How to Cook Venison Bobotie

What is bobotie? Think of it as a venison casserole from South Africa. Also, it’s totally delicious

Bobotie is a classic South African dish in which ground meat—often springbok or kudu—is laced with dried fruits and slivered almonds and fragrant curry then baked beneath a golden eggy crust. Beguiling yet deeply comforting, it’s a terrific vehicle for whitetail, elk, or moose. This recipe is adapted from renowned South African winemaker Adi Badenhorst; it’s bobotie as his mother Judy cooks it—as good as it gets. One of Adi’s wines, then, would be the ideal pairing. Both his 2018 Secateurs Red, a supple blend of syrah, cinsault, and grenache, or, for a bigger splurge, the 2018 Ramnasgras Cinsault,, would be killer homegrown companions to this unforgettable meal. Round it out with hot steamed rice and some spoonfuls of chutney on the side.

Ingredients | Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 slices high-quality white bread
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs. ground venison
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 4 bay leaves, fresh if possible
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the dried fruits in a small bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. In another bowl, tear the bread into pieces and combine with 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and one of the eggs. Stir and mash with a fork until the egg is incorporated and the mixture is pale and soggy.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the meat and the garlic and cook, stirring to break it up, for about 3 minutes, or just until no pink remains. Remove from heat. Drain the fruit and add it to the meat along with the curry, jam, Worcestershire, almonds, ginger, and lemon juice. Fold in the soaked bread mixture and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Grease a 9×13-inch casserole with the remaining oil. Turn the meat mixture into the pan and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk with the remaining two eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in the turmeric and salt and pepper.
  5. After the bobotie has baked for 30 minutes, pour the buttermilk mixture over the top and nestle in the bay leaves. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the topping is firm and bronzed at the edges. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.