fresh buns, which finished them nicely - I'm ashamed to say they were so good I had three...!
On the wine front, the rosé worked magnificently with the meat, but the blended red had to work quite hard, and it took about half a glass to settle down (I expect the wine needed a longer airing).
If I was making these at home, I'd experiment with some rosemary or some pureed apple in the meat mix as well...but overall, this was pretty good.