Robust and flavorful South African Boerewors is the sausage you need for your next grilling party!
South America has has chorizo, France has andouille, Poland has kielbasa, and Germany has their vast selection of “wurst”.
South Africa has boerewors!
What is Boerewors?
Boerewors (pronounces BOO-ruh-VORS) is a South African fresh sausage that is perfect for the grill. The name means “farmer’s sausage” and comes from a combination of the Afrikaans words boer (‘farmer’) and wors (‘sausage’).
Can you can see the Dutch influence in the South African language an culture in the name?
We’ll give you a hint: worst (similar to the German wurst) is the Dutch word for sausage.
What makes Boerewors different?
Like most sausages, there are specifics about the way boerewors should be made.
It must be made up of at least 90% meat, with the remaining 10% being spices, seasonings, and preservatives like vinegar and salt. The sausages must contain beef, but can also include some pork or lamb. And, no more than 30% of the meat content may be made up of fat.
Boerewors seasoning characteristically includes coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice, along with a dark vinegar (malt vinegar). The vinegar and salt act to preserve the sausages as well as adding flavor.
This combination of spices and vinegar creates a unique flavor that is very characteristic of South African cuisine.
What makes boerewors stand out, in addition to its unique flavor, is the way the meat is ground.
Boerewors is a course-ground sausage, giving it a more chunky and coarse texture, rather than the fine and smooth texture that you may be used to from, say, a German wurst.
Boerewors: a classic barbecue food
Traditionally, boerewors are shaped into a continuous spiral, around a foot in diameter.
It is a classic food for the South African tradition of braai, or barbecue. Boerewors are the perfect braai (pronounced brī, like ‘hi’) food because they are grilled in their large spiral.
When served, braai-goers can slice off a section of the sausage as they load their plate with other tasty braai fare like sosatsies (slightly sweet and smoky meat kebabs) and braaibroodjies (the South African version of a kicked up grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and onion cooked on the grill).
Traditionally boerewors are served with a porrage/polenta-like dish called pap that is made from mielie-meal, a coarse-ground maize (corn) flour.
But, it is also common to see Boerewors placed into a bun and eaten, hot dog style, served with a tomato and onion relish.
The unique flavor and smell of the sausage grilling reminds us of coming home to a sumptuous breakfast after our morning safari game drive.
“We went on a tour to check this out
As if the draw of the animals and the friendliness of the lodge staff and fellow safari-goers wasn’t enough to make for an incredible safari experience at Motswari, we were treated to so many delicious meals as well. We enjoyed dishes like Springbok Carpacio and Lamb with Sheba Sauce (a classic South African tomato and onion sauce)!”
Making homemade boerewors
If you’ve never made homemade sausage before, it might seem daunting, but it really is nothing to be scared of. You will, however, need a few special tools and ingredients.
First, you will need a tool to stuff your sausages. There are many ways that you can go about this, either a stand-alone sausage stuffer (saffashop.nl) or if you have a Kitchen Aid or other stand mixer, you should be able to find an inexpensive sausage stuffing attachment (saffashop.nl) for the mixer’s meat grinder.
The second things you will need are sausage casings. You should be able to find packages of salted hog casings at any good grocery store. Ask your butcher where they are kept.
The only other thing that could be helpful would be to have a meat grinder. (If you’re using your Kitchen Aid or stand mixer for stuffing the sausage casings, then you already have this covered!) This way, you can grind your own meat for the sausage.
If you don’t have a meat grinder, don’t worry, you’ll just have to make a few adjustments to the recipe instructions below. Simply purchase ground meat or ask your butcher to grind the cuts for you. At home, mix the spices into the ground meat, and let it marinate for 1 hour before stuffing the sausages.
If you’ve never made homemade sausage before don’t worry! The process may seem complicated, but it’s easy to get the hang of and quite rewarding to have completely homemade sausage ready for the grill!