Cooked in the Karoo is the result of Justin Bonello’s two-year culinary journey in the Karoo. His mission was to capture the essence of the Karoo’s people, landscape and way of life. This he does by way of recipes, images and stories.
The sparse landscape of the Karoo inspires a special brand of cooking. It is rooted in tradition, and yet demands innovation. It is big on taste, and yet beautifully simple.
The excerpt below contains two of Bonello’s Karoo-inspired recipes, Braaied Karoo Pizza and Carpaccio.
Read the excerpt:
BRAAIED KAROO PIZZA
Way back when, I made a dustbin pizza before we hit Splashy Fen music festival in the southern Drakensberg. This was my version of a braaied pizza, in a 45-gallon metal drum – a makeshift pizza oven that baked delicious pizza in less than 15 minutes. Then last year, one of South Africa’s best chefs and a close friend of mine, Bertus Basson, showed me how to braai a pizza straight on the grid. So I can’t take all the credit for this recipe – I’ll share half the glory with you, Bertus!
One morning, a Wolverfontein neighbour arrived with a bucket filled with ripe green figs. Ashley looked completely lost as to what to do with the sudden abundance of fruit. But we happened to have bacon. Blue cheese. Chilli. Garlic. We had cold beers chilling in the fridge and it was almost lunchtime. Can you see where this is going? No? Let me show you.
FOR THE PIZZA BASE, YOU’LL NEED:
10 g instant yeast
325 ml warm water
500 g white bread flour
a big pinch of salt
THE PIZZA BASE
Activate and dissolve the yeast by placing it in a bowl and adding the warm water. Give it a stir and sprinkle a handful of flour over the mixture to prevent the yeast from forming a crust. Leave the yeast mixture in a warm spot for about ten minutes or until it begins to froth. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the yeast to the flour, mixing it well with your hands until it forms a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour; too dry, add a splash more water, and so on. Knead for ten minutes until the dough has a smooth, elastic consistency. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, place the dough on the flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. In the meantime, light your braai fire and get started on making the pizza toppings.
For those of you who don’t have the time or patience to make a biltong carpaccio (page 144), try this instead. It’s equally delicious.
500 g free-range beef fillet (the best quality you can get your hands on)
a decent glug of olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lemon
a handful of Parmesan, grated
a couple of handfuls of fresh rocket
lemon wedges, to serve
First up, wrap the beef fillet in cling wrap and pop it in the freezer for about an hour – this makes it a lot easier to slice very thinly, which is what you want to do. You can either use your best knife or take a shortcut and use a mandolin if you have one (just be careful not to slice your fingers!). Once you’ve thinly sliced the fillet (how thin you want it is up to your own taste), it’s time to whip up a dressing. Mix together a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, cracked black pepper, the juice of about one lemon and a small handful of grated Parmesan. Keep a bit of Parmesan aside for serving. Keep whisking until creamy then set aside.
To plate // Serve this on a platter, topped with a couple of handfuls of fresh rocket, the carpaccio on top of that, and as few or as many caper berries as you like. Drizzle with the zesty Parmesan dressing and sprinkle extra Parmesan shavings over the whole lot. Season with salt and pepper and serve with extra lemon wedges on the side. Delicious as a light snack with fresh ciabatta and some great white wine.