You can’t style a photo of tamatiebredie, and you shouldn’t.
Why? Because it is bredie. The wonder of Bredie is not about how it looks, but about how it tastes. And about how it makes you feel inside. Happy.
Bredie is a long, slow simmer of mostly vegetables, cheap cuts of meat, like the lamb neck chops I used for this recipe, and a few spices. You can probably make bredie without spices, but then it’s not really bredie, is it, just a sad affair involving meat and water.
I was taught how to make bredie by a wonderful Xhosa woman in Cape Town. I grew up in the Free State, where we don’t really cook or eat saucy, spicy food. Salt and pepper was pretty much our major seasoning. Stews, well, stews I messed up for a long time, until Thando taught me how to make bredie.
The secret to a bredie is not to add too much liquid all at once. In fact, this is the complete magic of a bredie: you need a big pot, preferably heavy-bottomed, with a tight-fitting lid. And you add little bits of liquid, a little bit at a time. The liquid teases out all the flavours of your ingredients. Too much liquid, and you just drown them.
I asked Thando: how do I know when to add more liquid? And she said: you will know when. The bredie will ask for it.
That, to me, is probably the most beautiful recipe instruction I have ever had. And it is true. This is another reason why I love bredies: you have to make a connection with your bredie to make it good. So it’s a relationship kind of thing.
So this made me think about bredies, how it’s made, by whom, and for who. Bredies are gesinskos, I think – food for the family. It’s usually served straight from the pot in my house. With rice. Lots and lots of rice.
I like to eat my bredie in stages: first, a bowl of rice with lots of the intensely flavourful sauce. Then I’ll have another bowl, and add some of the potatoes and a tiny piece of the meat and crush it all together. And finally, I’ll have some of the meat, all on its own, and relish every little fatty succulent piece of it. There will be some cardamom pods and a star anise flower left in the bowl, and it’s a good idea to suck the sauce off of them, and put them back into your bowl, sit back and think: damn. I’ve eaten well. I feel ready for anything now.
My recipe for tamatiebredie follows.
8 lamb neck chops
2 onions, chopped
2 peeled and chopped carrots
1 star anise flower
4 cardamom pods
1 cup (250 ml) tomato puree
1 can (410g) chopped tomatoes in juice
1 small dried chilli
salt and ground white pepper ( it has to be white pepper, and lots of it)
1 tablespoonful Worcestershire sauce
sugar to taste
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped up
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Put the lamb chops and onions into a large, heavy-bottomed casserole. Add about 1 cup (250 ml) water, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients except the potatoes, put the lid on the pot and place in the oven. Set the timer for 1 hour. Check every 20 minutes and add more hot water if the bredie needs it. A bredie must have sauce.
- After 1 hour, add the potatoes, stir well, put the lid back on the pot and leave in the oven for another 50 minutes or so until everything is very tender.
- You should have cooked some rice by now.
- When the cooking time is up, let the bredie stand for about 30 minutes before you dish up. Prepare yourself for happiness.