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Take a trip to South Africa without leaving home: Hugo Uys' lamb bobotie recipe

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Chef Hugo Uys, a New York City-based caterer and hospitality consultant, offers his take on a traditional recipe from his native Johannesburg.

Bobotie, a casserole of ground beef or lamb mixed with breadcrumbs, dried fruit, and spices (here, curry powder and turmeric are used), is baked to perfection with a golden brown crust of milk and eggs. It is comfort food with South African flavors, perfect for those chilly winter nights when the usual soups and stews start to seem routine.

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Ingredients

For the saffron rice:

  • ¼ c water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ¼ c golden raisins
  • 2-3 c orange or pineapple juice
  • 1 t butter
  • 1 ½ c long-grain rice
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ c sliced roasted almonds

For the bobotie:

  • 1 T butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ T curry powder
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 2 slices day-old bread, crumbled
  • 1 ¼ c milk
  • ½ lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ½ oz dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • ¼ c golden raisins
  • 1 oz roasted almonds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6-8 lemon leaves or bay leaves
  • ¼ c + 1 T sliced banana, for serving
  • ¼ c + 1 T dried coconut flakes, for serving

Directions

For the saffron rice:

1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the saffron. Steep for about ½ h.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, submerge the raisins in the orange or pineapple juice for 10 minutes, then drain.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

4. Stir in the rice, and season with salt, to taste. Cover immediately, reduce the heat to low, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

5. Just before serving, add the hydrated raisins and toasted almonds.

For the bobotie:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and add the onions. Cook until translucent.

3. Reduce the heat slightly, add the garlic, and cook until golden brown.

4. Stir in the curry powder and turmeric, then add the lamb. Increase the heat back to medium, and cook, stirring continuously, until light brown.

5. Add the breadcrumbs, ¼ c milk, lemon zest and juice, 1 egg, dried apricots, apple, raisins, and almonds. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir well.

6. Transfer to a casserole dish, and bury the lemon leaves in the meat mixture.

7. Cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour, then increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

8. In a small bowl, combine 1 c milk and 2 eggs. Season with salt, to taste, and mix well. Pour over the casserole, and bake uncovered until lightly browned.

9. Divide among 5 plates and serve with saffron rice and about 1 T each of sliced banana and dried coconut flakes.

Serves: 5

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