One of the first things that South African expats look for in a foreign country, is boerewors. You know... that yummy South African sausage that everyone likes to braai on a Sunday (or a Tuesday, or a Friday...)
The problem is... the USA isn't like South Africa where you can go to the grocery store and buy boerewors. You either have to buy it online or you have to learn how to make boerewors yourself.
While it is convenient, buying boerewors can be a hit or a miss. This is why some people choose to learn how to make boerewors themselves.
Luckily, it isn't rocket-science. Here's how to make boerewors yourself...
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What You Need To Make Boerewors
You will need a few items to make boerewors. Here's a list:
- Meat: We use a beef/pork mix of 75% beef and 25% pork. For the beef, we use trimmed brisket because it already contains a good amount of fat. You need about 10 - 15% fat in your meat mix.
- Casing: You can buy casing online, or in the meat section of many grocery stores, or at a meat market. Here in Central Texas, we buy hog casing at HEB. One packet makes about 20 lbs of boerewors.
- Spices: Some people buy boerewors spices online and others use a boerewors recipe that they adjust for taste as they go along.
- Meat Grinder with Sausage Stuffer: When we started out, we used a $100 meat grinder with a sausage stuffer attachment. It worked fine, but was quite slow. Then we bought this meat grinder and it changed our world!
- Cutting board & knife: You're going to need to cut your meat into cubes.
- Large plastic tub: You'll need a large plastic tub (or two) to mix your meat cubes with the spices and to hold your ground meat before stuffing.
Preparing The Boerewors Meat
In a nutshell, to prepare the meat, you'll cut the meat into cubes, mix in the spices, and grind the meat. Here are the details:
- Cut all the beef into 1.5 - 2 inch cubes.
- Since you'll have less pork and want nice distribution, cut the pork into slightly smaller cubes, let's say 1 - 1.5 inch cubes.
- Mix all the beef and pork in your plastic tub.
- Add the spices to the meat and mix thoroughly. (I usually spread about 1/4 of the spices over all the meat, mix, and repeat.) Our method also uses malt vinegar and water, which I add at this point as well.
- Grind all the meat. Remember to use your 6 mm (1/4 inch) cutting blade. (If you use a 10 mm cutting blade you'll have to grind twice. If you use a 4 mm cutting blade, your ground meat may be too fine.)
Preparing The Casing
Natural sausage casing, like the hog casing we use, comes packed in salt. So you have to prepare the casing before stuffing:
- Remove the casing from the package and rinse under running water. Also run the water through the casing.
- Put warm water (not hot) in a bowl. Add a little white vinegar to the water. About 1 tablespoon is enough. The vinegar softens the casing and helps to give it that little "crisp" on the braai. (Thanks to my friend, Ron Hetzler, for that tip.)
- Put the casing in the water for approximately 45 minutes before stuffing.
Stuffing - Making The Boerewors
You are now ready to make your boerewors, that is, stuffing the meat into the casing.
Hint: Up to this point, one person could do it all, but with the stuffing, it's easier to have two people... one person to feed the meat into the stuffer and one person to control the flow of the casing off the stuffer pipe. You don't want to over-stuff the casing, or the sausage will burst on the braai.
- Set up the sausage stuffer on your grinder. We found the bigger stuffer pipe to work better than the small one.
- Pull one or more of the pieces of casing over the stuffer tube.
- Fill the stuffer with meat, turn it on, and wait for the meat to start pushing out of the stuffer tube.
- As I mentioned earlier, the person who controls the flow of the casing off the tube, has to stay aware of how tight the sausage is being stuffed. You definitely want to avoid over-stuffing it.
Hint: If the sausage appears to be over-stuffed, simply turn off the machine, pull some more casing off the tube, and redistribute the meat in the sausage by squeezing it by hand.
And that's all there is to it. You may feel a little unsure at first, but you'll get the hang of it in two ticks!
Now it's time to head outside and have a nice braai!
Please share this article with your friends, and share your boerewors successes with us in the comments below!