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 (similat 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. It is also common to see Boerewors placed into a bun and eaten, hot dog style, served with a tomato and onion relish.
A taste of South Africa
We were lucky to get to try boerewors twice while we were recently in South Africa, once on our wine tour, and the second time on our last day of safari at Motswari Private Game Reserve.
The unique flavor and smell of the sausage grilling reminds us of coming home to a sumptuous breakfast after our morning safari game drive. 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)!
The food was expertly prepared and offered us a great selection of local flavors and local venison. Food might not be the first thing you would think of when going on safari, but at Motswari, the food definitely was the icing on an already incredible cake.
Going on safari at Motswari Private Game Reserve
We really didn’t know what to expect when it came to safari, since this was our first. But, after Motswari, any other safari will have quite a lot to live up to.
The accommodations were private, thatched-roof huts that were beautifully and artistically decorated. Motswari is on the Timbavate Private Game Reserve, and the lodge did not have any fences to keep the animals out, so it was common to see small to medium sized animals wandering through the lodge grounds, particularly at night when we had to always walk with a staff-member.
Motswari Private Game Reserve is family owned, and it really did feel like we were joining a family for the time we were there. We loved getting to know our guide, Chad (who is also an incredible photographer), and tracker, Difference, on each of the drives.
We were blown away by the beauty and magnificence of all the animals: from elephants to giraffes, lions and leopards, birds and reptiles. Our time at Motswari really was an incredible experience.
Making homemade sausage
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 (amazon link) or if you have a Kitchen Aid or other stand mixer, you should be able to find an inexpensive sausage stuffing attachment (amazon link) for the mixer’s meat grinder.
(Don’t you just love our old-school Oster mixer?)
The second things you will need are sausage casings. You should be able to find packages of salted hog casings (amazon link) 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!
For best flavor, the sausages should rest at least overnight in the refrigerator before being cooked.
Yield: 3 lbs of sausage (2 1.5lb sausages)
- Cube the beef and pork into pieces that will fit easily into your meat grinder. Sprinkle the spices over meat and mix to coat. Cover the seasoned meat and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- After the meat has rested, follow the instructions that came with your meat grinder to grind the seasoned meat using the coarse grinding blade.*
- Add the vinegar to the ground meat and mix well.
- Thoroughly rinse (inside and out) one salted hog casing. Prepare the casing for stuffing as directed on the casing package.
- If using a Kitchen Aid, or similar, mixer, attach the thick sausage stuffer attachment to the meat grinder attachment.
- Place the entire casing onto the sausage stuffer attachment, leaving 4 inches hanging off the end. Tie a knot in this end of the casing to keep your sausage mixture from oozing out. Begin to stuff your casing as directed for your machine, moving slowly and being careful not to over-stuff the casing. (Don’t worry too much about unevenly stuffed sausage, we will take care of that later.)
- As you stuff the casing, coil the sausage onto a large plate. Stop stuffing when you only have 5-6 inches of casing left. Remove the casing from the sausage stuffer attachment.
- Before you knot the end, check the sausage for uneven areas. If you find any, gently even out the sausage mixture in the casing with your hands.
- Once the sausage is even to your liking, knot the end of the casing.
- If you still have additional sausage mixture (for us, this recipe made two 1.5 lb sausages), rinse and prepare another casing and stuff it as before.
- Once all your sausage mixture has been stuffed, refrigerate your sausages overnight (at least 12 hours) so that the flavors can come together before cooking.
- The traditional way to cook boerewors is on the grill. Heat your grill to a medium-high heat (400F). (You should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the cooking grate for 4-5 seconds.) If desired, soak a large wooden skewer or two in water. Place the skewers through the sides of the sausage coil to make it easier to turn the sausage when it’s on the grill. If you like a little grilling adventure, cook the sausage coil loose.
- Place the boerewors onto the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side, until the color has changed and the sausage has nice grill marks. Flip the boerewors and cook for 3-4 minutes on the second side, until the sausage is firm.
- Remove the sausage from the grill and place on a large platter to serve.
*If you don’t have a meat grinder, ask your butcher if he or she can grind your beef and pork for you. (Be sure to ask for a coarse grind.) Mix your butcher-ground meat with the spices, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Then, continue with the recipe as directed.
DISCLOSURE:We were not compensated in any way for our review of Motswari Private Game Reserve. We truly enjoyed our time at Motswari, and simply wanted to share our great experiences with you, our readers.
This post does include Amazon affiliate links. These links are provided to help you find some of the more specialty ingredients we mention in the recipe. If you make a purchase on Amazon after following our affiliate links, we do receive a small commission from Amazon, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Curious Cuisiniere!