Bredie is one of those dishes, which would feel insulted if one had to refer to it by the name of its European rival known as “stew”. The principle is the same, but bredies tend to be richer, more tasty and infinitely more filling and varied.
Bredie is an old Cape name for a dish of meat and vegetables stewed together so that the flavours intermingle and it’s almost impossible to separate the one from the other. The gravy is rich, thick and full-bodied and is obtained by using meat with a fair amount of bone and fat, rolling it in flour and browning it before the vegetables are added.
The unique flavour of a bredie is determined by the kind of vegetables added, hence the names waterblommetjie, tomato, green bean, pumpkin and cabbage. More than one vegetable may be added in addition to onions and potatoes. The potato also helps to thicken the gravy.
Although almost any vegetable may be used in a bredie, the meat is almost always rib, breast, neck or shank of mutton or lamb. Mutton is ideal for bredies as the long slow simmering tenderizes it and brings out the full flavour.
Recipes for bredies have been handed down through many generations and they have changed very little in character over the years. By using different spices and vegetables, however, completely different flavours are created.
Bredies were hailed by poet-physician C Louis Leipoldt as “the free, almost heroic, use of spices and aromatic flavouring” in his book Cape Cookery, where he praised bredies as “a combination of meat and vegetables so intimately stewed that the flesh is thoroughly impregnated with the vegetable flavour while the vegetables have benefited from the meat fluids — Neither dominates but both combine to make a delectable whole that is a triumph of cooperative achievement.”
Hints for making Bredie
To concentrate flavours use mutton with a fair amount of fat and bone, 2 cm cubed mutton rib is the best meat to use.
Braise the meat with onions and spices before adding the vegetables.
Slice or chop the vegetables and add raw.
Never boil meat in stock or water, this tends to dry out and toughen the meat.
Don’t add liquid. The juices from the vegetables will make a thick gravy.
Keep the cooking temperature constant, use a medium heat setting, allowing the bredie to simmer gently for a few hours since rapid boiling will only toughen it.
The flavour will improve if the bredie is made a day or two in advance.
Bredies are best served with rice.
Category: South African Cuisine
Sub Category: Cape Malay/Traditional
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