Recommend me a new meal to learn to cook – page 2

That sounds like a meal a Zimbabwean lad I used to know ate all the time (I mean nearly everyday in some form). He called it sadza.Sadza and savoury sauce is a staple in Southern Africa. For the poorest people the savoury sauce is usually onions, tomatoes and wild spinach (there are several varieties depending on where one finds oneself each with a very distinct flavour). The sadza is typically not crumbly but a stiff mixture. My father used to make us ‘sculptures’ out of it so we ate it as dogs, snakes, cats (which looked just like the dogs), pigs (which looked almost like the dogs) and elephants. The sauce, whatever that was, is usually heavy on tomatoes and my father’s specialty was little human figures in the tomato based sauce which he dubbed ‘train smash’ much to my mother’s disapproval.

In South Africa sadza is called ‘pap’ (porridge) and served with ‘wors’ or sausage and the aforesaid sauce. I hate to admit it, but I have a very limited liking for it, and avoid it if there is an alternative.

Peel and dice swede, parsnip and carrot and boil in one saucepan while boiling two quartered medium sized potatoes in another (leave potato skins on if you like). Fry c. 150 gms of beef or steak mince with half a chopped cooking onion in pan on low/medium heat – don’t worry about adding oil as mince cooks in own fat. Towards the end of boiling add some garden or marrowfat peas to the swede, parsnips and carrots. Make sure vegetables don’t get TOO soft. Put potatoes into a small bowl and mash up – don’t worry about lumps as the potatoes just need to be broken up more than anything. Strain other vegetables in sieve and put onto plate and then strain mince and onion of as much of the fat as you can and mix on plate with vegetables. Make some thickish quick gravy with a generous pinch of paprika and a splash of Worcestershire sauce added, pour it over and mix in. Add salt and pepper. Take mashed potato and cover as much as the other ingredients as evenly as you can. Grill until potato starts to brown then remove and leave plate to cool for a bit. Tuck in.

"The meat should be cut into small neat cubes, not more than 1-inch square. Brown them in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Warm the brandy in a soup ladle, pour it over the meat, set light to it, shake the pan until the flames go out. Add the red wine; let it bubble fast for about half a minute. Season with only very little salt and pepper, put in the bouquet tied with thread, turn the flame as low as possible, cover the pan with at least two layers of greaseproof paper or foil and the lid.

"The flaming with brandy, although not absolutely essential, burns up the excess fat and makes quite a difference to the flavour of the finished sauce, which will be a short one, most of the liquid having been absorbed by the meat. The old Nîmoise cook who showed me how to make this particular version of the dish used Châteauneuf du Pape to cook it in (we were in the district, so it wasn’t so extravagant as it sounds, and it most definitely pays to use a decent and full-bodied wine for these beef stews), and she garnished the dish with heart-shaped croutons of fried bread instead of rice."